Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Does It Matter Who Attacks the System As Long as the System Gets Attacked?

A left-wing anarchist has offered the following reply to right-libertarian/an-cap sympathizers with the Beer Belly Putsch.

It’s equally true of Hoppean and paleo types who think that because the putsch attempt was against “the government” and its targets were members of Congress, the perpetrators were somehow “anarchist” or “libertarian” heroes. Never mind that it was instigated by a fascist president who wanted to overturn the results of an election and stay in office by stopping the vote from being counted. I see a lot of claims that it was just “one mob versus another mob,” or that because the state has no moral legitimacy it was no more serious than any other act of vandalism. By the argument of these people, Mussolini’s march on Rome and the Munich beer hall putsch were either good or morally neutral because their target was the gummint, and even if Hitler was known to be behind the Reichstag fire it was no more serious than any other arson. This is some real galaxy brain thinking.

The core issue here is whether or not it matters who attacks the system as long as the system gets attacked.

I think the obvious answer to this is sometimes yes and sometimes no, depending on the context and circumstances. Like anything else, political actions involve sets of tradeoffs between positives and negatives. I generally had a very favorable view of the anti-police state uprisings during 2020. If anything, the level of retaliation that was inflicted on the system was not nearly extreme enough. But, yes, there were negatives involved such as the presence of far-left elements who would create a regime at least as bad as the present one, incitements to racial/tribal/cultural civil war, co-optation by the capitalist class, and the creation of a pretext for an escalation of state repression. Likewise, I had a favorable view of the short-lived CHAZ/CHOP secessionist project and viewed with disdain right-libertarian, conservative, and other critics fo CHAZ/CHOP for having a high crime rate internally (as if fighting individual crime is the highest value or that seceded territories are somehow expected to be utopian oases).

The Beer Belly Putsch involves many of the same problems such as the presence of far-right elements who would create a regime at least as bad as the present one, incitements to racial/tribal/cultural civil war, and the creation of a pretext for an escalation of state repression along with increased private repression by the capitalist class. While the police state really exists (even if some of its components are exaggerated by liberal and left opinion with other components being ignored or underestimated), the “causes” (from the QAnon conspiracy to “Stop the Steal”) of the beer belly putschers seem to be more dubious, akin to a riot staged by Area 51 fanatics, flat earthers, or members of the Scientology cult.

However, let’s imagine a purely hypothetical scenario where adherents of sci-fi or pseudo-science cults attacked the Capitol on the grounds that the government is allegedly hiding evidence that the earth is really flat or that lizard people are running the government or that extraterrestrials have visited earth. While we can debate about whether a Congress made up of such fruitbats would be better or worse than the current system, or merely the equivalent, it is not readily apparent that such a tin foil hatter mob action would involve more negatives than positives if it had the effect of delegitimizing and exposing the weakness of the existing state, while creating divisions between rival statist factions that were previously “on the same side,” and causing former police state supporters to do an about-face.

Of course, an important difference between the hypothetical scenario described above and the actual events of January 6 involves the fact that the sitting head of state apparently endorsed the mob action, at least implicitly, for the purpose of overturning the results of a very nominally “democratic” election, probably for the purpose of making himself into an Erdogan-like or Putin-like autocrat who maintains a veneer of pseudo-democratic process. On one hand, it would not be a good thing if increased centralization of political power were to take place, and the head of state was able to exercise conventionally dictatorial powers such as dissolving other branches of government, independent courts, opposition parties, or the opposition press. On the other hand, the growing delegitimization of the state resulting in a process of political fracturing and fragmentation might be a net positive. The crucible would be whether the fragmentation process is permanent or whether it leads to re-centralization. The system is clearly a long way from total collapse, although fracturing is clearly occurring and the maintenance of legitimacy by the state is becoming increasingly difficult as rival factions increasingly regard each other as existential enemies. The long-term impact of the Beer Belly Putsch could potentially lead in either direction.

3 replies »

  1. The only real problem I see with this distillation is that the ‘anti-gumment’ faction described here would not be how they view themselves. My understanding of the demonstration was it was about allowing the time for a some of these recount efforts to unfold, and the cases thrown out were not even heard. In many of the flag and fanny-pack protestors minds, they were UPHOLDING democratic norms, and it is the media and courts who are conducting a fascist coup.

  2. Donald Trump the Zionist Tyrant is indeed a tyrant, but not an actual fascist, he’s more of a fascistic New York Liberal without an ideology ironically speaking.

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