Teach-In: Fascism in America:
Could It Happen Here?
Is It Happening Here?
What Is the Danger that the Trump/Pence Government Poses?
April 27, 2017
Humanity faces an extreme emergency with Trump’s rise to power. On April 28, this nationally live-streamed Teach-In deeply explored, from different perspectives, the essential nature of the Trump/Pence Government, the relevance of the history of fascism, the threat it poses to humanity and the planet itself, and the dangers of normalization.
The essence of fascism as a form of rule of a capitalist society is blatant dictatorship, that when it is fully imposed will mean the virtual elimination of basic democratic rights, including the right to dissent. And such change is most definitely now afoot…
Rush transcript of Andy Zee’s presentation:
Fascism in America…
Could it happen here? Yes.
Is it happening here? Yes.
The Call to Action of Refuse Fascism begins: “The Trump/Pence Regime is a Fascist Regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is what it is.”
What is the danger that the Trump/Pence government poses?
Nothing less than the fate of the planet and humanity as we know it. This regime has already taken measures which if allowed to continue much longer, will have devastating effects on the environment—deadly impact that could take decades to undo, if, and that is a big if, repair would even be possible. And should the regime be able to carry out their full plan, the result would be catastrophic.
This is not the worst of it—even as it is ethically suspect to quantify just which of the many horrific measures that this regime is taking is actually worse. Nevertheless, the Call to Action of Refuse Fascism says: “Because Trump has finger on the nuclear trigger, the Trump/Pence regime is more dangerous to the world than Hitler.”
We must be clear: The Trump/Pence regime has already brought the world closer to nuclear war than any time in the last 80 years, according to those who set what is called the Doomsday Clock. They say it is now 2½ minutes to midnight. The first 100 Days of this fascist regime and Trump/Pence administration have tripled the number of civilian casualties in the Mideast; Trump launched missiles at Syria while dining at his Florida country club; and the next week he dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb made—for no purpose other than intimidating the entire world. Now he is engaged in the most dangerous and thoroughly unjust nuclear blackmail with North Korea. Trump boasted that he would “bomb the shit out of them!” and said: “if we have nuclear weapons why can’t we just use them.” And then there’s Vice President Pence standing on the North Korean border declaring: “we’re going to abandon the failed policy of strategic patience.”
These deadly actions are, on the one hand, a continuation of aggressive and murderous policies carried out by Obama and previous administrations, but they are now supercharged with the strongman imperative of a fascist regime which has riled up its social base to support and to demand that the gloves, such as they were, come off—in order to bludgeon the entire world to their vision of making America First.
This must be stopped. And to do so will require the most determined struggle. All of you here tonight and those of you watching on Livestream, now is the time to stand together, organizing thousands and ultimately millions to, as Refuse Fascism says in its Call, “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.”
As Sunsara said, my name is Andy Zee. I am one of the initiators of Refuse Fascism, and the Spokesperson for Revolution Books. I am also an advocate for The New Communism developed by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian. But before I dig in, I want to thank the other speakers for coming out tonight and for sharing your work and your insights. And I want to thank all of you for coming out and for being a part of this program. Let tonight spark ten thousand conversations, and let tonight have those conversations be the basis upon which you go out and talk to many other people to act according to what you learn tonight. If you got a diagnosis of cancer, I hope you would do everything possible to drive it from your body—radiation, chemo—changing your whole life so as to live. Does fascism, a societal cancer, require less? We face AN EMERGENCY. And we face it NOW.
Again, from Refuse Fascism’s Call: “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.” Hasn’t this already begun? Instilling fear and impacting and destroying lives: Immigrant Lives…Muslim Lives…Refugee Lives… Mexican & Latino Lives… Black Lives…and, in a very real sense, ultimately the lives of people here and around the world.
48-year-old Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez lived in the US for decades. He dropped his teenage daughters off at school. ICE waited, then they pounced. Romulu is ripped away from his family. There are hundreds more stories.
