Violence in the periphery always comes back to the center, eventually. On January 6, the world saw Trump-supporting protestors and conspiracy theorists coalesce in Capitol Hill before storming America’s legislative branch in open insurrection. Whatever we call it, the question is why it happened, and there are many partial answers.
A leader-obsessed analyst will point to Trump’s acts of sedition; he played a unique role in encouraging the protestors toward violence and willful disorder. Some might draw our attention to polarization trends in American politics. Others might rightly point to structural racism or oligarchic capitalism — causes that are far upstream of Trump or any singular event. Each of these takes has part of the story but misses other crucial aspects.
There is a way in which we were long warned that America’s grand strategic commitment to an overmilitarized form of deep engagement abroad was always going to culminate in a direct affront to democracy.
The Trump-centric explanation, for instance, is true but uninteresting, raising more questions than it answers. How was Trump possible? How could Trump command the violent loyalty of so many citizens when other presidents could not and would not? Polarization is a real thing, but not only reeks of whataboutism between right and left; it doesn’t tell us why violence and insurrection is limited to Trump supporters with nothing comparable on the left. White supremacy, meanwhile, is unfortunately a constant in American politics, which raises the question of why now if it’s the underlying cause of an insurrectionist moment. And it’s true that extreme inequality deprives working-class conservatives of any material claim to American identity, leaving them open to radicalization because of their near total reliance on culture-war symbolism. But what, then, accounts for their material deprivation?
Read the full article from Inkstick.
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