Lessons From the 6 January Capitol Insurrection

Yves here. It can’t be said often enough that the apparent success of the Capitol seizure came about because the occupiers pushed on an open door. The mob looked to be 5,000 tops, a number that should have been trivial to keep away or at worst, overwhelm. We’ll have a better idea soon of much muscle these Trump opponents have, although the 24/7 media panic has given them a big boost. However, if no more than 50,000 show up at the Inauguration, they are paper tigers, and it would take over 150,000 to get me concerned.

However, the authors equate Trump radicals with the working class, which strikes me as simplistic. Despite having a lower proportion of college graduates than Clinton/Biden voters,  Trump voters have markedly higher incomes, in 2016, over $10,000 per household, a significant increment, particularly if you factor in that they are less well represented in high wage cities like New York. San Francisco, Boston, and Los Angeles. Recall, for instance, that Zip Tie Guy was sporting pricey camo pants and accessories.

It’s not hard to imagine that a decent proportion of the rioters were small business owners, like the woman who was fatally shot, Ashli Babbitt, who operated a pool service company with her husband. Small businesspeople have been the loudest opponents of lockdowns and other restrictions on Covid and some are even of the “Covid is a hoax” school. Yes, they favored Trump for economic reasons: they benefitted from his tax reforms and were keen about his refusal to support aggressive Covid containment measures.

By Albena Azmanova, an associate professor of politics at the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies and author of Capitalism on Edge: How Fighting Precarity Can Achieve Radical Change Without Crisis or Utopia (2020) and Marshall Auerback, a researcher at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, a fellow of Economists for Peace and Security, and a regular contributor to Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

While the majority of Americans deplored the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, it was troubling to see a YouGov poll indicating that 1 in 5 voters approved of the assault. Their attitudes were buttressed by a significant number of House and Senate Republicans who have egged on the matter by continuing to call into question the legitimacy of last November’s election result. This is a sign that the rot in the American political system goes deep.

Upgrading the physical security around the country’s political institutions is of little long-term value, especially if the activities that occur within them continue to manifest ongoing dysfunction worthy of a banana republic.

Let this be our wake-up call, America’s “Beirut blast.” The bomb explosion that devastated large parts of Beirut last summer was not an isolated, unfortunate occurrence, but the profound manifestation of decades of incompetence, complacency, and corruption in the Lebanese government—an outcome of the ruling classes’ criminal neglect of essential public needs.

By the same token, the events of January 6th should be viewed as the point U.S. political dysfunction reached its breaking point. While the country still appears to remain economically powerful, it has become politically weak and socially fragile in ways characteristic of a society in decline.  The focus on the relatively small group that broke into the Capitol as a result of lax security is akin to focusing on the Beirut blast wreckage to the exclusion of all else. Far more significant are the surveys of representative samples of Americans that reveal deepening mistrust of the core institutions and a growing commitment to sectarian interests which have, in many parts of the nation, superseded commitment to the republic itself.

This sheds a different light on the events. While the spark that ignited the violent pro-Trump upheaval was the incumbent’s allegations that the November Presidential election was fraudulent, for many the assault on the Capitol was also an insurgency against the entire political class. “All these politicians work for us. We pay their salaries, we pay our taxes. And what do we get? Nothing. All of them inside are traitors”—as a member of the mob stated.

On this particular point, the grievances of the violent mob and the findings of scholars align: America is an oligarchy, not a functioning democracy, as the detailed study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page argued in 2014. Thus, much as this was an assault on American democracy, the storming of the Capitol was also a sign that American democracy had already failed. Surely, these clumsy “revolutionaries” did not storm the Capitol because they are living the American Dream—and they are blaming, unsurprisingly, the whole political class for their malaise.

Whenever economic explanations of this radicalization are attempted, inequality is singled out as the root of working-class discontent. Commentators from Joseph Stiglitz to Thomas Piketty or Emmaunuel Saez relentlessly hammer on one theme above all others: an economic inequality that has deep roots in the political system. A cross-party consensus is now emerging on fighting inequality through redistribution—from raising the minimum wage to increasing unemployment benefits.

One reason why inequality has attracted so much attention is that it is easily measurable. Indeed, reports of the top 1% of Americans taking $50 trillion from the bottom 90% easily appeal to our sense of injustice. However, there are studies of the white working class which reveal that despite the outrage about inequality, many in this demographic still admire the rich. Additionally, the singular focus on economic inequality obscures another phenomenon—the massive economic insecurity which is affecting broader swathes of the population beyond the ‘precariat’ (those in poorly paid and insecure jobs). While insecurity is not easy to measure and report, it is in fact at the root of the social malaise of Western societies.

Seeing economic precarity as a root cause also helps to better explain why so much of the working-class radicalization has taken a turn to the right. Right-wing populists specifically evoke language that triggers conservative instincts—the evocation of family, a desire for stability, for clinging strongly to what is familiar (“Make America Great Again”), as opposed to plunging into political experimentation with something new—with the “foreign”, to the American mind, European-style social democracy (especially when combined with “woke” issues that tend to alienate). On the other hand, many on the libertarian right champion free market fundamentalism, which fosters competitive, rather than solidaristic attitudes—especially when public goods are converted into private rents via privatization, which in turn limits access to resources that mitigate the effects of that intense competition instead of enhancing social solidarity.

Even under recent Democratic Administrations, economic recovery from the 2008 financial meltdown happened through a growth in insecure employment. The services jobs that fueled U.S. economic growth for the past 40 years—until the pandemic began to destroy them—were numerous, but of low quality. The rise of neoliberalism at the expense of the conservative-liberal divide that preceded it has enabled employers to tilt the terms of our capitalist economies heavily toward capital and away from labor, via the evisceration of unions, the deconstruction of the welfare state, and the privatization of public services. Most importantly, funding for public services and social programs has been persistently slashed. It is this impoverishment of the public commons that has increased the importance of personal wealth in securing essential goods such as healthcare and education. Thus, economic inequality matters enormously, but as a grave symptom of a broader problem—that of massive, and growing, fragility of society as a whole. The erosion of the public sector precludes access to many of the social supports that have historically buttressed economic security.

As a result, the American economy has begun to resemble a new, modern feudalism with a small technocracy dominated by Silicon Valley tech overlords and Wall Street billionaires at the top, and a large, uneducated, rapidly growing serf class at the bottom with no social safety net to protect it. . Even if the wealth gap were to be considerably reduced by transfer from rich to poor, precarity would persist because it is rooted not in inequality, but in a depleted public sector, in a public authority that has abandoned the public and increasingly become a vehicle for predatory capitalism.

The pandemic exacerbated both the inequality and the precarity. Wall Street and the stock market have boomed over the past several months, generating affluence imbued with unprecedented levels of risk. At the same time, job growth has collapsed, and unemployment remains stubbornly high. Millions of Americans have withdrawn from the labor force, their jobs likely destroyed for good as the long-term impact of the economic shutdown wreaks havoc in many industries.

That has become a literal life consequence for working people in a system that continues to introduce restrictions to curb the pandemic. It is a particularly acute paradox in the United States, where healthcare remains largely predicated to employment via employer-funded healthcare systems. So we have the makings of a vicious cycle: restrictions are introduced to slow the pandemic, which in turn creates further job losses, which in turn can mean loss of employment and, hence, loss of access to healthcare provision. The very policies designed to safeguard health, then, ultimately exacerbate the problem. Add all of these factors together, align it with a demagogue working to undermine an election result, and you get the ingredients for a very poisonous outbreak of the kind we witnessed on January 6th.

The forces that led to the evisceration of working-class security is now extending to those ensconced in historically well-paid jobs, from lawyers to IT engineers. Even in the midst of a severe recession and a rapidly accelerating pandemic, policy makers remain remarkably indifferent to these trends and the ongoing precarity. They persist in believing that what has happened is merely a disruption to a solid structure, a deviation from normality, all of which can be rectified by the right mix of policy stimulus. A growing political consensus in the United States to tackle inequality appears to be emerging (especially in the wake of the recent Georgia run-off election, which put the Senate back under the control of the Democratic Party). But no matter how equal society becomes in terms of wealth distribution, without a dramatic government investment in public services, notably education, healthcare provision, and job security, trust and disillusionment in American institutions will persist, and with that also the rise of militancy by a radicalized underclass.

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  1. jackiebass

    Generally people attending protests aren’t poor people. Poor people are living from paycheck to paycheck. They need to work to survive. It is expensive to attend a protest. The travel and other costs along with lost wages if you are a working person aren’t affordable. Many are funded by dark money, live off of parents or are borne into privilege. Actually many were protesting against a system that favors them. It is a small but vocal part of the population. People need to take these hate groups seriously. They are the biggest threat to our democracy that exists. The Southern Poverty Law Center has been warning us about this hate groups for decades. It is time we take the warning seriously.

    1. dcblogger

      poor people do not buy an airplane ticket and stay at the Willard Hotel. These were rich and nearly rich.