Trump/Pence Attorney General Jeff Sessions, standing on the border with Mexico—a hellscape he called it—he drawled with his sickening plantation master sneer, he said that this is “a new era” to rid American cities and the border of the “filth” brought on by the drug cartels and criminal organizations—employing Nazi language of demonization to terrorize immigrants and refugees and to mobilize a fascist base. And be clear, the word “filth” has real meaning to fascists.
And this after Jeff Sessions moved to rip up the consent decrees with racist brutal police forces around the country. He was calling for the police to be unhampered in terrorizing Blacks and Latinos in the inner cities.
General John Kelly, head of Homeland Security, is rapidly moving to completely militarize the border—expanding and unleashing ICE squads around the country—declaring that any and everyone in the US “illegally” is subject to deportation. This is terror. And this we must stop.
Look, deportation is not new—President Obama set a record deporting 3 million human beings. And let’s get one thing straight: No Human Being is illegal, OK? But the Trump/Pence fascist regime is not just continuing mass deportations on an enhanced steroid program, but their very arbitrariness combined with saying and meaning that every and all immigrants are suspect while ramping up the militarized repressive ICE apparatus and at the same time fighting to lock down US borders—with the wall and the Travel Ban, is the road to a different society. It is a fascist zeitgeist and it will be a fascist law, with horrific consequence.
The demonization of the refugee and the immigrant—filth, criminals, rapists, stealing our jobs, Muslims, by definition terrorists, all this is the cutting edge of a whole fascist package of “Make America White.” Unfolding this piece by piece, acculturating people to accept this and turn their eyes away from those groups targeted, and even more ominously, to prepare the country for even greater atrocities to rain down in bombs and war against people fromAfrica (where the administration has loosened the rules of military engagement), to the Mideast.
This is fascism. And if we had the time we could make the case for the same kind of transformations and vicious programs that are aimed against women, Black people, LGBTQ persons, and the existential danger that this regime poses for the planet and all of its species. If you are concerned about, if you are fighting back on any of these fronts, understand that these battles are not now living in a more favorable time because the people are aroused against Trump, but that these fights need to waged as a whole with a unifying theme of driving out this regime, because as fascism consolidates, there will be less and less ground to fight on, and it can become too late.
As we approach the 100th day of this regime the question is not—as the mainstream liberal media and the Democrats present it—how little Trump has accomplished in his 100 days, the essence of the matter is how much —how far, how draconian are the things he’s already done and where this will lead if not stopped. And stopped soon. Everyone who sees the scale and the scope of what this regime has done and are doing must hammer at this everywhere you go. The Trump/Pence Regime is doing so. Everyday they jump from one outrage in word and deed to another—from dropping bombs to terrorizing communities while careening from one lying threatening tweet and outrageous press conference to another. It’s dizzying and that is an integral part of the method of their madness. Through the sheer unrelenting outrageous horrors, people become inured and the madness gets normalized.
From the Refuse Fascism Call to Action, The Trump/Pence Regime, from Day 1, has been “subverting the separation of powers, the separation of Church and State, the regime has called for a new nuclear arms race, it has demonized the press, dismissed the very concept of truth substituting their own fabricated “alternative facts.” And, most important, “Fascism is not just a gross combination of horrific reactionary policies. It is a qualitative change in how society is governed.”
So what is the essence of this qualitative change? And here, I quote from the website revcom.us, the website of the Revolutionary Communist Party. The quote is this:
Fascism is the exercise of blatant dictatorship by the bourgeois (capitalist-imperialist) class, ruling through reliance on open terror and violence, trampling on what are supposed to be civil and legal rights, wielding the power of the state, and mobilizing organized groups of fanatical thugs, to commit atrocities against masses of people, particularly groups of people identified as “enemies,” “undesirables,” or “dangers to society.”
At the same time—and this can be seen in studying the examples of Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini—while it will likely move quickly to enforce certain repressive measures in consolidating its rule, a fascist regime is also likely to implement its program overall through a series of stages and even attempt at different points to reassure the people, or certain groups among the people, that they will escape the horrors—if they quietly go along and do not protest or resist while others are being terrorized and targeted for repression, deportation, “conversion,” prison, or execution.
