I rarely comment publicly in any depth on American affairs, but an attempted fascist insurrection, spurred by an incumbent unable to accept actual election results needs some comment. This ‘coup’ was an inept, often buffoonish successor to the Munich Beer Hall Putsch of November 1923, that may yet presage more organised, violent threats to democracy from the far right. No-one can deny there was at least some neo-Nazis among the number of protestors nor that one man carried a Confederate flag.
While I await more evidence about the complexion of ‘Antifa’, I currently fail to see any equivalence in proportionate threat between the far right and the far left. Where in the Western World have we seen the far left commit the sort of mass murder committed by the far right that we saw in the 22 July attacks in Norway? In 2011 there, 77 people were killed in a politically motivated domestic terrorist attack.
In the protest marches I have attended in my life, against the Iraq War on 15 February 2003 and as a public sector worker against austerity on 26 March 2011, I didn’t witness any violence or storming of democratic premises. Indelibly etched in my mind is how student protests in November 2010 over tuition fees were marred by the irresponsible violence of one idiot throwing a fire extinguisher from a roof towards a crowded courtyard. Exactly five year later, further student protests were undermined in the public consciousness by reported instigation of violence by the anarchist Black Bloc. Such acts must be unreservedly condemned. These conceited political actors were not directly facing a Nazi threat, as with the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 or the Rock Against Racism marchers of 1977-78, but were needlessly threatening the safety of neutral members of the public.
The “threat” from the anti-democratic left in the UK is paltry and entirely negligible besides that posed by fundamentalist Islamism and, increasingly, far right Nazism. In November 2014, a plot by a disaffected teenager to kill people in my workplace in Newcastle upon Tyne was foiled by police, who raided his home and found a stockpile of bombs and a 9mm Glock handgun. The 19 year was given a life sentence for his planned massacre specifically inspired by the events in Norway 3 years earlier.
Since then, police and intelligence evidence suggests that the threat level from the far right has increased, approaching that of its cousin in ideological nihilism, violent and fundamentalist Jihadism. In 2019, Europol reported that the UK had the highest number of far-right terror attacks and plots in Europe.
As any sensible person would, Andrew Neil squarely lays the blame for last night’s events in Washington, DC on ‘TRUMP’. However offended his, Matthew Goodwin or Spiked Online‘s “sensibilities” might be, you just cannot elide though the underlying culpability of the British and American media eco-systems which supported and abetted Trump’s demagoguery at every stage. As Ed Miliband rightly stresses, we cannot be so “high and mighty” in the UK over this as we might like. In 2016 , during the divisive EU membership Referendum campaign – with its abysmal level of debate and rhetoric on both sides – a Leave-backing Nazi killed the Labour MP Jo Cox in Birstall, West Yorkshire.
Thankfully, enough ordinary Americans of all ethnicities in Georgia have pointed towards a way out of this. They voted at the ballot box to deny a fascist President and his many willing senatorial accomplices in the Republican Party their way in thwarting the results of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. Importantly, this means that, in 14 days, the Democrats are in a position where they control all three branches of US government – the Presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate. More recently, they have only held this strong, unimpeded position for 2 year spells: 1993-95 under Bill Clinton and 2009-11 under Barack Obama. You have to go back as far as to the Jimmy Carter-Tip O’Neill-Robert Byrd Democrat triumverate of 1977-81 to find such an arrangement that has lasted more than one electoral window.
Hopefully, we are going to see more and more Americans making the sort of humane turn the West Virginian senator Byrd made in his career – from opposing 1964 civil rights reforms to strong anti-racist, from supporting the Vietnam War to opposing. Evidently, it is not hard for Biden to achieve a civilising improvement in the level of rhetoric and optics in comparison to his frankly evil predecessor. However, Democrats will seriously need to act in helping people with jobs and wages and work hard to win over voters they have complacently took for granted in Texas and Florida, as Mike Davis has counselled in this excellent essay.
Americans have got to hope that Trump will be the last US President to have had a father being a prominent member of the KKK. They also need to demand that the Democrats make a fairer economy than the Republicans have presided over when controlling 2/3 of the arms of government from 2015 to date.
To end Limited British Take On This #29997, I can do no better than directing you to Albany Georgia-born Ray Charles performing Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell’s 1930 song ‘Georgia on My Mind’:
‘Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you, yeah’