The large Refuse Fascism banner and our team were impressive, a show-stopper… we impacted 10,000’s of people with the message: Trump/Pence Must Go!
These are vignettes from a longer report sent by Refuse Fascism activists in Los Angeles to the Refuse Fascism national office. Send your reports and correspondence to [email protected]
Refuse Fascism went to the LA Times Book Festival at USC this past weekend. We worked with the Revolution Club in Los Angeles, who focused on promotion of the Bob Avakian talk, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America: A Better World IS Possible! Overall, we approached the event as a great opportunity to accelerate the forging of a movement aimed at driving out the Trump/Pence regime ASAP – achieved through a multi-dimensional approach (utilizing different forms) with an orientation of reaching and impacting very broad sections of society.
At the Book Fest, we had multiple teams with different focuses working in concert to impact a very large crowd. And the LA Times Book Fest does attract a large crowd (!) – over 100,000 people over the course of the two days. It is considered one of the, if not the leading literary event in the United States (it is the largest). It features many prominent authors and personages, for example this year such notables as Junot Diaz, Walter Mosley, Joyce Carol Oates, Jorge Ramos and many others.
Because it impacted what our team was able to accomplish, in ways detrimental and ironically positive, we’ll share with readers that the University of Southern California (USC) Police, the Los Angeles Police Department on the outskirts and some on the inside both in uniform and undercover, and at least some in authority running the LA Times Book Fest suppressed, or tried to suppress, our free speech activities at the event, including handing out anything or asking for funds, and tried to run us out of there… but were not successful.
The large Refuse Fascism banner and our team were impressive, a show-stopper, and even while we were watched with cameras, stalked for a large part of the weekend by the authorities, we impacted 10,000’s of people with this message, with people taking stickers, donating, taking pictures with the banner etc. We had a “division of labor” and the distribution of the new Refuse Fascism Call to Action was happening at the entrances.
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A few things about the dynamic presence of the Bob Avakian Film The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go… at the Book Fest: Together, we aimed, as part of a larger societal-wide objective, to create a certain “movement” around this film so people could find out about it and watch it. Put simply, given what’s said below about the views and political trends of those in attendance (and more generally in society), it’s the most precious thing we have to challenge people about the necessity to drive out these fascists – with the interests of humanity uppermost – and to challenge the views that are holding people back from taking to the streets in massive numbers with the single objective of ousting this entire regime.
And, some of us are coming at this from the perspective at revcom.us, that the film can open up whole new vistas for people and introduce them to the person who is the architect of the New Communism – begin to reveal and open up the scientific basis and possibility of oppressed humanity unlocking itself out of the deadly dynamic where the only choices appear to be reactionary religious fundamentalism or American-style democracy, all within the framework of the capitalist-imperialist system.
“I have seen that Bob Avakian film card in the bathroom over there…” or “I have that promo card already…I’ve seen you guys all weekend.” The Revolution Club periodically hoisted a large banner and carried it through crowds of tens of thousands, passing out cards, encouraging people to watch the film. Altogether thousands of promo cards were distributed at the Book Fest.
At the entrance to the Book Fest, a TV was looping the trailer of the film and Q and A’s speaking to the questions being struggled over. Everyone – members of the Revolution Club and volunteers with Refuse Fascism – who took up the promotion of the film reported similar reactions: thousands were attracted to the film – people were struck by the title, but would then say things such as “they are fascist and yes, they have to go, and that is why we have to vote them out.” There were some who said, “don’t worry, they’ll be out soon” but contrary to this there were some who were very worried about the fascists seizing state power in the U.S. (less triumphal and more grounded in reality) – we spoke with everyone we could, but special attention was paid to speaking with these people in more depth.
Whole groups of people would stop around the banner being carried around, yet as one Revolution Club member put it “the overall climate was very supportive, but… they were agreeing with the title of the film and then putting into their own existing framework.” People came up and encouraged us to work with other organizations – including to take this message and the BA film to the immigrant rights groups in So Cal. One teacher said there were thousands of DACA students at her junior college, and arrangements are being made to bring the film to her, and for a showing to be set up on campus. Many vendors took stacks of the promo card of the film – to get to friends and colleagues. USC got plastered with beautiful poster advertisement for the BA film.
