Former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, along with four other leaders in the organization, were indicted yesterday for seditious conspiracy in the assault on the US Capitol in 2020.
The charges were centered in part on Tarrio’s call for revolutionary action. But Tarrio, the son of Cuban immigrants who fled the Castro regime, invoked not so much the Spirit of 1776 that he hawks on his website so much as that of 1917. In a political conflation typical of the Proud Boys, Tarrio repeatedly exhorted his comrades to “storm the Winter Palace.”
As if to continue the Bolshevik theme, an excited Proud Boy texted his leader during the siege to ask the ultimate dialectical question: “Dude, did we just influence history?” Marx himself would have told him that indeed, “Men make history, but they do not make it just as they please.”
Tarrio, Oath Keepers founder Stuart Rhodes, other far-right planners of the Capitol riots, and perhaps even the philosophical texter, might personally go to prison for their role in the insurrection that day. But regardless, the larger goal – undemocratic seizure of state power for the Republican Party – may well soon be achieved anyway.
Next week the US Supreme Court will consider whether to hear Moore v. Harper, the North Carolina case asserting that state legislatures have sole authority in all decisions of election procedure concerning federal elections in the states. Should the Court rule in favor of the “independent state legislature” theory, which nullifies the role of state constitutions or state courts in determining the conduct of elections, the Republican state legislatures that have been attempting to take control elections administration across the country will be given a free hand.
As law professor Richard L. Hasen told the New York Times, “It would also give the Supreme Court a potential excuse to interfere with presidential election results any time a state court or agency has relied on a state constitution to give voters more protections than those afforded by the U.S. Constitution.”
That doesn’t mean the violent acts of the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percent Militia, and other armed proto-fascist groups is all for naught, however. They have opened a door that won’t be shut anytime soon.
Indeed, just yesterday, Kyle Rittenhouse and his lawyer Todd McMurtry went on Tucker Carlson Tonight to discuss potential legal action against media and tech companies. “We are going to make the media pay for what they did to me. They made it hard for me to live a normal life,” the young Killer of Kenosha told Carlson. “I cannot go out in public. I can’t go to the store. Doing basic things like taking my dog to the dog park is difficult.”
The ongoing normalization of far-right brutality will be key to its future role in suppressing democratic protest, which was how the movement originally took form in the summer of 2020. We can expect these groups to show up if resistance breaks out on a mass-scale to election theft in 2022 and 2024. The good news is that, like the summer of 2020, opponents of right-wing despotism have the potential to vastly outnumber them on the streets.