Exchange with a Prisoner:
Trump's Election—A Bitter Pill To Swallow...
How Do We Understand It and What Do Revolutionaries Do Now?
December 26, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund recently passed along two letters from a prisoner, one sent six days after the elections and the second a week after that. There are some important observations and points made in this comrade’s letter, extremely important questions that he raises, a lot to unite with, and a lot to get into. What follows are the comrade’s letter and an excerpt from the second letter, and a reply from the editors of revcom.us.
First, I want to note the difference that this comrade, and others like him, make to those who are “on the outside” fighting for revolution and a far better world. In spreading the word of revolution behind the prison walls, in writing your thoughts to those of us beyond those walls, and in particular sharing your questions and contributions with the voice of the Party, the comrade fills a great social need, in the most difficult of circumstances.
The comrade makes the point in his first letter that while the elections themselves were a “farce,” “there is something particular about the candidate [Trump] that really does rock me back on my heels.... [Y]ou would have to go back to the 60s & 70s & prior to get a candidate or movement who was built on so much overt hatred.” He writes about seeing this manifested inside the prisons every day—presumably from both the guards, whose racist brutality has been well documented, and some of the white prisoners themselves. He points to the fact that someone who gave expression to some of the vilest forms of that has now won—and what it says that so many white people (a majority of those who voted) “refused to reject even the most overt & vile forms of hatred. And even more so rallied around that movement.”
The comrade says: “It’s actually hard to write you guys. So much to say. So much anger, so much love. So many obstacles. It is quite overwhelming.”
Let’s just say straight up, you are far from alone in feeling that. As we said in our statement on November 9, “[t]he fact that Trump won as many votes as he did must be understood. The fact that he got more than even 10 percent of the vote is disgraceful and reveals some very ugly things about America. So why did this happen? The world today is turbulent, full of changes. Those who supported Trump’s fascist program were overwhelmingly sections of white people, especially but not only white men, who yearn for the days of open white supremacy and American global domination, and the blatant subjugation of women. A significant minority of white people did oppose him, but we have to confront how deep the racism, the national chauvinism, and the hatred of women is woven into this society... and not give in to this, but vigorously challenge and fiercely oppose it.
“But even more than this, Trump was backed by powerful forces in this society. Beyond those who directly supported him, the media, the Democratic Party, and others treated him as a legitimate candidate, refused to call him out as the fascist he is, and now call on everyone to accept his ascension to power. All the major powerful forces in this society bear the responsibility—it is they who have, over decades, either built up this fascist force or have ‘enabled’ it.”
The whole electoral process—what was, and especially what was not, criticized about Trump (note how no major Democratic Party figure attacked Trump for his demand that the Central Park 5 be put back in prison, despite their having been exonerated!) and how this was criticized—served to set this situation up.
Yet it is still a bitter pill to swallow—that this shameless racist was put into power and that at least millions of those who voted for him were acting on the rock-hard racist beliefs and millions more at most shrugged and pulled the lever anyway. The comrade wrote again a week later expressing that... “wow, it’s hard to digest & accept exactly what is the fabric of America.”
True. But the questions confronting us now are how we understand that and what we do about it.
First, there were millions, including many millions of whites, who voted against Trump. More important, there is the fact that, as the “mission and plan” for the month of resistance to STOP this fascism put it, “among huge numbers of people there is a deep anxiety, alienation, disgust, and anger in relation to the recent presidential election and its outcome.” “Unprecedented,” it goes on to say. And they have continued to feel this, despite the efforts of Obama and others to reassure them, to get them to “move on.” So again, and to speak directly to the comrade writing this heartfelt letter, you are NOT alone in your acute disgust with what this revealed about the depth of American racism, chauvinism, and all-round bigotry and backwardness, and how many millions that has conditioned and corrupted—there are millions and millions who feel that. And among them are millions of white people. But again, the challenge before us is this: OK, the boil has burst; now what do we do about the pus that is pouring out all over the place? How do we mobilize the millions who are in fact revulsed by that into a force powerful enough to defeat it?
Those feelings of deep anxiety, alienation, disgust, and anger among tens of millions must now be mobilized, in a very short space of time, to create a political crisis in this country of a magnitude not seen in generations. If we should fail, the consequences will be very bad—it will strike a severe blow in many dimensions to the ability of the masses to even conceive of, let alone organize for and wage, any larger struggle... to act on or fight for any better, and even potentially, revolutionary aspiration. In other words, the problem here is both what this election reveals about the mentality of far too many people in this country but even more so what the coming to power of Trump will mean in terms of the actual leap in attacks on masses here and around the world and the active setting back of any struggle for any larger goal or aspiration.
Comrade, in taking up this battle right now, revolutionaries must reach out to many, many different people who do NOT share our views on the source of the problem—capitalism-imperialism—and the fundamental solution to it—revolution. We are making those views clear and we are bringing them to bear, but we are focusing on the objective we now face: preventing the Trump-Pence regime from coming to power and imposing a fascist USA. We are not watering down what Trump-Pence represents, or talking about “understanding the [so-called] valid concerns of the Trump voters”—the only way for this movement to succeed is to make clear and take on, and win tens of millions to take on, the FASCIST character of the Trump regime and all that means: in terms of genocidal racism, in terms of severe repression against all “minorities,” in terms of a violent reinforcement of the patriarchy, and, yes, in terms of a heightened likelihood of war, including nuclear war... not to mention the insane and breakneck accelerated destruction of the environment.
