USA: the face of the snake

Image: Anderson Antonangelo


The gravity of the historic moment leaves no room for pretense. The only safe antidote against the totalitarian threat that surrounds the USA (and, in fact, all of humanity) is the construction of a political force anchored in a project of society based on substantive equality

For workers as a whole, the balance sheet of the Donald Trump government is disastrous. In addition to the environmental disasters, the lack of control of the health crisis and the outbreak of the greatest economic and social crisis since the great depression of the 1930s, the most ominous character of his calamitous passage through the White House is his perverse political legacy.

Four years of systematic abuse of power by the US presidency, repeated exaltation of racism and xenophobia, as well as encouragement of far-right organizations inspired by the restoration of white supremacy, have left the US political system in tatters. The election catalyzed the credibility crisis of liberal democracy.

The denouncement of widespread fraud in the counting of votes irremediably compromised the legitimacy of the elected president among a significant portion of the population. The conflict between Democrats and Republicans – the two parties that have monopolized state power for over a hundred and fifty years – was brought to a boiling point.

The assault on the National Congress by the mob inspired by Trump to prevent the inauguration of Joe Biden as president-elect provoked a quality change in the crisis of the republic. The fratricidal war between the two main parties of order for control of the State shows that the representative system, which was already being strongly questioned from the bottom up by a population that disbelieved in politics and politicians, now also began to collapse at the apex.

Due to a complete lack of legal, parliamentary, military and, above all, business support, the coup attempt was completely aborted. The amateurism of the leaders who commanded the reactionary insurrection is clear proof that the conditions for the overthrow of order were not ripe.

The lost battle does not mean, however, that the ultra-right offensive against democratic institutions is over. The audacity of the attack on the Capitol and the epic scenes of the enraged mass taking over the citadel of American democracy will forever remain in the mystique of far-right organizations as a source of inspiration and exaltation for violent action.

In the absence of an immediate and relentless response from the forces committed to the defense of democratic institutions, the right against order will be spurred on to new adventures. If the organizations that commanded the shock troops are not dismantled and the coup leaders are not severely punished, as befits a failed insurrection, Trump, or any other psychopath with a greater talent for manipulating the masses and political conspiracy, will feel feel free to introduce yourself, when circumstances permit, as “fuhrer of the masses.

Judging by what has happened in recent weeks, there is no reason to imagine that the structural threat of the authoritarian solution has been dissipated. With the exception of the corporations that immediately canceled Trump's access to social networks, depriving him of his main instrument of communication with the mass, the reaction of the establishment policy has been lukewarm and formal.

With no real strength to remove the president from power and punish him for his direct and unequivocal responsibility in the attack on the National Congress, the Democratic Party resigned itself to indignant speeches and symbolic sanctions, which culminated in the meteoric “impeachment” of Trump a few days before the end of his term. With that, they hope to prevent him from running for public office and stigmatize the most radical wings of the Republican Party. They respond to the most serious threat to democracy since the Civil War with politicking.

The setback of Trump's pathetic coup attempt removes the immediate risk of an authoritarian escalation in the center of the world capitalist system. However, while a growing portion of the population feels vilified by the inability of the “system” to solve its fundamental problems, there will always be room for the appearance of the providential Man. After all, the pattern of accumulation that produces barbarism requires a pattern of domination to administer it.

Without overcoming the causes responsible for the intensification of the class struggle – the structural crisis of capital that drives capitalist barbarism –, more time, less time, it will be impossible to stop the reactionary tide. If the polarization of the class struggle puts the strategic interests of capital at risk, the big corporations can review their position and recall the shock troops to center stage.

The new president of the United States, a loyal spokesman for the financial and productive interests of the great global North American corporations, is far below the demands of the historic moment. Without strong street mobilizations demanding qualitative changes in the economy and society, Joe Biden will not even be able to carry out the timid sub-reformism he proposes.[1]If you exceed the limits of the status quo neoliberal, will be interdicted by the machine of the Democratic Party and by the gears of the North American State.

The gravity of the historic moment leaves no room for pretense. The only safe antidote against the totalitarian threat that surrounds the United States (and, indeed, all of humanity) is the construction of a political force, anchored in a project of society based on substantive equality, from an international perspective, that unifies the whole of working class around the extra-institutional struggle against the reign of capitalist barbarism. Overcoming the temptation to bend to the line of least resistance, overcoming parliamentary cretinism and building independent workers' organizations, capable of self-defense and revolutionary offensive actions, are the main challenges of our time. Facing them is the means of opening new horizons for the civilizing crisis that threatens everyone and that, ultimately, puts life on the planet in question.

* Plínio de Arruda Sampaio Jr.., retired professor at the Institute of Economics at UNICAMP and editor of the website Contrapoder.

** Originally published on



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