    2. bob k

      i don’t know, it was probably a mix of classes. I do know that I attended many many demos in the 60s in DC and always travelled by bus with many others. often we’d have a car wash to raise money for the bus. it was cheap and effective. and as a college student i didn’t have much disposable income and often had to rely on the generosity of others. as for getting arrested, who thinks they’re going to be arrested?

      1. Tomonthebeach

        In the 60’s most of us were kids objecting to being dragged into a stupid war and tolerating systemic racism. We had no careers to lose. We had no wealth and businesses to lose while we sit in prison or pay high fines for our misdemeanors.

        If you look at the many pictures of those storming the Capitol and those inside vandalizing it, it is hard not to notice that most raging faces appear to be over 50 – baldness and gray hair dominate. These people were so “part of the system” that they expressed shock at encountering any police resistance and further shock at being charged with felonies later.

        It is straightforward to conclude that these people were not at all like we were in the 60’s.

        1. Lefty

          I don’t think it’s a fair comparison. There were an abundance of jobs in the sixties, in virtually all sectors. Gaps in one’s resume weren’t a problem back then. You could “drop out” of society for a while and then “get back in” much, much easier than you can today.

          1. GeoCrackr

            Adding on to this, it was also easier to get by on a part-time job (gas prices a pittance, SROs and other affordable rooms/rental properties abundant, even food was cheaper). I was just last night discussing w/ my wife how before the college privatization/administration-bloat boom that started in the 80s, one could pay for a semester or even a year at a local college, or at least room-and-board during the school year, by working a part-time job over the summer, something that is literally impossible now.

    3. The Historian

      I tend to agree. It is important not to judge them by what they looked like. It’s like what happens at Sturgis. Many of the bikers are doctors, lawyers, techies, etc., but they grow beards and shave their heads, and generally ‘dress down’ for the event. I think that often happens at MAGA rallies too. Most of the MAGA types I know are small businessmen, i.e., the guy who owns a house painting business, or an auto repair place, or a small construction yard.

      1. Carla

        And safety forces — almost all police officers and firefighters are unionized. While starting pay can be very low, benefits are excellent, and promotions plus regular raises mean these workers are usually solidly middle class. And tragically for this country, it seems they often identify with the predator class more than they do with the precariat.

        1. JTMcPhee

          As regularly observed here, the police are there to protect and advance the interests of the predator class.

      2. Michael Fiorillo

        Most of them seem to be petit bourgeois, which traditionally forms the base of right-wing/fascist movements. While it might have been white working class defectors from the Democratic Party who put Trump over the top in 2016 (as in the many thousands in swing states who voted for Obama before turning to Trump), his base is otherwise similar to that of more conventional Republicans.

        As Adolph Reed has pointed out, #McResistance Media, LLC, has racialized the term “working class” to mean “white working class,” the better to shame, scold and divide.

      3. John Wright

        One local (Northern Calif) retail business owner I deal with stated that “Trump is better for business” prior to the election, indicating his support for Trump.

        Another time, he mentioned that he was “behind on the rent” for his building.

        But this business owner still has a small and loyal workforce that he, somehow, pays.

        Trump was the carny barker selling his version of (Obama) hope.

        And great many USA people are hoping for their lot to improve.

        In my view, the Democrats had an opportunity to work with Trump for the betterment of the country from January 2017 to January 2021.

        Instead they ridiculed him and accused him of being a traitorous Russian dupe and unleashed the national security state on him..

        Maybe if the Democrats had swallowed their pride and dealt in a less adversarial manner with the unworthy Trump, the USA and the world would be better off.

        De-facto ignoring the long term economic issues (wages, healthcare, education, infrastructure) in the USA is policy for both parties.

        And people USED to look to the Democrats as the party that actually cared for the less well off as in LBJ’s War on Poverty.

        I’m now expecting “Biden Disappointment Syndrome” to unfold after Jan 21 in Biden supporters.

        1. Wukchumni

          Maybe 6 months into the debacle I was having breakfast with my aforementioned brother in law from Az who is the epitome of a well heeled far right supporter.

          He once oversaw hundreds when he was Krupp’d by the MIC, before retiring to a pension that would make you blush.

          Thought i’d go with the lie gambit, asking him if he was ok with the President’s never ending lies, and he more or less said if it advanced goals of the party, ok.

          I then asked what he would’ve done with an engineer caught lying repeatedly about most everything, and did he clam up.

          We’ve all known serial liars and it’s a big turn off, and how could cooperation have ever gone forward politically with that crucial underpinning of the President as a clear and present danger to any negotiation?

          1. John Wright

            I tend to view politicians as skilled in manipulation to get what they want.

            Out of the gate, the Democrats Russigated Trump and second guessed his moves (talking with Putin, talking with North Korea).

            I suspect businessman Trump is not the winning party in every deal he has made.

            In my view, the Democrats did a real disservice to the county by antagonizing Trump from day one, seemingly because the anointed one did not win.

            Perhaps the Democrats could have manipulated “serial liar” Trump for the country’s benefit if they had tried.

      1. Nick

        Your comment and the linked article read like jokes after last week’s actual events, and those that nearly came to pass. Right wing political violence has long been a relatively large threat in the US. For the past few years it has often had official sanction if not active cooperation, and going forward things look set to get even worse. Harassment and abuse from the top within an organization is awful, but SPLC looks to have been on to something.

        1. Alex Cox

          The SPLC was exposed as a money-making enterprise back in the days of Covert Action Information Bulletin. Fundamentally nothing has changed.

        2. Nick

          I don’t mean to defend or deny claims about the ways in which SPLC operates but rather to point out that the argument that they “invent hate groups” should be pretty clear to all as a weak angle of criticism after last week. They may not be good actors but to take that tack in order to criticize makes no sense and suggests an ax to grind.

      2. Buckeye

        The Federalist?! Really?! A right wing, anti-democracy, pro-elitist factory of subversion: that’s your source? SPLC is the truth-teller or the else the conservatives would not be smearing it.

        1. Lefty

          This is a perfect example of what TPTB have intentionally created. The Federalist is indeed largely a rag, but it’s correct about the SPLC. As Alex Cox notes above, it was outed a long time ago by “the left.” The SPLC is supposed to be one of the “good guys” so this immediately causes confusion in people who just assume it’s on the up and up. I mean, it’s the SPLC, right?! But there’s more to it. In this arena, there always is.

        2. PHLDenizen

          *sigh* I was looking forward to the reopening of the comments section, but am wholly dismayed by the already plummeting signal:noise ratio. The return of “+1” empty calories and the ad hominem above are perfect examples.

          The notion that the SPLC’s veracity is reinforced by The Federalist being its enemy is facile. A criticism that stands on its merits and evidence is a criticism that stands valid. The source is irrelevant. I haven’t examined the critique, but to outright dismiss it because you loathe its origin is, well, stupid. It adds nothing useful to the conversation, serving only to reveal your bias.

          Everyone has biases, but you should at least be able to articulate why your own bias has merit before you wade into such arguments, particularly among this crowd. I can tune into MSNBC or read the NYT if I want to hear hyperventilations about guilt by association.

        3. Carla

          Really? Does that mean that Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi were and are truth-tellers, or “the conservatives would not be smearing” them?

          I certainly disagree.

  2. ArkansasAngie

    Winning friends and influencing people generally isn’t accomplished via the use of pejorative adjectives and adverbs.

    I’ve been struck by the hairsplitting with what constitutes a protected class. Race. Sex. LBGT. Disabled. Yes.

    Deplorables. Conservatives. Trump’sters. Ron Paul fans. Evidently, no.

    Ummmmmm … Demonization. Errrrrr … dehumanization. Horse feathers.

    The divisiveness that is going on today has authors and motives … power and money.

    No more wedgies

    1. dcblogger

      when you violently assault the Capitol for the purpose of overturning and election and beat a police officer to death, people are going to say very mean things about you.

      1. Carolinian

        Depends on what you mean by “you.” First hand accounts of the riot suggest that only a hard core were out to break into the building (and may have already been at the Capitol as Trump was speaking on the Ellipse). Many others simply walked in almost as tourists when the guards stepped aside. It’s also unclear so far who these militant people were although they could have been Proud Boys. The Capitol policeman inside was killed by one person who hit him in the head with a fire extinguisher.

        Greg Palast has an article saying that the rally did not have a permit to gather at the Capitol and that may be the reason it was so thinly defended (together one must suggest with incompetence by the now resigned head of the Capitol police). Perhaps the whole incident is more a matter of “stuff happens” than some deep dark insurrectionist plan.


        1. lyman alpha blob

          I agree with your take. The Gray Zone piece by Max Blumenthal that someone linked to here a few days ago is the only report I’ve seen by a reporter who was in the crowd at the scene. Blumenthal reported that there was definitely a core group who had violent intentions, but they were far from the majority. Sounds like that core used the larger protest as camouflage to some extent. Blumenthal also reported that there were many in the crowd who to him at least had some clear mental health issues.

          I think the 6th was as you described – stuff happens. If more riots break out in the coming weeks though, that will no longer be the case. And telling people they’ll get $1,400 right after you specifically promised them $2,000 isn’t exactly the best way to calm the restless masses.

