A raft of complications still haunts American liberal democracy resulting from the Trump administration’s disjunctive prioritisation of populist authoritarianism over social justice initiatives which has proven how swiftly the country can descend towards fascist rule. The general dislocation of contemporary governmental politics from the reality of poverty and the failure of capitalist democracy to address inequality and scarcity has fostered a sense of national urgency. That US democracy is still vulnerable to another threat of vanity totalitarianism, orchestrated from whatever political detritus is floating around in Donald Trump’s rusty brainpan, is an understatement. Although Trump is currently out of office, he and his ardent acolytes and craggy-faced doom peddlers are still controlling the political temperature of the country and are well aware of the high stakes surrounding their mission and the unrestricted means at their disposal to peddle falsehoods and continue to recreate reality. Trump’s following of neo-Nazis, armed militia members, white supremacists, ethno-nationalists, right-wing fanboys, QAnon conspiracy theorists, incels, alt-right recruits and root cellar survivalists are all waiting anxiously for the succulent chaos Trump will bring during his second term. Trump’s swaggering ambition and self-designation as a president’ greater than Washington, greater than Lincoln’ and his messianic claims as God’s ‘Chosen One’ and ‘King of Israel’ serve only to gild over his rusted vacuousness and distract us from his destitute and degenerating mind, not to mention his charmingly callous personality by now completely divested of authenticity. Critics heap unsparing ridicule on Trump, but his drooling fans remain enamoured by the way he freebases his power like some crack addict in an imagined Breaking Bad remake. But they are no longer well-wardrobed in MAGA baseball caps, flag jackets and Trump bobble hats, but are decked out in camouflage and flak jackets, or black polo shirts ‘with black, white and red piping and a small circular logo.’ Or, look closer:
A sweater showing a child on a parent’s shoulders at a soccer match, holding up a supporter’s scarf, with ‘Keep the Tradition’ underneath…. That symbol behind the deer? It’s a black sun, a common neo-Nazi symbol adapted from a floor mosaic in Heinrich Himmler’s SS Generals’ Hall. That logo on the polo shirt? It looks like a broken sun cross-style swastika. And the child on his parent’s back? He’s got the number 88 on their back – neo-Nazi code for ‘Heil Hitler.’
And what about the politicians in Congress? The twenty or so hardcore ‘Freedom Caucus’ members of the House are completely in the thrall ‘of the enraptured proselytes who populate Mar-a-Lago,’ ‘the former president’s conspiracy-driven Shangri-la,’ his ‘personal Disneyland.’ Trump’s pugnaciousness and unstinting audacity when it comes to his political line of march have created violent conflagrations among the American public to the extent that fascist forces are encroaching all around us, leaning heavily towards ignorance and violence, and yet we barely notice their presence. They have become normalised in today’s culture.
Trump’s romper room antics may just seem to be an overdrawn tantrum consistent with pathological narcissism, but they contain in embryo all the horrors that have been associated with fascist personalities over the decades, the silly details of which only add to the farcical dimensions of his post-presidency. A significant share of the blame for his failed presidency, the existence of which he has little option but to acknowledge in private in defiance of all plausible public excuses, will go down in infamy. We can only recognise the movement of history if we decide to participate in it, if only we recognise the ‘Weltgeist’ in the long inventory of diversified modernities that have fashioned themselves from the ashes of the past – my own formative years being cultivated in the ‘Age of Aquarius.’ We can breathe a sigh of relief at the fact that Trump’s words are so crude that his sayings will never be distilled into proverbs for free real estate calendars we find scattered about in the local coffee shops – at least not in the blue states.
A retreat from a preoccupation with class politics and our propensity to be distracted by the culture wars – what we know today as ‘identity politics’ – has inflected the Spirit of the Age, prepared in part by a failure of neoliberalism to keep the global economy afloat. According to Hegel, ‘Great revolutions which strike the eye at a glance must have been preceded by a quiet and secret revolution in the spirit of the age (Zeitgeist), a revolution not visible to every eye, especially imperceptible to contemporaries, and as hard to discern as describe in words. It is lack of acquaintance with this spiritual revolution which makes the resulting changes astonishing.’
