The following is an interview with Andy Zee broadcast on November 2, 2018, on The Michael Slate Show. Andy Zee is the spokesperson for Revolution Books and is an advocate for the new communism developed by Bob Avakian. Zee is also a co-initiator of RefuseFascism.org.
The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica radio airs every week at 10 am Pacific Time on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, a Pacifica Network station. The show is archived here. Revolution/revcom.us features interviews from The Michael Slate Show to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theatre, music and literature, science, sports, and politics.
The interview has been slightly edited. The interview with Andy Zee followed the playing on the air of a Q&A with Bob Avakian on: “What would be the next step if the Trump/Pence regime consolidates power?” You can listen to BA’s answer here.
Michael Slate: Where are things at today? What’s being called for and what needs to be done?
Andy Zee: Refuse Fascism is calling for protests on the day after the elections, and then again on Saturday, November 10. Let’s just take a quick look at this last week. If this last week doesn’t tell your listeners that this regime is fascist and that they are rapidly bringing about a fascist America that’s going to imperil all of humanity, then I don’t know what will.
Maybe people who are listening to this and feel that this isn’t really happening should just turn the dial and switch to an easy listening station. But if you’ve got your eyes open, your ears open and you’re thinking about what has just gone down, you have to face the fact that the world as we have known it is being rapidly torn asunder by the very workings of the system we live under, capitalism-imperialism.
This is a system that exploits people here and around the world. Bob Avakian [BA] just brought a lot of that to the listeners in the answer to the question “What would be the next step if the Trump/Pence regime consolidates power?” in the Q&A following his speech, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Could Really Make Revolution.
This system has encountered very sharp and serious challenges here and around the world. As BA brought forward in a different film, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible, fascism is one possible resolution to the problems this system faces, from the perspective of the people who run this system. But that’s a resolution that’s on the terms of the system and its ruling class, even as it creates a great horror for humanity.
So I think we need to get into this more deeply. In answer to the question, “What would be the next step if the Trump/Pence regime consolidates power?” BA said look at what they’re already doing. He brought this out very trenchantly. I won’t repeat what he said about white supremacy, xenophobia, what’s happening to the immigrants, the whole gamut that he spoke to. But let’s just look, again, at the last week. There’s been the largest mass slaughter of Jewish people in U.S. history, of 11 people in their temple during worship. The anti-Semitism that’s behind that is closely linked to the white supremacy that’s run all through the history of this country. If you listen to Fox TV, let alone the even more far-right stations, this is being fomented over and over again, barely with a dog whistle. Trump himself is not apologizing and backing down, but actually doubling down.
Right before this, we had pipe bombs that were mailed to leaders of the Democratic Party, or people who represent and speak for them in the media. And let’s be really clear on this. That should tell people that there’s a big struggle up at the top of society, between two sections of the ruling class, the Democrats on the one hand, and the Republicans on the other, both of which preside over the system. But in order for these fascists to bring about their program, which is within the confines of this capitalist system, they need a radically different form through which it’s ruled; and this is going to mean tremendous suffering for people here and around the world—a horrific intensification of all the oppressive things that have gone on before. But at the same time, fascism essentially strips away the governing norms of society such as the separation of church and state, the rule of law, the separation of powers, all these things. You can see them being torn asunder already, as well as increasing the threat of war—with an even more bellicose foreign policy.
Then comes the caravan of immigrants seeking asylum from Central America, which Trump has been just demonizing. Yes, with a lot of falsehoods, but falsehoods that create a narrative that a section of people are now enflamed about, and this speaks to some very fundamental things about this country and the fascism of the Trump/Pence regime.
The protest that Refuse Fascism is calling for says, No matter if you vote, no matter who wins, in the name of humanity, we have to drive out the regime.
The Democrats are not going to put up any kind of meaningful resistance to what’s being done to immigrants. Just listen to what they have said that they would do if they win. The Democrats have told you that if they win, they want to show that they are the party that wants to “govern,” and this is why they’re going to cooperate with the Trump/Pence regime, and not investigate. This is why they don’t want to touch the immigration issue right now. They say the issue should be health care. Of course, health care is important. But they don’t want to touch this tremendous crime against humanity that’s going on.
The former head of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, was also the governor of Pennsylvania in the 1990s and actually did a lot to work to push for the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal—which was eventually prevented. Ed Rendell said, just this past week: Look, what I would do if I was in power… I would make a deal with Trump and give him his money for the wall, if I could get a deal on immigration in exchange for the wall. This is what a leader of the Democratic Party is saying.
