Watching and Getting Into the BA Film with People Active with Refuse Fascism

April 9, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

We wanted to share some comments and reactions of different people active with Refuse Fascism who watched the film of the talk by BA and/or the Q&As and the trailer:

“There needs to be a transformation in people’s thinking…”

A Jewish woman in her 60s, a very spiritual, progressive-radical feminist and a member of NOW:

She grapples with her own responsibility and role in bettering the world, in the face of a real disgust, and bitterness, at the oppression of women and more broadly, including environmentally. During the course of a meeting we watched BA’s Q&As on “minorities have been in not a very favorable situation...” (Part 2) and also “If successful in driving out...” (Part 1).

Off of watching these excerpts, she began by asserting her certitude that Trump/Pence are “fascist and illegitimate,” as she put it. On the issue of the attacks on immigrants, she had been paying close attention, commenting that “I know people are being scooped up, in front of schools, in the Central Valley....” And she openly wrestled with the sacrifice that is being called for in the talk.

She said that BA “is right, his analysis is pretty much on target.” “The GTF, I agree with it” (she’d remembered that as she’d seen the film at a previous showing). She later said, it is true, “people are being raped and exploited.” And then a theme in her thinking during the discussion: “I have to do something about that... but is there enough of me to do it? He is talking about necessity, transformation, and the stakes for oneself.” “Part of me feels like I have already sacrificed; I never had a marriage, 2.65 kids, a two-car garage, a $700,000 home, and a reversible mortgage... I’ve run out of love, loyalty and there is a part of me that I think is blameless.”

We put forward there is a place where knowing the truth about something and being a moral human being meet and issues of “order, even fascist order, versus justice.” She said that she does understand “humanity is fraying.” She said people like “the coffee, the chocolate and honey...”—they like this world. We talked about what it would take to break through with millions to drive out this fascist regime. She dug into the challenges we face with people, this “comfort zone” that millions who despise Trump don’t spontaneously want or feel the necessity to rupture out of yet, and she agreed with BA’s remarks on the GTF in relationship to this.

She reiterated that she wants to do her share, but raised she felt like “revolution is impossible to do without violence.” It became clear she was confounding driving out the Trump/Pence regime with revolution. So, off of this we watched the BA Q&A segment on “If successful ... who will step in to take the reins?” which deeply tackles these issues. We were able to discuss the difference between the two, and also explore BA’s insight about even if Trump/Pence is driven out and there isn’t a revolution, there is the importance of the masses in their millions having done that and having the initiative.

This opened up a conversation about a better world. She said, “It is very hard to be scientific” when it comes to applying science to society and people. She brought forward some of her Eastern philosophy in the context of this discussion. Maybe most importantly, she said she thought that “just as important as food, clothing, and shelter” are questions of art, poetry, and beauty, which I agreed with. At the same time, her reasoning for thinking society is this way has to do with men being in charge and “the mayhem that results.” She laid out a vision of uprooting women’s oppression that was rooted in “women getting paid and being in an equal place.” We have encouraged her to read the Break ALL the Chains! compendium of BA’s writing on this crucial question. At the end of this meeting, along with the new call and new plan for Refuse Fascism, we gave her a copy of the interview with Ardea Skybreak, Science and Revolution.

She said that in watching the film, and fighting to drive out the regime, there can be and needs to be “a transformation in people’s thinking” and made clear she felt “the jackboots are coming” and committed to taking up Refuse Fascism’s new call and upcoming plans.


“The opioid of entrepreneurialism…”

Someone who was inspired as a teenager in Colorado by the Black Panther Party, the struggle of Black people in the U.S., and the antiwar movement as well as environmentalism in the ’80s, working in the local school district doing construction

We watched the BA Q&A on minorities... and some of the promotional segments, the trailer.

After watching the clip from the BA film on the direct line from the Confederacy to these fascists, he said that the civil rights struggle had been “pushed down” by the Southern Strategy and said that this whole line of “you can make it in society—you just need to be an entrepreneur” was horrible because “then that becomes the goal and nothing changes” and that down to today Black people continue to be murdered by police. He called the “entrepreneurial” thing “an opioid,” said hip hop is Black culture and there can be an entrepreneur trend in that, but they’ll never suppress it totally, and isn’t it telling that the powers “call for Black people to be entrepreneurs but then there is Alton Sterling selling his CDs and he is murdered by police.”