Since, according to Hegel, general historical conditions of the Zeitgeist considered as part of the wider social totality (Volksgeist) must have preceded the acceptance of Christianity by the pagan world (see his ‘How Christianity Conquered Paganism’ in his Early Theological Writings), so too a similar process must surely be in play in the realm of global politics. That is, the contemporary Volksgeist populated by fear of immigrants, of replacement of the white population by dark-skinned immigrants from what Trump described as ‘shithole countries,’ the great reset, critical race theory condemning all white people as racists, the increasing visibility of the LGBTQ+ community (drag story hour) – all of this has percolated through the popular imagination, unmooring the sanity of far-right Republicans and paving the way for a wild acceptance of dark web conspiracies and outlandish QAnon-type warnings about reptilian Satanist politicians and computer chips in Covid-19 vaccinations. An invisible revolution that rejects fact-based evidential claims and aspires to crush a political pandemic known as ‘woke culture’ has prepared the ground for a return to the dark times redolent of witch-burning and the Red Scare, of historical moments where less weighed thought has led to the subsumption of rationality under fear of personal and political erasure and feelings of non-being among whites who fear they are at the brink of extinction, their demolishment soon to be at the angry hands of dark-skinned immigrants gleefully throttling the life out of their white neighbours (after first raping all the women in the family). That secret revolution was spurred on by neoliberalism’s struggle to erode proletarian power, to strangle organised labour, to label radical social movements as ‘terrorist,’ and demonise Third World liberation struggles (such as the Bolivarian Revolution under Hugo Chavez) that had accumulated in the preceding periods of mass struggle.
On the academic scene, the emergence of transnational capitalism and the neoliberal counterrevolution was followed by a dwindling interest in social movements predicated on class struggle. The solemn seriousness of postmodern identity politics prevailed, and the left accommodated itself to a new correlation of class and social forces in favour of transnational capitalism. It is clear, however, that neoliberalism has failed, and failed miserably, creating the perfect storm for seeking scapegoats for the failure of the working class to secure for themselves a substantive slice of the American Dream. The threat of liberal democracy, with its pro-LGBTQ+ and transgender sentiments, its perceived ‘elitism’ and ‘woke’ social justice culture, has permeated the woolly consciousness emblematic of today’s Revenge Zeitgeist, infusing its disciples with frenetic anti-immigrant hatred, orgiastic white supremacist cravings, and white nationalist and isolationist sentiments grounded in baseless claims about the machinations of the deep state – all of which contributed to a perfect storm of rage and fury among Trump’s base, reaching a tipping point in the attack on the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, which culminated in a ‘search-and-destroy’ mission to hunt down Democratic politicians and hang their own traitor, Mike Pence.
On the academic front, the culture wars have been playing out to the distinct advantage of politicians such as Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is now trying to expunge any ‘woke’ elements pertaining to identity politics from public education institutions in his state, thereby hamstringing the teaching of slavery and classroom discussions pertaining to LGBTQ+ and transgender issues. But the culture wars have also taken their toll on the academic left. According to Robinson, Rangel and Watson, the turn towards cultural studies, in particular the prevalence of the ‘identitarian paradigm’ in progressive scholarship, has had deleterious effects on the teaching of the role of class exploitation within capitalism. The problem began when groups of people started being recognised as ‘belonging to a conception of an undifferentiated category of oppressed humanity defined by ahistoric essentialised identities.’ This identitarian paradigm, ‘which posits some shared interests of a group of people made organic by an essential ascribed identity, generally racial or ethnic, often premised as well on some singular cultural tradition,’ has either eclipsed or occluded the language of class. In fact, class has often been contraposed ‘to ethnic, cultural, or national identity.’
On the Marxist front, the narrative of class struggle has been challenged by Cedric Robinson’s magnificently flawed and controversial book, Black Marxism, which criticises historical materialism as an explanatory analysis. Robinson argues that Marxism is plagued by Eurocentrism and does not apply to African and non-European peoples. Contra the Black Marxism thesis, Bill Robinson et al. write that ‘[a]s world capitalism entered a deep structural crisis in the 1970s, capitalists and bureaucratic elites from around the world strove to beat back the power that organised labour, radical social movements and Third World liberation struggles had accumulated in the preceding period of mass struggle. Capitalist globalisation and the neoliberal counterrevolution brought about a change in the worldwide correlation of class and social forces in favour of emergent transnational capital.’
