RefuseFascism.org spoke with a woman in the Revolution Club who has been very active in organizing for Refuse Fascism, about her thoughts on the opening talk to the Refuse Fascism Mass Meetings – This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! Where are We At? How to We Break Through?
Q: You heard the speech at a mass meeting, talk about your initial response when people discussed it.
A: OK, I remember just opening up, speaking about how bad this year has been, overall. But it is very important that so many people from different ages and backgrounds have come together to work on stopping this nightmare. In different stages. And we need to go back to some of that. I liked that the speech talked about some of that. I also talked about there have been moments in history where art, culture, you know, knowledge and stuff have just been lost. And this is actually a moment when that could happen and that’s part of what we’re actually trying to prevent from happening.
Because so many people were bringing up questions like how do we break people out of the normalcy. Actually, a lot of the questions they were asking were directly answered in the talk, and I referenced those questions. I was thinking, and how crucial it is for people to be reading this speech, and sharing it with others. There’s some guidance given about how do we actually go beyond these problems that are, way beyond just being dismayed or looking at them and being frustrated.
Q: What is your take on what’s said in the speech about what the movement has been up against? Let me read you a section of that, you might want to bounce off of:
“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.”
A: I think that the stability point and actually getting people to accommodate to even some of the most egregious things, channeling through the processes, is very true, very sharp. A lot of people we’ve been running into, and even some of our own forces, are understanding – or – rationalizing what’s happening.
There was a point where I actually said, it’s on us to drive out the regime. That actually means us reaching out and breaking people of the norms. And that means working with people. Talking with people. It’s very clear that this kind of stuff isn’t going to happen on its own. And, there’s an importance of us all coming out of our own typical way of doing things, and learning how to do these things. Like Now! Because the need is so sharp. Especially since this isn’t something guaranteed. We’re seeing, very quickly people’s rights, their status, their, even their ability to live being snatched and taken away at an alarming rate. I feel like the speech really sharpened that up, talking about how this country has gone through, or how this country has had a stable situation, and people aren’t used to seeing anything abnormal, and acting outside of the normal channels – because of that whole history.
Q: Could you explain what you meant by “we have to do things in new ways.”
A: People who take up the message of Refuse Fascism at any level – Democrat, Republican, whatever political alignment – we actually have to do the work. Not just get outraged at whatever’s happening, we have to be working on understanding that. There’s a lot of guidance on that at the website refusefascism.org. And leading others to act on what they understand. And people aren’t used to talking to each other about these things, about politics since talking politics is a “no no!”
Q: And can you follow up on the stability point, how you see that? This problem that even for people in a precarious situation, there is this faith that the Democrats will pull this out… How did listening to the speech change what you were thinking…
A: This is something we have been running into. It was something that we had been thinking about and working on. But actually, I guess, extracting that from just the point of basic understanding of how different sections of society think is a little bit different.
Q: What did you get from the speech in terms of what Refuse Fascism ran into in the wake of Nov 4? There are all kinds of theories on what the movement has been up against.
A: I think that the stability point is something we had not identified before. But the thing of people being channeled into politics as usual – is something that we did identify. Even people in the worst situations are also swallowed up in that because of how people are trained to look at things that way. Either they don’t give a shit about anybody, even though it’s not exactly like that at all. They don’t actually have the interests of people in mind at all. But the way the speech walked through the stability point was the most, I would say that was the most clarifying.
Q: The speech has a whole 3-prong plan: active investigation; ACT-UP type disturbing the normalcy; and it encourages Refuse Fascism chapters and supporters to watch and discuss the video of Bob Avakian’s Talk, The Trump/Pence Regime Must GO!. In light of some of what we’ve been talking about, what’s your thinking on the value of point 3 – of people engaging with that Talk?
A: I think it’s extremely crucial. Even for people just stepping in. Because through the Talk, BA [Bob Avakian] walks people through how this country got to where it is now. And in the Q&A BA digs into questions people have, and not in like a surface-level way. He’s training people to look at the world differently. And also, like, understand, there’s no shortcut to what we’re doing. This is, it’s, people actually have to rise up and drive this regime out of power, or, essentially, we’re, you know, screwed.
Not only that, it’s also an introduction to BA. In a way of, how do you work with and talk to people you don’t necessarily have the same political alignment with. That’s something some people have some trouble with, because they think the solution is we all have to agree in order to work with one another. And that’s not true. I mean, we do have to agree on what’s principle. But we actually can work things out to reach a deeper understanding. And people can change what they think, how they think. And it’s very needed that people engage this high level of theory, and not just theory. It’s just really important. I remember we watched a lot of this in the buildup to November 4, in the Revolution Club. We’d watch a couple of the Q&A questions and discuss them. And this would actually get us kind of geared up, going into different sections of society. What do we need to keep in mind? What problems are we going to be running up against that we need to break through on?
