By David Sole
Around the first anniversary of the violent attack on the United States there have been endless commentaries about the continuing “threat to democracy” here in the U.S. Those in the mass media that decry the violent insurrection of January 6, 2021 generally are sincere liberals who are unable to do more than expose the very real dangers of the ultra-right. However, they fail to shed any light on why this danger occurred, why it persists, what class forces give it strength and, most importantly, how to fight it.
The events of January 6, 2021, and the entire Trump presidency, shattered the illusion that bourgeois democracy is unshakeable. What is called “Democracy” is a “form of government in which people choose leaders by voting” (Merriam-Webster.com). But underneath this complex system of government is the foundation of capitalist production. For the capitalist class of billionaires, bankers and corporate bosses the type of government they operate under is subordinate to their goal of always increasing and protecting their profits.
It is now out in the open that the norms of democratic government are not permanent or secure. The clearest warning came out on December 18, 2021 when the Washington Post printed an opinion piece signed by three retired U.S. generals titled “The military must prepare now for a 2024 insurrection.”
The three authors of the warning were Paul D. Eaton and Antonio M. Taguba, who are retired major generals of the Army, while Steven M. Anderson is a retired Army brigadier general. They point out that 124 other retired military officers signed a pro-Trump open letter “attacking the legitimacy of our elections” back in May 2021.
The three generals conclude that there is
“the potential for a military breakdown mirroring societal or political breakdown…” They “are increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk….it is not outlandish to say a military breakdown could lead to civil war.”
The warning by these high ranking U.S. military officers should not be discounted because they are loyal participants in an imperialist military machine which has ruthlessly carried out invasions, wars and genocide on behalf of the capitalist class.
Their solution to the very real dangers they expose is that the military apparatus can solve the problem within its own ranks. Putting faith in that would be disastrous.
Civil war, in this era, is class war. It is the expression of the intense and irreconcilable tensions between the broad, exploited working class and the exploiting capitalist class. In the current United States arena it has emerged sharply with the defeat of Donald Trump in the 2020 election and all the lies and propaganda following. It reached the very halls of Congress on January 6, 2021. Rather than subsiding, the conflict is being vigorously pursued by right-wing forces in every state, city, town and rural enclave.
Voting rights, women’s rights, environmental protection, health and science are just some of the issues that are under attack. As in all civil wars the exploiters (the capitalists) are a small minority. According to Forbes Magazine, there are just 724 billionaires in the U.S. They would pose little problem for the workers and oppressed except for their ability to utilize their enormous wealth to mis-educate and misdirect segments of the population to fight for them.
The very existence of the small but powerful capitalist class, along with the very real fears and problems for the many layers of the working class and the middle class, guarantees that white supremacist , right-wing tendencies will continuously be regenerated.
If there were a leadership in the U.S. that put forward and fought for a popular program to solve the problems of working class and middle class people, right-wing support would disintegrate. The Democratic Party often raises popular issues verbally but does not deliver on them – precisely because they are tied firmly to the Wall Street capitalist class.
Just look at the passage of the 1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill signed into law November 15, 2021. This finances big construction projects and swells the profits of big business interests. But so far Biden and the Democrats are unable to pass the 1.9 trillion dollar Build Back Better bill which has appropriations for many programs to benefit poor and working people. Wall Street does not want to raise the expectations of the masses.
Voting rights, an issue fundamental to the very definition of “democracy,” is also not secure. The capitalist class does favor “democracy” as a way to control the masses by letting them think they have a say in how they are governed. But Wall Street also worries that voting might get out of their control as economic conditions worsen, threatening their profits and their hidden rule. In that case the super-rich would rather encourage and finance those who are keen on curbing voting by African American and other progressive forces.
It is often said that the whip of reaction drives the revolution forward. Only under intense blows will the illusions of the masses in the United States be shattered, will new, more radical leadership emerge and a strong counter-offensive develop. This is what is necessary to drive back the reactionary forces of racism and oppression. It can also move the struggle forward to overthrow the capitalist class and their system of exploitation.