1/6, 9/11 and Glenn Greenwald

“There are right-wing extremists in the U.S. bent on using violence to advance their political agenda, just as there are left-wing extremists and anarchist insurrectionary movements and many other types eager to do the same (more destruction was caused by the latter than the former over the last two years, to say nothing of the dozens of journalists physically assaulted by individuals participating in Antifa protests).” —Glenn Greenwald

Before I go any further let me offer an embarrassing confession. It wasn’t long ago that I was defending Greenwald to anyone I could. What is Greenwald’s appeal? Now that I’m revolted by him as most healthy people are, I have to say that I must have forgotten even what I liked about him in the first place, and his allure remains a mystery.

One thing I will never forget is 1/6. Liberal corporate media is telling me to never forget 1/6. Conservative corporate media like Greenwald tell me to forget quickly. The coverage is strikingly similar to 9/11. Fox News correspondent Glenn Greenwald is having a field day with that. But I’m skeptical. Is the new war on terror really on the American right, as Greenwald claims?

The left knows that there could be no left-wing 1/6. Greenwald is principally focused on anti-leftism, so he disagrees.

There would have been brutal repression by the state if a left-wing 1/6 would have happened. Leftists are gunned down for protecting their own water supply. Seizing the White House is out of the question without mass causality. Should a mass non-violent movement to seize the state be organized? Of course. But it will take a lot more than the 1/6 motley crew bunch.

To further erode Greenwald’s thesis, contrary to the corporate media coverage, 1/6 was not a revolution from the outside, but an inside job, part of a larger plot to overthrow the democracy of the people. Establishment Republicans planned 1/6 as part of a larger push to give Trump an election against the will of the people. Other parts of the push include antics like gerrymandering, a state of national emergency, imperialist scapegoating of China and Venezuela, systematic distribution of fake news, intimidation of election officials, lawsuits, and the like.

What do we know about the Republicans who gave the layout of the Capitol to the rioters? What about the PowerPoint by Trump and the company that explicitly laid out the broader plan of pressure points to overturn the election? One of them was to simply take over the Capitol. But this was one of many pressure points.

This is what Greenwald and Merrick Garland miss. The concern isn’t so much about the insurrection itself but rather the planners of it, who are the swamp. The whole concept of the insurrection was in part to murder Pelosi and AOC, but also in part to simply give the country another reason to give Trump the election. It’s not as if the entire plan is to send a couple of hundred citizens in and then the game is up. The point is to have institutional crisis and fear. The more buttons to push, the better.

For the Republicans, killing Democrats, especially when they are left-wing women of color, is as good, or better than beating them in an election. Greenwald pathetically mocks people concerned for their lives when fascists threaten them. What a sad excuse for a left. It would be one thing if AOC was seen as an obstacle to socialism and as someone who must be overcome in a non-violent political way but the extent of this celebration of her murder is simply because she’s an assertive woman of color.

The powers behind 1/6 are on the side of the right. Handing out money to corporations, polluting water supplies, locking up people of color, banning women from sex, stealing resources from the third world. The state hasn’t eroded under neoliberalism, it just has become undemocratic. Democracy isn’t under attack, it’s dead. Trump arose from a failed state, not the other way around.

So are there parallels between the War on Terror and the response to 1/6 by the state? Greenwald claims that because the liberal state under Merrick Garland hasn’t prosecuted people it means 1/6 was no big deal.  It’s precisely the opposite. Because 1/6 was a big deal Garland won’t lift a finger against those who planned it. The same is true of Greenwald. The only people apologizing for more for the fascist right than Greenwald are the Democrats he claims are too liberal. God help us.

The greater crisis for democracy than the insurrectionist Republicans is that the Democratic Party is now the George W. Bush Republican Party. Anyone who isn’t a violent fascist is out. Conservative corporatism is welcome in the Democratic Party. Centrism, let alone leftism, is out. From this confused point rises the opportunistic ideology of Greenwald.

The reason 1/6 and 9/11 discourse looks similar is because many of the same people (Bush Republicans) who were up in arms about 9/11 now have taken over the Democratic Party. This too is an insurrection. But this does not mean that Trump era fascism is revolutionary any more than 9/11 was. Both arose from failed states. States that were captured by elites left little space for citizens to make a living inside of the law.

But just like terrorists, the Trump era insurrectionists are useful to the powers that be. They give the state legitimacy it doesn’t have. Fear of these groups makes the citizens more reliant on the very elites that created the madness. So the fascists are not on our side either. Nor would we be wise to assume the Democrat’s shift to the right means a Republican shift to the left.

Fascism is simply an extension of neoliberalism which is simply an extension of capitalism. Just as neoliberalism accelerated capitalism we are seeing fascism accelerate neoliberalism. Much like the beginning of neoliberalism, the beginning of fascism is seen as an alternative rather than an acceleration of the past. The capturing of democracy by the Republican Party is the final nail in the coffin.

Things are getting worse and getting worse fast. The only way out is the dictatorship of the proletariat which Chris Cutrone calls for: “Marx argued that, short of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the state remained the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie,” by which he meant the dictatorship of capital, or the state ruling in the interests of capital as a whole. This includes the workers who live and benefit by capital as it presently exists.”

Capitalism does not need democracy to function and it does better without it. What capitalism risks without democracy is discontent. If 1/6 is any indication a key component of post-democracy capitalism will be a discontented middle class to terrorize the working class.

In this sense, the American right, from top to bottom does not express a class interest in general. Rather the entire coalition can agree on its fascist goals because the goal is nihilism itself. When we acknowledge as Noam Chomsky does, that the Republican Party is the most dangerous organization in human history, we can begin to understand its unprecedented destruction of the world.

Why does anyone join in on the madness? Because it pays, sometimes. Because it’s fun. Because hurting others is sport. There is no reason for 1/6 or the rest of the agenda. The point is to destroy everything in the path of destruction.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com