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11 December 2017. A World to Win News Service. The following is the text of the opening talk given at Refuse Fascism mass meetings around the country. It is being reprinted and distributed by the AWTW News Service because of its importance for summing up the critical situation in the US in the battle to drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime, and because of the lessons it offers for struggles in many other places facing similar challenges.
“The Trump/Pence Regime is a fascist regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is what it is.
For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out.”
RefuseFascism.org was formed one year ago, one month before Trump was inaugurated. This is what we said then. Every agonizing infuriating day since, this basic message and mission has been borne out.
The National Office of RefuseFascism.org has prepared this talk to open a discussion of what our organization set out to do, and why; to get into what we have achieved and what not, and why; and finally what we need to do now. After we discuss this talk, there will be two shorter talks followed by discussions digging further into what we are proposing for the next 6 weeks.
As we meet today, immigrant communities around the country are living in terror of having their families and lives torn asunder. Arrests of immigrants are up 43 percent this year. Trump’s Travel Ban is in effect.
Wild fires rage in California caused by almost no rain this year. Three devastating hurricanes tore through this country in 2017, and Donald Trump, with the arrogance of a racist colonialist overlord, threw paper towels at the people of Puerto Rico. Today, months later, most of the island has no electricity. In the face of this and overwhelming scientific evidence of global warming, the Trump/Pence Regime has ripped up every environmental protection regulation they can get their filthy hands on, including pulling out of the Paris environmental agreement, which, weak as it is, is the only international accord to reduce global warming.
Donald Trump has ratcheted up the danger of cataclysmic nuclear war—threatening to rain down “fire and fury” and “totally destroy” North Korea. One year ago, Refuse Fascism’s Call to Action also said that “because Trump has his finger on the nuclear trigger, the Trump/Pence Regime is more dangerous to the world than even Hitler.” This too was true then, and ominously, is truer still today.
Our founding Call to Action also recognized that “Fascism has direction and momentum. Dissent is piece by piece criminalized. The truth is bludgeoned. Group after group is demonized and targeted along a trajectory that leads to real horrors. All of this has already begun under the Trump regime. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.”
Is this not still the case?
Last August, recognizing that millions feel in their bones that this Nightmare Must End, Refuse Fascism called for nationwide protest marches and gatherings on November 4 that would BEGIN a process in which people would continue to protest in different ways everyday, growing and building, so that the thousands who came out on November 4 would draw forward tens, and then hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions of people—determined to not stop until the demand was met: that The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!
We based our call on the reality that the situation was (and still is) so extreme, so dire—with tens of millions of people in this country sick at heart because of the grave danger that the Trump/Pence Regime poses to lives here and around the world—that it was, and remains possible that masses of people would reorder their lives and rise to act with the determination to protest day after day and night after night. For only by protesting in a way commensurate to the threat of impending fascism could it be stopped.
On November 4, four thousand people came out in 20+ cities, and did so in the face of fascist threats broadcast on media and the internet. In three cities our marches faced vicious armed fascists who came to threaten and possibly harm those who dared to march with Refuse Fascism.
November 4 was a significant harbinger of what is needed: an inspiring day, the most significant demonstration to demand that the whole Trump/Pence Regime be removed from power. The bravery, conviction and determination of this protest should give every person with a conscience, hope. But, November 4 did not launch the movement of continuing, growing mass nonviolent protest. This was and still is urgently needed if humanity is to stop the consolidation of fascism in the world’s most powerful superpower.
The numbers of people were just not there. There were way too few prominent voices of conscience—people who have the platform to be heard and who are listened to by millions. There were not enough of the organizations who have been fighting against the different attacks of the Trump/Pence Regime representing on the streets. November 4 involved many students, but the schools and colleges did not come out en masse.
We said from the formation of Refuse Fascism that only the people taking to the streets with courage and conviction, acting outside the framework of the normal political processes of this country—elections, hearings, etc., could bring a stop to what is a highly abnormal situation—a full out fascist regime that is shredding norms and remaking society and government. Under the signboard of Make America Great Again, the Trump/Pence Regime is forging an American fascism: Manifest Destiny and American exceptionalism, a fascism wrapped in the Bible taken literally and the American flag, saturated with racism, misogyny, and xenophobia. The Refuse Fascism Call to Action says that fascism is more than a “gross combination of horrific reactionary policies … [that] What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.” At a certain point, which could come sooner than most people recognize, it could become too late to stop—with dissent locked down, and a populace accommodated to the new norm of fascism.