Isn’t this what is unfolding before our eyes? Trump and Pence, Sessions and Kelly, they’ve advocated for and begun the remaking of the police apparatus and yes the law. “Be forewarned” said Jeff Sessions. “This is a new era. This is the Trump era…”
Millions of Black youth have been the targets of a slow genocide through mass incarceration, and before being locked up they are confined in cities under intense police pressure with no way to survive but fight each other over petty turf. And now comes the Trump/Pence regime to take the gloves off, including the threat to “send in the Feds” to Chicago.
Trump has unleashed rabid fascist racist thugs who have been organizing to do bloody street battle now focused in Berkeley. And know this: there is no contradiction between fascism coming to power through elections and the mobilizing of a militia outside the direct control of the state.
Again, the essence of fascism as a form of rule of a capitalist society is blatant dictatorship, that when it is fully imposed will mean the virtual elimination of basic democratic rights, including the right to dissent. And such change is most definitely now afoot.
To be clear—democratic rights have always been severely limited and curtailed for whole sections of the people, starting with thefoundation of this country in the genocide of the native peoples, and in slavery, and the continuing legacy of brutality since— increasingly so in recent years with 2.3 million incarcerated and 3 million people deported by Obama, and there has always been vicious repression and suppression against anyone who mounts a serious challenge to the system and who has a grounding among the masses. But fascism, what the Trump/Pence regime are preparing to bring down on society, is on a whole other level.
So how did we get here? Trump’s election surprised many, maybe even him, but the reality is the fascist movements that he has cohered within, and backed, and backing him, and who have been unleashed by his regime, have been developing for decades. The Republican Party itself has basically been fascist for decades, hollowed out and a virulent vehicle for the assertion of white supremacy, patriarchy, and a program of punishment, with a dominant and driving faction within it being a highly political and organized form of Christian Fundamentalism, more accurately described as Christian fascism. The Christian fascists have been organizing within and are a major political force in the military. Mike Pence, DeVos, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, these are all creatures of this movement.
You might think that Donald Trump, a lifelong vile sexual predator and this Christian Fundamentalist movement are complete opposites. But, what they share is a thoroughly misogynist view of women—an outlook and horrific practices that objectify, degrade, control, brutalize and even cost women not only the ability to live full lives as people, but potentially even their very lives.
And driving the rise of this fascism have been major changes and challenges in the international situation, in the global economy, and changes in the “legitimating norms” of this country—that is, its cohering values and morality. And there is fierce struggle over this at the top of society—between different sections of the ruling class, and then all the way down through every social group and every class in society.
Underlying this is a situation where the U.S., the dominant and sole super power in the world today, faces a fraught situation of challenges to its hegemony. The U.S. wars and occupations in the Middle East have not produced a decisive victory, and reactionary Islamic fundamentalism has gained ground and influence in the Middle East, North and sub-Saharan Africa, and in Central Asia, and Indonesia. Globalization and the new technology, the entry of and dependence on women into the workforce, have further undermined the traditional social and political formations that, for one thing, formed the traditional base of the Democratic Party since FDR.
These divides have brewed since the 1960’s and in an important dimension are the product of and the backlash against the 1960’s. Bob Avakian, in a prescient 1998 essay, ” The Truth About the Right-Wing Conspiracy And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer”—and for those younger people, that refers to Bill Clinton—this essay goes into the roots and the development of the divide between the Christian fascists and the Democrats, taking apart how the changed international alignments, the underlying stresses and strains and transformations in the global economy as well as within U.S. society, fueled on the one hand this Christian fascist movement’s drive to forcibly re-assert traditional American values. First of all, of white supremacy—in an economy where there is no future for millions of Black youth, which has resulted in massive levels of mass incarceration. And, second, the forcible imposition of patriarchy, which has been a driving force of the Christian fascist movement. All of this has been fueled by these underlying dynamics. And as women have come into the workforce, and their traditional subservient roles and morality have, in the eyes of these Christian fascists, been undermined by birth control, and the right to abortion, and the lifting of women’s sights through the struggle of the women’s movement, all of this is seen as something of great threat to what they see as the coherence of America. And yet, on the other side, the Democrats came to represent a multi-cultural, inclusive vision of America—but, and this is important, they have no vision or program that is not severely constrained by the very limits of the needs of the system to compete in a changed and fraught world—one where there is no longer a basis for the massive social programs, and where the preservation of their system requires that the roots of patriarchy and of white supremacy be left mainly intact. Much of what remains for the masses of people who are cast aside, is prison, punishment or drugs. The Democrats have always seen these Christian fascists as a necessary part of the mix and they are extremely reluctant to call their base out to confront these Christian fascists. Nor will they call their base—this multi-cultural base—out into the streets as they were in the 1960’s for fear of where that almost led. And, as I said, the Democrats have no real answers to any of the terrible problems that face society because of the constraints of the capitalist/imperialist system in this country today.
