The events that have recently taken place in Kenosha, Wisconsin signal yet another rise in the tensions between the Left and the Right. For many years, the conspiratorial and reactionary Right have spoken of a culture war in which the Left aims to annihilate Western civilization’s traditional norms and values. Since the foundation of Black Lives Matter, there has been a severe uptick in aggressive, confrontational, and provocative action brought against the visible Left, (those in the streets protesting for social justice); or those like Garrett Foster, merely perceived to be left-wing, by the Right.
It is often the case that polarization manifests within the structures of the US’s two-party system, allowing all structural criticisms to be filtered from the grassroots before reaching the Democratic Party’s attention. Indeed, this capitalist controlled democracy encourages such developments. The Democratic Party serves only to channel any grassroots energy in “safe” and “approved” channels controlled by the same capitalist elements with every vested interest in maintaining the status quo. But 2020 has brought a unique form of anger and Black militancy due to the relentlessness and impunity with which the police are willing to murder Black people in the US. This year, the innocent have been martyred and sloganed in calls for justice against their reprehensible murders.
Kenosha has been ablaze with protests and revolts after yet another shooting. Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old father of three, was shot seven times in the back, in front of his three sons, as he went to get into his car after breaking up a fight between two women. The police officers on the scene showed a level of racism, cowardice, and belligerence that is justifiable only in the mind of class traitors and modern-day colonizers. Blake is lucky to be alive, and it will reportedly “take a miracle” for him to walk again. The officer involved in the attempted murder was able to retain his anonymity for four days of civil unrest until the state finally submitted to the peoples’ demands for transparency and announced that the overseer involved was Rusten Sheskey, who has been placed on administrative leave.
After three days of uprisings, the “Kenosha Guard” (a local right-wing paramilitary organization) put out a call on Facebook titled “Armed Citizens to Protect of Lives and Property,” which attracted the attention of fringe Right-wing conspiracy site Infowars. Seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse of Illinois responded to this alert, traveling to Kenosha with his AR-15. After conducting a few interviews with Right-wing journalists, Rittenhouse would go on to shoot three people, killing two.
Videos would later surface of Rittenhouse and a group of armed vigilantes socializing pleasantly with police officers, even being thanked for being in attendance and receiving water bottles from the police. Activists have also reported that Rittenhouse was able to leave the scene of his crimes in the presence of authorities, and was arrested only after attempting to flee the state.
Kenosha’s recent events are just another clear example of open, unabashed coordination between Right-wing paramilitary vigilantes and the state security forces in opposition to calls for justice and equal rights. The state has utilized militia forces to enact the forms of brutal discipline that would be untimely for a police force on the retreat. In response to Rittenhouse’s cold-blooded murders, President Trump and Wisconsin Governor Evers have sent in the National Guard to enforce state authority over a people in revolt. This is the same type of militarized repression often used to silence movements for justice in Latin America, a clear example being Bolivia today under the US-backed military regime headed by Jenine Áñez.
The fears rooted in the perception of an on-going culture war are coming to a head as paranoid white men respond to fears founded on nothing more than youtube videos and alt-right news sites. In a time where truth and reason have lost their traditional meanings, we must prepare for more of this kind of activity. The Right is threatened by the idea of progress and losing their accustomed privileges. It is increasingly willing -and emboldened by those in high office- to commit acts of violence against average citizens perceived to be enemies of “their” America. Just last week in Troy, NY, Robert Spinelli drove his Dodge Charger into a crowd of protesters, his custom license plate reading “DEVIL”. Of course, the police refused to press charges, and the story has since disappeared from local news. Like Rittenhouse, Spinelli was a frequent and vocal Facebook supporter of the police and even brandished his [illegal in New York] gun collection over a table printed with the Punisher emblem (a common picture among rogue police officers and their sympathizers) in a Facebook photo.
There is no solution to the increasingly fraught political situation we face through a presidential vote. One can be sure that the Trump presidency has accentuated this crisis of resurgent fascism. But, it is also a guarantee that the Democratic presidential ticket of a war criminal and serial sexual assaulter Joe Biden and former California prosecutor Kamala Harris will not solve the crisis of police brutality.
In the name of social justice, it is time the socialist Left to jettison their hesitations and familiarize themselves with how to safely and proficiently operate arms. Moreover, attention to organizing and cadre building is a must and establishing an intersectional, united front against the fascist threat of local and state police, as well as the militarization of the streets by the National Guard. Justice is around the corner, and every day people are joining our cause for liberation from capitalist oppression. A better world is a necessity, and it is our job to construct it!
Canyon Ryan has been a member of the Socialist Party for several years and is active in his local chapter. He is also the Mid Atlantic Regional Coordinator and a member of the Socialist Party National Committee