Apoplectic commentators are struggling for words to describe the storming of the Capitol in Washington by thousands of mask-less white supremacist fanatics and fascist supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump on 6 January last, which saw five deaths. Chanting slogan of “We want Trump”, helmet-wearing rowdies, armed with rods, guns and chemical irritants, stormed the US parliament with a view to halting or overturning a constitutional process to affirm the Electoral College vote that was slated to officially ratify Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the recently concluded Presidential election. Not any external enemy or terrorist group, but the President himself – having mobilized supporters for a ‘wild’ protest that day – egged on loutish and armed white supremacist and neo-fascist supporters with vitriolic speeches to “take their quixotic fight to the grounds of the US Capitol” to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” meaning invalidation of the election result. Since the President himself engineered the desecration of the parliament building, there was hardly any adequate mobilization of security personnel to protect it. The frenzied mob easily overpowered the policemen on guard, scaled the walls, made it to the inner precincts of the Capitol, disrupted the proceedings and sent representatives and Senators into evacuating the chamber. With the mob running riot in the Capitol, President Trump stood by for hours, opting to neither press the waiting National Guard into service nor call the armed forces by invoking the provisions of the Insurrection Act. Rather than appealing to his incensed supporters to restrain as matters escalated, Trump cheered them. This hooliganism evidently was pre-planned and allowed by the Trump administration. Had there been such a demonstration by the exploited workers or common people on a just demand, police would have crushed that brutally. But the joker-like behaviour of the hooligans and their easy intrusion into the national parliament building was proof of everything having been stage-managed. This storming of Capitol by the pro-Trump hoodlums has indeed raised serious questions as to what extent bourgeois democracy in that country has degenerated and how a despotic bourgeois politician hankering for power can arrogate to himself with such ease the absolute right to trample underfoot the last vestige of democratic codes and procedures still in vogue. The whole world has been aghast and so shocking has been the incident that leaders of the imperialist-capitalist world including those believed to be close to Trump also could not but condemn it.
Trump earned displeasure of democratic-minded Americans
It is pertinent to recall that Trump has been widely criticized by all saner, democratic-minded people, both inside and outside US, for his mendacity, sickening selfeulogy, lust for power, indecent remarks often crudely misogynist, insolent conduct, open incitement to racial hatred, xenophobic talks, unprecedented arrogance, autocratic approach and actions, apart from utter failure to arrest nose-dive of US economy. His arrogance was so much that despite US being the most Covid 19-affected country with casualty figures climbing to over 4 lakhs, he refused to pay any heed to the advice of the scientist-physician fraternity for adopting necessary preventive measures and not only declined to comply with but even openly derided rudimentary health protocols, not to speak of his outright mismanagement. His passive indulgence to repeated incidents of racial violence and police atrocities on the minority African-Americans which gave rise to the countrywide movement of “Black Lives Matter”, the growing poverty, surging unemployment, mounting crime rate and untrammelled spike in corona cases made Trump one of the most disliked Presidents of US. But Trump, power-mad and self-conceited like many of his counterparts in other countries, was giving an impression even before the electoral process was rolled out that he would not reconcile with any verdict that might dislodge him from power. What is more, having refused to wear mask and discouraged others from doing so in this prevailing pandemic, he even tried in various ways to deny people the right to vote through postal ballots while sowing doubts about their outcome long before the election. More the day of election was drawing near, more desperateness he showed in anyhow clinging to power and hurled invectives against all and sundry who opposed him. He even sacked right and left his co-functionaries, administrative high-ups, even defence officials who dared to voice their differences with him. All codified norms and behavioural guidelines had been bidden goodbye. His self-trumpeting reached nadir. He had the gall to say: ‘The beauty of me is that I’m very rich’; ‘I’m also honoured to have the greatest temperament that anybody has’; ‘Nobody has better respect for intelligence than Donald Trump’; ‘I’m the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far. …’ Thus he virtually epitomized in himself a signature portrayal of a fascist autocratic leader. He also found like-minded friends and admirers in other countries who wanted to follow his fascist autocratic footsteps to stay glued to the seat of power. No doubt, a vast section of common US citizens particularly those still harbouring illusion about bourgeois democracy were aghast at the turn of events. They had tired of the infantile name calling, the ugly language and the ceaseless confrontation. They wanted a return to some kind of normalcy. As a large section of the common Americans were reported to be dissatisfied, if not enraged, with his performance, indication of his defeat was very much on the card.
