January 6: How an insurrection by right-wing extremists will be used against the left

White supremacy, colonialism and violence are the foundation of this country. The power of the state is reliant on these tools, and we cannot trust the state to disarm itself.

In the days and weeks following the attack on the capital, there have been a lot of words thrown around in an attempt to properly label what exactly we saw. Some, while accurate, are not useful. Others are blatantly false. A violent insurrection. A riot. Anarchy. Domestic terrorism. What exactly was it? Does it really matter what we call it? And what are we supposed to do about it? 

As the first clips from that day started making their way into the public eye, we heard mainstream news sources begin to condemn the actions of those at the capital by declaring what they saw as “Anarchy” and a “riot.” The attempt here was to point out the chaos and disorder that it felt like we were seeing. To show their contempt towards these actions. 

There are a number of problems with these labels. The first being that Anarchy is not synonymous with disorder. Anarchism is a political ideology that rejects any form of hierarchy, it strives for a stateless society in which there is true freedom and autonomy. It’s been a joke in Leftist circles that if it had been Anarchists that stormed the capital there would have been medics, mutual aid tents, and food distribution within the hour — common practices among anarchists which undermine the need for state interference.   

The next issue being that while the term riot may have some credence. There is a danger in allowing what happened on Jan. 6 to become synonymous with the BLM Movement, where demonstrations are often declared riots by police allowing the use of physical force, so called “less than lethal” rounds and chemical weapons in an effort to disperse demonstrators. Lines were being drawn between the sort of destruction that took place during the uprisings in multiple cities in demand of justice for Black lives and the storming of the capital by white supremacists looking to uphold their privilege. 

The burning of police precincts and vehicles or the smashing of Starbucks and Amazon windows are powerful and symbolic acts. They are acts which demand attention be given to the injustices of this country. Burn down the institution which murders, arrests and oppresses us. Smash out the windows of the companies that continue to profit off of the exploitation of our labor, the companies which gentrify our cities. These are conscious acts born out of a need to resist oppression, a need for fundamental and radical change. They are acts of desperation because we cannot afford to stay under the boot of the state any longer. 

The storming of the capital was born from privilege. It was born out of a fear of being challenged, and of a desperation to cling to their sense of power. The fear of the ‘other’ that Donald Trump preyed on during his campaign for presidency emboldened the underlying white supremacy in this nation. The white supremacy that he continued to inspire during his time in office. The white supremacy that created a space for the events of Jan. 6 to be planned. 

This is the most fundamental misunderstanding about Jan 6. In summary of what was laid out in my article last week, what we saw was not really disorder, in fact it was planned well in advance on open social media platforms. People knew exactly what they wanted, and they organized around these ideas, directly calling for the storming of the capital and even holding members of congress hostage. 

As the day progressed and more information came to light the rhetoric started to shift. Now, many sources were beginning to call this a domestic terror attack and began labeling the event as an insurrection. There is a certain progress in this, as it recognizes the planned nature of the attack. The issue with this is that the label of domestic terror will do nothing to solve the issue at hand. 

The label of domestic terror in America has always been used to mean two things: Black and brown peoples organizing against the United States Government, and radical leftist uprisings. The government already has the resources needed to deal with domestic terror, the state has more than enough power, and this could have been stopped at any time if they had just been looking. But they weren’t, because their concern was not in white supremacy. 

With the ongoing BLM movement and demand for racial justice and radical change in this country, denouncing this as domestic terrorism is not sufficient. This label will only work to give the state more power and no means by which to hold them accountable for how they use that power. Our fight is against white supremacy, and the state that upholds that supremacy. 

With this understanding, we must recognize that we cannot give the state any more power over the lives and freedoms of Americans. It will only work to solidify and elevate the police state than we already live in. It will work to disempower black and brown radical leftists groups fighting for their rights. It will never be used to disempower those that uphold the white supremacy this country was built on. 

In the days following Jan. 6 two Seattle police officers were placed on administrative leave for their part in the insurrection, and according to King5 news, three more officers have “self-reported to the Office of Police Accountability that they were at the event on Jan. 6. They are still on duty, according to Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz,” as of Jan 20. And according to Associated Press, as many as “31 officers in 12 states are being scrutinized by their supervisors for their behavior in the District of Columbia,” as of Jan 24. Making the link between white supremacy and agents of the state clear. 

The way we talk about these things matter, the rhetoric surrounding these events informs our response to them. We need to ensure that we are not only being accurate, but being intentional. In an effort to condemn white supremacist violence, we need to ensure that we are not harming BIPOC activists and their ability to organize and continue the work that has been going on for decades, if not centuries. Resistance to the white supremacist state and its power is the only path towards liberation. Our freedom will not come from the state, and we cannot afford to grant it any more power than it already has to be used against us.