Building for November 4 and Beyond:
Some Experience and Lessons from Reaching Out to Different Organizations and Individuals

October 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


In building for November 4 and beyond, where thousands and then hundreds of thousands and millions are in the streets, reaching out to and mobilizing different organizations and groups in many ways is essential. What follows is some experience from a reader and some lessons people are summing up.

In reaching out to different organizations and individuals, we are learning by doing it. And as we were well advised by the National Office of Refuse Fascism, we’re going to have to try a lot of different things. So I want to emphasize there is not one way of doing this. What we know does not work is just sending an email into the netherworld of a million emails. A passionate human connection has to be made, but one that is also calm and confident in the truth of what we are putting before people and not desperate or defensive about what we already have in hand. We have to convince people—and that begins by making a connection based on the understanding that different people will find their way into this movement at different levels and different times.

I learned something about method in the way Bob Avakian (BA) approached this in the Q & A of his recent speech with an audience of people many of whom are trying to build refuse fascism. In one of his answers, he makes the point, “All tens of millions are not going to get involved right away, but thousands...the reason the formulation was used, ‘thousands going to millions,’ is not just the same people who are determined to keep things going but that everything they do becomes a lightning rod to draw the attention of broader people and the means are incorporated into it and that makes possible drawing new numbers of people in. So you get a dynamic...going where it does become like the Women's March... That's what needs to happen here in a very telescoped period of a few weeks between now and the 4th and then going forth on November 4th. We have to be down on the ground, dealing with the real world, but we also have to really think big and then connect the two. How do you take a vision and actually do things to work toward making it a reality.”

Getting that dynamic going, there is also a relationship between the broad publicity and saturation people in Refuse Fascism are doing to reach people who feel that normalization is deadly and who are looking for a way to impact the very bad direction the society is headed—and the importance of organizations becoming involved—and being able to reach a critical mass through these weeks so that people feel this is real, that it's happening and it's not just a handful who feel this way. There are literally millions of small and large organizations—among professionals, among students, among affected communities—to reach out to. They all count for something, and when people are hearing through publicity but also social media and their lists—what people may think is impossible comes into the realm of the possible.

So we’ve gone at this several ways: (1) Being at events that are called by the organized forces we are trying to reach, hearing the speeches and talking with the people you think would engage the urgent necessity to drive out the regime, making a mission of meeting the people leading this and others interested and talking with them on the spot initially and getting an appointment soon after to follow up. This is somewhat intuitive. (2) Brainstorming with people we do know and have talked with about who would be important to go meet with and having the person who knows the scene either come to the appointment, make the introduction themselves, or letting you use their name. (3) Walking into an office and asking the assistant to make an appointment for you.

Experience from the Past Week

Experience in the last week included:

(1) Meetings with people in the immigrants rights field—met at a theater event. This included an attempted fund-raising appointment that did not bear fruit, but established a cordial relationship. There was a meeting where people thought they could spread the word as individuals to like-minded people in the field. We got them the materials to do so.

(2) Attending meetings of environmental organizations.

(3) Attending an event being held by democratic progressives at a human rights forum in a progressive suburb. The questions had to be submitted in writing, and ours was last; the reader reduced it down to its essence, saying there’s a last question we don’t expect the panel to be able to answer: What do you think about getting rid of the whole regime? The audience broke into applause, and the panel politely laughed and avoided answering it. The panelists were not that open; they were pessimistic and focused on “what’s the mechanism?” “You do this and then what?” The organizer of the series who had campaigned hard for Hillary let us know their focus, like other Democrats, had been to do what the right had been doing for decades...start at the grassroots and elect people, but did agree that this was a crisis (implicit in this: is it practical to keep taking the same approach) and they did agree with the basic assessment we were making. He said he’d closely study the material, and we could get back to him.

(4) Attending an event at a local elite university and participating in the Q&A.

Getting Together with a Clergyman in the Sanctuary Movement

We also met with a clergyman with long time experience in working with immigrants in the Southwest and who also participated in Occupy. He has recently organized to broaden out the Sanctuary Movement beyond the churches, into the community. We called for an appointment and got one. I gave a brief pitch utilizing the trailer from the new BA film. And outlining who we are, why our name is what it is, the qualitative change in the situation, including going into some examples. I talked about Refuse Fascism and the breadth of people who feel as I do, and very specifically what we are calling for on November 4. I spoke to the vision and what could make a huge change in the situation—and the challenge of the resistance making this necessary turn to do anything meaningful. What it would mean to have the populace mobilized around this vs. paralyzed by looking to those at the top of society to change things? We can learn from the model of South Korea and why change has to come from below.

