2007 - 2021

The Trump Cult Fantasy and the Capital Hill Coup

The Times of India called it the ‘Coup Klux Klan’. Others called it the ‘Capitol Hill Riot’. It has a long tail (longer than Trump’s four years in office) but the spark was the inability of one man to accept the reality that he had lost the election and the gullability of his followers to believe they could do something about it.

As I write there are five people dead after the Trump mob stormed the Capitol Hill building, including Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick who died after he was hurt responding to pro Trump riot. Police say he was “injured while physically engaging with protesters. He returned to his division office and collapsed.” This will be investigated as homicide.

As footage of Trump and his family watching the events unfold in a special tent with party music is revealed the realisation that this was a carefully curated event is crystal clear. As images of U.S. Capitol Police officers taking selfies with the Trump mob it becomes very clear that the cops were actively involved in assisting the coup effort. Video has emerged showing police taking selfies with the rioters  and another shows police opening barricades so insurrectionists could enter the Capitol.

The reality that the far-right is not only aided and abetted by the police and security services but that there is significant cross-over and contamination between law-enforcement and white supremacy groups and Trump fanatics which will make policing the capital in the run up to inauguration extremely difficult.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a free speech and civil rights organization, have called for a “fully public investigation into the federal and local police planning and response to today’s events, and termination and prosecution of all officers and officials found to have condoned or colluded with the violent mob that attacked the Capitol today.”

A spokesman said: “What happened at the nation’s Capitol today could only have occurred because law enforcement allowed it to happen. Far-right mobs smashed windows and doors, stormed the Capitol behind a traitorous, terrorist Confederate flag, and broke into the Senate chamber,” the group said. “The images of police officers calmly allowing barricades open, letting the crowd enter, and taking selfies inside the building with those who have stormed it cannot go without investigation and penalty.”

As the Trump circus leaves town in a blaze of predictable violence and farce, the Republican party is shattering into shards of varying degrees of objectionable, reactionary opportunism as they clamber over each other for political advantage and try desperately to distance themselves from the mayhem they have created and enabled.

Digital Soldiers

This was the day when the Trump Cult’s fantasy was extinguished, a fantasy cultivated on the multiple channels and forums where the Alt-right spend their lives exchanging disinformation and fanning the flames of their own paranoia and bigotry. The specific fantasy that the President and the Republican party had developed was the one that Mike Pence as VP had the constitutional right to annul the election. The fact that he never had such a power (and never could have had such a power) was irrelevant to the movement who are, as they say, a little ‘fact resistant’. But in a very Wizard of Oz moment, the curtain was eventually pulled back and the harsh reality that the Trump regime was very much over incensed the mob to storm Capitol Hill.

But how to analyse such a wonderfully weird American moment as this?

Certainly it’s ended the pathetic attempt by the Republicans to go through the role-play of protesting the election.

Certainly it’s brought some cold reality into the Republicans who toadied up to Trump’s regime then found themselves crouching in terror beneath desks as armed men banged on the doors.

Certainly the treatment of the ‘protestors’ as some media insisted on calling them was in stark contrast to the black lives matter protests which were met with lethal force and indiscriminate beatings.

Certainly the Democratic victories that mean they take control of the Senate as well as the Congress means that the incoming Biden administration is empowered and emboldened in a way that few thought possible only a few days ago. That Trump is largely responsible for these victories is icing on the Democrats cake, and the losses will add to his legacy in political history as a grotesque loser.

Certainly Trump incited the violent mob, telling thousands of supporters that gathered near the White House: “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength.” He may well be taken down for this, either through the 25th Amendment or impeachment.

