Capitol Hill under attack in Washington DC
A democratic coup attempt

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On Wednesday January 6th 2021 some thousands of people coming from a pro-Trump demonstration which was taking place in Washington DC reached Capitol Hill and broke into it using violence. They were able do so thanks to the unusual and suspicious unpreparedness –even complicity- shown by police officers. They interrupted the Congress session that was certifying Biden’s victory. This assault, incited by Trump’s earlier appeal to his acolytes, represents a concrete manifestation of his unfounded accusations of allegedly fraudulent electoral result. Only once he found himself in a dead end -given the improvised and irresponsible characteristics of such attack, and after the adverse reactions by most of the republican establishment and Biden’s reaction, even if mild- Trump asked his “patriots” to retreat, yet still not refraining from expressing his solidarity. The attack on Capitol Hill left 4 dead and many wounded. It also temporarily interrupted the proceedings of Congress which ratified Biden’s electoral victory during the night while the city was under a curfew.

This attack -clearly unrealistic and with no chance of success, even caricature-like yet dramatic in its consequences- has had quite a media and symbolic impact. It represents a democratic coup attempt with sectors of Trump supporters and bands of nazifascist supremacists as protagonists. It is coupist because it intends to overturn through violence what the democratic-electoral mechanism has decided. At the same time it is democratic because it is given within the field of democracy and its institutions ( elections, presidency, etc.)  In general, it finds support in the most retrograde sectors of society which up to now have mobilized in support of Trump, while white and conspiracy supremacists, racist and nazifascists of all shapes stand out among its material executors. This is well exemplified by Q’non conspiracy theorists and the enslaving Confederation flag which featured between the “patriots” who attacked Capitol Hill.

What happened is unprecedented in the history of the United States and its seriousness goes beyond the immediate circumstantial effects. It shows how democracy has fallen into pieces and is in crisis, how Trump’s presidential final period has marked a point of no return of this crisis and how society in the United States is irremediably ripped apart.

Piero Neri