The pastor raised that they have been doing what they have been doing long before the election and that they see doing what they are doing no matter who is in office. At the same time, he really did agree with us in how qualitatively the situation has changed and expressed significant agreement with our assessment. He talked to us about how the religious community works and why people cannot for legal reasons take on specific political figures, but also agreed that there comes a time when you have to weigh that against morality and the purpose they exist for.

He had also been part of Occupy. He had a very specific understanding of how hard it is to start something and get it going: “No one wanted to support Occupy at first, and three weeks in they all wanted to be part of it.” He had a real appreciation for the vision of what we are trying to start here and agreement with the demand and in contrast to raising “what is the mechanism?” He said these are the same voices who told Occupy, “Your demands are not specific enough.” He agreed it’s not our job to tell them how to do it. It’s our job to create and ratchet up the opposition so that they have to find a solution. He said when you get this going, then the clergy can go have a religious service in the middle of a rotunda somewhere calling on the regime to step down. It’s best when they move as a church. He had very specific ideas of who had to be approached locally and nationally, and agreed to be connected with the Refuse Fascism national religious task force.

Talking with a Union Representative

From there, we drove to talk to a representative of a large union in the area. At the meeting they wanted to know who was behind it as they get red-baited on a regular basis. We made clear who had initiated Refuse Fascism and who is involved. There is the challenge being put to people in their position of “who is going to be first?” We then made a clear case for what the situation is and the only thing that can change it. This person thought this was a good conversation, and agreed in particular with the point on people being paralyzed and looking to the top where nothing is happening or the fact that no good is going to come without the people themselves moving. (We learned in another meeting with people in a similar union that they have very little faith in anything coming from the top of the Democratic Party or the political system. The key thing they do is mobilize people to fight for what they need—whoever is in office.)  The question of who can set the terms, of how to have the interests of the people reflected in the avenues we do have is an important concept to connect with people.

They like the idea that on November 4 something begins where people begin coming together to see their own power and what changes through that will be very important. There was discussion of a vision for a different future where we spoke to the breadth of visions on this having to be encompassed and the dialogue that has to be part of the whole experience—and to the future that is expressed in the slogan “In the Name of Humanity...” They are thinking a lot about both the environment and war. The big issue for many organizations that represent people with a range of different political positions is endorsement, because the are responsible for people who, like the whole country, are in a polarized political situation—but they also don’t think that polarization is necessarily a bad thing either. They were happy for the conversation, think this is very good, but they have to give this specific strategic thought. Even without endorsement, many unions and organizations can let the membership know.

Some Lessons from Our Experience

So from just a few weeks of experience, what lessons can you sum up?

You have to cover A LOT of territory.

Don’t make assumptions of what people think. Go in and find out and engage with people. Struggle where you need to, but don’t waste time if people can’t think out of the box. Find those who can.

Be prepared to get back to the people who were at first reluctant. People will change as you get something going and in response to attacks by the enemy and the movement taking that on.

Be part of the feel and flow of life—not just political life. Attending and participating in cultural events, panels, conferences and being able to participate and connect with people's concerns and bringing to people why there is a way out of this all are important ways to find and establish the connections we need to make.

Ask people to open doors even if they can’t be the first one to step out themselves (some people such as those serving refugees and immigrants really are under harsh scrutiny right now) and ask who can speak for them if they can’t. Many non-profits and NGOs have very strict legal restrictions and cannot participate as organizations, but the individuals in them can participate as private citizens.

Collaborate with people and find the ways for them to work together with you and organize themselves.

Find a way to reach the base of the naysayers. The more those closing the door at the leadership level to Refuse Fascism hear about it from their membership the less they can dismiss it. We WANT this to be debated in every organization and church as this goes forward.

Most importantly, proceed from the reality that this is the great and real necessity and we are giving people a real path out. The beginning is very heavy lifting, but it can open a flood gate of pent-up desire.

In this moment where even some Republicans are calling out what the Regime represents more than Democrats in office are—but who are also simply retiring as the GOP is consolidated as an instrument of fascism now controlling all three branches of government—remember what it would mean to have masses in their thousands open the door to masses in their hundreds of thousands to step through—and that only Refuse Fascism is willing to lead that.



Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.