Taking off from BA’s discussion of driving out the regime requiring sacrifice... he said, “Risk is a question... this does call for sacrifice—people feel outnumbered and outgunned... but one way to approach this is to never forget the people who have made sacrifices, people who have had a profound effect on people, including the Black Panther Party, as well as MLK and Stokely.”

With regard to the film, he said BA is saying step out of your comfort zone... the Doomsday Clock is at one minute to midnight, everybody needs to be involved.


Understanding “why people are afraid…”

A 50-year-old Chicana nurse who joined with Refuse Fascism after Charlottesville but stepped back after November 4—while life got in the way, she was very frustrated with the turn out for November 4

Most of the meeting was spent watching BA film—the trailer, some segments, and the Q&A on minorities have not been in a favorable situation, plus how is it possible to maintain a movement of that scale for a long period of time? So, we only had a short period of time to talk, as we kept on with watching it as she said “keep going.”

One response had to do with what she called her own “lack of patience.” She said BA is “very good at explaining WHY we want to do what we need to do.” She emphasized there needs to be broad work “amongst different classes.”

She was outraged by the attacks on the immigrants. “We can’t let them make these laws on them, and then follow them up with laws on others and then laws for all of us. I won’t be a nurse for the immigration authorities.” She talked about how her city is being challenged as a sanctuary city—“This is Los Angeles, LA County; I refuse to be a nurse in Nazi Germany or work with any doctors who do that.”

She spit out “America First” and said her biggest fear is ICE sweeps. I told her that is real and already happening, but also raised to her there is a threat of nuclear war. She said yes and said, “If the U.S. attacks [North] Korea, how many would die? It is about whose lives matter. The president, the VP, the Congress... they’ll survive but what about everyone else? Right now police are killing more Black people. I was reading about a youth saying, ‘I was always told I would not live past 18.’ This is fucked up if that is the norm! But then another Black man is killed by the police. Whose lives matter? In the Name of Humanity, We Refuse To Accept a Fascist America—that goes beyond borders... In the Name of Humanity, that is what we are here for.”

She explained there isn’t health care in the rural areas, not clean water or health care, but they bulldoze the Earth. She reiterated that it is outrageous that “immigrants are scapegoats and can’t defend themselves.” “The wall... what the fuck... that gets to the future to come....”

She said the film helped her to understand “why people are afraid.” “Even under slavery people wouldn’t necessarily join [the Underground Railroad]. Today people may say ‘I agree Trump/Pence should go,’ but they are afraid to get involved ... and then the Democrats....”

She talked about Pelosi and Schumer, and we had a brief but important back-and-forth on the objective role of the Democratic Party leadership. We briefly got into this, and it was part of her grasping what was in that segment we watched and underscored the principal challenge we confront.


Is the U.S. a Force For Good?

A Black 84-year-old woman prominent in an AME church who has seen the film within the past several weeks

Her comments, though she said that it would take more thinking and maybe seeing it again, were, “It’s all so very real and true.... I can’t say anything particularly stood out to me... it’s obvious, but it is amazing that people aren’t talking about the need for Trump and Pence to go.”

She said BA “was right-on with it.” She got more deeply into the concept that the U.S. is a force for good in the world. She said, “If it is a force for good [and said initially that she thought there was that side, potentially]... but there are things quite the opposite: wars, being on the wrong side of things... the U.S. has committed real atrocities... most know about it, but they don’t think about it—it hasn’t always been a force for good.”

She recalled that she’d seen a PBS show recently about the civil rights movement. And described the brutality, the water hoses....

She also said that President Johnson said “this is hurting us abroad in other countries.” We spoke about how Johnson didn’t say that the oppression of Black people was a horror and needed to be stopped and be over; no, he was concerned about the U.S. and how it looked in the world. We got into how this oppression does have to stop and she said “this has to stop.”