Marx’s emphasis on proletarian struggle became associated with bygone times. According to Bill Robinson et al., ‘Black Marxism has become a favoured text with which to badger radical intellectuals and activists who place a premium on proletarian struggle. This has led some among left organisers to fear they may be condemned as Eurocentric, as ‘class reductionists,’ and as ‘ignoring race’ should they place a premium on class analysis, should they insist that racism is an outcome of class exploitation and that its eradication involves a transnational and pan-ethnic proletarian struggle against capitalism.’
Cedric Robinson replaces the Marxist narrative of historical materialism with a shared epistemology assuming different or even opposed trajectories. While we need not follow Cedric Robinson’s antipathy for Marxists nor his critique of Marx’s historical materialism, it is surely the case that capitalism’s relationship to race must not only be acknowledged but explored. Peter Hudis observes: ‘Many of the young activists in today’s anti-racist movements make no secret of their hostility to capitalism. Yet it is not the general class struggle that motivates them, but rather capitalism’s specifically racist character. This also renders anachronistic versions of identity politics that put issues of class or anti-capitalist politics aside, which continues to dominate left-wing academic discourse. It has become increasingly problematic to treat race, class and gender as independent variables.’
Central to Hudis’ insight is that we urgently need a different approach to the analysis of race and class that can effectively challenge ‘racialised ways of seeing and relating to others, especially since many who imbibe the norms of a racist society often include progressive whites.’ The attraction of ‘identity politics’ can be situated directly in the lack of theoretical and political assumptions in contemporary Marxist discourse that allow us to account for ‘the persistence of anti-Black racism or the lived experience of those combatting it.’ In short, Hudis is advocating, and rightly so, for a ‘Marxist theory of racialisation.’ Hudis turns to Rosa Luxemburg for a general framework for understanding racialised capitalism, particularly the relationship between class, race and gender. And his study of Frantz Fanon also provides us with a powerful way of conceptualising racism in class dominated society. Hudis writes:
Racism and sexism are particular (and differing) expressions of human relations that take on the form of relations between things. Each must be understood and targeted on their own terms in a non-reductive manner. However, to overlook the historical specificity of the reification involved in the dominance of dead over living labour hardly makes room for a viable theory of racialisation – since, as Fanon shows, racism is rooted in the white gaze, which ‘sees’ and relates to Blacks not as persons but as things that inhabit ’a zone of non-being.’ Racism is not epiphenomenal: it not only reflects but constructs reified social relations that perpetuate and reproduce the capitalist mode of production. It is hard to see how an anti-capitalist revolution can succeed without directly targeting such relations of personal domination. As Raya Dunayevskaya has argued, ‘It is not the means of production that creates the new type of humanity, but the new type of humanity that will create the new means of production.’
Hudis maintains that what is needed is a focus on how ‘the law of value compels human relations to take the form of relations between things. Only a Marxism that focuses on this, the peculiar form of social labour that characterises societies governed by value production, only a Marxism that is a humanism, has a chance of meeting the challenge of our times. We need to think, comrades, and think critically about where the logic of our ideas leads us.’ Sage advice coming from one of the preeminent Marxist theorists.
We need to remember that race, class and gender are dialectically related, and all of the social relations that construct them share forms of dehumanisation that are integral to capital. Hudis emphasises that ‘Marxism is a revolutionary humanism, or it is nothing. The point is not to argue over whose oppression is more or less important than another’s, but to hear how each force of revolt contains within itself the capacity to reach for a new society freed from dehumanisation and depersonalisation.’ With this in mind, it will be possible to transcend one-sided class-reductionist analyses as well as one-sided affirmations of identity that bypass or ignore class. In this way, we can avoid a retreat into postmodern identity politics, and post-structuralist and post-colonial explanatory narratives, by following Marxist humanists who remain steadfast in their critique of political economy, while at the same time endeavouring to reveal how race is implicated in capitalist exploitation. This can be done outside of the Black Marxism thesis put forward by Cedric Robinson’s causal explanation of racism that locates it primarily in the domain of culture and psychology rather than the inner workings of capitalism.