Aware of that, Trump, like all bourgeois leaders of the time, exacerbated ethnic and racial divisiveness by peddling in all kinds of falsehoods to hoodwink people. Having long ago coined deceptive slogans like “American first” and “make America Great Again”, he has been continuously spinning conspiracy theories to rake up ultranationalist jingoism with a view to inflaming frenzied racist mindset and sectarianism among the unemployed white middle class people, particularly the youth and pit them against their other fellow citizens belonging to different ethnicities as if the latter were coming in the way of their getting jobs and earning a decent livelihood. He also proclaimed a virtual reversal of the much-clamoured and US enforced doctrine of capitalist globalization, took some steps to stop entry of people from other countries as well as forcible ouster of immigrants. By all these moves, by all possible means, including social media in which he proved himself a master manipulator, he sought to create a supporter base among the white middle class people and thought that he would be able to secure a second term of presidency riding on these supporters who constitute a majority in the states that have maximum electoral college votes.
Electoral College System
Before proceeding further, a word needs to be said about the ‘electoral college’ of US to enable those not familiar with the term to get an insight into it. In US, it is not the total votes polled by a presidential candidate which determine victory. Instead, it is an election based on “electoral college” which, in this context, simply refers to a group of people with a shared task of certifying vote outcome in the state Assembly. These people are electors and their job is to choose the president and the vice-president. The number of electors from each state is roughly in line with the size of its population, in other words, each state has a particular number of electoral votes. For example, California has the most electors – 55 – while a handful of sparsely populated states like Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota (and Washington DC) have the minimum of three.There are 538 electors in total, and in a system where each candidate wins all or loses all electoral votes in a state, a candidate needs to gain a majority of the votes – 270 or more – to win the presidency. If a candidate wins 50.1% of the vote in, say, Texas, he or she is awarded all of the state’s 38 electoral votes. Even if a candidate wins by a landslide, he or she still picks up the same number of electoral votes. For example, in 2016, Donald Trump trailed his opponent Hillary Clinton by almost three million votes in the national aggregate. Yet, he won the presidency because the electoral college gave him a majority. Similarly, in 2000, George W Bush won with 271 electoral votes, although his rival Al Gore won the popular vote by more than half a million. This time, Trump bagged 232 electoral colleges as against 306 by his opponent and president-elect Joe Biden. Biden received nearly 81.3 million votes, or 51.3% of all votes cast – a record, and more than 7 million more votes than Trump.
Trump refused to accept any electoral defeat
Two months before the election, Trump declared audaciously that he would not lose the election unless there is tampering of the electoral process. Even when counting was on, he organized a press conference in the wee hours at night to announce that he was leading. But, as soon as the electoral results started going against him, he was furious and crossed all limits of insolence and brute display of arrogance. He blasted the election as a rigged one contending that he was fraudulently defeated in the swing states. It may be mentioned, that since a majority of states traditionally and consistently vote along Republican and Democrats lines, respectively, the outcome of US elections really centres around a handful of so-called ‘swing states’, which change from one to the other side. So, Trump fought furiously to flip the outcome in those states, like Michigan, Pennsylvania, etc., which include even Georgia, a traditional Republican stronghold. Trump’s legal team and his supporters have filed more than 50 court petitions in the key or swing states won by Joe Biden demanding that election results be declared null and void due to electoral fraud, all of which were unanimously dismissed by the courts. The accusation of election fraud, while propagated did not even feature prominently or at all in court cases, contrary to propaganda as they had really no evidence, and what was presented were mere speculations and outrageous demands.
Yet, Trump was unrelenting. Still he kept hammering the lie that he had won the election and victory of his opponent, Joe Biden, is manipulative and based on stolen votes. For weeks, the blind supporters of Trump railed on social media that the election had been stolen. They openly discussed the idea of violent protest on the day Congress met to certify the result. Then he began to infringe on the process of transition meaning handing over the baton to the elected candidate. Things have come to such a pass that he is on the brink of being impeached for the second time for inciting insurrection. “high crime or misdemeanor.”
When all efforts on his part to nullify the election results proved abortive, he made a last-ditch attempt to countermand the formal affirmation of the electoral verdict by hatching a plan for violent assault and immobilizing police force to maximum extent. He organized a “Save America Rally” of his supporters near the White House on 6 January, having long made them believe that the election had been stolen from him and incited them to act: “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore, “Trump had told the crowd, urging them to head to the Capitol. Their passion stoked by his defiant speech, the crowd marched toward the Capitol, stormed it, held it under siege and went on a rampage. By such an action, President Trump shredded his constitutional oath of parliamentary democracy, which made him the President, which bound him to follow the law of the land and demonstrated how, not his “great America and American people’ but his greed for power mattered for him. When the entire world was shaken by the incident and his own countrymen condemned it as an ‘attack on democracy’, Trump did a somersault, conceded defeat, and said hypocritically that he was outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem, only to later backtrack again.
