Disturbing the Air … Collective Wrangling with the Problems of the Revolution … Getting Organized

| revcom.us


From members of the Revolution Club, LA on the first few days on a couple junior colleges

As schools are opening, the Revolution Club in LA is working on organizing a campus tour of the defendants and Revolution Club members in the Freeway9 and UCLA5 cases: “Why we are on trial for disrupting business-as-usual to stop fascism. Why you should defend us, and why you should join the fight for the future.

The Freeway9 and UCLA5 are members of Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club who were arrested for being part of protests aimed at sounding the alarm about the danger of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, aiming to call people into the streets in their millions in mass, sustained, non-violent protest to drive this regime from power—blocking traffic on the 101 Freeway in rush hour morning traffic in the Fall of 2017 and disrupting Steve Mnuchin’s speech at UCLA in the Fall of 2018. Read more about their cases here.

The Revolution Club campus speaking tour will be organizing people into the revolution and the struggle to drive this regime from power, stepping off from the two slogans of the National Revolution Tour:

You Think You’re Woke ... But You’re Sleepwalking Through A Nightmare—

This System Cannot Be Reformed, It Must Be Overthrown!

The Republican Party Is Fascist. The Democratic Party Is Also a Machine of Massive War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. We Need an Actual Revolution!

The plan is to bring forward students to take this up themselves and bring us onto their campus for events big and small. We see this as a way to tie together the legal cases and the goals of the National Revolution Tour: to organize thousands into the ranks of the revolution over the next year and making Bob Avakian and the new communism known and engaged throughout society.

When we’ve gone onto campuses, we’ve marched in chanting, doing agitation to gather a crowd and putting straight to people the reality we face: that we are the Revolution Club, organizing for an ACTUAL Revolution, to overthrow this system which has given rise to the fascist Trump/Pence regime. This regime is bringing a nightmare down on people, with 80,000 immigrants in concentrations camps, white supremacists massacres in the streets, open white supremacy in the White House, pouring gasoline on an already burning planet ... and people are sitting on their asses doing nothing ... all worried about me, me, me and not thinking about humanity. People are NOT in the streets in the ways we need to be. Why is this and what are we going to do about it? This was something we further developed as we went, but this is the basics that people bounced off of. We also mass distributed the special issue of Revolution with the 5 STOPS, the 2 Choices we face, and the 6 Points of Attention of the Revolution Club and this was woven into our discussion.

After we got people’s attention, we would work to gather people to talk about this problem collectively. Fighting through on these group discussions was key, and we learned a lot.

People Wrestling with the Problems Together

Day 1 at a Trade College

Early on, we had a growing circle of about 6 to 10 people. One person posed how do we even know that all this is actually happening, like the mass shootings, what if that is a hoax? With all the news media not being objective? One woman responded that way of thinking is a real problem, and is a product of social media—that people don’t read books anymore, they don’t do their own research anymore, everything they see is just virtual and they don’t look for themselves to really figure out what’s true. Another woman responded, agreeing with the criticism of social media, saying it’s like you’re going through your feed, you see something really horrible that happened but you don’t even let that sit with you, you’re just onto the next thing, liking your friend’s vacation picture. People also talked critically about how selfish people are, the need for people to be about more than themselves.

Here, we also had some discussion on what we need to do about this … we laid out that we are organizing for revolution, they need to be part of this revolution and key to making revolution right now is uniting broadly to drive this regime from power … and we said briefly what that has to mean—millions in the streets in sustained, non-violent mass protest. Here, having an enlarged picture of the protest in Puerto Rico really made a difference. This is not something that people easily imagine so it was good to point to it. No one in that crew thought we should wait until 2020. One woman suggested we boycott all the fast food restaurants that support Trump. Someone else responded, that might be ok, but that doesn’t enough get to their whole thing—like where all their money comes from. Everyone felt strongly we had to figure out how to make people more aware of what’s happening, and to make people feel more how it’s affecting people.

In this discussion, someone else joined in and said Trump is messed up, but this has been happening in America, it’s not just about Trump but the whole thing. We brought in one of the slogans of the National Revolution Tour: The Republican Party Is Fascist, The Democratic Party Is Also a Massive Machine of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. This System Can’t Be Reformed, It Must Be Overthrown! People didn’t mainly speak to this except to say they didn’t like the Democrats either, and one woman criticized all the politicians as being out for themselves. After raising that he thought Trump was no different, and this has always been the same, we showed this one guy the palm card with the definition of fascism from revcom.us and he read it, quite seriously. We showed him the 5 Stops and talked about these outrages being woven into this system, and intensifying under the Trump/Pence fascist regime. When we talked about the difference between a slow genocide against Black and Brown people vs. a fast one, he kind of paused and went, “Oh, I get that.”

