Should Progressives Be Inspired by the DC Rioters?

Last week, Michael Moore asked an important question on OpEdNews. He wondered “Why Are We Not Uprising?” His revolutionary issue was the lack of single-payer healthcare so relentlessly highlighted by the worldwide covid-19 pandemic. Why no revolution, he asked, when so many are dying from clearly remediable causes – when the vast majority of Americans want single-payer?

Response to Moore’s article showed that he had indeed touched a revolutionary chord.

But then last Wednesday, when an actual uprising took place, everyone, it seemed, wanted to join hands across the proverbial aisle separating left and right. They jointly lamented the shocking breakdown of law and order. (The “Risings” Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti provide an example of that shared reaction.)

Think about it, everyone said: the rioters actually “desecrated” the Capitol Building’ “sacred” space! They broke some windows. They took selfies of themselves standing at the podium of the House of Representatives. They ransacked poor Nancy Pelosi’s office! They forced Mitch McConnell and Co. to run for their lives.

Washington policemen responded with a wink and a nod.

The horror of it all!

Something similar (with important differences) happened this summer, when Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrators took to the streets. Theirs’ was a largely peaceful uprising in the spirit of Martin Luther King. But then, agents provocateurs (and perhaps some demonstrators themselves) had the temerity to break into and loot Wal-Mart’s “sacred” precincts. Windows were smashed; fires were set.

That time, police responded with an iron fist. Demonstrators were beaten, tear-gassed and arrested.

Yes of course, there were those important differences between the two insurrections just cited. The DC protagonists were Trump supporters and right-wing fanatics. Their issue was election fraud. The cause of the BLM demonstrators was police brutality directed towards black and brown people.

Despite those distinctions however, don’t you see what’s happening? Michael Moore’s wish has come true! The first phase of the revolution is unfolding before our very eyes. But even its protagonists don’t recognize its portent and promise.

That’s because they’ve been hoodwinked into seeing each other as the enemy. Rather than joining forces against their common overlords, they’re punching down. The rightists think their enemy are blacks and immigrants whose numbers are rapidly changing U.S. demographics. Meanwhile, leftist demonstrators are the very ones mistakenly vilified by the rightists and their sympathizers among the police.

The empowering solution is for all of us to see the common revolutionary terrain on which we’re standing, namely:

  • Citizen anger, be it left or right is entirely justified
  • Both what happened In DC this week and in streets across the country (and world) last summer are the initial stirrings of a widespread working-class revolution.
  • Michael Moore is right. He’d agree, I think, that the real violence in question here is not breaking windows or setting fires. It’s a system that in the midst of a worldwide pandemic refuses (despite agreement between Democratic and Republican majorities) to refund our taxpayer dollars in the form of single-payer healthcare and guaranteed income for workers displaced by forces beyond our control.
  • That’s our money they’re not returning to us in this emergency!
  • Everyone can also agree with Trump supporters that our election system is entirely fraudulent. Voting machines are completely questionable; they should be replaced by paper ballots. Campaign contributions are nothing but legalized bribery. Voter suppression’s many forms (from unnecessary ID laws to the dismantling of the U.S. post office) are a sad fact of American life. Gerrymandering is hideously anti-democratic. So is the Electoral College. The list of fraudulence goes on.
  • Pelosi and McConnell do not represent us, but their donors. Following the example of our Founders (cf. Jefferson on this!), we should force them all to flee for their lives from outraged citizens and their pitchforks whether the attack comes from the right or the left.
  • The offices of our mis-representatives deserve to be ransacked.
  • Ordinary people should seize congressional podia and make their voices heard.
  • The police too are working class people misled into identifying fellow workers as the enemy while defending their own natural enemies.

I’m currently reading Barack Obama’s autobiography, The Promised Land. It’s an account of a well-meaning ambitious young black man whose rise to the pinnacle of political power gradually but inexorably transforms him into the servant of a class he initially identified as inimical to the interests of the people he wanted to help. It’s the story of an imperceptibly slow cooptation, early-onset blindness, and betrayal of ideals and common sense in favor of power, profit and prestige.

A similar cooptation threatens all of us at this pre-revolutionary moment. It will succeed if we allow our overlords to sell us a narrative that covers up the workers’ revolution that has the Pelosis and McConnells of the world frightened out of their wits. Like young Mr. Obama, we’re overlooking how the rich and powerful are blinding us to our common cause as wage-earning Americans.

Michael Moore (and the rest of us) should take note.

Published by

Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

16 thoughts on “Should Progressives Be Inspired by the DC Rioters?”

  1. Sorry Mike but I have to disagree with you on this one. This kind of chaotic, disorganized event is not in any way the solution to our deep seated problems. To dream of such a positive outcome is dangerous folly. Whatever path may lead us out of our profoundly bad karma this is not it.