Through the course of this, if and as this movement gains ground, and if we are to win, we are going to have to set many of them in motion to sharply confronting and breaking with the racism you call out, changing their actions and their views, and, yes, through all this, their gut feelings. To a certain extent, as this movement takes on increasing conviction and momentum and clearly focuses itself on the fascist character of this regime, that will be part of what will happen (there was a glimpse of this when the Revolution Club and others went right in the face of the fascist mobs in the Mt. Greenwood section of Chicago). We’ve seen that before. And others will dig in with their racism and fight for it. We’ve seen that before, too.
When something different had the initiative and was setting the terms in the 1960s—and I’m talking about the radical movements of the 1960s and the Black Panther Party as the most advanced expression within that—then all kinds of people began seeing and acting in different ways, began changing the world and changing themselves, long before anything like a majority was won to that. A whole generation of white youth broke with America and everything it represented and fought, sometimes with real sacrifice, AGAINST America. Not least of those was our Chairman, Bob Avakian, in a process outlined in his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond. And he’s never stopped fighting—a fact for which the both of us, I know, are quite thankful!
Yes, the backward die-hards will be out there, and this new movement will have to stand up to and oppose them. There’s no alternative, other than capitulating to it, and that nobody should do. Some of them we’ll win over or at least neutralize, and some of them we won’t. This movement won’t have to win every last person or even have to win the majority of white people to actively support this; but we do need to win enough people of ALL nationalities to really throw in on this (tens of millions, including the vast numbers of whites who do oppose him and some of the ones who should have but didn’t), and enough people to either passively support this or who at least feel like they don’t want to go against it—to create the overall situation called for in the mission and plan:
“Imagine if people, in the tens of millions, filled the streets, powerfully declaring that this regime is illegitimate and demanding that it not be allowed to rule! The whole political landscape would be dramatically transformed, every faction within the established power structure would be forced to respond—and all this could well lead to a situation in which this fascist regime is actually prevented from ruling. This is not some idle dream but something which could be made a reality if all who hate what is represented by this fascist regime translate their outrage into firm determination and massive mobilization to create the conditions which make this possible.”
Should this initiative succeed in that, then the question of what is to replace the Trump-Pence clique will come to the fore; and different forces will struggle things out from there. We for our part will strive to represent the interests of “the seven billion” and the emancipation of ALL humanity at that point, as we are striving to do now in undertaking, with others, this bold initiative. Exactly what that will mean can’t be predicted from here, other than to say that we will be “searching out the key concentrations of social contradictions and the methods and forms which can strengthen the political consciousness of the masses, as well as their fighting capacity and organization in carrying out political resistance against the crimes of this system; which can increasingly bring the necessity, and the possibility, of a radically different world to life for growing numbers of people; and which can strengthen the understanding and determination of the advanced, revolutionary-minded masses in particular to take up our strategic objectives not merely as far-off and essentially abstract goals (or ideals) but as things to be actively striven for and built towards....” (from BAsics 3:30)
Let’s be clear: Whatever repolarization we’re able to effect in the course of this next month won’t last forever, and it won’t be sufficient for the total transformation we need. Out of that 1960s re-polarization we referred to earlier, some, like BA, stayed with it and took it further; others did not and were pulled back down by the gravity of the system that, after all, stayed in place. This leads to a larger point: without a deep-going transformation of the economic base, the political structure and the dominant ideas of society, as envisioned in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America... and without a revolution to make that Constitution the “law of the land”... the virulent racism so deeply baked into the foundation of capitalist-imperialist USA will never go away, and will continually reassert itself in different and ugly forms. With that Constitution, and the new state power it outlines, the process of uprooting this poisonous tree can begin in earnest, one that will last for generations but in which extremely radical transformations in how people live, think and feel can be made almost overnight.
Bob Avakian said it in BAsics, and it remains at the core of what we’re about:
There will never be a revolutionary movement in this country that doesn’t fully unleash and give expression to the sometimes openly expressed, sometimes expressed in partial ways, sometimes expressed in wrong ways, but deeply, deeply felt desire to be rid of these long centuries of oppression [of Black people]. There’s never gonna be a revolution in this country, and there never should be, that doesn’t make that one key foundation of what it’s all about. (BAsics 3:19)
With that, comrade, we ask you—and we ask all who get this paper inside those walls—to do everything you can to continue to influence the course of events to a world without the madness you so righteously decry and condemn in these letters—and a world in which the love you speak so movingly of can actually flourish. Anything that can be done on your parts to amplify the struggle not only for revolution but—right now—the urgent objective to prevent this fascist regime from taking power and consolidating itself—would be extremely important.
With revolutionary love and hopes for the new year,
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