Watching the Film of BA’s Talk at Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago

June 15, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editors’ note: In light of the current crisis around immigration, we want to urge our readers to spread and show the film of BA’s talk THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible. This account gives a glimmer of the important potential right now (even as the film showing occurred before the crisis had reached its current state).


From readers:

On Sunday, June 10, The Bob Avakian Institute and the Revolution Club of Chicago sponsored a showing of BA’s film THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible! This was held in conjunction with the two-day Printers Row Lit Fest where Revolution Books, the Revolution Club, and Refuse Fascism shared a booth. The Lit Fest is the largest book fair in the Midwest and draws thousands of readers and people looking for new ideas downtown to peruse the many booths and the dozens of author events. This was a crowd that needed to be introduced to BA, his new synthesis of communism, and the revolution he leads, and to be drawn to watch the film on the most urgent question facing humanity and the planet.

Just under 50 people attended the showing a block away from the Lit Fest. All day Saturday and Sunday until the showing at 2:30 pm, teams of people saturated the crowds at the Lit Fest with thousands of palm cards for the film in addition to advertising the film broadly throughout the city and on social media in the two previous weeks while spreading HOW WE CAN WIN, How We Can Really Make Revolution and building the movement for revolution.

Thirteen people, of various backgrounds came to the film showing from the Lit Fest. Most were from the Chicago metro area, but there were also people from Texas, Ohio, and one from Europe. None of these 13 people had heard of Bob Avakian or this film before that day. There was also a group from Refuse Fascism and people they had invited, and the Revolution Club and people who heard of it from them, and other individuals. What they had in common was a serious concern about the current situation and a desire to find out what Bob Avakian has to say about it.

It was a quiet crowd during the showing, but people were focused intently on the film. Everyone stayed for the hour-long discussion afterwards and were very thoughtful and serious. Many jumped into the discussion led by a leader of the Revolution Club. There was a sense of the gravity in the room and people were grappling together with the big questions confronting humanity.

The discussion opened with this question posed: Where did BA start in this film and why?

People brought up the lies about the history of this country, the genocide of Native Americans that started with first contact, and the fact that only white male property owners could vote. One person said the Founding Fathers “gave permission to enslave, rape, and trample on the rights of everybody else and this planted the seeds of bigotry that we see today.” Another person said BA starts there “because many people don’t think fascism could come to this country. They think that the Constitution would prevent fascism from getting in power in America, but if you look at the brutal history of this country of legalized slavery and Jim Crow and the hatred and bigotry you can see that it could.” A number of people spoke to various aspects of this, including the internment of the Japanese Americans in World War 2 and how this is going on again today with the dehumanization and terror against the immigrants on the border and tearing families apart. Others spoke to how genocide and slavery, patriarchy, and xenophobia continue right up to literally today with police brutality and murder of Black and Latino people and the persecution of LGBTQ people (most recently in the Supreme Court ruling*).

Early in the discussion, a woman who had come from Printers Row put on the table the importance of getting this film out: “A lot more people need to watch this. Can we show it ourselves? Where can we find it? How can we get this out to many more people?” When asked why she felt that way, she spoke from the heart: “It shook me up—it’s probably 100 percent true or close to it. It was very challenging, very thought provoking. I’ve been feeling I don’t know what to do. I have a fear of being complacent and I don’t want to fall into that. I’m a Christian, but I absolutely recognize this Christian fascism he talked about.”

A young woman student added: “The film is important because people need to see the extent of what’s going on. A lot of people are complacent. They think America can’t be that bad. They don’t realize what’s happening and that it can have very dramatic effects that they are not thinking about.” She asked: “What do we do about the racist and bigoted people and the Christian fascists who pass on their beliefs to their children?”

