By Coco Das |
We are living in a time when the fascists of the Trump/Pence regime are daily accelerating their trajectory towards irreparable damage to humanity and the planet. Just in the last week; this regime has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and threatened new sanctions on Iran; announced that migrant children will be separated from their parents at the border; and dismantled NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System, which gives us crucial information about climate change. Yet we are told that we have to be “realistic” and wait for the next election cycle, ignoring the lives being destroyed right now and the dangerous daily triumphs of the regime in remaking the government and emboldening fascists throughout society. This is gambling on the hope that Trump won’t launch a war or drop an even greater hammer of repression before the midterm elections.
The reality is that gambling on a “blue wave” is NOT a realistic way of stopping this regime. It is, actually, a path of capitulation to fascism. But there is a way, outlined in the mission and call of Refuse Fascism, to stop fascism from consolidating in this country. And while it is not “normal politics,” we are not living in normal times.
Modern history has given us numerous examples of how massive, sustained, non-violent street protests can force an oppressive regime out of power. This decade began with protests that ousted an entrenched regime in Tunisia and spread throughout the Arab world, and just a few weeks ago, the prime minister of Armenia was forced to resign.
Let’s take a brief tour of three major examples from recent years: Armenia, South Korea, and Egypt. Each of these countries had its own particular political dynamics and challenges, but all three mass movements succeeded in their simple goal: to drive out an unpopular, illegitimate leader.
“We won! We made history today!” – Armenian student
After changing the structure of parliamentary leadership, Serzh Sargsyan clung to power in Armenia by seizing a third consecutive term as head of the government. In response, a massive civil disobedience campaign to demand Sargsyan’s resignation began in the capitol on April 16th. Despite repression by riot police and arrests of opposition leaders, the protests continued to grow. On April 23rd, tens of thousands of people (in a country of 2.9 million) celebrated in the streets as Sargsyan announced his resignation. But the people weren’t done yet. In May, when the ruling party refused to elect a prime minister, further demonstrations and a national strike brought the country to a standstill. This political crisis forced Parliament to meet the demands of the people. As of May 8th, opposition leader Nikol Pashinian is the new prime minister.
SOUTH KOREA, 2016
“We don’t want to call her president anymore.” – South Korean protester
Starting in October of 2016, hundreds of thousands of people – families, students, workers, farmers – began to fill the streets of Seoul every weekend, refusing to stop until their corrupt president Park Geun-hye resigned or was forced out. Many groups and sections of society came together and the protests continued to grow. On December 3rd, 2.3 million people assembled around the country for a nationwide anti-president rally. When Park had still not resigned by the end of December, even after being impeached, the South Korean people celebrated New Year’s Eve with mass protest. Park was ultimately removed from power when her impeachment was ratified on March of 2017 and is now serving a 24-year prison sentence for abuse of power. South Korea held new elections in May of 2017 and elected the liberal Moon Jae-in, who is spearheading a peace process with North Korea.
“Mubarak, the people have spoken. Take your regime and get out.” – protest banner in Tahrir Square
At the beginning of 2011, Egypt’s American and military-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak had been in power thirty years! But once the popular uprising began on January 25th, it took a mere 18 days of massive protests to get him out. It began with a call from various youth groups, spread online, to turn a national holiday to commemorate police forces into a Day of Rage against civil and human rights abuses. Demonstrations, marches, occupations, non-violent civil disobedience, and general strikes took place in major cities all over the country for the next two weeks. Mubarak tried to hold on to power by dissolving the government, stating he would not run for re-election, and bringing down violent police and military repression, which killed 846 people and arrested thousands of people. But the people would not stop their protests. Finally, on February 11th, Mubarak resigned and later served a prison sentence.
The people of each of these countries faced vastly different conditions. Different types of regimes. Different histories of social protest. Different systems of government. Different demographics. Different catalysts and organizers. It goes without saying that some of these experiences ended better than others. Various factors contributed to what happened next in each of these countries. The people of Egypt are still suffering from repressive rule, but that doesn’t mean that they were wrong to rise up or that someone like Mubarak was the best they could hope for.
The only thing they had in common was that the people recognized their power and refused to stand aside to allow these outrages to continue. They overcame fear and uncertainty and acted with courage and determination. Is the Trump/Pence regime any more legitimate or less dangerous than these ousted regimes? When you look at the open white supremacy, the threats of fire and fury on the world, the vicious attacks on immigrants, the blatant lies, the heartless greed and corruption…and the rage and disbelief of millions of people who do not want this, we have no less power, and even more importantly, we have the utmost responsibility to stop the fascists at the head of the most powerful military in the world. None of us should believe the lie that allowing business as usual to continue won’t result in even greater horrors for us and for people around the world. If we do not step outside the normal channels and put justice before order, we will not stop the relentless nightmare this regime is inflicting on the world.
Refuse Fascism has called for a sustained, non-violent mass movement to demand this regime step down from power because of the unprecedented disaster barreling towards humanity. It is both necessary and possible. Refuse Fascism has a vision and strategy, stated in the 2018 Call to Action:
Imagine tens of thousands beginning in several cities and towns, with marches, candlelight vigils, rallies – students, religious communities, immigrants, everyone with a heart for humanity in the streets and not backing down – growing from thousands to hundreds of thousands and eventually millions. Our actions will reflect the values of respect for all of humanity and the world we want – in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence fascist regime. The whole world will take heart.
This will shake millions awake, with many losing their adjustment to life under this regime. The international credibility of the regime will be undermined. A determined struggle that doesn’t yield and won’t be provoked can create a serious political crisis. Those in power who are themselves now under attack by the regime but conciliating with it would be compelled to respond to our struggle from below, leading to a situation where this illegitimate regime is removed from power.
Will you pledge that you will not stand aside while there is still a chance to stop a regime that imperils humanity and the earth itself? Let’s stand together with the same conviction and courage shown by the people of Armenia, South Korea, and Egypt. In the name of humanity, filling the streets and not stopping until our demand is met: This nightmare must end! The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!