          As many have noted here, the crowd was not the poorest of the poor. There have been reports that some pooled funds to charter private jets to the protest. A lot of what you might call petit bourgeoisie – small business owners and merchants.

          And I sincerely hope that people don’t misunderstand my point since I am not trying in any way to make a direct comparison between the participants in the riots of the 6th who I’ve never met and people from a couple centuries ago who I’ve also never met, but here’s a list of some other petit bourgeoisie with an axe to grind – Ben Franklin, Sam Adams, Paul Revere….

          The point is, regardless of the particular grievances of today’s rioters and the revolutionaries of yesteryear, these things very rarely start with the poorest of the poor – they start when there is middle class backing, and as we all know, the middle class in the US has been under legislative assault from both parties for decades now.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              Thanks for that – great article. This was particularly interesting –

              He said there were agitators wearing military-style clothing along the route from the rally to the Capitol trying to get the crowd fired up, but he repeated that the majority of people were just there to peacefully protest. “There were people trying to incite the crowd and I remember yelling at one. Maybe we should have grabbed their megaphones. I’m not there to get in a fight with anyone. There were people there to incite the crowd. No one was listening to them.”

              And for some strange reason, no matter the protest, if things do get violent we just never seem to be able to identify these types of agitators…

        2. fresno dan

          (CNN)Justice Department prosecutors have formally walked back their assertion in a court filing that said Capitol rioters sought to “capture and assassinate elected officials.”
          Well, kudos to CNN for reporting against ideology. I wonder if people who appear on CNN TV will get the memo…. And with regard to class of the protestors/rioters, it probably was an amalgam of well off AND people, IMHO, rightly justified in being cynical about the people who inhabit congress and the CORRUPT SYSTEM we have in the US that puts them in that building. People who don’t read right wing publications would probably be surprised that a significant portion of the readers of such publications DO NOT support the thin blue line. – remember that an awful lot of unarmed white men get shot dead by police too. (National Review often points out unjustified police shootings of both black and white).
          One of the problems with our MSM and social media is the idea that you either support or oppose 100% of what Trump ostensibly says (as Trump says so much that is contradictory, meaningless, or so much that just doesn’t make sense, it really doesn’t mean much to divide people based on such a criterion).
          In this case, prosecutors seem to have leveled charges that I would say were premature at BEST, and perhaps due to an overly anti Trump animus (as always, I note that I despise Trump, but I will not defend the indefensible). REMEMBER that a good portion of the FBI and DoJ believed that Russiagate was a thing? Dare I say it – this insurrection was Trumped up? Maybe some conservatives believe, with good cause, that US policing and security functions aren’t all that just. There is a movie out now about MLK and the FBI – people on the “left” should see it so that they no longer hold in thrall the FBI and DoJ…one should never knee jerk defend or criticize the police.

        3. FluffytheObeseCat

          “ The Capitol policeman inside was killed by one person who hit him in the head with a fire extinguisher.”
          Based on video and common sense it’s fairly clear that most of the people milling around in front of the Capitol on January 6th had no intention of storming it. And they’re quite vocal now about how “obvious”* that should be. However. If they’re comfortable blaming younger, darker, less privileged Americans for “enabling” the real vandals this past summer….. I feel comfortable holding them to the same account.

          They provided cover and validation for the nutjob vandals and the genuinely dangerous (but rare) neofascists who led those charges into the Capitol. With the intent of stopping our legal, orderly transition of power based on an election. However fraught the validity of the election may be, or be claimed to have been, the people who tried to upend it ‘cause they so love God Emperor Trump…. they need to serve time. Lotsa time.

          And the ‘nonviolent’ middle aged party animals who made it possible with their numbers, and their expensive Trump flags and camo gear, need to grow up and acknowledge the real duties of adult citizens. Just like the tiresome woke ‘kids’ who dominated the news this summer.

          *(I have the sense that we are just expected to ‘know’ they must be virtuous, on account of their country music fan looks and saintly Republicanism.)

          1. Carolinian

            cover and validation

            I don’t think any of us are arguing that Trump and his people should be blameless for letting his protest rally get out of control. But the Whataboutism cuts both ways. During the Floyd protests the media and the Dems were quick to assert that the worst violence was the fault of agent provocateurs but are unwilling to say the same about 1/6. Some of those militants may not even have been Trump supporters but rather anarchist types out for excitement. Too little is known to jump to conclusions.

            Which is why if anything the House should have gone for censure rather than snap impeachment. And the new talk about “domestic terrorism” is a huge overreach.

            1. neo-realist

              Lets not give short shrift to domestic terrorism:

              White supremacists present the gravest terror threat to the United States, according to a draft report from the Department of Homeland Security.

              Two later draft versions of the same document — all of which were reviewed by POLITICO — describe the threat from white supremacists in slightly different language. But all three drafts describe the threat from white supremacists as the deadliest domestic terror threat facing the U.S., listed above the immediate danger from foreign terrorist groups.


              While the Orange Menace brays “Antifa, Antifa.”

            2. FluffytheObeseCat

              “ Some of those militants may not even have been Trump supporters but rather anarchist types out for excitement. Too little is known to jump to conclusions.”

              Implicit in this statement is the notion that “some of them” may have been Antifa-like false flag, super undercover rodent-effers. After living in these Untied States for 59 years, I suspect this comfortable idea is a pile of hooey. We’re not dealing with a horde of super-Machiavellis here. Just over excited heels who tend to congregate with those whom they’re most comfortable around.

              This Twitter clip https://twitter.com/HeathMayo/status/1349944401179496449/video/1

              is the best condemnation of every apologia I have yet seen. “But bleep you for being there.”

              1. The Rev Kev

                Yeah, saw that interview yesterday. But then I remembered that this guy actually applied for that job, is on about $65,000 a year with full pension and health benefits so he has a lot of security in his life, unlike a lot of the people in that riot, so bleep him too. And I bet that that neck tattoo would bar him from a lot of other jobs too.

                But like yourself, I seriously doubt that there were any Antifa types in that riot as that would be like a mouse at a cat convention. From the videos that I have seen, their style is to do their stuff when they have superior numbers and are masked so that they could not be identified.

                1. marym

                  As reflected in several discussions at NC, we don’t have a clear picture of the economic status of the participants. Sure, there’s an argument to be made that, whatever the mix of petit bourgeois or working class, arriving by private plane or shared rides or rented buses, their economic situation, like that of most people now, is somewhere between precarious and more severely distressed.

                  However, that’s not what they were protesting. They were protesting that their preferred candidate didn’t win the election, that votes of people not-like-them were counted; and they were willing to use disruption and violence to thwart the legal process of finalizing the election.

              2. Carolinian

                Blumenthal who was there said some who scaled the walls seemed military or trained. Lambert then said from the video he thought they looked more like the people who attacked the Federal Courthouse in Portland.

                And please read what I said carefully–that we don’t know who they were but it’s unlikely that the ones scaling walls were small business people. I also said they could be Proud Boys.

                Also check out that Palast link on radical elements that were planning to cause trouble.

                I don’t think I’m the one who is jumping to conclusions here.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  I’m not keen about Blumenthal’s reporting. He’s mixed second-hand accounts with his and presented them all as first hand, or elided them so you can’t tell which is which.

                  And why do you assume people who are fit are military? I’m a small business person and a fitness enthusiast. Before my hip was busted three years ago, I could have scaled a wall (I probably wouldn’t have due to the risk of falling on concrete). They have scaling walls in some fancy gyms, along with climbing ropes. And there’s also the cohort of people who are climbers and scale pretty sheer rockfaces for fun. Gah.

                2. Lambert Strether

                  > they could be Proud Boys.

                  From what I have seen aggregating attendees so far, no Proud Boys have been arrested. They seem to have hung around away from the action. Make of that what you will.

        4. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps the deliberate understaffing and partial stand-downing of the Capitol Police by their superiors was part of a plan to raise the chances of “stuff that happened” succeeding. Certainly the several government officials who obstructed getting the Maryland National Guard into DC for several hours were trying to buy time for the ” Zip Tie Guys” to succeed in their “stuff that happened”.

          That kind of careful facilitating of the riot should be looked into. Whose curling stones were the rioters? Who were the sweepers trying to create a glide path for the Zip Tie Guys to succeed in kidnapping and/or assassinating any number of congresspersons? The various Trumpublican congresspersons who gave “reconnaissance tours” to some pre-rioters prior to the riot should also be investigated. Could they be indictable for being accessories before the fact to conspiracy to commit multiple murders? 50% of America would like to know.

          1. Tony Wright

            Well said, except that I thought it was 51 or 52 percent who would like to know ( and lately maybe even a few GOP representatives too from what I have read).

      2. rowlf

        I find it ironic that the politicians and media hanger-ons that cheer protests like this when they occur in foreign countries were so shocked to see it first hand. Maybe not karma but it rhymes.