But little else is very clear about any of this. The mob were a mixture of the absurd and the pathetic, the ridiculous and the highly dangerous. They were a mixture of fantasists and fascists. This was as much a coup as an exercise in neo-fascist cosplay. And, while the soup of disinformation that has been weaponised by the alt-right the role of the tech companies is deeply problematic. Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, Snapchat and Instagram have all shut down Trump’s accounts, permanently. Whilst this is being presented as ‘social media giants get tough’ – the truth is that on the day Trump used @Twitter to bypass the broadcasting media and speak direct to praise his fascist mob – the networks then dutifully re-played his message.

The truth is also that over the past decade, Big Tech have been extremely reluctant to moderate Trump’s posts, even as he repeatedly violated hate speech regulations. In June last year he retweeted to his tens of millions of followers a video of one of his supporters shouting “white power!” in 2020 June. He encouraged violence against Black Lives Matter protests in a message shared to multiple platforms that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.

But the deeper question is not just how do we respond to societal level racism and bigotry but how do you democratise these forums, because whilst the immediate response may be to celebrate the shutting down of someone who is inciting a riot, there are bigger questions about freedom of speech.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Lifting Up

Finally, how do we assess the seriousness of this moment?

It was extraordinary and people died, in fact it’s a mystery that many more didn’t.

The President was inciting a riot telling his rally south of the White House to “walk down to the Capitol,” adding, “You will never take back our country with weakness” as his Republican henchman and family urged the crowd on. The mob contained heavily armed men who ransacked the building. Many of them could and should be described as “domestic terrorists” even if the Trump entourage is a giddy blend of Nazis, Neo-fascists, Q conspiracists and the socially awkward.

Whilst some of this is deeply dangerous and serious some of it is comic and tragic. Take poor Elizabeth from Knoxville Tennessee who got maced by the police. Asked why she was there she said: “We’re storming the capitol, it’s a revolution.”

https://twitter.com/Nadine_Writes/status/1347111648037904384?s=20

Poor Elizabeth’s day-out was ruined.

But if some of it is funny most of it is sickening.

Last night top-Trump supporter Sen. Ted Cruz has tweeted about the Capitol police officer who was killed after the pro-Trump mob rampaged through the Capitol on Wednesday. The Texas Senator says that he and his wife Heidi are “lifting up in prayer” the family of Brian Sicknick. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. Cruz was one of the Republican senators who, even after the assault on the Capitol, still voted against the certification of states’ votes when Wednesday’s joint session to confirm Joe Biden’s election eventually got underway.

Trivia

This may be the end of the road for Trump and his dynastic regime, but it won’t be for the movement of white supremacy he has helped create. The truth is the mob didn’t come from the Rustbelt they came from the Internet. They aren’t the deprived or the oppressed they are the deranged and the dysfunctional. They are the worst aspects of the American Nightmare made manifest in the real world, they are like every chat room and forum come alive in fantasy role-play.  Whilst it’s quite right that social media companies ban people who incite violence, the wider question of civil liberties and freedom of speech will not be resolved if we allow such massive new platforms to be unregulated or privately owned. While Biden’s emergence will be a grateful relief to the toxic violence of the Trump era, the scale of the trauma and crisis in American society is deeper and more tragic than anyone could have imagined.

But if anyone is prone to trivialise this event, to suggest that these people shouldn’t be taken seriously, to suggest this wasn’t really a coup, that they weren’t really terrorists, that they aren’t really fascists, this film of events inside the Capitol building is required viewing. It outlines how the mob came intent to kill Mike Pence, equipped with kit for hostage-taking and a noose. But whilst people will be arrested and Trump’s family will be ousted, the far-far right will be emboldened by the fact that they could just do this – live – seemingly without any serious opposition or consequence.

Mike Davis has written (‘Riot on the Hill’): “… the True Trumpists have become a de facto third party, bunkered down heavily in the House of Representatives. As Trump embalms himself in bitter revenge fantasies, reconciliation between the two camps will probably become impossible, although individual defections may occur. Mar-a-Lago will become base camp for the Trump death cult which will continue to mobilize his hardcore followers to terrorize Republican primaries and ensure the preservation of a large die-hard contingent in the House as well as in red-state legislatures. (Republicans in the Senate, accessing huge corporation donations, are far less vulnerable to such challenges.)”