Refuse Fascism recognized that to stop this juggernaut the whole regime must be driven out. With Trump the demagogic ringmaster, and Pence the medieval minded Christian fascist standing beside him, they have assembled a vicious cabal that controls and is remaking every department of the executive branch. The fascist Republican Party controls Congress, two-thirds of the state governments, and is packing the courts. They are shredding norms of truth, science, separation of powers and church and state, and more and worse, all with no serious opposition from the Democratic Party leadership. Even after millions signed a petition for impeachment, even after a Republican senator who is leaving the Congress said that Trump has put the country on a path to World War 3, the Democratic leadership said: impeachment is not on the table—now, and even after 2018.
Refuse Fascism has put forth that it is only the determined mass action of the people that has the potential to stop this. Doing so by ultimately hundreds of thousands and millions engaging in mass protest day after day, growing in numbers and determination, with the aim of creating a nationwide political crisis such that, as the Call for November 4 said: “every force and faction in the power structure would be forced to respond to our demand. The cracks and divisions among the powers already evident today would sharpen and widen. And, that “As we drew more and more people forward to stand up … all of this could lead to a situation where this illegitimate regime is removed from power.”
This we were not able to launch on November 4. This is the mission that remains to be accomplished. So, let’s dig deeper into this.
We must dig into this not for ourselves alone… and not by ourselves, but as an integral part of the struggle to drive out this regime. We must squarely, honestly confront the necessity that bears down on humanity and together carve out the way forward. We do this because “In the name of humanity, we REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.
Stepping back and taking a wide view of what happened and what didn’t on November 4, reveals that people did not take to the streets in massive numbers or with the determination to stay in the streets to drive out the regime because they are used to a certain way of life, a stability that comes from living in a country that hasn’t seen a war on its soil in 160 years and not a major upheaval in half a century.
The reality we confront is that most people in the middle classes, who have been the most vocal in their upset and outrage at the regime, have a mode of living that, as yet, they have been unwilling to disrupt. People have become habituated to having others take care of political and governing matters for them, except for maybe pulling a lever and voting every few years. Even the majority who don’t vote, were not yet ready to cast aside the normalcy of their lives, even as that normalcy is beginning to fray and unravel. This underlies why many people really welcomed the Refuse Fascism basic message, and really hate the Trump/Pence Regime, yet refused at this point to break with the norms and the framework of politics as usual.
We have been and still are working on the contradiction between the relative stability of most people’s lives in this country and their deep and profound revulsion and turmoil over the horrific actions and future of the Trump/Pence Regime. We were not able to move a sufficient number of people to do what must be done. The huge problem for all those who hate the Trump/Pence Regime but aren’t, as yet, willing to break out of the normalcy of their lives and the political framework in which they conceive of affecting politics, is that the world and life as they have known it is coming to an end if the Trump/Pence Regime remains in power.
We must say once more, that because Trump has his finger on the nuclear trigger—without any constraint from anyone else in government or the military—the stakes of people remaining complacent, the price of accommodating to the developing fascism, the going about daily life and effectively normalizing that which is not normal, could well be the future of our species and planet. And, we repeat, this not exaggeration.
People have been trained to see that all that is possible is to cheerlead, hope for, or work with the Democratic Party. Over and over on the media major issues are framed and reframed in terms of Republicans vs. Democrats with eyes focused on the next election even before the previous is over.
We must say to people: Don’t listen to those who tell you that this regime can be dealt with in normal ways—whether through elections, special prosecutors, or a change in Congress. We must say this, and we must make the case.
Does this mean that the situation is hopeless? That people will never move? NO!
There is a sharp contradiction between people’s deep and profound revulsion at Trump and Pence, including all the horrific things they have done, and, on the other hand, people’s illusions that rest on their relatively stable lives, including their experience and belief in the stable functioning of the government, its institutions and processes. Even when people in this country’s personal situation is actually precarious, there is both the actuality of life here being relatively stable, and the illusory belief that it will always be so.
Look, let’s get down on the ground. The progressive and more historically marginalized strata of this country expect that their interests will be taken care of by the Democrats. This is so, perhaps especially so, by those who want to reform the Democratic Party. There is a “faith” that is not substantiated by reality that Trump and Pence and what their regime is doing will be redressed by the Democratic Party. It will not. They, and others in power, will only act if and when they feel that they are losing the allegiance of huge sections of society. They will only act when the turmoil created by the people compels them to act on what is for them their greater interest in maintaining their system.
While it remains true that Refuse Fascism is still not known by all of society, many people did know about November 4. Everywhere we went overwhelmingly people responded with enthusiasm to Refuse Fascism’s slogans and Call—carrying signs in demonstrations, contributing to the New York Times and Washington Post ads, and in many other ways. But, when considering whether or not to risk upheaval in their lives and in their beliefs to really throw in with what is objectively required to stop the unfolding fascist consolidation of the Trump/Pence Regime, they retreated into the illusion of a world that is coming to an end.