        1. campbeln

          This is my primary issue as well; what’s good for the goose…

          Especially in the light of #ForceTheVote and how people like AOC reacted to it (then taking a 180° turn on the second impeachment) and the foot dragging over $2000 checks, I mean master negotiated $600 checks, I mean $2000 checks, I mean $1400 checks…

          When other countries citizens “stand up to corrupt politicians” it’s seen as “a good thing” even if “some elements” “resorted to violence”. But here…

        2. The Rev Kev

          Russians were joking that due to covid travel restrictions, that Americans were forced to stage a coup in their own country instead.

      3. John Hacker

        i fear these people will be treated like banksters, They faced no consequences. Remember Wilmington 1898. Deep racism.

    2. workingclasshero

      It looks like black lives matter has plenty of power and money after their summer of “justice”.

    3. Phil in KC

      American Revolution historian Terry Bouton, professor at the U. of Maryland in Baltimore, was at the riot as an observer and had some interesting observations on his twitter account this past week. (Somehow I can’t link to it, but worth a search anyway). His take was that the rioters came from every strata of society, but he honestly couldn’t say if there was any one dominant group. I can fill in the gap. The rioters were overwhelmingly male and white.

      A friend of mine actually attended the rally, starting at the Ellipse. He was protesting the vaccine and masking, both positions being in sync with the crowd, which was generally maskless. He said he felt “called” to be there, and responded positively to the President’s call to walk down Pennsylvania Ave. He got as least as far as the Capitol Grounds before I asked him to stop his narrative. Seeing our Capitol invaded by vandals and goons was a gut-wrenching experience and I didn’t want to hear any more. Needless to say, I am re-evaluating our friendship as we seem to have radically different values. He is retired and his wife makes a good income.

  3. cocomaan

    Not a bad article. I agree with jackiebass that protestors tend to be well off. More so rioters. Who can afford to get arrested? I can’t. I’d lose my job and then my house.

    Also, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out who these people were and their motivations. They’re all on camera. Someone should ask them, instead of making suppositions.

    1. SufferinSuccotash

      They have been asked on camera. Repeatedly. The responses generally take the form of boilerplated babbling about “I wannah be free to live my life”, or “I wannah make my voice heard”, or “I wannah exercise mah constitutional rats”.
      Not very substantial clues when it comes to investigating motivations.

      1. Susan the other

        Tucker had Glen Beck on. Ick. Beck is at the top of my idiots list. He actually said it was unacceptable for Trump’s twitter account to be shut down by the corporation because it is a “free market” and we are all free to partake of it. I kid you not. And Tucker gushed about how Glen was such a magnificent thinker and patriot. I almost barfed. I think it was a mistake to shut Trump up like that – it was an act of desperation really. Because Trump is a past master at manipulating people. But “free market?” That’s like saying we can’t prevent the sale of fentanyl because it’s a free market. I do believe we are seeing the underlying fault zones of our democracy shifting: freedom and equality are crashing up against each other like they were destined to do. Making idiots of us all.

        1. Timh

          Freedom is only fair if a ‘free act’ doesn’t assert power or coercion over others. Hence subtleties like statuatory rape which says that a minor isn’t sufficiently mature to consent.

          I was amused when a friend sent a link to https://www.freedominthe50statesDOTorg/ which includes gems like “Washington is one of the worst states on labor-market freedom. It lacks a right-to-work law, limits choices for workers’ compensation programs, and has extremely high minimum wages relative to its wage base.”

          High minimum wages = bad? Depends whether your freedom is exploit a labor market, or to achieve a mininum standard of living.

        2. Carla

          Often called “the architect of the Constitution,” James Madison is certainly considered one of the fathers of “our democracy.”

          Here’s just one of many things he had to say at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, this uttered on June 26, 1787:

          “The man who is possessed of wealth, who lolls on his sofa, or rolls in his carriage, cannot judge of the wants or feelings of the day laborer. The government we mean to erect is intended to last for ages. The landed interest, at present, is prevalent; but in process of time, when we approximate to the states and kingdoms of Europe; when the number of landholders shall be comparatively small, through the various means of trade and manufactures, will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future elections, and unless wisely provided against, what will become of your government? In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of the landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability. Various have been the propositions; but my opinion is, the longer they continue in office, the better will these views be answered.”

          I am really tired of hearing about “our democracy.” The United States is not a democracy, and it never was. Some trumpet that fact. I happen to think it’s a damned shame.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            What was the state and/or level Democracy in the US and in each of the 13 States during the Articles of Confederation period . . . the time between the recognition of American Independence by Britain and the adoption of the Constitution?

      2. Aumua

        Yeah there’s not a whole lot of original thought in any of their philosophies or whatever. What you hear when they are asked is raw emotion, channeled by propaganda. There’s not much nuance. Which is not to say they don’t have any legitimate grievance.

    2. polar donkey

      Zip tie guy is named Eric Munchel. He was a bar tender at Kid Rock’s bar in Nashville. He got ID’d on social media by various people (who I reckon thought he was an a**hole).
      FBI picked him up. Here is an article about the guy.

    3. Louis Fyne

      by my definition of ‘well off”, most of them were not well off. ….beyond the same examples cited over and over of the few who showed up after taking a private plane

      bloomberg ran a rundown of the arrestees.


      standard disclaimer: do not condone the actions by those people, and find it ironic (but not surprising) that now it is liberals who are calling for the militarization of law enforcement and expansive police state powers

      1. Michael Fiorillo

        Yes, one of my first reactions to the events of 1/6 was, “Oh well, there goes ‘Defund the Police.’ ”
        Which is just as well, since it happens to be one of the worst slogans, ever.

      2. fresno dan

        Louis Fyne
        January 16, 2021 at 9:39 am
        standard disclaimer: do not condone the actions by those people, and find it ironic (but not surprising) that now it is liberals who are calling for the militarization of law enforcement and expansive police state powers
        I see your irony and raise you one irony:
        The 2016 presidential election was one of the most fraudulent presidential elections EVAH, (with Obama and democrats in power) was superseded by the most open, fair, and secure presidential elections in history (which must be due to Trump and republicans being in power???)*
        * Yes, I know that presidents and the Federal government have precious little to do with the mechanics of presidential elections – the point is few people consistently apply their principles to themselves when they really want something else…

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I thought the Patriot Act was already long-since pre-written by the Intelligence Industrial Complex and was held in ready-reserve ready to reveal when the time was right.

          And the Cheney(bush) Admin carefully HIHOPing the 9/11 attacks help prepare the ground for revealing the Patriot Act. And the Deep State anthrax terror attacks against Senators and others helped get the Patriot Act passed.

          Why does everyone keep forgetting about the anthrax attacks?

    4. Keith McClary

      “More so rioters. Who can afford to get arrested? I can’t. I’d lose my job and then my house.”

      “Y’all know who to hire for your realtor. Jenna Ryan for your realtor.”

  4. The Rev Kev

    Lesson one is that it is not enough to just have the resources to do a job but that you actually have to use them. The Capitol Police has 2,300 officers and a $516 million annual budget – to patrol an area a little over a square kilometer. That budget is more than the police budgets of Atlanta and Detroit combined and it has been going up for years now. In 2000, it was only pegged at $115 million.

    I have little idea if true or not but perhaps USCP commanders are selected on not so much as their professionalism but their ability to “get along” with their political masters. If so, that cost them. But this force has had its problems over the years. Since 2001, over 250 Black officers have sued the Capitol Police over allegations of racism. And it is not like they did not have serious attacks in the past to show them what is possible-


    Maybe they got suckered into thinking that any attack would be on the White House instead and movies such as “Olympus Has Fallen” and “White House Down” simply reinforced that line of thinking. Instead they made a hash of the whole riot in a way that was live on TV all round the world’s capitols. If they want a fix, then perhaps they should listen to the words of the late Col. John Boyd as in “People, Ideas, Hardware….in that order.”

  5. Andrew Watts

    I’ve previously compared our time to the Revolutions of 1848 and so I reject the notion that these events can be compared to a genuine underclass rebellion. The people who stormed the Capitol are easily divided into two groups; the petty bourgeoisie and lumpen-proletariat. The lumpen proletariat is playing a similar role to what they did during 1848 as useful pawns of reactionary forces. While the petty bourgeoisie in America has seen it’s economic prosperity threatened by the pandemic and are seething with fury at the federal/state government(s) after years of anti-government propaganda from the likes of Fox News and/or other “conservative” sources.

    In any capitalist system the middle classes typically lack the political influence to be made whole by the State in any emergency and unknowingly live their lives on the edge of ruin. We saw this with the CARES Act when the largest chunk of the Paycheck Protection loans went to politically connected businesses. Babbitt is somewhere in the cross section between these groups. A former soldier without any dedicated profession nevertheless tries to start a business in a monopolistic service industry dominated by capital.

    There isn’t anything that can convince me her unnecessary and tragic death wasn’t a suicide by cop. A former soldier or failed businesswoman attempting to breach a barricade with armed people behind it seems like a clear-cut example.

    1. bob k

      while i disagree with your last paragraph, i think you’re right about the class content of the assaulters. I believe it was Marx who talked about the outrage of the petty bourgeoise (if not, then it was Lenin, can’t remember). anyway the pb lacks the sweeping world view an enlightened working class and sees the world in terms of its narrow and short term interests, which right now are desperate and dismal.