This is why only the massive struggle of the people can be relied upon to stop fascism and to drive out this regime.
So it is against this background, and to resolve these contradictions, that Trump was able to cohere an already existing and developing fascist movement. This whole brew of contention which took a leap under Obama then became an occasion through which this base saw themselves right up against it. And some of the core fascists who got behind Trump and who are now around Trump, including Rudolf Giuliani, saw in Donald Trump their “last chance” to cohere a new fascist order.
So look, there’s a lot more to say and we need to get to our discussion, and in conclusion I want to underscore 2 key implications of the reality we face with this fascist regime. And these 2 points are what unites Refuse Fascism. And let me say also that in Refuse Fascism we have, or should have, diverse views as to analyses and ultimate strategies and visions of what kind of future we want. I’ve put forward my view tonight. There are other views. But what we are united around is the single unifying mission of driving out this regime! Because it is an emergency, and it’s an EMERGENCY for HUMANITY… Because, it’s Fascism.
And second, our Call to Action says: Don’t Normalize… Don’t Accommodate… Don’t Conciliate… and Don’t Collaborate. NO! Bernie Sanders we must not work with this regime. If you do, you normalize the road to horror. NO! Indivisible, this is not a pendulum swing and channeling resistance into 2018 is “folly, betraying a lack of understanding of just how fast, furious, and profoundly this regime will change the rules, cement its rule, destroy lives and crush spirits.”
To those who say calling this fascism is premature, I say No and Yes. NO! History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late. And I’ll say yes, but only in this sense: NOW is the time to prevent this fascist regime from fully consolidating by driving it out.
This is a fascist regime. This is a serious diagnosis. It is an EMERGENCY. And I don’t come to you as someone who has thought for a minute that this system, before Trump, was anything but an unending horror for the majority of humanity, and I work for the day when t can be ended. But I am here today to say that if it is indeed true that the Doomsday Clock is two and a half minutes before midnight. If it is indeed true group after group is already and will be demonized, assaulted, and cast aside. If it is indeed true that the very ability of people to speak out and to stand up and to fight back and to struggle for a better world could be severely diminished should this regime move to full-out fascism, then we need to get organized and act with determination like never before.
Each of us must put a lot on the line. There is no business as usual. There is no protest as usual. The Trump/Pence fascist fegime must be driven from power. And no one but the people are going to create the conditions where that becomes possible. No, it is not how things have usually gone in this country. But there is nothing usual about what we face.
We must organize NOW with all the creativity and determination we’ve got to prepare for a time when millions of people can be moved to fill the streets of cities and towns day after day and night after night, declaring this whole regime illegitimate—Demanding, and Not Stopping, Until the Trump/Pence Regime Is Driven from Power.
This is what can shake up the whole country—where every faction within the established power structure would be forced to respond—and where it could lead to a situation where this fascist regime is driven from office. Think of the kind of struggle that took place in Tahrir Square in Egypt, or what took place in Seoul, South Korea just this past winter.
So reflect on everything you’ve heard tonight. And then get involved, join Refuse Fascism, get your organization or your group together and join together with us to drive the regime out. Fight every battle that needs to be fought, but have all those battles be part of and contribute to a massive struggle as soon as is possible, together in cities across this country, to stop this regime. Resolve that after tonight, that you will do your part so that this becomes a moment in history as we say in our Call when millions stand together with conviction and courage, and overcoming fear and uncertainty, to resist and say NO! Not just for ourselves, but in the name of humanity.
So thank you, and let’s get to it.