Contending Authorities Contest
Biden's Call for Unity

January 20, 2021. New York City protests on Inauguration Day demand defunding the police, rent cancellation, and the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It is evident that President Joe Biden is having difficulty establishing his authority, especially over the use of force, in conditions where conflicts continue to manifest themselves among and between the Executive, the Military and the States. For example, Texas filed a lawsuit to stop Biden's Executive Order "pausing" deportations for 100 days. The Texas Governor and Attorney General are the same ones who had filed a lawsuit that pitted states against each other as part of the dispute over the election results. A federal judge in Texas has ruled in favour of the lawsuit and issued a national mandate to continue deportations.

One of the aims of Biden's Executive Order, in addition to trying to gain support among activists, is to exercise control over state authorities, as well as over Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Border Patrol, both known to have backed Trump and carried out his many illegal and inhumane actions at the border.

Texas also withdrew their National Guard troops from DC, as did New Hampshire, Florida and Montana. This is a means for them to assert their authority over those troops, which are a major armed force that State Governors, not the Presidency, control.

The mobilization, by the Pentagon, of 20,000 National Guardsmen to turn Washington, DC's Capitol into an armed camp prior to the inauguration was itself likely a message for Biden, telling him to remain loyal to the military. These Guardsmen are federalized by the president, with the consent of the state governors. While in DC they are under the command of the Pentagon. About 7,000 National Guards remained on duty until February 6 and 5,000 of those will remain until mid-March.

In a nod to the military, Biden chose an Army General, Lloyd Austin, who commanded troops in the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, as his Secretary of Defense. Given he had only been retired for four years, instead of the legally required seven, he got a special waiver from Congress to serve in a top civilian post. However, it is highly unlikely his appointment will assist in uniting the contending forces within the military and its bureaucracy whose competition over procurement, deployment and authority are highly contentious and acrimonious.

It is also known that the FBI asserted its authority, in relation to the military, by vetting all the troops in DC, removing 12 under suspicion of being "extremists." The FBI is also conducting other "investigations" along the same lines, including among congresspeople said to be part of Trump's "insurrection." To its chagrin, in the course of this process, it was revealed that its own agent is head of the "Proud Boys" -- known as the racist, Hitlerite group that played a main role in the January 6 rampage on the Capitol in Washington, DC. Of most concern however, with FBI moving to more broadly assert its authority, is whether elected officials, certain military and others, will be targeted as all contend for power and authority in a manner not deemed suitable to those who seek to exercise the monopoly on the use of force, both at home and abroad. 

It is a feature of the current situation that the various policing, state, federal and military authorities are each vying for greater power. Far from uniting behind Biden and accepting his authority over the monopoly on the use of force, they are contributing to the "disunion" Biden fears and speaks of.

All of it confirms that the existing constitutional order and its administrative state cannot solve the problems of greatest concern to the people, such as equality, the well-being of the environment, human rights, and war and peace. The old arrangements based on property concerns cannot meet the modern demand for equality, which includes a claim to equal political and social status for all human beings and the recognition of rights by virtue of being human. The ongoing resistance by the people shows it is their fight for rights and a modern democracy that empowers the people, that is unifying and providing a path forward.

It is not fortuitous that the FBI also co-authored the recent Bulletin which defined "extremists" to be all those who take action "in furtherance of political and/or social agendas, which are deemed to derive from anti-government or anti-authority sentiment, including opposition to perceived economic, social, or racial hierarchies; or perceived government overreach, negligence, or illegitimacy."

The people's forces organizing resistance to injustice and demanding equality, an end to police impunity and peace know they are far more likely to be targets as a result of this definition of an extremist than are state-inspired and organized far-right groups which, experience shows, would not even get organized if it wasn't for state support and backing. 

Vigilance is required.

January 20, 2021. Inauguration Day protest in San Francisco, California.

(Voice of Revolution. Photos: A.M Aune, Sunrise Bay Area Movement)

This article was published in

Volume 51 Number 2 - February 7, 2021

Article Link:
Contending Authorities Contest
Biden's Call for Unity


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