This is my assessment of the recent piece by Peter Gelderloos at Crimethinc, “Preparing for Electoral Unrest and a Right-Wing Power Grab.” The Crimethinc article is a great companion piece to the recent commentary by It’s Going Down (which I critique here) and Three-Way Fight (which I had a brief comment on here with further elaboration here). It’s also interesting to compare these far-left/anarchist/anti-fascist analyses with that of fourth-generation warfare theorist Bill Lind from the far-right.
By Keith Preston
The main things I would add to or dissent from the Gelderloos analysis would be these: I don’t think there is any ruling class faction that desires the restoration of pre-civil rights era race relations, and views like that are very marginal even on the periphery. The ruling class is opposed to minorities that resist “system values” and as class divisions are widening that has racial implications as well, but it seems the overwhelming majority of the ruling class favors a kind of technocratic multicultural statism for many practical/pragmatic reasons. I have an article about that coming out soon. And leading “right-wing” street fighter groups frequently include minorities, even in leadership positions. Their “racial reductionism” is a longstanding criticism I have of the left-anarchist/anti-racist types. White supremacists are the most marginal sector within the far-right and are often in conflict with other far-right sectors, including some that are very similar in other ways. Most of the far-right views white supremacists in the same way that the far-left views anti-Semitic black racialists.
Another issue is that there is not egalitarianism within the ruling class. The ruling class is layered into a hierarchy just like the rest of the society. The “final authority” is the upper strata of the ruling class, the ultra-power elite, in the major financial, industrial, technological, nuclear, military, and intelligence sectors that is part of a wider international power elite or global superclass that transcends the ruling classes of individual countries. The lower to middle strata of national power elites are subordinate to this internationalized upper strata power elite. That is significant because the US, as the world’s largest economy, is “too big to fail” in the sense that the total collapse of the US would have a ripple effect that would collapse the world economy. The global power elites don’t want that and would move to prevent the US from becoming a complete “failed state.”
Gelderloos’ discussion of the military is important. In my experience, military people are not so much “American patriots” as much as “military patriots” as their loyalty is to the military as an institution and not “America” as a national entity. They’re essentially a gang, and their loyalty is to those who provide their bread and butter, i.e. the upper strata of the power elite who control the military and intelligence services from the top down. For a real revolution to happen in the US, the ultra-elite would have to lose control. That would only happen if the military fractured along political, racial, geographical, class, cultural, etc. lines, which is unlikely in the foreseeable future because the military is actually the most integrated and diverse institution in the US where gang loyalty based on material and fraternal interests to some degree transcends these other differences. However, even if the military fractured the ultra-power elite could simply raise armies from other parts of the world to fight in the US if necessary. Other sectors of the international power elite would send forces to prevent the US from becoming a failed state. For example, China’s economy would implode if they no longer had the US as a source of capital, as an export market, or as a financial debtor, so they wouldn’t let that happen. Many millions of mercenaries could be recruited from around the world simply by offering to pay them in “First World” money. Gelderloos’ discussion of the differences between the military and the police is also important. If the police became dysfunctional or disloyal to the state, the military would simply be used to “police the police” (I’ve seen that myself in other countries).
The conflict between the political parties is a matter of neo-Nixonians representing the formerly silent majority turned deplorable minority versus the rising “totalitarian humanist” ruling class representing digital capitalism and technocracy which embraces a tactical cosmopolitanism. Trump is almost a reincarnation of Nixon, with the same self-defeating ego although not nearly as smart. I think Harris more than Biden actually symbolizes the “other side.”
Within the domestic US, the ultra-elite have interests over and above those of the political parties, branches of government or sectors of the state, individual corporations, or even the bulk of the capitalist class itself. It is not necessarily against their interests for the public to be fighting each other over partisan, cultural, racial, or lower-level economic differences, etc. It actually helps because the public cannot put up a united front against the ruling class/state/power elite itself. They don’t want street violence to become so out of control that the state loses perceived legitimacy, but some low-level violence is not a threat to ruling class interests. They’re generally fine with street gang violence concentrated in some areas, and they would be fine with occasional pitched battles between Reds and Blues or Antifa and the Proud Boys. As far as the partisan differences, the ultra-power elite have “their people” embedded in all political factions. The neocons have retained control of the Republican Party, colonized the Democratic Party successfully in collusion with the neoliberals, embedded themselves in the Trump administration and movement, and successfully co-opted the Left with anti-Trumpism/anti-“fascism” and co-opted the Right with anti-leftism/anti-“socialism.” Imagine the NBA playoffs with a single team owner, a Mark Cuban-type, owning, or having a major ownership interest, in all of the teams. That’s kind of how domestic US politics works.
Check out the list of prominent neocons in this Wiki article. Notice how they and their allies have their hands in the full range of political institutions and political factors: Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives, Never Trumpers, Trumpists, #WalkAway types, Atlantic magazine-style pundits, etc. Some of these people are regularly featured as honored guests on MSNBC and have openly endorsed Biden. Notice how the first paragraph of the Three Way Fight article recognizes that an implicit anti-Trump axis ranging from neocons to the far left has emerged. Now, who is going to have the upper hand or controlling interests in such an axis? The brewing conflict is a rookie league mini-civil war taking place on the ground level with the true power elite standing over and above the conflict determining how to best use it to the advantage of themselves and the global superclass of which they are a part.