      Interestingly enough, or maybe not, the ranks of Antifa are also made up of the pb.

      1. Andrew Watts

        I’d have to say that Antifa types are petty bourgeoisie with lumpen inclinations. The common characteristic that defines the lumpen is the inability to view itself with any degree of class awareness. The issue of class is an abstract theory to most of them. They can’t connect the challenges of being lower class to their own personal life or contemporary peer’s experience.

        That very prevalence of abstract thought is commonly found in ages of decline/collapse though.

        There is nothing more conducive to the destruction of a nation, whether it be a republic or monarchy, than the lack of men of wisdom or intellect. When a republic has many citizens, or a monarchy many ministers, of high quality it quickly recovers from losses that are brought about by misfortune. When such men are lacking, it falls into the very depths of disgrace. That is why I deplore the present state of the Empire which, having produced so many excellent men in the past, has now been reduced to such a level of sterility that today’s governors possess nothing to elevate them above whom they govern. -John Cantacuzenus

        1. Tony Wright

          That quote also seems to perfectly summarise the reason behind the current Brexit and Covid19 situation in the (dis)UK. Little cause for optimism there methinks.

    2. Basil Pesto

      this reminds me to reread Sentimental Education, particularly the description of 1848 which, iirc, was supremely well done.

    3. Dennis

      If there was any real party of the proletariat in the US, it would be pushing to incorporate the petty bourgeoisie into an alliance with the gig workers/retail workers who make up today’s proletariat. As Marx pointed out in the Communist Manifesto, the lower middle class are becoming revolutionary “in view of its impending transfer into the proletariat,” and it should be the goal of the left to partner with this class, not alienate them.

      21st Century America’s petty bourgeoisie is rather large as it consists of not only traditional small business owners, but also the kin to the working classes of the 70’s and 80s, who benefited from the century of union activism that preceded them. They grew up middle class and in relative comfort, and they still have some of the wealth left over from the past. But now they see the only future for them and their children under Neoliberalism is downward. Since there is no movement from the left, they easily fall prey to the right and slogans like MAGA.

      1. Andrew Watts

        The personal experiences of the millennial generation and it’s successor aren’t exactly going to be an aberration if things stay the same. The predatory cost of higher education and lack of class mobility for millennials has accelerated the process of proletariatization that Marx sketched out in the Manifesto.

        In an unstable political environment where the left-wing is dominated by centralist liberals their ability to effectively act as a shock absorber is compromised to the extent that liberalism is an inefficient and ineffectual force in history. In other countries where the left-wing parties can respond to working class pressures from below that won’t necessarily be the case. But America?

        It hasn’t even begun to fall into the depths of disgrace.

  6. Egidijus

    How it comes this time Antifa didn’t use their false-flag and piggy-backing tactics, I wonder.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > that attracted troublemakers of all stripes

        I am attempting to aggregate as many as possible of those arrested or participating to get something data-driven on the class composition of the rioters, instead of speculating about it. So far, I haven’t encountered a single antifa. Personally, I think the concept is absurd on its face. I don’t think they would be able to infilitrate, because I don’t think they could master the class and cultural markers. And between Trump supporters and cops, I don’t think antifa has a dog in the fight.

        1. RP

          Maybe if you researched John Sullivan antifa. Also, when only watch and read CNN, MSNBC, NY Times WAPO etc you may not hear or read the full story.

    1. Skip Intro

      Some claim Antifa has infiltrated the top ranks of the Capitol Police, and issued stand down orders as a diabolically clever plot to make the Fa side look dangerous/ridiculous. Now they will reportedly sit back and watch the fascist-on-fascist violence as the real police state takes on the cosplay police state. I am skeptical about these claims, but given Antifa’s combined invisibility and omnipresence, who can know?

      1. Mikel

        I’ve seen the blame game for the Capitol infiltration being passed to Antifa.

        I can’t help but think when I read such claims: “Antifa sure is looking old these days. They must not be eating right.”

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        I also have my doubts. It takes years to place moles and agents into an organization. And they have to look like the organizationaries among whom they hope to mix. That rules out Antifa in my mind.

  7. Ep3

    “ While insecurity is not easy to measure and report, it is in fact at the root of the social malaise of Western societies.”

    That’s it Yves. Ppl scared of losing what they have. White men clinging to their guns to protect losing what they have.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And let me tell you about the weaponry those guys are clinging to: It ain’t cheap. Nor is the ammunition they need if they want to actually use said weaponry.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Ammo shortages are already a thing. Link:


          The article’s conclusion:

          “There is no conspiracy. There is no supply problem. There simply isn’t enough capacity or inventory to meet the unprecedented demand, and demand isn’t waning. It is frustrating to everyone. Be patient and, just as we have seen in the past, the supply will eventually catch up. When that happens, I suggest buying more than you think you’ll need for the next event. This won’t be the last ammo shortage we will see.”

          BTW, if you’d rather load your own, reloading equipment isn’t cheap.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            I think it’s similar to the toilet paper shortages from several months ago, in that people perceive a shortage, real or imagined, and then go on a buying spree just in case. I know there was a lot of TP bought for my household after my wife saw less than normal amounts at the grocery store several months ago, and I have a gun owning friend who is doing the same with ammo right now. Evidently it is harder to come by so when supplies do show up, people rush in to buy more whether they need it or not – just in case.

            1. rowlf

              Correct, but with a multiplier that due to the news coverage of the past year there are a lot of new firearms owners trying to catch up with the firearms owners that have gone through this cycle before and have a longer view. When the current administration came into office ammunition demand slightly slowed for a while but production didn’t. If anything production has ramped up over the last ten years.

              Over the last four years many people took advantage of bulk ammunition at low prices to stock up, as they could recognize the low prices when demand slowed for a while.

              (For some reason the image of a chipmunk at a birdfeeder comes to mind.)

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          The people buying up ammunition may be stockpiling it in the expectation that the Corporate Fascist Pig Liberals plan to make ammunition illegal for “mere citizens”. So they want to buy it all faster than it can be made before it is made only available to Agents of the State.

          1. Starry Gordon

            Well, actually, ‘liberals’ are buying guns as well. A friend of mine who is of leftish social democratic flavor got a serious sort of pistol (9mm), ammunition, and training. I asked her what she was going to do with it and she said ‘If they come for me, I’ll get at least one of them.’ As she is not a political or activist I expressed some doubt about people coming for her, and she said, ‘You live in New York, but I live in America.’ (A southern state, so I thought she had a point.)

  8. farmboy

    Media influence silos interest groups while discourse sours, little hope in this environment to have public discussion. And yet the ideas of precarity, necessary deficit spending, public health, climate change all are in plain sight along with possible solutions always means some movement, some understanding. On the other hand the utter pollution around us rises everyday with no attendant solutions other than to stop consumption which won’t happen. Water use patterns worldwide are unsustainable. Can economic activity be rooted in something besides the consumer? Can financialization of daily life be dialed back?

    1. Louis Fyne

      your thought needa to float to the top but won’t….. social and mainstream media has siloed everyone into their own bubble–as such nothing gets down.

      and the only people who benefit are the top 0.5% who get favorable tax treatment and the borrowers who benefit from years of Fed easing and QE

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      One can reduce consumption without stopping it. One can consume smarter. Make stuff last longer. Use the least-feasible amount of something per use.

      For example, I will not give up shaving cream. If I use half as much per shave, I end up using half as much in a lifetime. How many shaves should one expect from a can of shaving cream? Any guesses?
      Since I don’t know myself, till I do the measurement, any guesses would be welcome.

      1. Granville Kennedy

        To that same end I rarely shave until I have a three day growth. A gigantic box of Gillette disposable razors from Costco can last years. I do not think I need to skimp on shaving cream since I would probably inflict pain and damage upon my own face. Besides, shaving creme is relatively cheap compared to razors.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I don’t use so little shaving cream as to inflict pain and damage on my face. I merely don’t use so much as to look like I lost a Boston Cream Pie-fight. And getting several times the average number of shaves from a can of shaving cream could be evocatively symbolic of how more use from less stuff can be achieved in general in many areas.

          That advice about huge bunch of razor blades from Costco could be interesting IF Costco lets a single person living alone enter their store without a membership to buy something just one time.

          Now, if there were a way to sharpen and re-sharpen and re-re-sharpen one’s own disposable razor blades so as to get a hundred or more nice smooth shaves from one blade, that would be very interesting.

  9. GERMO

    The fact of economic precarity definitely provides a lot of potential mass mobilization, but it is clear that much of the energy of the Trumpist movement has to do with people wanting to restore their right to exploit and oppress freely.

    Whoever was there storming the capitol, it’s obvious that there were a lot of bosses — and people who think of themselves as bosses — in the mix. That many cops and militia-adjacent filled it out is not surprising, since the guardian type mindset is generally focused on protecting (or under Trumpism, restoring) the entitlements of the more or less petit-bourgeoisie layer.