Marxist humanists such as Kevin Anderson have objected to the notion that Marx is essentially a Eurocentric thinker. Marx was not an exclusively class-based thinker, as he was particularly attentive to a wide variety of human social and historical development that spanned an interest in nationalism, race and ethnicity, especially indicated in his unpublished 1879–1882 notebooks. For example, his support for non-Western struggles, such as the Taiping uprising in China, and his communication with Vera Zasulich on the Russian Commune, confirmed that he held a multilinear and non-reductionist theory of history, independent of the prevailing model of development. Marxist humanists are indebted to the pathfinding work of Raya Dunayevskaya, who, in her strident opposition to class reductionism and voluntarism on the Marxist left, believed that the black population of the US would be at the forefront of the struggle against capitalism and its many associated antagonisms. We need to develop Marxist theories of racialised capitalism. At the same time, we need to fully appreciate the essence of Marx’s critique of political economy, which can be found in his focused attention to the distribution of surplus products and surplus value.
Students in the US are not equipped to appreciate his ideas, even in their most simple terms. In simple terms, the capitalist class gains wealth for itself through the exploitation of its workers. According to Marx, as well as other economists, the value of a commodity is determined by the average amount of time that is required to produce the commodity. But Marx went further by introducing the idea of labour-power, which refers to the capacity to labour or work, that is, the ability of a worker to produce a commodity. This includes the cost of feeding and educating the labourer, the total hours and cost that society bears to in order to provide the worker with the capacity to labour. Therefore, the wage of the worker should be proportional to the labour-power of the worker. But in order to augment surplus value, employers overwork their employees, forcing the workers to produce more value than what they are being compensated for. Labour power becomes the supreme commodity, the source of all value. For Marx, the commodity is highly unstable and non-identical. Its concrete particularity (use value) is subsumed by its existence as value-in-motion or by what we have come to know as ‘capital’ (value is always in motion because of the increase in capital’s productivity that is required to maintain expansion). Clearly, a fair distribution of surplus value is urgently necessary, and Marxists have observed that this should be one of the primary functions of the bourgeois state. But it is for this very reason that capitalists are against big government. The capitalist seeks to provide the labourer only enough financial resources to subsist and to produce more labourers. As Glenn Rikowski notes, our hope resides in those ‘reactive forces’ incorporated within the masses collectively expressing themselves as concrete forms of resistance to the social domination of capital. Rikowski warns us that ‘there is no ‘self-overcoming’ without dissolution of the capitalist universe. Self-overcoming is synonymous with overcoming capital, as the ‘self’ is a form of capital, human capital.
Peter Hudis sees the current discussions of capitalism and race as the result of new challenges to the dominance of white power and reactionary challenges to neoliberalism. Racism has long been integral to capitalism’s drive for self-expansion. Neoliberalism was a response to the crisis in profitability of the Keynesian project, but, as economists have revealed, it has been marked by a decline in the rate of growth of the productivity of labour. According to Hudis, ‘a significant section of the Right has found a way to speak to disaffected segments of the working class by draping criticism of neoliberalism in racist and misogynist terms – while ensuring that capitalism goes unquestioned.’ We, therefore, need to attack the ‘inner core’ of capitalism. Hudis writes that ‘[s]ince race and racism help create, reproduce and reinforce an array of hierarchies that are rooted in class domination, subjective affirmations of identity that are divorced from directly challenging capital will inevitably lose their critical edge and impact over the course of time.’ Hudis’s discussion of Frantz Fanon is profound in its ability to facilitate an appreciation for contemporary struggles against racism (and other forms of oppression) and the development of multiracial working-class movements. Hudis reminds us, after Marx, that while the proletariat is a part of civil society, workers are not a part of civil society in substance because they are robbed of any organic connection to the means of production. They are reduced to a mere seller of labour-power. They belong to civil society only in an alienated form. Capitalism doesn’t care about the subjectivity of the living labourers. They care only about their ability to augment wealth in abstract, monetary terms. Just look at the contempt that Elon Musk betrays for his workers, and you will get the point.
