Now that weve had the luxury of a few days to digest things, lets take a look at the January 6th event in Washington and see what we can reasonably and logically conclude. There is much that we dont know, much that we cant know, and yet much that is certain, or nearly so. We need to take a moment to do some clear-headed and skeptical thinking about this whole event, to remain on solid footing, and to muster the courage to take the necessary subsequent actions. The end result will be perhaps less conspiratorial than some might hope for, and yet my conclusion, I think, will be more firmly justified than ever.
Lets start with the apparent reality. By all appearances, January 6 was a day of diverse protests, all of which focused on the election certification by Congress. Authorities evidently planned for several hundred thousand people at various venues, representing related movements. The semi-official March to Save America was joined by marches from other organizations like Women for America First, Stop the Steal, and (we are told) a number of renegade groups like The Proud Boys. Around noon, several thousand people gathered at the Trump rally, which was then transformed into a mass protest action aimed directly at Congress. By 1:15 pm, people had started to collect around the Capitol building. Around 1:45, the first small group broke through the crowd-control fencing and were at the doors to the building. This was, coincidentally, just about the time that the legislators had convened, in both the House and Senate, to begin their 2-hour debate on the objection to the Arizona delegate count. By 2:30, Capitol police had begun to lock-down the building, and were warning congressmen and staffers to evacuate or shelter in place. Within five minutes, protestors were in both the Rotunda (underneath the big dome) and in Statuary Hall, to the south; both areas, incidentally, are formally public spaces. (The House chamber in the left wing, and the Senate chamber, in the right wing, are not public.)
Then things got ugly. Around 3:15, Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed, evidently by a security guard. Congressional offices were broken into and ransacked. Protestors reached the entrances to the House and Senate chambers and were confronted by gun-wielding security men, barricaded on the inside. Eventually some managed to actually enter the Senate chamber. By 3:45, the Virginia National Guard were mobilized and on their way. At 4:30, Trump issued his we love you, go home video on Twitter. But by 5 pm, most of the excitement was over, and crowds began to disperse. Most walked quietly out of the building; security cameras showed a few dozen subdued and sheepish-looking individuals making their way out, like a bunch of school kids heading back to their buses. The building was more or less secure by 5:45 pm, and both Houses of Congress were able to resume work by 8 pm. All in a days work.
Later we got the damage assessment: five people dead, including the unfortunate Ms. Babbitt. A security guard died after getting hit on the head by a pipe or fire extinguisher. And three others died from separate medical emergencies apparently unrelated to the event. Damage in and to the building was remarkably slight, especially for an insurrectionsome windows broken, some offices ransacked, and a few minor items stolen.
The protest thus ended on a surprisingly calm note. As I said, most people just calmly walked away, including many of those who breached the Capitol. Most were gone by 5:30 or 6:00 when the building was finally secured by the late-arriving law enforcement. Police and national guardsmen experienced little to no conflict, engaged in no shoot-outs, made no mass arrests, and put out no fires. The relatively calm and peaceful description accords well with firsthand witnesses like Cat McGuire, who reported on a polite, well-mannered crowd. Notably, she said, I did not see a single visible weapon the entire time, which aligns with my initial thoughts watching the event live on television. Those who crashed the doors of the Capitol constituted a relatively extremely small number of people, many of whom, she conjectured, were Antifa types, serving as agents provocateur to cause trouble and give pro-Trump people, and Trump himself, a bad name.
And yet, our fine and objective media told a different story. There was no Antifa there at all, they said. The crowd was an enraged White mob, directly incited by Trump, and hell-bent on death and destruction. The event was, variously, a coup, an insurrection, or at minimum, a riot. Protesters were right-wing extremists and even domestic terrorists who were attacking the very basis of American democracy. Incredibly, they were also anti-Semites who promoted the Holocaust. The Times of Israel informs us that Holocaust-denying neo-Nazis [were] among the Trump supporters who stormed US Capitol. CNN tells us that the warning signs were clear: online posts from hate groups and right-wing provocateurs agitating for civil war, the deaths of top lawmakers and attacks on law enforcement. We also read that the riot was even more violent than it first appeared. Indeed, it could have been a massacrecould have, but wasnt. Not even close.
A Dose of Reality
So what really was going on there? We are immediately faced with multiple problems. For the vast majority of us watching live, all information arrived filtered through the mass media. The filters work differently depending on whether you watch MSNBC or Fox, but the filters are there all the same. And we are stuck with them. The only alternative would have been spontaneous reports from handheld protestor cellphones uploaded to social media; but at best, these portrayed a highly limited vantage point, from single individuals, who could not possibly have known what else was happening. All that the typical viewer could see was relatively disconnected video clips and photos from outside and inside the building. Who those people really were, and what their motives were, remain unknown.