    Thank you Yves for the clarifying intro above. This observation is muted in the media’s response to the Jan 6 event, though that might change. Well-off coastal wine drinkers don’t like the idea that their socio-economic class is, in fact, a big part of the Trumpist base.

  10. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Happy belated New Year. Very encouraging to see that some people aren’t buying the narrative that the Jan 6th “cosplayers” were a bunch of “terrorists” or a true threat to the republic. My take is: “symptom,” not cause. More importantly, I fear that the mighty Wurlitzer will use this sad incident to ratchet up the loss of civil liberties that began under Bush II, continued under Obama and got very little if any pushback from Trump. I’ve seen hysterical news articles claiming these folks, even the ones that didn’t get into the Capitol or break any laws, were analogous to some sort of actually competent cell that has the military and operational skills to do real damage.

    I left FB this week (de-activated my account, as deleting it seems to be deliberately made very difficult by Zuckerberg,) but before leaving I took one last tour. I was particularly amused/disgusted to see one comment on a liberal friends wall that the rioters and non-violent protesters who stormed the Capitol should all be sent to Gitmo and executed. I resisted the temptation to reply to that person with something to the effect of, “congratulations, you have now just echoed the exact legal, moral and ethical position of Dick Cheney.”

    1. fresno dan

      January 16, 2021 at 9:54 am
      I agree. I am tempted paraphrase Animal Farm, antifa rioters good, Trump rioters bad…
      Apparently our MSM and social media has lost all ability to understand that in almost any mass gathering, some will for whatever reason, act destructively. Hyperbole is what sells…

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Even a symptom can be a problem in itself if it is bad enough. Sometimes the very first symptom of atherosclerosis is a fatal heart attack.

      An infection able to produce a fever of 110 degrees will kill the patient. The fever kills the patient. The underlying infection just causes the fever.

  11. Bobby Gladd

    What I wrote on one of my blogs:

    “I’ve been to our nation’s capital many times. A couple of months ago most recently. Cheryl and I loaded up the dogs to do a quick get-outa-the-house day trip from Baltimore to DC, just to cruise around and maybe park and walk a bit.

    I found it creepy this time. Concrete barriers everywhere, idling police cruisers with red and blue lights flashing, dump trucks blocking off streets… Mere portents.


    I used to have my Photoshop sport with these livin’-the-screenplay playtriots. I ‘d joke recently that the Meal Team Six MAGA Mob Civil War 2.0 would be over in time for Maddow.

    We may soon find out.

  12. KLG

    The riot is a very serious social, political economic, and criminal matter. Things got out of hand. People died. The president is culpable. We can only hope that “Josh Hawley of the Raised Clenched Fist Salute and the Men’s Wearhouse Suit” has absolutely no political future from that day forward. But this was no Storming of the Bastille or the Winter Palace or a Reichstag Fire. Or a Boston Tea Party. The rioters reminded me of Delta House on Meth (right down to the buffalo horn headdress; yes, I have escaped by watching that movie way too many times) more than a determined group of serious revolutionaries intent on staging a coup. And unlike DDay from Animal House, thanks to downloaded Parler data most of the miscreants are likely to be “whereabouts during the riot exactly known.” This will not, one can hope, end well for them or their cheerleaders. But the legitimate underlying issues that led to the riot remain. We will solve them or not. But if we don’t…

  13. marym

    There were no working class demands, just the demand that ballots cast and counted by working class black people in densely populated urban areas of swing states shouldn’t determine the outcome of one specific race on those ballots.

    OWS – despite mainstream whining “what are their demands” – was clear about who they claimed to be and whose interests they intended to serve. Similarly Sanders – “Not me, us” and universal benefits. A working class movement, if there can be one, builds solidarity. The perpetrators of this action, though delusional about their capabilities, were anti-solidarity.

    1. Walter

      Yours may be the best assessment. It was simply about throwing out an election some people did not like because they have been caught up in a personality cult. That’s why MOST of those people were in D.C.
      There is also a question of who is using whom – Trump thinks these ‘supporters’ are following him, but many of the rightist groups there predate him and his leniency toward them is just something they take advantage of. When the next facist strong-man wannabe comes along, their focus will leave Trump.

      1. Basil Pesto

        fwiw, see my comment anecdote on the Jan 14 WC

        (My mother is no friend of the working class. She is firmly of the conviction that the election has been stolen and that Trump will prevail in the end. Along the same lines as Lambert, I am irate with Trump for legitimising voting machines with his bad faith accusations of fraud.)

        I’m starting to believe – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – that Trump contains multitudes. or somethings multitudes. He has some multitudinous aspect.

        1. fresno dan

          Basil Pesto
          January 16, 2021 at 10:54 am
          Trump contains what is best for Trump. Trump stirs up the crowd. When the crowd goes to far, Trump advocates law and order. Really, watch the YouTube videos of Trump before and after the riots IN WHOLE. Trump just jabbers, with plenty of caveats – with the bottom line that Trump’s bottom line should always increase. That is it. There is no ideology, principles, or beliefs – JUST that Trump should win.

        2. chuck roast

          Maybe his multitudes or somethings are related to his obvious boiling resentment. Seems to be more infectious than Covid.

          I know a guy who went to military school with Trump. He showed me his yearbook. This was around ’89 when Trump was still a man-about-town big wheel developer. The guys roommate was Trump’s best friend. As the guy would have it…he was Trump only friend. Even though he was a BMOC he was apparently universally disliked.

          So, here is an entitled fellow from a dysfunctional family who never had any friends (you would think that some sort of Bebe Rebozo would show up), has screwed multitudes of people with the resultant enemies list and has “people.” If you don’t kiss the pimple on his butt and like it…repeatedly…you get excoriated. He even slags Giuliani, the very definition of a footstool. Trump lives for the next perceived abuse. Being abused is his life force. He is like a dark star. A vortex of negative energy.

          Most of us have been depressed at one time or another and done the “woe is me” thing. It is a bad energy place to be…like a bum magnet. Trump’s overwhelming resentment gives meaning and clarity to people with a bone to pick. People who have been unfairly treated. People who are experiencing the nightmare that is the American Dream. People who are alone in the great hotbed of individualism. Trump’s pissed-off and they are pissed-off! Multitudinous indeed.

          Of course the real kicker is that he won every battle he ever had with the “elites.” They were total chumps. Under the guise of his corporate bankruptcies, he bankrupted them all. He hates them because they were such suckers. Then he pulled off his biggest coup…he stomped on the Republican Party…the country club of the elites. None of this is lost on his acolytes…the multitudinous.

          The only person he ever showed respect for was Putin. Putin who tamed and corralled his own elites. Putin understood the con. Can’t be abusing a guy like that.

          1. fresno dan

            chuck roast
            January 16, 2021 at 12:39 pm
            Maybe his multitudes or somethings are related to his obvious boiling resentment. Seems to be more infectious than Covid.
            I think you are exactly right. Perhaps no one can, or wants to, solve people’s resentments…and maybe some of these resentments shouldn’t be solved.
            I read an analysis that quoted Trump as saying that his (Trump’s) influence stems from his whining. Pretty incredible. But I have mentioned my friend that has gone all in on being a Trump fanatic. And when I try to understand what my friend sees in Trump, it really is only what Trump b*tches about, and the volume, and breath of the complaining. That is it. Not that Trump does anything about what he (Trump) complains about (Trump could have fired Jeff Sessions – why didn’t he???). There was another commentary I read that said that modern politics is no longer solving problems, but ONLY complaining about them.

          2. SouthSideGT

            Totally agree and I would add simply that supporters of the president* love him because he hates the same people they hate.

    2. Rod

      OWS – despite mainstream whining “what are their demands” – was clear about who they claimed to be and whose interests they intended to serve.

      I agree and that is a very telling and important differentiator.
      And have been thinking about what an “occupying Sit In” by those very same would have looked like and the effect it would have had–instead of what did happen–it would have taken days to arrest those sitting in or interview their grievances–sucking up all the media broadband.
      The chant “Stop the Steal” could very well applied to the Bankers Bail-out of 2008/09.

    3. fresno dan

      January 16, 2021 at 10:05 am
      There is so much irony that it boggles the mind. I have read enough election analyses that I am confident that Trump actually gained black votes in some?many? majority black areas in 2020 over 2016. Trump essentially lost because those white male voters who did not want more of the same in 2016 decided that Trump was no change at all in 2020. Interesting to ponder: What if the black votes FOR Trump had been found to be the fraudulent votes??? The results I want based analysis that passes for political reporting would have been even more absurd…

      Now, with Joe Biden declared the winner of the 2020 election, his victory over Trump reflects elements of both of these demographic constituencies. And if exit polls are to be believed, several voting blocs comprised of white and older Americans contributed to his success.

      This is not because white voters suddenly flocked to Biden and the Democrats—although in some cases they did. Nor is it the case that Democrats should abandon their growing “new American mainstream,” because they absolutely need them to succeed in the future. Instead, 2020’s exit polls indicate that in key Rust Belt and Sun Belt battlegrounds, Biden benefitted from lower Republican margins among some of the groups that handed Trump his 2016 victory.