Today in the US, we join other countries in facing the spectre of fascism. Take the example of Brazil. On May 7, 2022, in a pre-candidacy speech, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) quoted the beloved educator Paulo Freire who once said, ‘it is necessary to unite the divergent, to better confront the antagonistic.’ And on January 7, Lula, the newly elected President, was forced to witness supporters of former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (known as ‘Trump of the Tropics’) storm Brazil’s Congress, presidential palace and Supreme Court, in an act that resembled the insurrectionist attack on the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021. Famous for his cowardly attacks on the legacy of Paulo Freire, Bolsonaro had threatened to purge his philosophy from the education system, pledging ‘to use a flamethrower at the Ministry of Education to get Paulo Freire out of there.’ It comes as little surprise that during the attack by his supporters on Brazil’s Congress, Bolsonaro was taking cover from the chaos in Florida, in the vacation home of a Brazilian MMA fighter. No doubt he will return to Brazil for another attempt to create a battlefront against democracy and provide history with yet another episode in fascism’s crusade to oblivion.
But, as Sarah Burris notes, Steve Bannon has been a supporter of Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of Jair Bolsonaro. Eduardo has been working with Bannon with Donald Trump’s campaign spokeperson, Jason Miller. Echoing comments he made about the 2020 election in the US, Bannon told Brazilians – can you guess? – yes, that their election was stolen. He praised those who were protesting in the streets. Bannon and some of the ex-president’s advisors encouraged him to contest the results of the election. In fact, Bolsonaro’s Liberal Party (which should be renamed the Party of Brazilian Fascists) filed a request with Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court to invalidate the votes recorded by some 250,000 machines that were manufactured before 2020. But fact-checkers criticised the inquiry by maintaining that it is premised on false information. Some reports have claimed that the Bolsonarista terrorists carried guns into the Federal Supreme Court and were shooting at the security guards. This is not surprising given that far-right ‘Stop the Steal’ operatives ‘have been on the ground in Brazil working to stoke violence and unrest for months.’ People allied with Steve Bannon were described as being part of ‘a strong US-Brazil Fascist coup conspirator network’ functioning as ‘an international fascism super-connector.’
Clearly, Bannon is hard at work building an international infrastructure for far-right juntas, and what comes immediately to mind is how the Hitler/Mussolini partnership from 1934 until 1944, with fascism being the ‘older brother’ of Nazism, was so decisive in smashing the foundations of the democratic world order. They used the instability of democratic governments to gain power by slowly degrading civil and political rights. If the Catholics had chosen to work with Italy’s moderate socialists, Mussolini likely would never have become the head of the government. Elisabetta Cassina Wolff reminds us that ‘right-wing radicalism as a political ideology has displayed a persistent continuity, extending all the way back to the French Revolution.’ She sounds a warning to us all when she concludes that fascism ‘has had different faces, but the ideological content is the same: opposition to liberal modernity rooted in the freedom and value of the individual, the rule of law, popular sovereignty, power distribution, democracy, pluralism and protecting the rights of minorities.’ Bannon knows full well what he is doing and his actions put him on the list of one of contemporary history’s most demonic political operatives.
As my friend Bill Robinson notes, 20th-century fascism involved the fusion of national capital with reactionary and repressive political power. But 21st-century fascism involves the fusion of transnational capital with reactionary political power. Today we are facing a recomposition of the political forces within capitalist globalisation. In order to unload the trillions of dollars it has accumulated, the transnational capitalist class has turned to militarised accumulation – that is, to endless cycles of war, to ‘accumulation by repression’ (private prisons and immigrant detention centres, border walls, homeland security technologies, etc.), the structural necessity of endless surplus value and profit, and the construction of surveillance state. And, of course, the war on Ukraine has divided much of the left here in the US and elsewhere, and has revealed the fault lines that separate the radical left.