“The basis for the objective of Refuse Fascism exists in the millions who still deeply abhor this regime. The first 14 months of the regime have underscored the necessity that the regime must be removed from power. Going to work on this, Refuse Fascism must put before the country and the world, through our actions and our words that a Trump/Pence fascist America poses an existential threat to humanity and is already wreaking havoc with millions of lives. It is this reality, and the deepening sense of just how profoundly dangerous this regime is and that they will not relent, that provides the basis for struggling with people to overcome the normalization that has grown over the regime’s first year.” (See “Spring 2018: The Situation We Face” from the national leadership of Refuse Fascism).
Going to this Book Fest again underscored there are millions who abhor this regime. This wasn’t millions, but tens of thousands representing millions of enlightened progressive democratic people, book lovers etc. Reactionaries attended the Book Fest too, people part of Trump’s support base – and we’ll say a little more below about that and them – but it is very striking, the reality that this base of millions who abhor this regime are anything but apathetic, they remain somewhat energized (albeit on a road that by itself will not remove Trump/Pence regime). We received a significant heartfelt supportive response and we impacted the entire event by what we did, especially with the huge visuals.
This was not a demoralized or defeated democratic minded base. And what was notable was many people argued that they themselves had this figured out – how Trump would be removed. It wasn’t “…oh my gosh…I thought Trump would be in there 90 days and that’s it he’d be gone… what are we going to do?…”; no, it was we have a plan, to vote Trump out in November, or at least to get a majority in the House, and even if we don’t get a majority in the Senate, once the House impeaches, the Senate will move on Trump and follow suit.
Even though their argument(s) did not add up to removing this fascist Trump from President, and left him there till 2020, they still argued that this was the way to go and he’ll be impeached, or significantly contained by a Democratic majority in Congress. There was unity on Trump/Pence Must Go, but we want to underscore people argued their positions, numerous people said they had it pretty much figured out, the “Blue Wave” was precisely what was needed to do the job and these people thought they were on the road to victory.
People were so ingrained with the idea of “Democratic majorities” that they’d argue that we were way overestimating the strength of the fascist forces. Even the Refuse Fascism demonstration on Nov 4 in Los Angeles is evidence of that, some said – 900 calling for the Trump/Pence regime’s ouster to 40 fascists in Los Angeles.
People would argue that we didn’t understand, that there are so many millions of people getting ready to vote – not traditional democrats or people who necessarily vote all the time – and that Democrats will take over the House and it will be the beginning of the end of Trump and company. Never mind that a significant range of Democratic Party leaders had already made clear they are in fact NOT for impeachment, especially if it means disruption, political upheaval, which it will.
The new Call to Action from Refuse Fascism says:
All too many people think and act as if what we face is just the worst of pendulum swings between Republicans and Democrats. NO! This regime if left in power will effect a thoroughly reactionary restructuring of society.
If we think that the normal processes of the 2018 or 2020 elections, or the Mueller investigation will, by themselves, redress the situation that humanity faces, we are not understanding the determination of these fascists in power to shatter norms – even though they have been doing so for over a year.
If we think that the heightened activism of the past year, either by itself or together with the elections will stop this regime, we are missing how much harm this regime has already done, absorbing individual protests as it rapidly moves its agenda forward on multiple fronts.
If we are not as outraged and motivated to act today as we were right after the election, we are on our way to accepting or ignoring a great horror that builds daily. If we adjust to the injustice of this regime, do not ask how the German people could have accepted Nazism in the 1930s.
Michelle Xai of Refuse Fascism spoke up at the talk by one of the authors featured at the festival. This author spoke passionately about this regime not being normal, that there needs to be resistance. In fact, Michelle said the urgency with which the author spoke had similarities to the Call to Action. I don’t know whether this author called it fascism, but I’m told there was an intensity to his exposure of the Trump/Pence regime. Then, the solution was voting.
When Michelle got up to speak, she united with the exposure and urgency, but then put forward a different – and the only — path to driving out Trump/Pence: non-violent sustained mass resistance with the clear objective of driving out. The author basically put forward “you do it your way, I’ll do it my way…” and apparently didn’t want to explore the differences, including over the role of the Democratic Party and its leadership in normalizing this fascist regime.
Again, from the new Refuse Fascism Call to Action:
The Democratic Party leadership will NOT lead us out of this. They are about maintaining order for their whole set up. For them, order is more important than justice, even if that means the order of fascism. After Trump’s election, President Obama said of Trump, “We are all on the same team…We are now all rooting for his success.” NO! If Trump succeeds, it will be catastrophic!
