What is the big history behind the attempted takeover of the United States government by pro-Trump supporters on January 6th? Why are so many Republican lawmakers unwilling to engage in an investigation—despite the fact that most of them were forced to hide under desks and run in fear for their lives through the halls of Congress?

Almost six months after the event, Congress cannot undertake a bipartisan investigation due to Republican opposition. Calling January 6th a “day of darkness,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently announced the creation of a committee to investigate the failed insurrection. Although she would have preferred a bipartisan effort, Pelosi stated that Republicans have acted cowardly and are “afraid of the truth” except for a few officials like Liz Cheney. However, it seems like any investigation will be limited to the coup attempt itself, instead of understanding the big forces that have been working for decades to get America to this terrible point where democracy is threatened by undermining voting itself.

Authoritarian Takeover of the US Government is the Goal of the Far Right

It might be tempting to think that the events of January 6th were just a result of the division and chaos created by Donald Trump during his campaign in 2016 and during his four years as President. But that would be a dangerous mistake.

My colleague, Dave Troy, is a technology entrepreneur and an expert in disinformation and identifying the data trails left on the internet. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, has established numerous tech firms, and started TEDxMidAtlantic in 2009. I met Troy when he invited me to come do a TEDx for him last April. However, due to the pandemic, that was called off. But we began embarking with others and did a very important TEDxMidAtlantic program entitled Dismantling QAnon with Jim Stewartson and Desiree Kane. The 90-minute program is still a must see. We have continued to share information on the historical underpinnings of QAnon and other groups who are key Trump supporters and were involved in the assault on Congress.

Troy has recently done an extensive and significant study of the history behind January 6th. I asked him to share some of the most important connections and underpinnings of the failed insurrection. However, I strongly encourage everyone to read or listen to the entire series. It explains and clarifies the long history of authoritarian attempts to influence and gain control of US politics.

The coalition of interests that ultimately led to the attempted insurrection has been cultivated over many decades. Troy points out that long-term historical conflicts are a more useful lens than focusing on individual politicians or personalities. Donald Trump was essentially an “avatar” for the coalition of right-wing, authoritarian interests. This coalition of right-wing organizations will continue to pursue their goals through any possible avenue. They will make new alliances or rename organizations as necessary. It is important that we not get distracted by the antics of individuals and miss the underlying coordinated effort to dismantle democracy and establish a fascist dictatorship under the control of a select few.

Anti-Communism, the Depression, and the New Deal

Serious efforts to combat communism, along with libertarian and anti-government beliefs came together during the 1950s, particularly with the formation of what would later become the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) in 1954. The Washington Post wrote an article in 1985 about a WACL meeting in Dallas, Texas. During the Reagan administration, the conservative and secretive Council for National Policy (CNP) was established that included founding member of the Moonies, Gary Jarmin. Shadow Network, written by Anne Nelson is the excellent resource on CNP. The secretive group has connections with the John Birch Society and the Family Federation for World Peace (formerly known as the Unification Church or Moonies). Its membership has included KellyAnne Conway, Steve Bannon and Betsy Devos. CNP is believed to have been one of the prime actors behind the scenes on January 6th.

Prior to the 1930s, industrial giants operated on a very laissez faire financial basis. Accumulation of wealth by the so-called robber barons was unfettered by government regulation and was based firmly on the gold standard. Low wages, a struggling agricultural sector, and an excess of large unliquidated bank loans contributed to the financial crash in 1929. By 1932, almost 25% of Americans were unemployed and crop prices had fallen by 60%.

FDR became president in 1933 and promised relief through the New Deal, essentially using the power of government to put people back to work. But this move required disconnecting the dollar from the gold standard in order to spend money that technically did not exist. Not surprisingly, industrialists and conservative, right-wing proponents vehemently opposed dropping the gold standard.

Their opposition to the New Deal also rested on several other beliefs, still common among right-wing, conservative thinkers. Unfettered capitalism is seen as the only defense against communism. Any program that even hints of socialism is the beginning of the slippery slope toward communism. In the authoritarian worldview, life is a zero-sum game. One person’s gain is automatically another person’s loss. Any gain made by persons they deem of lesser importance, is a loss for them.

A group of right-wing financial magnates hatched a plot (sometimes known as the “Business Plot”) to replace FDR with a dictator, and asked retired general Smedley Butler to lead the insurrection. Fortunately, Butler knew this to be treason and reported it to Congress, thus ending the effort. There are obvious parallels to the events of January 6th!

Conflict of Worldviews: Democracy or Feudalism? Capitalism or Socialism?

Disputes and conflicts over these worldviews are rampant today. We are still fighting over taxation, abortion, women’s rights, and climate change. All over the world, there are increasing incidents of anti-Semitism, anti-immigration, waves of increased terrorism and violence. There are parallels between arguments over the gold standard and the current interest in Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency.

Taking a deep dive into the coordinated efforts by various organizations and special interest groups that led to the events on January 6th is complex and detailed. But shedding light on these groups, tracking their attempts to disguise their true goals and assessing their potential as authoritarian cults is critical. Only when these secretive and subversive tactics are placed in the light of day can we work effectively to counteract them.

Interview: Dave Troy

Further Information

David Troy:


The Business Plot:
Wealthy bankers and businessmen plotted to overthrow FDR. A retired general foiled it.

The Rise of Neo-Feudalism

Thumbnail image of Jan 6th by Tyler Merbler, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

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