We also discussed there is something to learn from this, and I was driving her to the new Refuse Fascism Call to Action in this regard, including the section in it on what the struggle of tens of thousands can accomplish, including where it says this struggle will shake millions awake and “the international credibility of the regime will be undermined” and can be one of the dimensions that leads to a serious crisis in government and society. We also talked about what she saw on PBS, and what was in the BA talk about this long history of oppression—that it was, in her words, “being summoned up by Donald Trump—these are the demons he is summoning...” in relation to white lynch-mob-ism.

We had an important back-and-forth on two issues: what is holding people back (the widespread disgust and hatred, yet still people go about their lives essentially) and the role of the Democratic Party. She was saying “it’s unbelievable,” but we got into how we are not “baffled” by this, we have a working knowledge of the terrain that we have to change with this work and the difference between just waiting for November to vote and protesting in the streets. She said that the “Democrats follow the system... OK vote... but it is ‘deeper and more urgent’” and reiterated that there is so much damage already done.


Risks, Sacrifice and Decisions

An Episcopal pastor

He told us that he was supportive of what Refuse Fascism is doing. He said that he himself had been active with the struggle against the School of the Americas. During the meeting there was a time where he said: “Wait, hold on a second, if Refuse Fascism comes here, it could put the church in a spotlight and make things more difficult for our undocumented parishioners.”

We pulled out the BA film right then, and answered his question that way, showing him the Q&A on minorities. This was the best answer we could possibly give―a real, comprehensive, and challenging answer, including about risks and sacrifices, and about what it is going to take to drive out this regime (and different levels on this question of the undocumented). The pastor watched carefully.

There is more to learn about what the pastor thought, but it was off of this that he made a firm decision to host Refuse Fascism at the church and to promote RF as a group that should have an office at the church.

His decision could have been different, but as I shared this experience with others, I really felt we could not lose: if they said No!, everything was honestly on the table and put forth and we’d made our best argument by showing the clip from BA and opened up the conversation and struggle over what humanity is confronting; and if they said Yes!, we had made a more solid ideological foundation from which to work with the church and its leadership.


“What’s it going to take for people in the room to take up Refuse Fascism?”

From a reader:

We showed the film recently at a small discussion group. It was a very diverse group; the coordinator, four other older activists who are part of the group, a young Black man who recently graduated from an area university and is also in the group, a couple of Central American immigrants and the coordinator’s son.

The overall hit of the group to the Talk was very positive. It’s anecdotal but a number of people commented appreciatively when Bob Avakian (BA) broke down how the U.S. Constitution legalized rape—or laughed during the examples BA gave of the GTF (Great Tautological Fallacy). At the same time, there were others who had never thought about this contradiction in this particular way.

The first question that jumped out after the Talk was around the point BA makes about the ability of the regime to absorb all the acts of resistance and a frustration—especially on the part of older activists—about the inability to break out of the confines of the Democratic Party politics and the normalization of this regime. The March for Our Lives was still fresh in people’s minds and, in a large nearby city, it seems that a Democratic congressman had been one of the featured speakers where there is all this support expressed for the kids and then everyone is told that once they get the Republicans out of control in the Congress, we can get real gun legislation. The leader gave another example of a local group that had come together around defense of the undocumented, had started out initiating some very important measures including emergency hotlines to organize people to prevent ICE from arresting people, but how it had quickly devolved into a vehicle for promoting “progressive” Democratic Party candidates and local resolutions.

It was a challenge that, while there was this clear anger at the Democratic Party’s collusion with the regime, directed at individual Dems, some of the very same people raising this wanted to take the discussion right back into reformist democratic politics—following the right’s lead by trying to build a grassroots movement to take over school boards, etc.

At the same time, some of the older activists tended to veer away from the content of the Talk into a more general political discussion, so I had to redirect the conversation back to the Talk on a couple of occasions—and in this instance back to how BA parsed out the ability of the regime to “absorb” individual acts of resistance. I pointed to the war the regime had unleashed against California—unleashing ICE, having the Justice Department file suit against the state, unleashing this massive negative media campaign. And I used the analogy of people totally engaged in local organizing as being like someone putting storm shutters on their beach homes as a tsunami rolled in. The shutters might work for a normal storm—even a low-grade hurricane but not a tsunami—going back to the point that there are lots of people attempting to act on different social issues but that none of it will amount to anything if we are not able to prevent this regime from consolidating power.

