Defending Revolution Books, Taking the Streets, Repolarizing and Putting BA on the Map



From a member of the National Revolution Tour

When I heard that fascists had again made threats against Revolution Books in Berkeley, I jumped at the opportunity to help rally defense for the bookstore on both social media and on the ground. Myself and a couple others from the Revolution Club LA drove up to Berkeley to help with this effort.

The night before the fascists were due to march, we got together with members of the Revolution Club and the staff and several supporters of the bookstore. We framed our discussion with the trailer for the film by Bob Avakian, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible. The trailer we watched, and especially the film as a whole, deeply and scientifically assesses the horrific reality that we find ourselves in: a fascist regime at the head of government in the world’s largest nuclear superpower, determined to carry out a program of ethnic cleansing and “Making America White Again,” helming the repressive machinery of the state and unleashing groups of fanatical thugs to quash dissent, intimidate and silence whole sections of the people. The leader of the meeting also highlighted why the fascists are targeting Berkeley, as they have been in a concentrated way since 2017, as part of the overall assault on academia, dissent, and critical thinking that has been actively worked on since the 1990s at least.

This meeting was very rich, and especially the newer Club members and new people around the Revolution Club expressed a great desire to actually politically beat back this assault. There was also a great sense of the stakes and how heavy this situation actually was. There were rumors that the main figure around the fascist march had contacted militia groups from Arizona, and there was a chance that some of the more violent white supremacists would show their ugly faces.

On the morning of the rally, an antifascist presence of many dozens manifested at People’s Park, from the start being surrounded by dozens of pigs. After rallying and hearing speakers for about 45 minutes, a militant march took to the streets, with contingents of Revolution Club members and Refuse Fascism activists among them bringing a scientific political line into the resistance and strengthening it. The resistance in the streets brought together a large range of forces, from among progressives and “the left,” including many anarchists, Greens, social-democrats, reformists, and “socialist” groupings, but also broader, non-organized individuals.

As the march approached Sproul Plaza on UC Berkeley campus some time before the fascists appeared, a member of the Revolution Club gave a speech saluting the “brave fighters” who came out to oppose the fascists, and urged everyone to get down with the Revolution. It was at this point that we were surrounded on all sides by riot pigs. This scene reminded me of when Milo Yiannopoulos came to a campus down in Southern California about two years ago, and I had gone there to protest him, meeting the Revolution Club and Refuse Fascism for the first time. At that time the whole campus had been turned into a police state, and from what I recall reading the same thing had happened at Cal, too.

At this point the antifascist march came up to the bookstore, with some of us splitting off to be a part of the press conference within the store, and others continuing to stay with the march as they returned to Sproul in time to confront the fascists. Their pathetic turnout ended up peaking around 10-15, while they mostly just walked around the Plaza displaying their ugly Amerikkkan rags and pro-Trump signs. It was a fitting self-exposure. We found out later that students at Cal were discouraged from coming down to the site of the protest, but many, including students from a nearby High School, came out anyways to see what was going on.

At the press conference it was a packed house in Revolution Books, and many authors and other prominent voices lent their support for the bookstore and stood firmly against the fascist threats. Rafael Kadaris, a member of the National Revolution Tour, brought forward what is at the core of the bookstore: revolution and the New Communism developed by Bob Avakian (BA). “When these ‘No to Marxism’ people accuse Revolution Books of being anti-American communists organizing a revolution to overthrow the system,” we say, “Hell yes, we are!”

At the end of the event, we heard a commotion coming from outside the store. The antifascist demonstrators had returned, and we were informed that a handful of fascists were going to attempt to get to the bookstore.

When we got out into the light of day, we were surrounded by allies and antifascists chanting “No pasarán!” and this only intensified as the fascists themselves, now numbering only three or four, and the confrontation once again took to the streets. One of the fascists, a fool who calls himself a “Latino for Trump” and carried around a mini paper Amerikkan rag, repeatedly snarled, “Muerte al communismo!,” as members of the Revolution Club led others to chant, “When Revolution Books is under attack / What do we do? Stand up fight back!

In terms of bringing out the solid core of what the bookstore is about, Bob Avakian and the breakthrough he has brought forward with the New Communism, we brought out signs with some key BA quotes on them. One sign read: “Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First” (BAsics 5:8) and another read “There is a direct line from the Confederacy to the fascists of today.” We felt that these signs both expressed communist internationalism in stark contrast to the fascists’ nationalism and Amerikkkan chauvinism, and introduced people in the protest and beyond to this revolutionary leader who they may have never heard of straight up through some of the content of his works.

The defiant mood of the demonstrators didn’t recede, but intensified when the fascist were ran off, and we took to the streets yet again, marching back up to Sproul in pursuit under heavy threat of repression from the pigs. The crowd’s righteous anger was expressed in chants and impromptu speak-outs against the Berkeley pigs for protecting the fascists and being armed with tear gas launchers. The tense situation did not lead to any arrests or brutality this time, but it was certainly hanging over us and all those who dared to speak up in this way. After the final fascist was ran off from Sproul Plaza, the scene started to die down, but members of the Revolution Club remained to thrash out some big political questions with some students who were watching all this unfold.

It was clear from the moment this march was announced, and abundantly clear from their actions, that the small faction of fascists who came out deliberately singled out Revolution Books and the movement for revolution guided by Bob Avakian’s New Communism in particular because of what it represents and as part of smashing all radical thought and even mainstream dissent to the brutal fascist order being hammered into place. This showed the basis for uniting people very broadly in defense of the bookstore, and in important ways both the demonstration and press conference prefigured the kind of protests and resistance that is needed in the immediate period to oust the fascist regime in power, headed by Trump and Pence.

Looking down the road, with the upcoming Climate Strikes and marches on Washington planned for this month (September), we don’t know what exactly will grow out of all this, with all of the different forces on the scene. But the potential is tremendous for something positive to be wrenched out of all this, and we must do everything in our power to prevent the otherwise certain horrors that are coming down the pipeline. We can do this, especially if we proceed from the orientation that Bob Avakian put forward in the Trump/Pence Must Go talk referenced above, which has been reprinted as an excerpt on revcom as “A Critical Challenge, an Urgent Appeal”:

[W]hether we consider ourselves revolutionaries, convinced of the need for a radical overturning of the system and thorough transformation of society, or we believe that it is possible to bring about changes that will lead to a more just society within this system; whether our understanding is that America is not, and cannot be, a force for good in the world, or we hope it still can become that—all of us need to come together, and act together, with the urgency that corresponds to the terrible present and the gravely imperiled future that this fascist regime represents for humanity, and with the conviction that something far better is necessary and possible.

Now More Than Ever!

A regime that could destroy civilization.
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After the press conference, there was a commotion outside of the bookstore as the fascists tried to march toward the store. Bookstore supporters and anti-fascists linked arms in front of the store.

Livestream from Revolution Books, Berkeley, September 1


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