Storming the Capitol: strange comparisons

Submitted by AWL on 12 January, 2021 - 11:13 Author: Jim Denham
Far-right protest at the Capitol

Ever since Trump’s election in 2016, there have been some on the left who’ve resisted the idea that he is anything particularly out of the ordinary in terms of US bourgeois democracy. In particular, many of these people deride any suggestion that Trump and the movement behind him can be considered fascist or “proto-fascist.”

Some of the people downplaying the Trump threat are, in fact, advocates of variants of third-period Stalinism – i.e. people who think Trump is, objectively, preferable to Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden.

It’s difficult to work out exactly where the Morning Star stands on this. The paper, like the US Communist Party, advocated a Biden vote, though regular contributor and leading Communist Party of Britain member Nick Wright argued, after the November election, that the Trump administration had been “delivering on its promises” to workers and that Biden’s victory represented a “restoration of the violent neoliberal order.”

The paper’s initial response to the storming of the Capitol was that “the most significant event... [was] the decision of Vice-President Mike Pence to throw his bloated boss overboard and line up with the Republican leadership... It was this, as much as anything else, which so enraged the mob and sharpened their sense of betrayal. In this, they have more finely tuned political instincts than the host of liberal commentators on both sides of the Atlantic who saw an existential threat to US ‘democracy’.”

The same editorial (8 January) went on to make some comparisons, the first with Boris Yeltsin in 1993, when he ordered tanks to fire on the Russian Parliament. The editorial describes that as “a real challenge to elected authority and constitutional order”, which it undoubtedly was. But the editorial neglects to inform us that this came after the Speaker and the Vice President incited armed gangs of protesters to attack the Ostankino television studio, the centre of Russia’s broadcast media, and the Moscow mayor’s office, as part of a campaign to overturn democratic reforms and return to Stalinist authoritarianism. That, of course, the real reason why the Morning Star hates Yeltsin. It’s also worth noting that for all the huge amount that must be said against him, Yeltsin was the first (and so far only) Russian leader to voluntarily give up power.

Next comes the extraordinary claim that “liberal opinion is reflected in a media that cheers on such manifestations if they are contrived in places like Hong Kong, which has a police force more responsive to elected authority than Washington DC, or Venezuela, where to become president requires a majority of votes.”

The grotesque comparison with Hong Kong should come as no surprise, given the paper’s unquestioning support for the Chinese state and its puppets in Hong Kong, but the reference to Venezuela is, perhaps, a little more appropriate (though not for the reason the Morning Star intended).

Despite Trump’s attempts to oust Venezuelan president Maduro, the two have a remarkably similar attitude to democracy: Maduro fraudulently manufactured a victory in May 2018 and then went on to ensure that prior to the December 2020 National Assembly election, the pro-government supreme court handed key opposition parties to politicians who were in league with him, effectively allowing the government to choose the opposition — something Trump would surely approve of.

After all this waffle and strange comparisons, the Morning Star smoothed the contradictions by concluding that none of it really matters very much: “However dangerous Trump’s emboldened fan base proves... Joe Biden’s succession was never threatened; Trump’s belated recognition of the fact was, after all, the denouement to this tragic farce.”

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