We should be clear eyed to the training and, it should be said, indoctrination. Every day people are being told by the Democratic Party leadership and those, such as MSNBC among others in the media, as well as political and service/NGO type organizations, who themselves rely on and in turn promote reliance on the Democratic Party, to NOT do what Refuse Fascism was and still is calling for. To not be in the streets, to not stir the beast of the fascists, to not undermine their electoral efforts to appeal to swing voters, to not think and act outside of the framework of politics-as-usual and, let’s be honest, to perhaps begin to question why the Democrats have conciliated with these fascists over a long period of time, or even begin to question the whole set-up.
They are telling people to deal with this in normal ways—wait for the Mueller investigation, and please, don’t do anything to hurt our chances in 2018 or 2020. Refuse Fascism has truthfully pointed out that (1) this could well be too late to prevent a catastrophic war, environmental devastation, the terror and uprooting of the lives of millions of immigrants, ending the right to abortion and many other horrors, including even more draconian laws shutting down dissent; and (2) these fascists are working overtime to strip away voting rights especially from Black people and Latinos, along with a whole historically based racist rural electoral setup so they have a lock on elections. NO! It is deadly to fall for this when confronting the consolidation of fascism. We have to make the case that the only way forward is TO VOTE WITH YOUR FEET IN THE STREETS.
In sum, we need to discuss why it is that we have to continue and persevere in making the case through what we say, what we write, and most importantly through what we do, so that people confront the necessity that they and all of humanity face with the consolidation of fascism by the Trump/Pence Regime. And, why on that basis, what Refuse Fascism is organizing and building towards is the way to make the change that is necessary—driving out the Trump/Pence Regime from political power.
We should discuss and understand, and we should bring out to people all across the country, that the basis to remove the Trump/Pence Regime ultimately lies with them. Refuse Fascism is prepared to throw its all into this. We are prepared to lead together with others. There is a place for everybody, for diverse organizations with many different purposes and understandings who recognize, or can be won to recognize, that only the people acting together with determination in the streets to compel the removal of the Trump/Pence Regime from power can stop the consolidation of a fascist America.
Before concluding, we believe that this contradiction, between people’s revulsion at the Trump/Pence Regime and their unwillingness at this point to disrupt the relative “normalcy” of their lives, is the main thing we didn’t break through on for November 4 to succeed. There were other factors that contributed as well, such as we needed to get enough of a critical mass of people and organizations so that the audaciousness of our plan and mission felt viable to people. People told us that they were afraid because of all the rumors of what the fascists might do. These are real issues that need to be addressed, but they live in the larger problem of which we have spoken. For there are many times in history when people overcome fear and defy the odds when they recognize the necessity to act in extraordinary ways.
We should discuss and begin this summation at this meeting. It is a summation and process that will continue. And, at the same time, we need to move forward. Our analysis of the Trump/Pence Regime is correct and borne out every day. Our mission and objective of driving the regime from power by the mass nonviolent action of millions of people is what needs to happen.
To that end the National Office is proposing the following plan for the next six weeks, until about the end of January.
There are three prongs to this plan.
# 1: A key element of the next period is one of outreach, active investigation with many different kinds of people and organization; ideological struggle over the necessity humanity faces with the Trump/Pence Regime and what is the way forward; and polemics on social media and our website comparing and contrasting different analyses and solutions. Over the next period we need to be actively struggling and learning—summing up the first year of the Trump/Pence Regime and the resistance and struggle we called for. We should do this not just among ourselves, but together with people very broadly. This should be a period of broad outreach and ideological struggle and learning (in relation to each other). Very important, through this process we need to further build and grow Refuse Fascism and forge principled unity with other organizations and communities opposed to this regime.
# 2. Refuse Fascism needs to continue to lead struggle. Particularly we need to initiate actions that sharply expose the regime and its crimes and why it must go. And, we need to act in ways that sharply expose why that the Democratic leadership provides no answer. Here we should look at how the DACA young people went to Nancy Pelosi’s office and exposed how she was bargaining their families’ and their communities’ lives for their status and they were not having it. In such actions we should learn from the actions of ACT-UP in the early 1990s. And, Refuse Fascism should participate in, work in coalitions, that are consistent with our mission on protests on the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.
We also need to be involving many new people in spreading the message of Refuse Fascism and raising the funds for this great cause.
___________ will speak after we discuss what I have presented here a vision of this whole point.
# 3: The National Office encourages chapters and people checking out Refuse Fascism to watch and discuss the film of the Talk and Q&A by Bob Avakian, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible.
This talk and Q&A speak to many of the issues that people confront and raise.
So before opening up the discussion, let me close with what we have said for over a year, and remains as true as the day first written:
“Let it not be said that we did not move heaven and earth to drive out this regime. This must be a moment in history when millions stand together with conviction and courage, overcoming fear and uncertainty, to resist and say NO! Not just for ourselves, but in the name of humanity.”
This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!