The young Black guy, “M,” broke into this at some point and posed that, while he thought the efforts of some groups, including developing an “underground railroad,” were laudable, the Talk was actually arguing for a different approach to organizing against the regime. He continued that we had to understand that we were going up against the most powerful military in the world and that this regime was increasingly wielding this military against the people, whether through ICE or other armed enforcers. So he didn’t think that trying to direct discussion into how to take over local grass-root initiatives was productive. “This is a national problem. The response has to have a national character to it.” He also wanted to circle back to a couple of points in the Talk that he thought were important. The first was BA’s analysis of liberals and the “GTF” (and the point BA makes about how a lot of these folks are gambling that if they sit tight, nothing will happen to them or their loved ones); the other, BA’s call at the end for reaching out broadly but from the perspective of doing so firmly rooted in his communist outlook.

I will come back to the first point, but on the second, M said he thought that left groups and progressives were more interested in fighting among themselves than against the enemy. He said that he had reservations about BA coming into the screening, but that the Talk had challenged some of his preconceived ideas. He said that he was getting a much different vibe in the Talk and it was very important to dig more into this particular question of what BA means to unite broadly.

One of the older activists, “E,” expressed agreement with M and said that what he saw BA doing in the speech was akin to what should have been happening in Germany in 1933-34; a “United Front.”

In the context of this discussion, I wasn’t able to dig as deeply into this contradiction as I wanted to, and I am not sure where everyone was coming from. I think there was some thinking that what we were talking about in reaching out broadly was “uniting the left.” At one point, M said he thought the apparent resurgence of the DSA [Democratic Socialists of America] was another positive indicator because he saw the DSA as a “non-denominational” group that anyone could join, including someone in the RCP. I raised our experience in going out to everyone from faith leaders to union reps to local city and state representatives, as well as activists in “Our Revolution” and Indivisible to struggle for coming together to demand the “Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” as well as the “March for Our Lives.”

On the question of (white) liberals, M mainly expressed his frustration—that you could mobilize them to come out for a day around “gun violence in schools” but have the police shoot a Black person or have someone next door arrested by ICE and these liberals wouldn’t lift a finger.

“What’s it going to take for people in the room to take up RF?” When we posed this question, the responses were the two big “hows”—how do we mobilize millions of people into the street around this core demand and how would this lead to getting rid of the regime? We talked about how we waded into the March 24 demonstrations, the basic orientation of RF—standing with the youth but also challenging them to join in taking responsibility for the violence this system and this regime visits upon the people in so many different ways, contesting the dominant position of “voting” and that one of the main ways we tried to “intervene” was through broad promotion of the Talk.

There was back and forth over how the horrors of the regime have been “normalized” but, at the same time, how this system continues to drive people into political life (look at how Parkland had brought youths out into the streets) and what RF needed to do was both continue to project itself out into society, while also being prepared to move at a moment’s notice in response to the unfolding horrors of the system.

The installation of the Trump/Pence war cabinet weighed heavy on the minds of everyone there but especially the older activists, who both know something about Bolton, Pompeo and Haskel, as well as how this government had used initiating and engaging in war as a critical tool in suppression of domestic resistance and are a little freaked by the possibilities that Bolton will push Trump into resolving the Korea/Iran issues by pre-emptive strikes that will also allow them to go openly after the resistance.

At the end, “Eu,” one of the older activists, asked what should they be doing? The takeaway was: read, endorse, contribute to and circulate the Call, start following the RF website and, even if you don’t form an RF chapter, start taking up calls like RF’s Call for March 1 actions in support of the undocumented, and go to to watch the entire talk and Q&As, as well as to learn more about the movement for revolution, the American Crime series. Circulate this Talk and communicate your questions, thoughts, disagreements, and suggestions.



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