17th January 2021
The self styled “land of the free and home of the brave” will this week inaugurate its 46th President, Joe Biden, inside a capital that has effectively become a military fortress, with the deployment of an estimated 20,000 troops across the city. Washington DC has been transformed, since the Donald Trump inspired neo-fascist storming of the Capitol building last week, in the failed attempt to subvert the confirmation of the election outcome.
The militarisation of Washington for the Inauguration Day ceremony on 20th January is a reflection of the ongoing threat of neo-fascist violence to which the Trump presidency has given licence. That threat is, according to the FBI, a real and present danger in the capitals of every state across the so-called United States, with gun toting white supremacists threatening a show of strength across the country in opposition to Biden’s presidency.
The tension across the United States is reflected in the fear expressed by those opposed to Trump, as reported this week by the People’s World,
“One thing Trump has clearly been successful with is instilling fear in anyone thinking of coming out against him. People with anti-Trump t-shirts and bumper stickers and those with Biden-Harris signs in windows or on cars are removing them, also out of fear for themselves or their property. A young couple with a reputation in the Hyde Park section of Chicago for driving a car with no less than 30 bumper stickers promoting liberal causes said they spent time Thursday soaking and removing them.”
Through the variety of social media platforms used by right wing groups, neo-fascists across the US are calling on people to join a so called Million Martyr March on Inauguration Day. The same right-wing groups have been known to use a wide variety of tactics to achieve their ends, including posing as left or progressive activists to smear the reputation of those groups, as well as mounting attacks on police departments that they think are not right-wing enough for them.
The reality of institutional inequality and racial injustice in the United States has been brought to the fore in recent months with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-Trump coalition which has delivered Biden the presidency.
However, while the challenge for Biden has been exposed by the four years of Trump’s presidency the underlying rot in the United States had taken firm hold long before. In 2016, after eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Pew Research Center thinktank estimated that the median wealth of white households in the US was $117,000, ten times that of black households at $17,100. This was larger than in 2007, the year before Obama was elected.
Pew also estimates that income inequality in the US increased by 20% between 1980 and 2016. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that Chief Executive Officers have seen salary rises of 940% since 1978, while the typical workers wage rose a mere 12% over the same period.
Racial division is used by the right wing in the United States to mobilise disaffected poor whites but it is clear that the real divide in the US is along class lines. Racial prejudice is used, as ever to divide and rule as the US establishment fears, more than anything else, a united working class response to oppression and injustice.
The constitutional consensus which has sustained US capitalism in its one system, two parties approach has been breached in the past four years. The final days of the Trump administration have been designed to ensure that the breach in the system cannot be closed and that the ‘healing’ of Joe Biden’s rhetoric cannot occur.
Inauguration Day this week will be one further test but it will by no means be the final battle. Republicans are already looking ahead to 2024 and planning a way to regain the White House. Trump himself, or a family member, may be deemed a step too far for some Republicans but acolytes, such as outgoing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, are not just waiting in the wings but are actively planning a path to the Republican nomination.
As a recent People’s World article concludes,
“Unless the mass movements and broad coalitions that ousted Trump and elected Biden remain united and continue their fight for social and economic justice, what happens in this country over the next few years will likely be much worse than what happened in the Capitol last week or what will happen next week in our country.”
The scenes from the United States last week shook the world but they are unlikely to be the last we see the as the struggle escalates. Working class unity, in the face of the onslaught, will be more vital now than ever.