But this is not the only danger ahead. In the name of a war against extremism, centrists are going to demand to expand the same machinery of state repression that the next Trump will inevitably use against us. This is essentially what happened in Weimar Germany, setting the stage for the rise of the Third Reich. Likewise, Trump’s chief weapon throughout 2020 has been the Department of Homeland Security, created under Bush in response to the September 11 attacks, and he has also benefitted from further centralization under Obama. Centrist appeals to fight “chaos” will serve to draw many of our former allies out of the streets, while justifying new crackdowns that will target us as well as the far right.
The state clampdown after this will suppress freedoms across the board, targeting all forms of dissent. In Turkey, when Erdoğan put down a right-wing military coup, that paved the way for him to repress every form of protest. State repression of the right will follow the playbook they use against our movements—incorporating reformist elements while isolating and destroying “extreme” elements. If the only pressure on the government is from the far right, the state will make concessions to them.
We are already seeing our former allies withdrawal from the streets in the events of January 6. Liberals urged people not to go to DC, counting on the authorities to deal with Trump supporters. This was a miscalculation. Security forces are not particularly inclined to stand up to the part of the population they sympathize with most—and even when they choose to do so, their hands are effectively tied by the deeply engrained institutional habits of treating conservative white people much more respectfully than they treat people of color, poor people, and anti-capitalists.