Myth-buster of American democracy
There has so far been a myth about American democracy amongst many. The US rulers often boast of vibrant democracy in operation in their country. They are always seen to express “concern” about “murder of democracy” in other countries that refuse to bend before their dictates. So, they have arrogated to themselves the right to ‘export democracy’ to those rogue countries in gunboats and by imposing draconian economic sanctions. All recent crimes of war, sabotage, assassination, planted violence and rebellion in other lands like Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Venezuela,. – the list goes on and on – have been engineered by the US rulers under the garb of ‘establishing democracy’. But what is now being seen in their own country? Ridiculing the efficacy of that democracy, the US President himself has raised questions about its operation. For two months, Donald Trump refusing to acknowledge defeat in the presidential election held in November has been spinning outlandish conspiracy theories, recklessly tweeting allegations of unproven electoral fraud, spreading fake news on social media and riling up crowds of his supporters to fuel their collective aggrievement. It went to such a height that the social network agencies and even the TVs had to block him for long time. Even today, his social media accounts are blocked so that he is debarred from inciting his supporters and spread fake news. He also pressurized government officials to carry out vendettas against his ‘enemies’, meaning those who oppose or criticise him including cabinet members he had himself chosen. And finally there has been an incited attack on the Capitol by marauding supporters/ mob to unsettle electoral mandate.
Degeneration of bourgeois democracy
So far, we have dwelt on the informative aspects of the incident and its specific backdrop. But the moot point is what did it unravel eloquently? Is it that the fight between Trump and Biden was a tussle between anti-democratic and pro-democratic forces in an otherwise perfect democratic order? Would it be enough to hold that Trump was a power-mad brute and hence his defeat has signalled end of brutality? Perhaps thinking in such a way would keep the truth elusive from us. What has been exposed and exposed nakedly is the growing corrosion of bourgeois democracy in the present decadent moribund capitalism. But why is it so? The answer needs to be sought in the inexorable course of history. Following the course of development, capitalism passed over the stage of laissez faire and entered the stage of monopoly. Arrival of monopoly rang the death knell of free competition. So, in the political superstructure, the principle of equity and unfettered freedom of expression received a jolt. As we all know, those who control the economy, i.e. the production system, also control politics and for that matter, all other spheres of society including the realm of spiritual production, or mental spheres including ideas and culture. And the more the monopolists strengthened their grip and control over economy, the more they moved towards curtailing the sovereignty of parliament and turning it into their appendage. However, they continued to maintain the facade of parliamentary democracy to cover their motives and deeds from people. Perforated with crisis and morbidity, capitalism has nothing more to offer to the common toiling people but oppression, deception and deprivation. Even its political system, the parliamentary democracy, stinks of rot and decadence, of corruption and total lack of morality and ethics. More the capitalist system is becoming crisis-ridden because of its endemic law of operation, more the ruling monopolists are frantically trying to prolong their exploitative class rule by destroying all the established norms, codes, practices, values and ethics hitherto governing bourgeois democracy and tilting towards fascist autocracy.