Another deep insight from a student that day was a point about how this regime has “weaponized identity politics.” This was from a more politicized student who pays attention to different political voices on YouTube. He meant this in two senses: first, that the more progressive people are all stuck into their different identity groups, letting themselves be picked off and not coming together … meanwhile, the fascists are ridiculing all that shit while using white identity politics to organize. He was saying he was sick of all that, and that we had to come together to recognize the deeper problem in capitalism. We talked about the actual strategy for revolution developed by BA and the scientific breakthroughs in the new communism. He’s familiar with BA, having watched some videos on YouTube, but didn’t know about the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America or the new speech, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.

Group Debate About the American Dream

Day 2 at a City College

On the second day, we started off in the school cafeteria during lunchtime where there were about 300 students. We got on a chair and did loud agitation (basically what’s characterized above) which got a huge applause in the cafeteria and people coming from the other end of the cafeteria to talk to us. From this, we were able to pull together a crowd of four to five people. One woman ended her phone call with a loved one to come talk to us, another guy who observed people in the cafeteria going back to their business felt compelled to come from the other side of the cafeteria to get into these questions with us because he was pissed at their complacency. Another guy was more conservative but wanted to talk.

This discussion was very deep with people grappling about the situation in the world, what is happening to the people at the border, WHY they are coming across the border and risking everything to flee their country. People talked about the foundation of this country in exploitation and oppression and how we got to this point where there is now a fascist in the White House. And we got into what we are going to do to change all of this.

People in the discussion were led to respond to each other. The conservative guy was trying to set terms but people were taking his shit on, with a lot of substance and certitude! At one point, he was talking about the “American Dream” and why people who come to seek it don’t go through the “proper process” of requesting a visitor’s visa etc. One young woman in the discussion rightly said, “Let’s talk about this ‘American Dream.’ Does it even exist? If so, for who? For people who look like me and you (meaning, white people). Anyway, people aren’t here pursuing this so-called ‘American dream,’ people are escaping terror, death, starvation. These people don’t come here on a vacation for the fuck of it!”

We brought this discussion back to the 5 Stops, and posed how can we actually put an end to all of this, in the interests of all humanity? People had a hard time seeing how you could actually end all this but wanted to know more when we talked about revolution, the fact that there is a strategy and leadership for revolution in Bob Avakian.

After this discussion, we went to a spot outdoors and agitated again. At one point, we called on students to respond by yelling, “Fuck Trump.” At first only a couple did, but we persevered and soon lots of students were responding. When we put out the rest of our challenge, about 30 people came to join the discussion—which we had a hard time cohering. What was important in this was people actually wrangling with what is and isn’t happening, and how do we transform that—with revolution vs. reform in the forefront of that. There were a few young women from Sweden who were comparing the inactivity of people in the U.S. which is very different than their home country. They were recognizing this as a problem they wanted to be part of solving.

Collective Engagement with Bob Avakian

Day 3: Back to the Trade School

On the third day we took this whole approach even further. First, we had a scheduled appointment that same day that we were telling people to come to. Second, we brought a computer and speaker so we could play BA clips in the midst of, and to kick off, this process. This was important—to put BA to people in this more mass way and to enter into the larger discussion.

Right away we drew a crowd of about eight young women, where we said who we are and posed this same basic challenge. People said we’re not acting because of fear, because of selfishness, because we’re all distracted by social media and because we aren’t putting ourselves in other people’s shoes.

One young woman said her sister is undocumented and now she can’t even get health care because Trump is saying you’ll lose the ability to get citizenship. She said her sister is terrified but you have to be one of those people to experience that, and everyone else can ignore that.

Another young woman said she’s a citizen but a lot of her family is undocumented, and it’s like you just get used to the terror. For years, she’s been living with the terror that she’s going to come home and her mom, or aunt or cousin is going to be gone. And the whole family’s been living like that for a long time—desperately trying to stay under the radar and hope it doesn’t happen.

Speaking to this fear, a young woman said she’s undocumented and that her dad is terrified for her. She said her dad tells her to wear foundation to make her skin look lighter so she can pass for white. She powerfully rebuked this, saying, “I refuse to be so scared all the time because this is how they control you! I have to fight for what’s right.”

This set different terms for everyone. We asked people to respond and others assented, “Yeah, that’s really right.” Or, “I want to be like that too. That’s inspiring.” We played the “Order or Justice?“ clip from BA and asked people to respond to that. The younger defiant woman said, “Yes! I’m going for justice!” Again, others agreed with her.

Another young woman asked what fascism is. Someone responded with a good, and frankly little understood, explanation: she said it’s a different way to rule, where they just get rid of all your rights, your free speech, and go after groups of people. She referenced Hitler and what he did.