And one of the questions a lot of people have is how do we sustain the movement. The way that one is answered, it puts it very clear to people, that people actually have to understand what they’re doing, and what they’re about. They can have a certain amount of understanding and join in. But deepening that understand will change how you act and respond. And that’s a crucial thing in this whole process.
There’s this other point in the Talk which I thought was very good, because we are on the ground running into anti-communism. And there’s this point where BA says some people say you’re trying to trick people into becoming communists, and he kinda answers that, by saying, but nobody says that about the Democrats, nobody says that to these other groupings. One, it’s not true. And two, it’s not actually wrong to explain things from whatever understanding you’re coming from. And also there is that point, “first they came for the communists…”
It can’t just be the case where, you know, very few people are actually working on this while the masses of people can actually understand this – the masses, the intellectuals, other sections of people – can understand the gravity of what’s going on. And just, um, you know, how needed it is for them to act and reach out to people they’ve never talked to, never interacted with, and actualy lead them.
Q: Do you have experience to share on showing this Talk to other people? Are there things especially that connected with people? Not just people coming from your perspective? Who should be watching this film? Any response the Great Tautological Fallacy – the GTF – and whether America is really the greatest country in the world? Do you have thoughts on that? Or experience with that?
A: I’ve watched this film with different people, at different times. I remember, after watching it with this young queer woman, I guess she was bringing out the point that she didn’t really think about the fact of what America has, – how if every country consumed what America has, it would take five earths to do that. The point of the excess, and how did people even get what we have. That was a point. And the point of looking critically at the history of this country how did we even get what we have? I think that point stuck in for her. And not just saying, Oh, slavery happened in the past. What was that!? What function did that serve? Sort of, I guess, the point of people here in this country actually thinking they’re better than people around the world. That was a point stood out.
Q: And this is not just history.
A: Yeah, I mean I think all this is directly connected to what is going on now. The Talk is very sharp and relevant to things that happened recently. In regards to that point, like if you look at what happened in Charlottesville – people aren’t sure what to take away from that, how to even understand that, from people thinking oh it’s just a bunch of racists, and not necessarily seeing the connection, to what’s been unleashed by this regime, and even the fact that this is connected to, this has a historical connection here.
Q: I brought up BA’s Talk because it is part of the 3-prong plan but also because it speaks to a lot of questions you were bringing up. But, circling back to the speech to the mass meetings itself, is there more you want to add to your thoughts about it? For people who have been part of this movement there was November 4, but it didn’t launch the movement that needs to be launched, and that has been disorienting, or a challenge to understand. And there are different views on what was run into. Have you had experience contrasting the analysis in this speech with other ways of understanding this. It’s unusual, very different, to really dig into what people were up against. Not just, “that didn’t work let’s try something else.” So do you have experience or thoughts to share on that?
A: Yeah, I think during the discussion, after the speech was read, listening to people talk about what happened, it was clear that this is something we’re going to have to work with people on–even understanding what the speech is bringing forward, and actually going into some of the questions, to help people understand some of what the speech brought forward. Because once the speech was over, the first questions or thoughts that were being raised were all criticisms of tactics, you know, tactical criticisms. What we’ve done… Did we do this? But not actually taking into account, you know, all that had happened, or even taking into account that it’s not necessarily, always the subjective when things don’t go where you want it to go. And you do actually have to think about that.
And in this case, what’s brought out in the speech, we do have this historical, [laughs], frankly, problem of sheepishness following. And the stability question. We’re going up against that. As well as all the attacks that were happening beforehand. And yes, some of the problems might have been on the subjective end. But that’s not necessarily where all the mishaps were. And actually the point is: what we called for wasn’t wrong! Even though it didn’t amount to what we wanted it to, it wasn’t wrong. Because what was happening? In the face of all this. Leading up to all this. What’s happening now? There is fascism that is consolidating. And people damn sure need to be brought together to stop it. That’s our mission. We can’t stop til it’s done. It’s not going to be smooth sailing, and we shouldn’t wish for it to be smooth sailing, either. We actually have to do the work, and try new things. Like it’s not going to be a step-by-step-by-step process. Who knows when we’re gonna break through. But we’re on a mission to do that. And everyone at every level needs to be on that mission, whether they’re first coming in and checking things out – everyone needs to be thinking, strategizing, working on these questions in a living way.
Q: Anything else to add?
A: Actually, I do want to say one more thing. I want to stress this point: everybody has to be talking and working with people, and working to bring them forward. And that it’s going to take everybody doing that in order for us to get like where we need to go, everyone working on the same problem.
At one point, I was talking with a woman who was talking about, leading up to November 4, some of her friends knew about it but they were talking about it and one of them said “this organization is violent” or something. And this other woman said, “I’m not gonna believe that until you show me the evidence.” It was really good. That’s a good answer, not just but not just answer, a way of approaching things. People should approach the world that way, no matter what their political alignment. And through that, in that way, people can change. I think it’s important that she said that, and actually that that is in the life of what Refuse Fascism is about.