Were there Antifa members in the crowd? Hard to say, if only because we really have no good idea who or what Antifa is. If we loosely define them as hardcore liberal leftists willing to engage in violence, then yes, it is highly likely that some such types were in the crowd. But precisely how many, among the thousands, and what precisely they did, we will never know.
Was it an attempted coup? The Atlantic certainly thinks so (see This is a coup.) Was it an insurrection? Do our simple-minded mass media personalities even know what they are talking about? A coup and an insurrection are effectively synonymous, and are essentially equivalent to rebellion and even revolutionall imply the violent overthrow of an existing government. Is that what happened on January 6? Hardly. Not even close.
Even a modicum of common sense tells us that this was no coup, no insurrection. The mob did not, and certainly could never have, dreamed of overthrowing anything, let alone the US government. There was precisely zero chance of that happening, even if thousands of gun- totting militants managed to take the building. They would have been talked out, starved out, or gassed out. In the end, it would have been a suicide mission. Only the most deluded idiot could ever have thought that he was going to Washington to take over the government.
So what was it? From all accounts, it was, by and large, a rowdy mass pro-Trump rally that got further out of hand than most expected. From everything Ive seen so far, it was a mass protestnothing more. Partly planned, partly unplanned, but a mass protest nonetheless.
Mass protests generally have two distinct but intertwined goals: 1) to make a statement, and 2) to inflict a cost. To state the obvious, mass protests occur because a group of people are unhappy about something, and they want something to change. Change only occurs, in a large bureaucratic nation like ours, if a loud message is conveyed, or if the price of non-change becomes too high. If thousands of Trump voters are mad as hell because they believe the election was stolen, and if they want to protest, they can either make their message heard and then hope for the best (not much hope there), or they can attempt to punish the thievesthat is, make them incur some cost for their malfeasance.
What did the mob achieve on Wednesday? We already knew their message Trump won the election, and it was stolen. We know they have support across the country; even our biased media admit to some 74 million Trump voters, of whom 70% to 80% (depending on the poll) think the election was stolen. But then what? Were mad as hell and were not going to take it. And then what? The message is impotent. It has no consequence.
If the message was doomed to impotence, inflicting a cost was much more tangible, and much more achievable. By forcing their way into the Capitol building, a motivated and reasonably prepared mob could have caused tremendous damage. Ifand I stress the conditional hereif they wanted to inflict damage, they had a golden opportunity. They had guns, presumably hidden, and far outnumbered the handful of guards. Any firefight would have been over quickly, with the mob victorious. Security guards, staffers, even congressmen would have been easy prey, for kidnapping, injury, or worse. But this did not happen.
What about physical damage? The Capitol building is ripe for destruction. It is the beating heart of the Washington swamp, the symbol of all that is failed and corrupt about America. Just imagine the destruction that could have been wrought by a mob run amok. Fires alone could have caused massive damage. Instead of putting his feet up on Pelosis desk and stealing her letterhead, Richard Barnett could have burned it to ashes. But he preferred to scrawl a message for her, leave a quarter, and walk home; what a peaceful fellow. Imagine the impact if multiple office fires had been set, all at once. Smoke would have been pouring out of windows all around the building; now that would have been an image for the ages. Firefighters would never have been able to reach the building, and the damage would have been immense. Imagine if the actual House or Senate chambers had been torched. That would have been a real cost, and a real message. Instead, a couple of windows were broken; and legislators were back in those very rooms just three hours later, to resume the peoples work.
Therefore, no onenot the pro-Trumpers, not the hidden provocateurs planned any real damage, or to inflict any real cost. No one seriously contemplated it, no one planned it, and no one executed it. This much is obvious. The question is, why? Was it all for show? Were protestors invited inside, with authorities being quite confident that no real damage would occur? But the show alone would be sufficient for those in powersufficient to play it up as a coup and insurrection, and to further punish Trump and his mostly White followers.
Notice how congressmen, left and right, responded to the event. All were indignant. All were outraged. All condemned the senseless violence of the crazed mob and the attempted overthrow of American democracy. All of them: left, right, and center; Democrat and Republican; Trump supporter or not. All of them condemned it.
Again: Why? The answer here is clear: All congressmen, of all stripes, have a vested interest in sustaining the system, more or less in its current form. This is obvious. They are all winners in the system. It has made them all rich, famous, and powerful. Yes, they fight for relative power and relative influence, but this is largely a sham. The Republican-Democrat battles are only there to give the impression of real competition. Instead, in reality, we have a deep and radical monopolya monopoly of pro-corporate, pro-capitalist, pro-war, pro- Israel, and pro-Jewish individuals. On these things, they all agree. Ive been saying as much for many years: We should focus not on what divides the two parties, but on what unites them. This is far more revealing.
Click for Full Text!