Illusion about two-party democracy or a presidential form of government
There is a thought in our country that proliferation of so many parties is the cause of the peril. In fact, the ruling circle is behind precipitating such a notion and tacitly fuelling a demand for appropriate electoral reforms to weed out smaller parties and preferable existence of only two parties to choose between. It is contended that such would help prevent intrusion of untoward elements in parliament as keeping watch on two parties is relatively easy compared to many parties. Besides this helps in centralization of power they want to arrive at. A section of people, out of confusion, is getting entrapped by that. As we had said earlier, the ruling monopolists are now weaving ploys to virtually make parliament defunct and turn it into an appendage of theirs by stripping it of its essence as was once conceived by the founding fathers of bourgeois democracy. Two party democracy perfectly suits that design. Long back, Comrade Shibdas Ghosh, Founder General Secretary, SUCI(C) and an outstanding Marxist thinker, had observed: “…As to its form also fascism presents no stereotyped pattern. It has assumed different forms in different countries to suit the local conditions. Somewhere it has adopted the form of individual dictatorship, somewhere the autocratic rule of a military junta and yet in some other countries it has assumed the democratic garb, keeping the parliament still alive but limiting its power by way of economic and political centralization. The appearance of fascism in a ‘democratic’ form through the two party parliamentary system of government is certainly a post-war social phenomenon, having no historical precedent. Because of its seemingly democratic appearance it is, at the same time, the most deceptive. And in fact, it has been able to deceive many so-called intellectuals, who try to recognize fascism by its form and not by its content or its distinguishing features…” (Call of the Hour, SW, Vol. II) Exactly, that is seen in US, UK and some other countries. In a two-party system, the ruling class selects two parties of its choice and servitude to rule the roost, and people, from an impression of exercising voting right and electing a government of their choice, would only alternate between the two. As a matter of fact, the ruling quarters with the help of monopoly-controlled media have almost succeeded in operationalizing such a system as could be seen during the elections when the bourgeois propaganda machinery underlines only two contending parties or combinations to choose from and virtually negates, if not resorting to blackout of other contesting parties. In India also, as could be seen in various elections, the electoral battle is virtually made limited between either two parties or two combinations of the ruling bourgeoisie. So, it is also fast assuming a de facto 2-party democracy. There is also an espousal in favour of presidential form of government in India. Just the other day, Indian Prime Minister talked of “one nation, one election”which, if iewed in the context, could well be an attempt to create ground for eliciting public support in favour of a presidential system so that absolute power is concentrated in the hands of an executive. But the recent episode of US where both presidential system and two-party democracy are in existence, ought to be an eyeopener as to how “democratic” is either of the two forms or a combination of both. Moreover, is it that in the countries with either two party-system or presidential system, people’s predicament has waned? Or has it multiplied? Have corruption, aberration and misconduct abated there or mounted? Is it not that everywhere parliamentary democracy has been stripped of all its declared objectives and vows and turned into a rickety façade? The present instance of the US bears clear testimony of that. With grave agony, right-thinking democratic minded people have been observing that not only power-monger self-seekers but even criminals and anti-socials are now making it to the leadership of the borgeois parties, getting elected to the legislature, the highest law-making institution, becoming law makers, ministers and thus are virtually operating as controllers of slaughtered parliamentary democracy. Moneymafia-media are calling the shots. It is nothing but criminalization of politics. What is gained by the ruling class in the process is, inter alia, stalling the entry of the real representatives of the people and thereby preventing people’s voice from reverberating inside parliament. Only the ruling monopolists remain vigilant about one thing: that
no ruling party or leader becomes so discredited by dint of their avid pursuit of anti-people policies, self-aggrandizement and overdoing of things that accumulated wrath of the people is feared to transgress the confines of anti-incumbency mindset and snowball into anti-establishment outlook. In such an event, the ruling class cunningly replaces the ruling party or leader by another trusted party or leader of its choice. So, people alternate between this or that representative of the ruling bourgeoisie within the worn-out parliamentary democracy, and the oppressive capitalist system remains unscathed. We saw this in our country. We saw this in US also. It is obvious that Trump failed to receive fullfledged backing of the US monopolists because of his excesses in abusing power, betraying whimsical attitude, indulging in impulsive conduct and thereby making people hostile. So, Joe Biden could triumph over Trump.
Bonhomie between Trump and Modi
But one thing is noteworthy. It is the crisisridden obsolete, utterly corrupt and reactionary capitalist system which is the root of all evils in people’s life-economic distress, rising inequality, deprivation, stinking politics, socio-cultural pollution, erosion of values-everything. To shield this truth and in a bid to thwart his apprehended electoral reverse by deluding people, Trump chose to bank on fanned up white supremacist pride, as stated above. And that he could succeed in doing so is evident from the fact that even after so many of disgraceful acts, he managed to secure more than 70 million votes, the second highest total in American history. Nationally, he has more than a 47% share of his vote. It shows that he succeeded in having an extraordinary hold over large swathes of this country, a visceral connection that among thousands of supporters has brought a near cult-like devotion. His stoking of racial tensions, his use of racist language in tweets, maligning people of colour, his reluctance to condemn white supremacists, his strange boasts about being “a very stable genius” and the like had created a visceral connection that had brought among thousands of his supporters a near cult-like devotion.
