NEARLY a week on, the hairy biker invasion of the US Capitol building can be put in some sort of perspective. For starters, this was not an attempted coup, nor a serious threat to American democracy, such as it is. Drunk on Donald J Trump’s fractured demagogy, a bunch of deluded people mobbed the Capitol and ransacked a few offices. This was a riot – indeed, an orchestrated one – but not an insurrection.

All references to America being under imminent threat from fascist takeover are not simply exaggerated, they are ridiculous. That is not to deny there are armed right-wing militias in the US and that their presence was legitimised by Trump’s rhetoric. The anti-racist Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) keeps a tally on these militias and is by far the best source of information on US hate groups of all stripes.

In 2018, the SPLC counted 216 militia groups with at least 15 confirmed members apiece. That represents around 3240 activists. But even if we double that number it is still pathetically miniscule compared to the 2,260,000 members of the US armed forces tasked with defending the republic.

For those of you tempted by exaggerated comparisons between Trumpism and 1930s fascism, consider this: by the time he assumed power in 1933, Herr Hitler commanded some two million Brownshirt thugs – 20 times the size of the then German Army.

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Yet in June 1934, Hitler had no qualms about having the entire Brownshirt leadership murdered, when they threatened to get out of hand and spoil the Fuhrer’s growing cosiness with big business. Trump, on the other hand, is not really in control of his stage army of rural survivalists, Confederate re-enactors, and QAnon nutters.

Where we can be worried legitimately is by the new ability of US hate groups to co-ordinate their activities. This has been aided by the creation in 2018 of “Parler”, a far-right alternative to Twitter.

Parler was key to organising last week’s outrage in Washington. Parler was originally funded by conservative donor Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Mercer. He is the man who founded the now-defunct data analysis company Cambridge Analytica which was central to Leave winning the 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK. The Mercer family are also financial backers of Breitbart News, a far-right syndicated commentary site.

I mention Parler because much of the mainstream media attention regarding last Wednesday’s Washington events has focused on Trump’s demagogic use of Twitter. The banning of the Trump Twitter account has been greeted with whoops of joy from both the liberal establishment and avowed leftists.

Be careful what you wish for. I will shed no tears for the shutting down of Trump’s Twitter account. On the other hand, we are tiptoe-ing towards political censorship of mainstream social media and such censorship (especially if self-policed by Big Tech) is more likely to be used against progressives and the left than against the right. Besides, the well-financed far-right will always have access to its own social media such as Parler and Breitbart.

My main beef regarding the exaggeration of the Capitol Hill riot is that it detracts from real political developments in America – developments that have serious implications for the world. The success of the Democrats in winning Georgia’s two Senate seats was a major progressive victory – especially as it saw the state’s first black senator since Reconstruction and its first ever Jewish representative.

Effectively, this success stymied Trump’s real project which was to retain control of the Senate as a platform to try and reverse the presidential election result by legal means.

Even then, Trump’s legal shenanigans had already become meaningless, for the simple reason that his support among America’s ruling elites has well nigh evaporated.

UNLIKE some of my US friends, I have always believed that there were rational policy elements in Trumpism, eg favouring US domestic business interests over the globalist needs of Big Tech; cutting taxes and boosting stock prices to favour both finance capital and small investors; and championing the defence industries.

This policy package won Trump political support and big donations from some US capitalists. But these supporters have since deserted him. Note for instance the shift in allegiance of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). At its AGM in 2017, NAM president Jay Timmons lauded Trump as “a true champion for our industry, who has fought for manufacturing since day one of his presidency”. But last week Timmons called for Trump to be removed summarily from office under the 25th Amendment.

Why the change of heart? At one level, Timmons blames Trump for his father’s death from Covid-19 – a sure sign that Trump’s incompetent handling of the pandemic crisis has not gone unnoticed (Boris please note).

But there are also sections of domestic US capitalism who have come to believe that Trump’s chaotic, demagogic style of leadership is just too destabilising – nationally and internationally. The riot at the Capitol was perhaps the last straw.

As a result, Joe Biden will enter the White House with the US ruling elite behind him – if only temporarily. Deep divisions remain between globalist Big Tech (which wants free trade and cheap Asian labour) and domestic US business (which wants happy local consumers with jobs). This friction will limit Biden’s options.

US and European liberals applaud the advent of Joe and VP Kamala Harris, but the duo have already launched a pre-emptive strike against the left wing of the Democratic Party that was responsible for turning out the vote in Georgia. Think Keir Starmer’s purge of the Corbynistas.

Biden is an establishment figure selected to stop Trump. But Sleepy Joe is too establishment for an era when US capitalism is under threat from China, when Big Tech and US domestic manufacturing are daggers drawn, and when US hegemony is fast eroding across the globe.

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An inveterate centrist, Biden is not equipped to meet the economic turbulence that will follow the pandemic. He is no closet radical, unlike Franklin Roosevelt. And he lacks Trump’s populist appeal to an unsettled, frustrated white working class.

If Biden represents anyone it is an Orwellian Big Tech – Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Tesla and co. The superficial liberalism of Big Tech entrepreneurs will fool many into believing the post-Trump era represents a return to rationality and enlightenment.

We will be offered the prospect of a technological, globalist nirvana to save us from work and destructive climate change. We can consume away via a sanitised, “policed” social media, safe from the crazies that stormed the Capitol. It’s the sort of squeaky clean, effortless future we are promised by the SNP Growth Report.

But the economic wreckage of the post-Covid world, coupled with growing antagonisms between the major powers, suggests a darker future is in store. The root of that darkness is not a continuance of Donald Trump’s populism or the antics of his followers, but rather the terminal decline of consumerist, globalist capitalism.

Last week, as the Trumpians were rioting, Tesla’s Elon Musk overtook Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, to become the world’s richest person. Musk is now worth $188.5 billion, or roughly the GDP of New Zealand. How can we endure under a system where one man has so much wealth and power?