For those pundits squealing endlessly “this isn’t fascism” (“it doesn’t have the historical factors required blah blah … blah blah) they should read well the words of Richard Seymour (‘A return to civility will not begin to quell the threat of fascism in the US’):

“This is all indicative of an incipient fascism, laying the cultural and political groundwork for a violent, extra-parliamentary mass movement of the right. It is a mistake to assume that fascism must take the form of dictatorship. Far-right movements today are shaped by the same factors: the decomposition of parliamentary legitimacy and their inherited organisational weaknesses. In that context, wielding the power of office is a pedagogical, formative experience. It allows movements with thin civic roots to project influence at a national level and try things out. Fascism does not arrive on the scene with full uniform and programme.”

It’s very easy to see these rioters as an aberration, a comic outpouring of paranoia and American drug culture fused with conspiracism and Confederacy, but it’s far worse than that. As Seymour concludes:  “Trumpism is not an aberration, but a mass phenomenon. Trump greatly expanded his base between 2016 and 2020, adding more than 10 million votes to its total.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (31)

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  1. Graeme McCormick says:

    Breathtakingly insightful as always!

    A broken series of societies in one country

  2. Blair says:

    John 16, KJV

    “The reality that the far-right is not only aided and abetted by……………. services but that there is significant cross-over”

    We are all God’s Digital Soldiers. Who is your God? Are you in service with the Christ or the Anti-Christ?

    Are you in the Kirk, the church of Jesus Christ? This is the only way to break free from state and contamination of the UnReal.

    In Jesus words:

    John 16:17 Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?

    http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=kingjames.kjvbible.freebible.dailyverses.kingjamesversion

    The Father Today, Mike Small is working through Bella. Christ in a is with Bella Caledonia. Great knowledge can be obtained through Scotland”s real Holy Spirit, hidden

    https://hiddeninthecrag.com/2017/02/25/mt-zion-or-mt-sion/comment-page-1/

    and only available after the https://youtu.be/r37_hNy9A1A

    Until then God’s Digital Soldiers will be in lockdown until they awake in 2022.

    1. Derek Thomson says:

      Mike, really. I know you like to allow as many ideas and points of view as possible on your site, and I completely agree with that, but come on, get this half-wit off the board.

      1. Blair says:

        Understanding is to follow.

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000r35p

        Mike, we all are learning. Bella Caledonia is the best platform: I would be really upset if you allow such prejudice to proceed into action. <3 this on-line world.

        -CVB.

  3. Tom Ultuous says:

    I wish I had said that. Another great article Mike.

  4. Mark Bevis says:

    This is what happens when your EROEI declines. We are witnessing collapse of global industrialisation civilisation (COGIC).
    EROEI – energy return on energy invested. In other words, to get energy out of the ground (or anywhere) costs energy. Whats left over, the surplus, goes into building the civilisation you think you require – roads, medicine, hospitals, holidays abroad, exotic food from abroard, etc, etc.
    The cost of getting energy since 1972 has been going up and up, thus leaving less surplus energy to spend on civilisation. Thus, even if the UK and US had benign leaders that actually cared about their populace, you’d still have rampant inequalities.

    As it is, we have the opposite, with leaders deliberately making inequalities to sow division, so that they can maintain power and the wealth transfer to the elites. You have middling classes desperately holding on to their level of civilisation, and the extremely wealthy ramping up their wealth extraction. And a growing underclass (14 million in the UK, over 70 million in the US) who have basically been written off. Many of our brexiteers and the US trumpists are just victims of that process, and some of those in that riot/occupation were there to express their frustration at the system that is not working for them.

    One thing you should know – increased CO2 levels lead to decreased cognitive function.
    Couple that with a poor education system and a toxic diet, a far right media and it’s no wonder so many actually fall for Trump’s rhetoric.