If one compares the US and Indian scenarios, one would find many similarities. Economies in both these imperialist countries are on a tailspin. Penury and misery of common people, unemployment, jobless, social crimes are skyrocketing. Ruling dispensations in both the countries whether peddling in ultra-nationalist slogans or soothing talk of unity etc. are all wedded to the task to bamboozle people and keep their eyes away from the real cause of economic collapse, social unrest, uncertainty and insecurity of life as well as immense distress the common masses are plunged in. Both the societies are ridden with racial-communal sectarian divides precipitated by the ruling quarters to keep people disunited. In both the countries, persecution and killing of the minorities and underprivileged with impunity is rampant. Also there has been a persistent attempt to create a ‘larger than life’ image of the top leaders in both the countries. So, Trump found in Modi a dependable ally and fellow-traveler and so had Modi in Trump. Hence both praised each other. Admiration for authoritarian strongmen bound the two. The bond had been so strong that while Trump organized a “Howdy Modi” event in Houston, US, in September 2019 with the apparent objective of wooing the voters of Indian origin there, Modi jovially exhorted all to elect Trump for another term by raising the slogan, “aapki bar, Trump sarkar” (Next time, it would be a Trump government). And within months, Modi reciprocated by serenading Trump at Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad in a “Namaste Trump” show by spending over Rs 100 crores and hiding the spectacle of ‘shining India’ by erecting walls overnight to shield the filthy slum areas. It was obvious that by association with Trump, PM Modi sought to create an impression before the world that he also equals the US President in status. By that, he also bracketed himself with the brand of dirty politics-the politics decidedly anchored in undemocratic habits, practices, power-madness, self-projection and if not in servile obedience to the ruling monopolists in the case of Trump who had been pursuing his very own corporate or business interests which by focussing attention on his individual misdeeds, rather helped shielding the rotten capitalist system from people’s wrath. So what was this bonhomie between Modi and Trump rooted in other than sailing in the same boat of fascist autocracy? Only one aspect needs attention in this connection. Despite all degeneration, the justice department, a section of the media and the elected legislators of US can raise their voice even against the President if they find he is overdoing things. Even they can dare to go for impeachment as well. But in India, this much democratic intent is also missing. Rather, with every passing day, starting from bureaucracy to judiciary to media houses, there is a sickening tendency to defend the executives including cabinet ministers even if the latter commit grave mistakes, indulge in falsehood, tamper democratic process, conduct themselves in an autocratic manner and glaringly betray power-mongering. Let alone impeachment, even criminal cases against them are either dropped or suppressed or manipulatively closed down in India. Anyone criticizing the government or the ruling party is immediately branded as anti-national, unpatriotic
and traitor and often taken into custody, detained without trial and slapped with false cases. Some of such people are also assassinated mysteriously. Also, if there is a legitimate movement by the people, the government arrays its entire arsenal to suppress that whereas criminals basking under the shelter of the ruling dispensation get away with any kind of offence including lynching. Even a section of the juridical fraternity and eminent personalities have been expressing discontent at the way the judiciary is often found to please the executive with favourable judgments passing rulings on certain extraneous and hence irrelevant issues that have wider ramifications.
Correct remedial course need to be identified and avidly pursued
The democratic-minded persons, intellectuals, social activists are indeed disturbed and agonized at the ongoing farce in the name of democracy, marked deviation from even the constitutional provisions, unsavoury catfight for power, hooliganism and slugfest, semantic quibbling of the self-serving political leaders, squalid mess in the arena of politics and above all, lack of honesty, integrity and sobriety among the political class afloat in the corridors of power. What they need to understand is that this marked degeneration of bourgeois democracy is not exclusive to US or India but has become a common feature of the entire imperialist-capitalist world with some variance in degree. Bourgeois democracy is wrought with all rot, perjury, filths as well as brazen subversion of laws, values and codes. More the bourgeois statesmen and their lackeys cry aloud of democracy, more virulently is exposed the putrid underbelly of the obsolete reactionary system.
Our fervent appeal to the thinking class is to understand that parliamentary democracy is not the last word in social journey. It is only a phase and once the relevance of that phase is historically nullified, it is pointless to lament for that. Prudence lies in that. Erudition and intellect demand that the correct course to social progress is duly identified and traversed along to emancipate humanity from the shackles of oppression of man by man, growing poverty and destitution by organizing revolutionary overthrow of capitalism fulfilling all necessary conditions and in the process get rid of all the filth and smuts polluting the polity.
[ References : The Guardian 19-12-19,BBC-27-10-20, 07-11-20, 06-01-21, 07-01-21, The Federal 10-11-20, Free Press Journal-21-11-20, Pew Research Centre 11-12-20, Workers’ World 06-01-21, ABP 07-01-21, 08-01-21, The Print 07-01-21, 09-01-21,NDTV 07-01-21,Business Standard 07-01-21, India Today-07-01-21, 08-01-21, ABC news 07-01-21, scroll.in 07-01-21, The Quint-08-01-21, Times of India 01-01-21, 09-01-21, The Wire-08-01-21, 10-01-21, Indian Express-08-01-21, Hindustan Times-09-01-21, The Statesman 10-01-21,]