We kept bringing it back to what they heard from BA: are you going to choose “the order of fascism with everything that means,” or “justice—even if that means stepping outside our comfort zone and putting ourselves on the line to prevent this fascism from consolidating its rule and fully implementing its program.” People responded in different ways, including that this meant fighting for what’s true, even if other people don’t agree. That you have to be willing to stand out and be different. People also responded that you can’t just be about yourself, but have to risk yourself. A number of people critiqued the widespread selfishness, and interestingly tied that into how consumed people are with social media. Here we also pointed to the Points of Attention for the Revolution.

We talked about the Freeway9 and UCLA5 cases and bringing the defendants to campus. People said we never get to have these kinds of discussions and it really matters if we’re going to act. Also, we challenged people to join the Revolution Club and a couple people wanted to know if this was something on campus, or something they should start on campus.

After this discussion was over, one young woman stayed behind to tell us an idea. She said that with these new laws, Trump is taking away food stamps from undocumented immigrants. So what if we had a hunger strike at school—that would get a lot of attention. We agreed with this and said we should talk and figure out how to make that kind of thing really mass.

We had a few other smaller group discussions, playing BA clips as the centerpiece. In a one-on-one discussion, we had a struggle with a guy who looked at the 5 Stops and with whom we asked the question we were posing to people. He’d gone to protests and was paying attention to what Trump is doing. But, he said, “Look, I hate what Trump is doing ... I think we need to fight that, but we really can’t have open borders.” We weren’t able to make this more of a group debate but did play him the clip from BA on “Free Yourself from the GTF” (Great Tautological Fallacy), and the disgusting American chauvinism that is a big part of the obstacle to people acting to stop this fascist regime. He sort of wanted to slide over this, “yeah, I know all that,” but wasn’t confronting the framework of his own thinking until we made him walk through what BA was saying. What is that tautological fallacy, what is it rooted in, what does that sit on in terms of the crimes of the U.S. throughout history. Walking this through in this way, he could recognize how his thinking was entirely within the framework that BA was critiquing. He wasn’t won over, and we didn’t try to have a long debate about it, but was left feeling uncomfortable.

In a smaller group discussion of two different people, we played the clip on “what are we facing.” One person said people don’t put all that together, we just see the small parts here or there. Another young woman said she just didn’t know any of that was happening. The first young woman was mad that no one talks about this and said one of her teachers wouldn’t allow a political discussion in her class—we have to be able to talk about what’s happening and it’s all like we’re all just ignoring it, not talking about it anywhere.

Everyone was told about the whole of the speech from BA on the Trump/Pence regime and where to find it online, along with who BA is and why they need to get more deeply into his work overall.

Getting Organized ... and the Need to Go Further

Off of these on-the-spot discussions, we have tried to pull together a few gatherings on the day of or the next day. So far, only one person has come to our follow-up meetings but several more have apologized for not being able to make it and are staying in touch. But there’s more to wrestle with here.

The one woman we met with got more deeply into what the Revolution Club is, the questions of reform vs. revolution and bringing the Revolution Club Speaking Tour to her campus. She also wants to show the BA speech on Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution at a local community center.

We’re thinking about how to do much more with these group discussions in terms of getting organized—while continuing to give space to this kind of rich wrangling and problem solving of people together. We also feel there is much more to do in terms of having BA’s work as the centerpiece in these discussions: where people are responding together to what’s being fought for from the leader of the revolution directly.

This is still a work in progress, but there are two important lessons so far. First, how the whole process is transformed and enriched when people are led to wrangle with the problems of the revolution. There was a solid core presented to people, with a major problem we face and then the revolutionaries led a process of having masses talk to each other. This point from “Further Thoughts on Putting the Problems of the Revolution Before the Masses” really came through:

“I really think lots of people WANT to talk about these types of questions/obstacles. These are objectively obstacles to revolution, even if they don’t quite see it that way yet because they are new. But communists wrangling with brand-new people (who care) over such questions (and how to get that geometric progression going) IS, objectively, ‘putting the problems of the revolution before the people’ and can also really help break down the ‘us/them divide.’ Communists leading this type of active social investigation are in an excellent position to at one and the same time learn a lot we ourselves need to know more about in terms of what holds people back, and actively transform the thinking of people through this very process. Lively and largely informal get-togethers to really wrangle over such questions and problems of these times can attract, inspire, and organizationally retain. We need to do a lot more of this.”

The second thing is that there is a real difference in the terrain overall—once these questions are posed, people really wanting to get into it. And overall, there seems to be a deep, roiling dissatisfaction about what’s the Trump/Pence regime is doing and the MASS INactivity in the face of that.

(click to enlarge)

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