    Whilst this won’t actually change much, Biden hardly being a socialist, it will lead to more authoritarian rule, even more censorship, continued inequalities and do not be surprised when we see more of the same the world over. Until the “have-a-bit’s” learn to give up some civilisation, and until the extremely wealthy are either forced to give up a lot of their share, or be killed in the process and their largesse shared, nothing will change – until Gaia forces those changes.

    The 1972 Limits to Growth showed 2020 was peak food. It shows 2025-ish as peak population. Peak production was 2015, and peak pollution will be 2030. The projections have been remarkably accurate so far. From here on in, it’s change all the way.

    A few things I found out last year:
    May 2020 paper – there are between 10,000 and 600,000 othe Covid types diseases out there in nature, any one of which could mutate across to humans.
    June 2020 paper – just by measuring deforestation and overpopulation alone, there is a 90% chance of COGIC within 30 years in a best case scenario.
    November 2020 paper – we passed the tipping point for methane release from the Arctic in, get this, 1950 (!) when we were at 315ppm CO2.
    EROEI for hunter-gatherers was 10:1
    peasant monoculture agriculture has EROEI 3:1
    (just for comparison, oil in the 1910s was over 100:1, the oil crises of 1970s it dropped to c25:1, fracking is less than 1:1; current estimates are c15:1 for oil)
    As a species we slaughtered 68% of all other species between 1970 and 2016.

    So yes, dramatic though it was, the storming of the White House was just that, drama, and is in fact a symptom of a bigger problem. We’ve run out of cheap energy but still continue to live as if there is an inexaustable supply of it with no ecological boundaries. Because no other narrative is allowed (witness Boris’ recent banning of anti-capitalist teachings in schools). We’re toast as a species unless we all rapidly learn to live with a lot less.
    In the enterim, enjoy the drama, it’s not like you’ll be bored.

    1. Michael says:

      Mark, you provide a much more helpful and ground analysis than Mike’s usual storytelling – his proclamation’s of goodies and baddies and the ever simplistic story to fit his predefined narrow world view.

      1. Mark Bevis says:

        Thankyou, just looking at it from a further distance, outside the subconscious Overton Window.

        For readers who want a no limits tutorial on where we are at, although a stout heart and very open mind is required, even as a hardened collapologist I can’t watch it all in one go, check out Micheal Dowd’s latest piece:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQeK04WOGaA

        although this prophetic classic sketch from 2013 might be viewed as a primer:
        https://www.dropbox.com/s/a45cdd0robpak6f/The%20Newsroom%20%202013%20Environmental%20Protection%20Agency%20report%28EPA%29%3A%20Richard%20Westbrook%20scenes_1920x1080_MOV.mov?dl=0

        1. John McLeod says:

          Mark – thanks for the link to the Dowd video, which is moving, powerful and disturbing, and provides a context for everything that is happening in the world at the moment. I don’t agree that Mike Small’s article is simplistic – its just looking at things with a different level of focus. Listening to Dowd helped me to get a handle on my own sense of deep frustration. What is unfolding in Washington around Trump, what is unfolding in Scotland around Salmond and Sturgeon – these, and many other dramas, are important and need to be taken seriously. But they are also distractions from the big thing that is not being talked about – how our way of life is destroying the earth.

  5. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    The whole charade reminded me a bit of those other ‘mass spectacles’, like the Storming of the Bastille and the Storming of the Winter Palace. On other threads, some have been calling for similar ‘mass spectacles’ in response to the ongoing failure of the Scottish government to deliver ‘Independence’ by constitutional or other legal means.

    The whole Storming of the Capitol was nothing more than ritual theatre. The mythologies that the spectacle generated, even as the performance was being streamed live on newscasts and social media, will soon be curated by Holywood and passed into the canon of Ameican folklore.