  14. John Emerson

    Decades ago on the California “revolt” against property taxes there was a Time magazine cover photo showing a bunch of militant anti-tax Plain Folk. Most of them were upper middle class homeowners who had dressed down for the occasion.

    The “populist” mob in Florida in 2000 didn’t even bother to dress down. Most were aides to right wing politicians.

  15. Carla

    I agree with others that Yves’ assessment is an excellent qualifier — yet the featured post still makes many good points. One that particularly resonates with me is this:

    “Even if the wealth gap were to be considerably reduced by transfer from rich to poor, precarity would persist because it is rooted not in inequality, but in a depleted public sector, in a public authority that has abandoned the public and increasingly become a vehicle for predatory capitalism.”

    1. LilD

      Yes, I thought that quite clarifying

      I forecast efforts on the “left” to reduce the inequality by redistribution rather than by the hard work of realigning public goods with public services. The rentiers are hard to dislodge

      The “right” will almost surely use the Capitol LARP to hulk out the Patriot act

    2. Susan the other

      The victory of capital over labor is an illusion, but a persistent one – as Einstein once said about physical reality. We have come to sense it – it looks like the “incredible lightness” of capital. The pointlessness of capital for the sake of capital. The people who are most aware of this are the former beneficiaries of lavish capital. The big corporations; the big banks. If the precariat is finally freaking out like a troop of monkeys, think how panicked the fabulous titans of capitalism are.

    3. JeffK

      Which is to say, an increase in the minimum wage is like giving a blood transfusion to a guy covered in blood sucking parasites. The parasites get fatter. A low brow paraphrase – Sorry Yves. The question about free-market ‘parasitism” is never addressed by the public sector, so the “…People who are experiencing the nightmare that is the American Dream. People who are alone in the great hotbed of individualism…” (attribution to Chuck roast) will remain angry. I can’t imagine how this gets better.

  16. Wukchumni

    My to the right of right of right brother in law in Arizona wasn’t @ ‘Tragic ComicCon’ on January 6th, but i’d imagine he wished that he could have been there, if you asked him.

    Not quite well off enough to afford a private jet such as that coterie from Texas, including the silly woman Realtor looking at jail time, now pleading with Trump for a pardon, ha ha.

    But, he would’ve flown first class to DC, stayed in a nice hotel, and worn matching garb.

  17. Basil Pesto

    “All these politicians work for us. We pay their salaries, we pay our taxes. And what do we get? Nothing. All of them inside are traitors”

    Perhaps an example of the state’s erroneous theory of the origin of money backfiring in an unexpected way.

  18. Wukchumni

    Had a thought just now, the Berlin Wall was considered nearly impregnable in 1989 with killing zones just waiting for the rat a tat tat of machine gun bullets. and then all of the sudden it wasn’t.

    I’ve really only witnessed ‘security theater’ in airports, and would’ve thought Humordor impregnable from a security standpoint and the Capitol in particular, and in the ruckus only 1 shot was fired, so it wasn’t a show of force, more of a farce.

    Similar beginnings of a collapse, in the usual Bizarro World style.

  19. Wukchumni

    Although i’m certain there were a few guns hidden in the mob, January 6th was different altogether in that a group you’d think most likely to be armed and dangerous, wasn’t.

    That would lead me to think that this was more spontaneous combustion after the boilermaker ‘Don’t Be Like Mike!’ speech down the road by the pied piper.

  20. Susan the other

    This is the money quote from the post: “Upgrading the physical security around the country’s political institutions is of little long term value – especially if the activities that occur within them continue to manifest ongoing dysfunction worthy of a banana republic. US political dysfunction has reached its breaking point.”

  21. Mikel

    “While the country still appears to remain economically powerful, it has become politically weak and socially fragile in ways characteristic of a society in decline…”

    Hence the “look over here at the stock market all time highs” pump.

    Appearances seem to be all that matters.

  22. Mikel

    “It is a particularly acute paradox in the United States, where healthcare remains largely predicated to employment via employer-funded healthcare systems.”

    Hence the growing calls for a UBI, which in this system would largely be a Universal Subsidy for the private health “insurance” industry.

  23. Gulag

    In her introduction to this article Yves states “…the authors equate Trump radicals with the working class, which strikes me as simplistic…It is not hard to imagine that a decent proportion of the rioters were small business people.”

    This insight raises a broader issues, the extent to which capitalism infiltrates every domain of human existence, including all social classes. Branko Milanovic in his recent book “Capitalism Alone: The Future of the System that rules the World,” argues that through long socialization in capitalism all of us (whatever our class background) have become individual capitalistic calculating machines. He goes on to maintain that our future is either a “people’s capitalism,” with lower levels of income inequality and concentration of wealth or a more political authoritarian form of capitalism, with an ever increasing role for the state.

    Milanovic also seems to believe that the spread of destructive emotions such as despair, resentment, envy and varieties of rage tend to fall to state structures to manage– but the aftermath of the capital protests (basically labeling all participants as domestic terrorists)
    seem to throw into question the wisdom of the state in the positive management of negative collective emotions.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If we are all individual capitalist calculating machines, then a way to increase support for CanadaCare4A might be to perform the calculations of what PrivaProfit Insurance currently costs per capita as against what the taxes needed to support CC4A would cost. Compelling charts, graphs, pie charts , diagrams etc. could be created and let the individual capitalist calculating machines begin doing the calculations and reaching their . . . ah HA moments.

  24. Cas

    The interview/podcast of Elle Reeve in NC links a few days ago was informative. She was in the crowd and asked people why they were there. Admits she is still processing the events, but observes many people have been brainwashed by social media.
    I agree with the article that many of the people are those falling out of the middle class. Many of these small business people are being crushed, only accelerated by the pandemic. Of course as older white people they actually remember when life was better for them, thus the anger, (how can I be treated unfairly?), incredulousness that the police would teargas them, etc. Those who are poor and marginalized, can only say “welcome to my world.”

  25. Scott1

    Nationnal Guards people are probably grateful for the extra pay.
    We now need to see Biden INSTALLED in the Oval office.
    It is time that the Post Office Police Force arrests Louis DeJoy Postmaster General
    for delaying the mail. 18 U.S. Code 51703. Regardless of the Board of Directors
    of OUR Post Office DeJoy committed the crime by delaying the mail.
    The President’s Lease on what he made into a Hotel means he and his friends
    expect to get to privatize all that prime real estate.
    Trump and his allies would sell tickets to the Capitol.
    Creating a Dystopia doesn’t cost much.

  26. Glen

    So does this mean that BOTH ENDS of the political spectrum are complaining about class issues? That seems to be implied by the article, but it was certainly not the specific reason for the January 6th riot. That was to “stop the steal”.

    This article, like Morning Joe suddenly deciding that spending forty years wrecking the New Deal and destroying the middle class was not good seems to be a concession by the elites that the economic inequality needs to be addressed:

    How American CEOs In The Sixties Reacted Against The New Deal | Morning Joe | MSNBC

    Quite frankly, they may be worried that the same Americans that showed up at DC will realize that the politicians are controlled by the billionaires, and it’s easier to go after the billionaires.

  27. Jeremy Grimm

    I continue to believe that the storming-of-the-Capitol event was little more than yet another crude Kabuki drama. I do not know who or what organizations are behind the event and similarly I do not know the how and why of their success in gaining access to the Capitol in sharp contrast with what was possible in the past for what then appeared to be orders of magnitude larger and potentially far more violent protest gatherings – not to assume the storming-of-the-Capitol players were a protest group. In light of my view of the storming-of-the-Capitol event I believe this post draws a lot of conclusions from very little evident from that ‘protest’. Whether the storming-of-the-Capitol players – I will term them the Stormers – came motivated by their questioning the “legitimacy of the elections” or by any other actual and coherent grievances gives their actions far more clear intent than they deserve. While reflections on the Stormers might suggest some of the discontent welling up in the Populace, I believe the Stormers little represent or exemplify that discontent. I would add in portraying that discontent – the feelings of impotence by the Populace facing times of manifold looming disasters.

    Ignoring the Stormers, and focusing instead on this discontent I feel and perceive around me – I believe neither “inequality” nor precarity are root causes, nor are “mistrust of institutions”, nor “working-class radicalization.” [The “evocation of family, a desire for stability, for clinging strongly to what is familiar” hardly strike me as radical. And how did policies familiar to the times of Eisenhower and Nixon acquire the quality “foreign”.] The Government has worked hard for more than half a century to demonstrate gross incompetence and inspire mistrust. Just watch an old movie – to fit the season, watch the scene in the 1947 version of “Miracle on 34th Street” in which Kris Kringle is proved to be the one-and-only Santa Claus by authority of the US Postal Service – and try using the efficiency of the US Postal Service in an argument that Government can be very efficient, more efficient and less expensive than private delivery services. The supposed “working-class radicalization” is far from accurate. Instead the “working-class” is reactionary and more often just plain angry, depressed, and demoralized. Suppose some powerful deity showed up and eliminated the ‘inequality’ bemoaned in this post and “redistributed” wealth and incomes … but left Neoliberal Market Ideology intact. How long would it be before we were right back with the same or worse ‘inequality’? And now suppose “inequality” were eliminated among Humankind alone, leaving Corporate persons fully intact?

