Witnessed from Grünstadt: The storm of the United States Capitol on Epiphany 2021

Currently we are witnessing a fascist coup d’état attempt in Washington” were the words I published on my Facebook wall while observing the storming the United States Capitol on Wednesday the 6 January 2021 on CNN. Epiphany is a holyday in Baden – Württemberg, and as I work in Karlsruhe at the KIT, this was also a holyday for me, even if a live in Grünstadt in Rhineland-Palatinate where Epiphany is not a holyday. In former days when my children were younger I used this holyday, or the days after this holyday to drive to France to buy some “galettes des rois” for them. But now they are older, and they are not more interested in “galettes des rois”, this old French tradition of choosing the King or Queen of a day on Epiphany. I used the holyday to write my traditional blog retrospective  “Rétrospective sur le blog paysages en 2021[1]” but then I received a breakings news mail from the NYT  on about 20:45 German-Time “              The New York Times – BREAKING NEWS : Vice President Mike Pence was rushed from the Senate chamber and the vote certification was halted as pro-Trump protesters stormed Capitol Hill” – and then I began to witness this historical moment on CNN – and didn’t finished my blog retrospective post, post which still waits to be finished.

I was neither astonished nor shocked by the images transmitted by CNN because for me it seems to be clear that was something was in progress with the “Trumpistes”. At least when I read the opinion piece  “All 10 living former defense secretaries: Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory” published by the Washington Post on the 3 January I was convinced that “Trump and the Trumpistes” were on the way to sustainably disrupt the transition process. But even before that I was convinced that the transition phase could be at least chaotic – in a blogarticle posted in paysages on 3. November I wrote “Et même si Biden gagnait, je pense que la transition des pouvoirs sera au moins chaotique, personnellement je crains même le pire pour les Etats-Unis. Les « Trumpistes » auront certainement du mal à accepter une défaite électorale. (translation = And even if Biden won, I think the transition of power will be at least chaotic, personally I fear even worse for the United States. The „Trumpists“ will certainly have a hard time accepting an electoral defeat. [2]”.

But concerning the inability of the security authorities, the police, not to have prevented the storming of the Capitol, have nevertheless more than shocked me. If the French Police during the Yellow vests movement in France in Winter 2018/19 would have reacted in this amateurish way as the security forces during the Capitol Storm, France would now be governed by a national-bolschevist people’s committee or a national-bolschevist dictator or something similar.

In my Facebook post on my timeline I used the Book cover of Madeleine Albright “Fascism – a warning”. I read the Book in summer 2018 and I found this book was a very comprehensive description of the rise of the fascism in Europe. Seeing the “trumpist Mob storming the Capitol” recalls me the chapters were Albright descriped the  March on Rome of Benito Mussolini and his Black Shirts! For me the Book was also something like a wakeup call concerning the Trump presidency!

Some may view this Book and its Title as Alarmist. Good. We should be awake to assault on democratic values that has gathered strength in many countries abroad that is dividing America at home. The temptation is powerful to close our eyes and wait for the worst to pass, but history tells us that for freedom to survive, it must be defended, and if lies are to stop, they must be exposed (Albright (2018:252)”. At least not so many people have been so impressed by these word, which I read in 2018, – but after all what read, and of course I am reader – heard and see from the Trump presidency – I was convinced that this man would be capable of the worst.

That’s the way I witnessed the “Storm on the Capitol” on Wednesday the 6 January, the day of the Epiphany. Not so astonished, but shocked by the unpreparedness and amateurism of the security forces of the Capitol. The event recalled me a part of the books I have read during my life time concerning fascism and dictatorial power took over[3], and more recently the book “Fascism – a warning” written and published by Madeleine Albright in 2018.

Writing down this word some days after these dramatic events, I hope that this nightmare is over on January the 20 2021. Seen from Grünstadt, the town where I live, this seems to be the most dramatic political crisis for the United States of America since the Amercian Civil War.

Books and other sources:

Albright, Madeleine; Woodward, Bill (2018): Fascism a warning (with Bill Woodward). London, 2018. ISBN 978-0-00-828227-1

Applebaum, Anne (2020) : Twilight of Democracy. The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism. New York. ISBN 978-0-385-54580-8

Guilluy, Christophe (2010) : Fractures françaises. Paris, ( François Bourin Editeur), ISBN 978-2-84941-201-5

Neff, C. (2012): Blognotice 5.5.2012 : – la géographie le grand gagnant du scrutin des présidentielles 2012. In : Paysages: paysages et livres – Landschaften und Bücher – Landscapes and Books. 12.05.2012

Neff, C. (2020):   Blognotice 02.11.2020: Donald Trump peut – il encore gagner ? In : Paysages: paysages et livres – Landschaften und Bücher – Landscapes and Books. 02.11.2020

Photo/Screenshot: Authors Facebook TimeLine, 06.01.2021 21:25 Berlin Time (GMT +01:00).

Christophe Neff, written and published in Grünstadt, Saturday 09.01.2021


[1] The last retrospective was “Rétrospective sur le blog paysages en 2019 ». The paysages retrospective of 2020 will be published with some delay !

[2] See the whole article (written in French) « Blognotice 02.11.2020: Donald Trump peut – il encore gagner ? »

[3] I read so many booktitles concerning this topic that’s quasi impossible to name them all. Currently  Anne Applebaum‘s “ Twilight of Democracy   “ is on my reading desk. A book which a the first glance has nothing to do with the US is  “ la France peripherique”   (see also “Blognotice 5.5.2012 : – la géographie le grand gagnant du scrutin des présidentielles 2012 “)  written by the French geographer Christophe Guilluy, –    a similar book as Guilluy wrote it for “peripherical France” focusing on “middle class decline” in rural and periphical America would perhaps also light up why so many Americans have still given their vote to Donald Trump in the last presidential election.