    Perhaps some Dumas or Evreinov could reproduce the spectacle as ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Donald Trump’, demonstrating ‘how the class struggle… created circumstances and relationships that made it possible for a grotesque mediocrity to play a hero’s part’.

    1. J Galt says:

      Theatre indeed.

      It would be interesting to know who the Producers are.

      Come to think of it, not much different from the “Producers”!

      1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        I believe it’s a guy called Klaas Strügl.

        1. J Galt says:

          “Cue guy with confederate flag!”

          A pretty third rate production at that.

          As we lurch from one “Grotesque Mediocrity” to the next “Grotesque Mediocrity”.

          1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Aye, but the storming of the Bastille was a non-event as well, and see what mythologies have been made of that. Already, the charade is being immortalised by the Washington Establishment and its lackeys and running dogs as ‘an attack on democracy’, and by the Enraged and the opportunists and parasites who have hitched their wagons to the star of its anger as ‘a popular uprising against tyranny’.

  6. Carey Rowland says:

    Thanks, Mike, for your deep coverage and analysis of this tragic turn in our nation’s history.
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks Carey. I spent some time working and studying in the USA and have many great friends there.

  7. Daniel Raphael says:

    Bella is a gem and you are its skillful jeweler, Michael. Please continue. Now broadcasting your latest article via Twitter.

  8. florian albert says:

    ‘the far-far right will be emboldened’

    That is one possibility. Another, to me more plausible one, is that this represents an own goal by Trump and by those who invaded the Capital buildings. At the heart of the events was a failure of policing. In this, it is similar to riots in London in 2011 and – closer to home – at Hampden in 2016. On the two latter occasions, the police belatedly caught up with the criminals and the courts punished them. This was a long drawn out process but it demonstrated that breaking the law leads to consequences. The rule of law was upheld and, if anything, strengthened.

    With regard to Trump, the fact that his most enthusiastic followers proved to be the sort of individuals rejected by freak-shows is likely to sink in over coming days and weeks. Out of power and with his marriage of convenience to the Republican Party ended, his political options will be significantly curtailed.

  9. Richard Easson says:

    Thanks Mike, doesn’t leave much else to say. Thank goodness this person has no interests in Scotland or friendly councils to hand out planning permissions for new golf courses, while destroying the environment. (know this is a slight tangent, but leaves me wondering.)

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      Ah, but remember that the Donald’s plans for the Balmedie development were rejected by a hostile local council, a decision that was called in and reversed by a friendly Scottish government.

      1. Richard Easson says:

        To be honest I cannot remeber the details. There are Councillors and there are planning departments which can go different ways. We had this where I live with the Coul Links development, with a similar situation, Planning against , Councillors for…called in and refused. I remeber one Aberdeen councillor (or was it a planner) speaking out against Trump but cannot recall the details, still it should have been rfused as this second one , considering the damage already done.

        1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

          In the case in question, the local planners recommended acceptance of the application, the local Council rejected their recommendation, the local MSP (Alex Salmond) requested that his Scottish government ‘call in’ the application, which it duly did and overruled the local democratic decision on the grounds of national interest.

          1. Richard Easson says:

            It still makes me wonder why a persom inciting domestic violence whose two golf courses have reported huge losses is seen as suitable to build yet another course on dunes in Aberdeenshire, which was my original point.

          2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            But it’s not about his moral qualities; it’s about the strength of the planning application.

            Come to think of it, after the Balmedie Affair, it’s not even about the strength of the planning application; it’s about the national economic interest.

  10. H Scott says:

    The extremism has come, and still comes, from both ‘sides’ and the dehumanising othering of each other that simply lessens everyone. As a society the West needs to raise its game.

    1. Mark Bevis says:

      Aye, but one of the lessons of collapsology is that the current forms of economy, social structure and governance are completely unreformable. Rather than raising our game, we should be replacing it with a completely new game.

      History shows that humans aren’t very good at this!

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