One thing we knew, but also learned more deeply at the Book Fest – it’s not just the Democratic Party leadership that is choosing order, even fascist order, over justice (see Bob Avakian’s talk). One of the concerns of the largely middle strata people at the Book Fest, voiced in response to the solution we put forth, was wouldn’t that lead to anarchy? Wouldn’t that mean upheaval and dislocation? To be clear, Refuse Fascism is calling for non-violent protest, sustained, but it’s not doing so from standpoint of preventing, at all costs, upheaval, disruption, social dislocation etc. Those “normal channels” of voting to somehow remove Trump/Pence, the “Blue Wave” – are illusory, including in the sense that its simply inconceivable to remove the Trump/Pence Regime without a societal-wide political confrontation with fascism and fascists, without unprecedented political struggle and upheaval.
Again, from the Call to Action:
Fascism rules by organized repression and terror by the government: civil liberties are stripped away, law re-written, dissent criminalized, the courts packed with fascists, and the separation of powers and church and state ultimately eviscerated. As part of radically remaking society, the Trump/Pence regime must sharply attack those in positions of power who oppose them. Fascism also mobilizes mobs of vicious thugs as we’ve seen with Nazis marching and murdering in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Some of the most strident advocates for elections in 2018 and 2020 argued with us over this description of fascism. One form this took was to insist that Trump/Pence regime doesn’t really control the military. And you can’t have fascism without the military being under the command of the fascists, they insisted.
One man very intensely put forth the challenge to us that what we are then saying is the U.S. military will eventually take to the streets and point their weapons at us. He found that inconceivable. It was ironic that at the exact moment he was saying that, 400 militarized police were pointing automatic weapons at anti-fascist protesters in Georgia, protecting 30 fascists.
There was a serious under-estimation among this crowd of this point: “While they have not yet been able to impose their full reactionary program, they have made significant progress implementing reactionary policy in almost every sphere of public life. The Trump/Pence regime is setting new terms throughout society and their aroused social base has held firm, hardened, and become more militant and aggrieved.” (“Spring 2018: The Situation We Face”).
Some argued that fascist forces and their base had been diminished significantly – often “forgetting” fascists have state power, with everything that means.
But also seriously underestimating the role and importance of this aroused social base of fascists in the consolidation of fascism – including how this force is central to “clearing the streets” (as Hitler put it about his SA thugs) and to the elimination enemies of the fascist state, of dissent and traditional democratic rights.
While the following is anecdotal, this does represent how dangerous a situation we are in where these white supremacists and fascists have “held firm, hardened and become more militant and aggrieved”: At the Book Fest itself, this was expressed and reflected in fascists being vocal, confident ~ no longer in the caves they’ve now more openly emerged from. It was a minority, but it was ugly. And what was particularly noteworthy, were the father/son teams – 9, 11, 13, 15-year-olds – acting, speaking fascism, ugly white supremacist shit.
The night before the Book Fest we’d been out on a freeway overpass in downtown Los Angeles, christening the new banner. This one guy literally pulls up on this overpass and gets out of his car (there is no parking lane, he just gets out of his car), and he is coming toward not just us, but Michelle specifically, and he’s saying, “We are cleaning up this place…and you are next.” (Is he going to try to throw her off the overpass?) He was told to get back into his car and leave…but the main thing is this does reflect the truth of the above phrase from the 2018 Call to Action.
So, again, to go back to the initial observation, there was significant expressions of the material basis to transform the situation, but that can’t be done without challenging people, in a good way. We provided evidence…of the fascism…of the Democratic Party leadership and how it’s for order over justice, even if that means fascist order…of why only non-violent massive and sustained resistance can cause a political crisis of rule and why it’s up to us…. and we used the Call to Action and BA film to do this.
We raised several hundred dollars and we signed up numerous people and we’re discussing “systematic follow through” in the wake of this Book Fest. We told hundreds of people to go on-line at RefuseFascism.org – curious to find out if there has been any new people who signed the Call from So Cal. We seriously fought through on the fundraising, at the same time we can do better at consistently asking people for larger contributions and telling them why, and what different it makes, right on the spot. We did that, but we can do better….
There are some great stories where a high school student opened her wallet and there is a $20 and a $1 and she asks her mom, “Can I give them the $20?” And the mom answers it’s your decision (so much for youth not having any money!). The other $20’s were from people who watched us all day and came and wanted to make a more significant contribution. One of the featured authors at the festival threw in a $20 and we should follow up that they met Refuse Fascism.