    1. Would agree except that the chaotic event appears to have been orchestrated, with the fingerprints of government workers all over it.

      The Capitol has had tight security ever since the 1980s bombing incident involving the Republican cloakroom. Washington DC had major riots last summer where a historic church plus many other areas were burnt down. If the denizens if the Capitol were so “fearful”, why did they turn down security requests? The entire thing reeks.


  2. If you search for Chris Cuomo + July 2020, Cuomo asks you to show him “where protests have to be polite and peaceful.”

    The current media outrage is over the top, and smells wrong. Something else is going on. Have no idea *exactly* what it is that the producers of these melees are intending to produce; only a profound sense that whatever it is, is inhumane; and not in line with anything I respect or desire.


  3. I see this riot as a reminder of the Beer-Hall Putsch of the early 1920’s. At that time a typical reaction was to see Hitler and his gang as nothing but a bunch of rowdy clowns.
    Today again, a lot of the population of our so-called “democracies” are cynical about the dishonest system of elected “representatives” who don’t represent the electors, but the corporations and their lobbyists who finance these members of congress/parliament. They are ripe for exploitation by some clever fascist leader who may appear and become their idol.
    This all goes way beyond Trump and his lies. He’s just trying to cash in on the general discontent for his own advancement.
    Ten years after the Putsch, things got more sinister. Watch out!


  4. Thought exercise: what if you have indeed been part of destroying Donald Trump, and have indeed accomplished your goal? What next? (Are you pleased with the Biden staff that you have diligently supported and pushed back into power?)

    Trump has now been censored by Twitter, YouTube et al. So who has actually been controlling society? (And it does appear that we are controlled. The top influences march in lockstep, chanting the same phrases.)

    Trump has not actually been in charge since Spring 2020, as was made obvious during the Covid Task Force media appearances. Trump was directly contradicted by the NIH guy Fauci when Trump suggested exploring the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine. Pompeo also said “this is a live exercise” about Covid and Trump responded “you could have told us!”

    Trump is not the head of the organization running this top-down system.

    But Trump *has* been amazingly distracting for people who hate according to instructions from their political authorities.

    Recently, in parting, Trump warned: “Be careful what you wish for…” I don’t know what exactly is coming, but so far it appears oppressive and heavy handed.


      1. LOL thank you Mike, but my daily routines are sufficiently challenge at this time and I lack further ambition.

        I respect your dedication to blogging at least weekly.

        Also — I am an incorrigible heretic and do not wish to bring GeheimnisStaatsPolizei down on your blog. I have already been asked by a friend to not comment on her page, as she fears reprisal for my comments (which I personally find moderate; but she is very uncomfortable with my type of dissent). If at any time I make you uncomfortable, let me know and I will move along; and meanwhile thank you for allowing my responses here.


  5. Television and history classes focus the attention of large populations on World War II — especially the German experience with the Nazis. The history books show us photos of Panzer tanks rolling into Poland with the Blitzkrieg (when Nazi Germany was temporary ally of Stalin’s Soviet Union, whoch soon rolled over Poland from their Eastern border).

    What we almost never hear about is what happened during the weeks preceding the tank invasions — when cadres of German operatives, posing as Polish citizens, victimized Germans in the very diverse German/Polish borderlands, in order to aggravate citizens against their neighbors, and to justify the planned invasion of Poland.

    “The Gleiwitz False Flag Incident that Sparked World War II “


  6. Politico published a fascinating history article on October 24, 2020, detailing a meeting between the KKK and Nation of Islam as described by an FBI confidential informant who was apparently present at the meeting.

    The article by Les and Tamara Payne notes that in the 1960s, at least 2000 FBI informants had infiltrated both the Nation of Islam and the KKK, to the tune of one in ten KKK members. Think about that. (Is it true that there was at least one FBI informant in the car of terrorists who murdered Viola Liuzzo?)


  7. The FBI has predicted violence today involving “white nationalist right wing extremists”. A survey of OpEd writers and editors would probably reveal majority confidence in the FBI prediction.

    But who, exactly, is Daniel Alan Baker, who was preparing to storm the Florida capital? His landlady described Baker to the Tallahasee Democrat newspaper as a “model tenant”. I do not know the man, nor who exactly employs him; but given the German experience of the 1930s, (and the Mississippi experience of the 1960s) I would not automatically conclude that Baker is not paid by government agencies in some capacity to manipulate current events.

    Be gentle as doves and wise as serpents, didn’t someone say that once upon a time? I want to avoid malicious schemes that turn people against each other, and would offer the same advice to others, if asked.


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