Just as there is a need to develop theories of racialised capitalism along the lines that Hudis and others suggest, there is a need, as my friend Joel Kovel emphasised, to transform socialism into ecological socialism, a socialism for our ecologically-fraught times where economic conditions that affect everyone are systemically linked to the crisis of transnational capitalism with its ecosystemic breakdowns, its endless cycles of war and its commodification of living labour which has produced millions of ecological refugees. Overproduction and overconsumption are functionally tied to ecocide, genocide and epistemicide (the destruction of cosmovisions of indigenous peoples). If this isn’t enough to force us to scrub the dross from our vision of the future of humanity, I don’t know what is.
So, what does all this mean for our students who are not only being deprived of a Marxist education but are being turned away from Marxism by advocates of identity politics? Let’s just take a quick look at the situation in the US. Republican Kevin McCarthy has just been elected as Speaker of the House. In order that he receive the required number of votes, his speakership was held hostage by twenty or so extremist Republicans who forced him to make major concessions. These fascists have shown how much power they wield.
American billionaires are behind Trump, and they know that America benefits from the continuing attacks on Marxism, even in privileged sites such as the academy. Especially in places like the academy. The twenty Republicans that wrenched concessions from McCarthy are mostly members of the Freedom Caucus and are Trumpian in the extreme. They would have salivated at the platform of the controversial industrialist David Koch when, in 1980, he ran for vice president with the Libertarian Party, which Tom Hartmann describes as ‘an organisation created by the real estate lobby to give an air of legitimacy to their efforts to outlaw rent control and end government regulation of their industry.’ We simply need to read Koch’s presidential platform to better understand why wealthy Republicans want Donald Trump back in office and why they cheer every time academics refute Marxist theory and keep their focus exclusively on the culture wars. I will be the first in line to defend cultural studies but not to the exclusion of the important role that class plays – and, more importantly, the way that it relates to gender, race and sexuality – in today’s intersectional theories. Here is Koch’s 1980 platform, as summarised by Thom Hartman:
– ‘We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.
– ‘We favour the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.
– ‘We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.
– ‘We also favour the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.
– ‘We favour the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.
– ‘We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service.
– ‘We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.
– ‘We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.
– ‘As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.
– ‘We support repeal of all laws which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.
– ‘We advocate the complete separation of education and state. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.
– ‘We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.
– ‘We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.
– ‘We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.
– ‘We support abolition of the Department of Energy.
– ‘We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.
– ‘We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatisation of the public roads and national highway system.
– ‘We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, airbags, or crash helmets.
– ‘We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.
– ‘We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.
– ‘We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.
– ‘We oppose all government welfare, relief projects and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.
– ‘We call for the privatisation of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.
– ‘We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
– ‘We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
– ‘We support the repeal of all state usury laws.’
After reading through the points listed above, it should be astonishingly clear why members of the Republican House Freedom Caucus (a slightly more sordid incarnation of the Tea Party caucus), who share the late David Koch’s worldview, are holding House Speaker Kevin McCarthy by the short hairs. And it should send us a message that Marx’s work is not only important, but urgent for these times. And why we need Marxist theories of racialised capitalism without jettisoning the fundamental lessons of Marx.
But here’s the rub. There is a singular difference between the Koch platform that captured the goals of GOP caucuses past, as terrifying as they were, and the GOP caucus of today. Brian Beutler reminds us that this new insurrectionist caucus ‘want to steal elections. They want to sabotage criminal investigations that implicate themselves, Donald Trump and January 6 defendants, current and future.’ And I would add that they want to use the gavel as a bludgeon to destroy democracy. They have externalised all the political sensitivity of a junkyard dog. In their embarrassing awkwardness, they manifest the rap debut of MC Rove bustin’ rhymes; they are Trump dancing to ‘YMCA’; they are Ted Cruz making ‘machine gun bacon,’ all rolled into one gnarly admission that reads – ‘we don’t give a fig leaf about the American people, we are just along for the perks and publicity.’ These ramshackle, laughable guardians of the nation’s morality, these characters fit for a Wodehouse parody or a Charles Bukowski poem depicting a sticky beer shit, or a figure from the hellscape of Hieronymus Bosch, these Trumpian lickspittles, all of them equipped with their one-liners, zingers and attack lines – they have diminished the entire idea of congressional leadership and in their antipathy towards history they herald the advent of a new anti-dialogical age, the Age of Chaos.