But what kind of deal would that be? What would a deal with Donald Trump, who has long advocated for white supremacist, xenophobic, beliefs and policies, actually mean around immigration? What kind of deal would Trump go for? Let alone, what about the whole aroused fascist section of this country, his “base” that numbers in the tens of millions, what would they actually be willing to settle for? How would they be unleashed if he sold them out?
But also, more fundamentally, what about the Democrats, what kind of deal would they want to make? We cannot forget that President Obama was known as the Deporter-in-Chief.
The system of capitalism-imperialism and the United States has ravaged the countries from which immigrants and refugees come. It’s the working of this system that has brought 65 million refugees wandering the planet looking for a way to live and survive over the last year. And there comes a point for the Democrats where, if you want to call it the public relations, or the optics of things, are trumped by—and I use the pun deliberately—the actual interests and necessity that they face. They can’t open the border in the way that it should be. I saw somebody on Facebook saying, I’m really getting upset watching these immigrants try to march here all the way from Honduras. Why don’t we go down and pick them up?
Well, you may want to do that, and that would be a good and just idea, but you can’t do that under a system based on exploitation. And, why won’t the Democratic Party mobilize the masses of people to come down to the border to welcome the refugees and stop the Border Patrol and troops from harming the refugees? Because they can’t. Because the Democrats are actually a ruling class party.
A direct cause of what’s going on—two-thirds of the people in the caravan are from Honduras. Honduras, a country that in 2009 had a coup d’etat that brought a more fascist regime to power—a coup that was sponsored by, that was likely known ahead of time by, and definitely supported by Hillary Clinton who was then the Secretary of State, and by then President Barack Obama. And this has created tremendous fascistic horror in Honduras, and a murderous regime that has caused these people to flee their country and seek refuge. Yes, the crisis the people in Central America face is fostered by, made by, the USA, and now people are seeking shelter here to be met by guns of federal troops, of whom Trump said yesterday: I’m going to tell them if the immigrants throw stones that they should be shot.
So here again, my point is that the Democratic Party has told you, and the Washington Post and the liberal pro-Democratic Party media has told you many times, that they’re going to work with the Trump/Pence regime if they get elected. So we can get into this more, about why the Democrats won’t mobilize their social base, and why they’re trying to channel you into supporting them through the normal channels of elections.
And as soon as the election’s over, besides working with the Republicans and the fascist regime, the Democrats and their supporters down to the grassroots are going to say to you, well, now you’re actually going to have to work for 2020. Can you imagine what the fascist Trump/Pence regime could do by then?
My third point on what we can learn from this week is that there is a way out of the madness. Fundamentally, and in the final analysis, what we must be working for today, and what I as a spokesperson for Revolution Books believe, and what the speech that Bob Avakian gave says, is that we have to overthrow this system that’s given rise to this fascism and what this fascist regime is doing, in an extreme form. As Avakian brought out in the Q&A clip, the white supremacy, the attacks on immigrants, the attacks on the environment, the misogyny, the danger of war—all of this is going to be greatly intensified. But we need to prepare today for a revolution that we can make when the time and the conditions are right for that.
But whether or not your listeners agree that we need a whole new system, or whether they see revolution as the way to bring that into being, there will be no good future for anybody who has any concern for humanity, and for the future of the planet and the other species that live on this planet, if we don’t act to drive out this regime. It does require you, right now, acting outside the normal channels of political life in this country, breaking your normal routine, recognizing that it is being broken already.
And the question is, are you going to just sit on your ass, and as I said at the top of this interview, go numb yourself with an easy listening station… or, are you just going to pull a lever on Tuesday, or even not pull a lever on Tuesday because you think it’s all the same stuff that’s going on and your life will go on as it has… never mind humanity? Or, are you going to get out and get into the streets and start building the kind of movement where very soon, within the next few months, we can actually get to the point where millions of people take to the streets day after day, night after night, create the kind of political crisis in this country where those in power, yes in the Democratic Party, perhaps those in the Republican Party who have been under fire from the fascists, the very few who oppose this who are still left in that party, will actually be compelled by our struggle to do something to remove this entire regime from power.
But then, of course, in that situation, the struggle against all the forms of oppression that are the normal workings of the system will still be on, but it would be in better conditions: with an aroused people who are fighting in their own interests, and we could go forward from there.
