AFTER a while it had become a face-off between jousting grotesques: the hordes running up the steps of America’s seat of government and the flocks of Twitterati descending on the event to feast. In this virtual panopticon they all vie for the tweet of the night; something carrying just enough disdain and wit.

If you want to see Britain’s political elites in all their self-obsessed wretchedness turn off the telly and watch the jostling of these tea-time intellectuals on social media. I’ve done it myself on occasion before realising that Twitter’s algorithms render your sculpted apercu a mere facsimile of a thousand identical prejudices.

The arc of indignation when rough people start misbehaving follows a familiar trajectory on these occasions. It starts with the raw and unvarnished shock of the eye-witnesses before mutating into a contrivance on social media. Then the politicians get their act together to produce something banal and statesmanlike.

The next morning it was the turn of Priti Patel to diminish our understanding of coronavirus on breakfast television. Now, she had to concoct something appropriate about the storming of the Capitol. She explored the full lexicon of government outrage: “appalling” and “unacceptable” were in there. I’m sure “besmirch” got an outing too.

Soon, an idiom had been agreed upon by government communications chiefs everywhere: this was “an assault on democracy”. Let’s not kid ourselves here: we’re talking about the seat of power of a government which has subverted democracy in every region of the world if it doesn’t produce America’s desired outcome: obeisance to Uncle Sam and access all areas for the CIA and its rendition programmes.

The orchestrated outrage is a convenient smokescreen for the elites to ensure that the real drivers of unleashed popular forces – persistent inequality and alienation from the political processes – will remain intact.

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The biggest surprise of the night was why people seemed surprised at all. Donald Trump has been building this base since before he got elected. In the world of this Pennywise the welfare of these people warrants no more thought than when to trim the rough on his country club golf resorts. The Republican Party knew this too but merely winced a little as the President used unsophisticated language to convey what they all signed up to anyway: American triumphalism mixed in with a dose of white supremacy and 1950s McCarthyism.

They loved it in that furtively gleeful way you do when the drunk neighbour starts telling everyone what he really thinks about them … until he gets to you, as Mike Pence discovered on Wednesday. Nearly 75 million Americans voted for Donald Trump and nearly half of them approved of the storming of the Capitol. Trump, with the approval of his party, has spent the last four years telling them not to trust the Washington elites and their associates in the liberal press. How did they think a close election was going to end?


Already a Black Lives Matter theme has begun to develop and with it a convenient smoke screen to shield us from the bigger problem: long term and persistent poverty and inequality across all sections of working America. We’ve seen something similar in Scotland with the designer left’s weaponising of identity politics as though this is the ultimate expression of radicalism. In doing so, they avoid the chore of having to get involved with real working people in communities where only the folk singers get to wear red corduroys and ponytails.

The ill-treatment of minorities deserves separate attention as part of our response to the imbalances that exist in our society. But when they become the pre-eminent concern they afford the opportunity for global syndicates to commoditise them and subsume them into their corporate offering, controlling them and making them safe. Coca Cola tweeted a statement calling the protests an “offence to the ideals of American democracy”. Well, of course they did.

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Thus, the bigger evil of persistent deprivation and the forces which cause it are immediately off the hook. This is not to suggest that we don’t call out prejudice and discrimination, but let’s always be aware of the metronome beat of capitalism and profiteering which proceeds uninterrupted: the twin menaces of all working class communities.

In my own west of Scotland Catholic community, the Call it Out Organisation has been raising awareness of the distress and alarm that can be caused by the persistence of Orange Parades. The bigger and more egregious wickedness, though, is observed in the inequalities of health and education common to both our communities.

We mocked the President’s mantra to Make America Great Again as a primitive exhortation of US supremacy, choosing to overlook the fact (inconvenient to our preferred narrative) that every US president since Ronald Reagan has deployed it. Since then, not one Democratic incumbent of the White House has lifted a finger to tilt the odds in favour of the working classes. Yet they all pursued the same doctrinal and geopolitical vendettas as their Republican confreres so that they could be exploited by the global energy predators.

We in the liberal west also conveniently overlook the root causes of the assault on the Capitol in our rush to mock their unsophisticated speech; their Davy Crockett apparel and their aggressive flags. This was a howl from people who have felt disdained and reviled by the political classes for generations.

Joe Biden wasted little time in exploiting events in Washington to consecrate his Presidential victory. Later, he would spend more time in windy exultations of an assortment of privileged placemen from Washington’s political and cultural elites as he introduced the top tier of his administration. Each treacly encomium was as sentimental as a father’s speech at his daughter’s wedding.

That was when you began to realise that Mr Biden’s presidency will be replete with vacuous platitudes about ‘healing’ and ‘reconciliation’ while the main drivers of inequality remain intact to be about their business. If you’re looking for the most abject consequences of the mob’s occupation of Capitol Hill on Wednesday this was it.

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