    I have a particular bone to pick with notion that getting rid of “inequality” could be achieved by “redistribution”. There is nothing redistributive about reclaiming the wealth and income the Elites have stolen. There is nothing redistributive about dismantling the organizations and structures the Elites have constructed to assert their power and control over the Populace. There is nothing redistributive about supporting Government doing the jobs Governments can and should perform. And there is nothing redistributive about deconstructing Neoliberal Ideology in all its forms and manifestations.

  28. Young

    For some reason, there seems to be a truce between BLM and various police departments around the country since the Election Day. At least, it doesn’t make headlines anymore.

    Similarly, most actions between them in 2016 were concentrated before the elections.

    But, of course, the correlation does not mean causation.

    1. Andrew Watts

      The State becomes a necessary evil in chaotic times as opposed to an intolerable one in stable ones. Even if I’m wrong at least the situation has de-escalated temporarily. It was also a positive development when protesters were redirected from burning down police stations and seizing territory towards toppling over statues of sentimental value.

  29. VietnamVet

    The introduction and article get right to the point. What is left out is human nature. Homo sapiens evolved to live with and cooperate with about 200 people. Instinctively, there are us and them. There is a built-in distrust of others who look, talk and act different than one’s tribe.

    In the USA the political parties use identity politics to milk this distrust to get votes. Ethnic conflict powers the for-profit color revolutions overseas. It has blown back at home.

    With the rise of Donald Trump, the Democrats alone became associated with the multi-national corporations that fund and control US politicians. Grifter globalists i.e. Hillary Clinton are neo-Brahmins with all of the caste’s arrogance and hubris. But the Pandemic and Brexit ended the reign of the Western Empire. The top 10% will desperately try to rebuild the protection racket and increase worker exploitation, making things worse.

    Revolutions are won when the police and military join the insurrectionists. The USA is almost at this point. Any functional American intelligence/police office should have identified the possibility of an insurgency attack on the Capitol on January 6th. Yet nobody told the White House to cool it. The President is so full of anger and resentment he egged the protestors on. Somebody opened the doors. The USA is on the cusp of a civil war. Democrats are blaming the police and working European descendants for being shell-shocked by the assault that they are as responsible for as the Republicans.

    Government has failed. It won’t identify the roots of the current unrest in order to fix it. It has no intention of uniting Americans by building a working public health system to fight coronavirus pandemic or to provide jobs, food, shelter, or healthcare to all Americans. Privatized Gulags and Surveillance won’t work. Secession is inevitable if true democracy is not restored.

    1. mnm

      Government hasn’t failed. Obama, Clinton grifters are back to exploit and make money. They may add some Bush, Cheney, Romney types to the mix for their third way politics.
      They knew for at least a month Trump would have this rally and didn’t prepare, why? They probably wanted this to happen, something like this to get their way & public opinion on their side.
      Everyone who said this is theater probably had it right, cops were put at risk, people died and politicians will continue divide & conquer as they offer nothing else.
      Nothing good will come from this next President whether it is the dementia guy or the token woman of color.

  30. John Rose

    I heard Sam Sanders interviewing Jamielle Bouie on his research of the attacks on reconstruction governments after the civil war. https://www.npr.org/2021/01/11/955685574/weve-had-insurrections-before

    The first one kicked out the white governor and the legislature in New Orleans for several days until federal troops reinstalled them. But there were no consequences for the insurrectionists so it kept happening until the north gave up on protecting freed slaves. Bidan’s call for unity is misguided unless joined to imposing substantial consequences.

    Bouie described lynch mobs as mostly ordinary folks out for a spectacle put on by a small group. Of course their presence validated the lynching. Sounds familiar.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The “unity” Biden pretends to seek is a cover for the “bipartisanship” he really does seek ….with McConnell.. . to bipartisanly destroy Social Security.

  31. KD

    The mistake I see is partisan thinking. “Working class people who vote for the GOP are voting against their own interests.” Perhaps, provided we add “working class people who vote for the Democrats are voting against their own interests.” The government serves the oligarchs, and GOP or Dem just expresses the tilt, is it going to be handouts for Hollywood or Oil and Gas?

    Neither of these parties serves the interests of anyone except the ultrawealthy. You’re more likely to get better representation voting in a local Chinese election, because at least the candidate hasn’t been bought off by corporations. As long as the 99% continues to turn on each other in the fight over the table scraps, and keeps voting for these two corrupt “lesser of two evils”, the result will be more evil.

  32. Roland

    The whole affair reinforces me in my conviction that the new administration will be looking for a foreign war, which will probably start in the first half of ’22.

    No profound observation on my part. It just strikes me as an easy way for a worried elite to crack down on dissent, spend without restraint, cling to their own positions, and crow about how they’ve restored both world order and the unity of the republic.

    As for thing itself, it resembles a lot of other protests gone out of hand. A small minority came ready to make real trouble. Opportunists? Agents provocateurs? Who knows?

    Some things don’t smell right. DC is heavily policed. The region is positively infested with security and intelligence assets of all kinds, from the Doughnut Patrol to Delta Force. In any US city, even an ordinary incident can bring a massive response including K-9, SWAT, and a chopper in the air. In today’s America, even if a town has but a single horse, it probably has more than one MRAP.

    And yet a not very large, and largely unarmed, crowd, was able to overrun an important government building in the national capital, even during a time of heightened tension, and after several weeks’ notice of a great demonstration to be held nearby? Does that pass the “smell test” ?

    One is reluctant to ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence. But in this case, Incompetence sure has a lot of explaining to do. Again, who knows? After all, it could be that the massive security and surveillance complex, with its throng of overlapping and mutually jealous agencies, each of them over-funded, featherbedded, and free of accountability, proved collectively incapable of recognizing or responding to a quite ordinary civil disturbance, on their own doorstep!

    Alternatively, the security establishment could be as factionalized as the upper class they serve. All these factions may wish to maintain US hegemony abroad, and billionaire rule at home, but they could still engage in vicious internecine rivalry. Indeed the chronic political weakness of the USA’s lower classes leaves their upper classes free to engage in their own dangerous sports.

    To get back to my first point: the new government might crave war not only to discipline the masses, but also to restore cohesion among the oligarchic factions themselves.

    1. marym

      Endless repetition of the same claims by Trump and his allies don’t make them true. They’ve been dismissed and debunked in federal and state courts, by judges appointed by every president from Reagan to Trump, and elected judges in red and blue states; by election officials; by governors and secretaries of states of both parties; and by state investigators.

      “The acting U.S. attorney for Northern Georgia, who was named after his predecessor reportedly angered President Trump for not finding election fraud, told staffers in a conference call Monday that he dismissed two election fraud cases on his first day.

      “Quite frankly, just watching television you would assume that you got election cases stacked from the floor to the ceiling,” said Christine. “I am so happy to find out that’s not the case, but I didn’t know coming in.””


      Additional links:

  33. farmboy

    House impeachment hearing was long on 30 sec diatribes, what aboutism from R’s naming the BLM protests over the summer as examples of D’s inciting riots, D’s full throated righteousness slamming Trump, because afterall he was impeached once already. I watched the whole episode. R-Minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s stunning accusation Trump was responsible for inciting 1/6 rioters early in the session was the cloak for other R’s to vote yes. Two R’s whose districts went by more than 20 pts to Trump voted to impeach, one of them, Dan Newhouse I know will be bitterly criticized by constituents.
    I hope the Senate drags out impeachment hearings for a long so that the nightmare of Trump gets fully burned into our psyches. You might be thinking haven’t we had enough, but by focusing and highlighting the insidious, infectious, toxic nature of how Trump poisoned everything needs to held up to scrutiny, even as acrimonious as the Senate trial might be. It will be R’s chance to bury Trump and I think they will take it with of course all the crocodile tears that will come with. Here’s their chance to reinvent themselves, they’ll take it. When Steny Hoyer closed the session he spoke at length about what R’s needed to do and spent most of his closing looking across the aisle. You can’t have a two party system when one side implodes.
    Has the feel of the end of Nixon, last summer felt like 1968, today 1974. R’s reinvented themselves with Reagan, but that took until 1980. In the interregnum, D’s failed miserably on the Presidential stage by letting Volcker kill the economy with astronomical interest rates. Make no mistake when inflationary signs tip the stock market over and stagflation reigns, the Fed raising interest rates will happen. Deficit scolds will gain credibility with gov’t spending put under the microscope. Today’s R anger germinated with the anti-abortion movement and is continually stoked and rekindled. In full view now how off the rails their anger has gone and impeachment of Trump is a chance for some anger management, they desperately need it or they will continue to attract the lunatic fringe. Today’s R anger can be traced to the Bundy stand-off, D’s trap is another OKC. And I’m reminded there was whole unexplored side to the range war started in Klamath, that leaseholders sordid past.
    Watching these impeachment hearings reminded me why TV news is so bad for you, McLuhan jumped up like a ghost.

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