So that’s what I wanted to say about why people should get out into the streets and represent with Refuse Fascism, on Wednesday, November 7, in cities across the country, and then on Saturday, November 10, in even greater numbers. Whether you voted or didn’t vote, and whoever wins, this fascist regime is still going to be in power, and in the name of humanity, they need to go. And the answer to how they go, is you, the listeners of this station and millions of other people, getting out into the streets and putting something on the line. Bob Avakian said that history will not look kindly on you if you fail to act.
Michael Slate: There’s a thing that comes out all over society, in this country in particular, about, look, America is America. It can’t happen here. I had somebody sit down and tell me, no, there’s too much we have already embedded in our thinking and in the way the system works, all these things. There’s a way out of this. They talk about the question of elections and all this.
I recently came across something from Refuse Fascism that I think people need to consider and wrestle with. Fascism can come to power through normal processes of elections and laws. It doesn’t have to be a coup. Donald Trump didn’t take power in a coup.
But it can’t be removed from power that way, which is something I think people really have to wrestle with. What is it going to take to actually stand up and do what you’re talking about?
Andy Zee: I think that’s a very important point. Fascism very often comes to power through elections. It’s happening all over the world. It just happened in Brazil. It’s a foolish statement, and I have to say: that statement of the people you were arguing with. They know something about history. They’re just deliberately ignoring, and acting ignore–ant in that kind of way, or they’ve got such blinders on by the fact of whatever comforts they have in their life, that they’re not facing up to reality.
How could fascism come about in a country that was founded on slavery and white supremacy? “That’s really a mystery to me.” And it’s continued that white supremacy all through its history. How could fascism come about in a country that was founded on such deep patriarchal misogyny that has continued all through its history, including as Avakian just brought out in the Q&A you just played, about how it’s only been in the past several decades that the right to rape your wife was taken away in the last of the states?
How could a country that was founded on American exceptionalism and invading countries and fomenting coups all around the world—how could a country like that be fascist?
Come on! Fascism is coming to America, wrapped in the American flag, with the Christian fundamentalists, the political form of that, the Christian fascists, headed up by Mike Pence, trying to make this a white, Christian nation that protects the rights of men—and this is what’s going on.
You’re not going to get that to change by relying on the party, the Democratic Party, that is being targeted by this regime, but at the same time, represents that same system and has those interests in mind, and will not actually unleash people at the bottom of society, or people who are oppressed by this.
Just take the environment, where there was the Paris Accord, which is not going to come close to solving the problem of the environment but was a statement reflecting intent to do so. To deal with the environment would require societies around the world who would mobilize masses of people to go on the offensive to prevent the release of carbon into the atmosphere and other things to begin a process that might save the planet. The Democrats aren’t going to do that.
This is why the only way to stop what this fascist regime is doing is to mobilize the masses of people to act in the way RefuseFascism.org is calling for.
As Avakian brought out, first of all, such a struggle has been done recently in countries around the world, from Armenia to South Korea. There was the Arab Spring. Yes, that struggle got turned around, but that was because people didn’t understand what they were fully up against, the nature of the system including the army. And such questions will come up here, too.
But we have to actually recognize that people taking to the streets in massive numbers in nonviolent protests that are sustained, has been done before, and recently. Then people say, but you can’t get American people to step out of their homes. Well, millions of people have come out and demonstrated in the last year. The problem is they’ve been doing so in only a symbolic way, and only for a day, and every time they start to want to protest, the Democratic Party and its people in the so-called progressive movements in this country, channel people back into the elections, which leaves people without a way to really fight and put forward their own interests.
Nothing changes without struggle. Every change that’s come about in this country, every reform that’s come about in this country, has come from struggle. Without a fundamental change for a radically new system that can only be achieved through a revolution, people will suffer under the exploitation and oppression of this system. But, even just looking at what happens to reforms won through struggle, if you don’t maintain that struggle, guess what happens? You get where we are today, where the very reforms won in the 1960s have been taken away—through the normal workings of this system and the conscious policies of the rulers. What’s more, the backlash to the reforms and to the specter of people demanding change that undermines the oppressive foundations of this country have themselves fueled the forging of the fascist movements that have come together in the Trump/Pence regime that wants to not just reverse the 1960s and struggles since, but cement in place a full-blown fascist order.
Michael Slate: All right, Andy, this is clearly the question of our times. How are we going to come up out of all this? How are we going to change the world so humanity can actually live like human beings?
Andy Zee: Thanks, Michael. And I hope your audience did not tune into the easy listening station, and gets out in the streets on Wednesday and then on Saturday. You can go to RefuseFascism.org to find out where the demonstrations are around the country.