A Refuse Fascism supporter spoke to this question about Christian fascists and Trump supporters: “Climate change is real, if humanity doesn’t get its shit together we are doomed. The Christian fascists’ answer to all this is ruthless cruelty—walling off the privileged from the ‘hordes.’ The liberal politics of Hillary and Obama cannot deal with that. There is a basis to speak to people, we do share a planet. When people think of fascism, they think of death camps in Nazi Germany. But this country and its crimes give enough reason for people to be freaking out. I read a book about Jim Crow called Slavery by Another Name where Black people were re-enslaved by ‘legal means.’ The history of THIS country is a reason to be freaking out.”

There was some contentious debate among people who had a sense of some of the crimes of this system, about whether the Constitution allows fascism to come to power here, and also over whether there needs to be more emphasis on voting in the 2018 elections as a way to stop it. Some said: “Not all Democrats are bad,” and the discussion went back to what is BA saying about the nature of this country and the point he makes about how it would be terrible if 10 people voted for Trump, but there were millions. One woman argued that both Dems and Republicans are not for the people, but “people power” could elect people on a local level to counteract this.

The leader from the Revolution Club exposed the actual role of the Democrats and the “Blue Wave” and how they are trying to channel the people who hate this regime to collaborate with it: “The Dems say they have to be more like Trump, appeal to his base. They are now giving Trump advice about how to inch closer to war with North Korea. This is aimed at derailing people from opposing this dangerous regime and winning them to join in on the side of ugly American chauvinism. If millions do not break with American chauvinism and take up the orientation of Refuse Fascism of massive, sustained, nonviolent struggle IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY until the whole regime is gone, any impeachment or whatever moves will not be on the terms that are good for humanity.”

A young man said: “A lot of people don’t know what’s going on and even if they don’t like it, the system pumps at people through the media and social media the message ‘We’re doing this to keep you safe, to protect you.’” He said people are not asking “What can I do?” to change things: “They have no sense of empowerment, they don’t think they can do anything to change anything. BA is promoting ‘yes, you CAN make a difference.’ We have to keep pushing that.”

The discussion leader posed the necessity for people to face the actual reality and how dangerous it is. He challenged them to get out of their comfort zone and look to the deeper roots of the problem and then act on that: “We have to go out and change people’s thinking. In the ’60s a handful of people went out and acted on what was true—changed a lot of people’s thinking, including a lot of white people changed.”

There was some important back and forth about BA’s method of looking at the current situation without sugarcoating it, and how he traces the actual foundation and development of this American fascism. One person criticized BA for being too negative—going into all this history of suffering and oppression: “There is almost enough in the film to make us all give up.” The discussion leader addressed BA’s method and approach of always going for the truth, no matter how painful: “BA doesn’t give people pie in the sky. But he does give hope. He analyzes the problem and he puts forward the solution. There are millions of people agonizing over this and want to see a better world for all of humanity. He shows that we do not and cannot just accept that this system is all there is. He’s showing the horror, yes, but he’s also showing what’s the way through it, and how something good can come out of this. He has authored a Constitution for a New Socialist Republic in North America, a blueprint for a radically better society and world. And we have to have our eyes on a better world. We revolutionaries are preparing every day for the revolution that is needed to end this nightmare for humanity. But none of us should close our eyes to today’s world and this fascist nightmare we are confronted with. It starts with us, every person in this room.”

A person from Refuse Fascism said that “I don’t buy into everything BA says or embrace a revolutionary change in society—although I do agree that the crimes of capitalism are very extensive and corrupt—but I do agree with the conclusion BA came to at the end, that we all have to come together to take on this global threat. We have to combine against them and fight this.”

A number of people filled out the evaluation forms after the program, and many said what stood out to them about BA’s talk and the program was the importance of knowing this ugly American history and American chauvinism and its relation to how fascism has developed in America, on the foundation that goes back to the beginning of this country. One woman said it was an eye-opener and a challenge “that the word revolution is being used.”

A number of people said they wanted to be part of spreading the word about this film and/or organizing a showing and also find out more about Bob Avakian and the revolution he is leading. Others volunteered for Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club.

* See “U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in the Colorado Cake Shop Case Is a Major Step in Embedding Anti-LGBTQ Bigotry into Law.” [back]



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