Emergency Program to Defend Revolution Books Berkeley Against Fascist Attacks

revolution books

On March 3, several Trumpite thugs tried to barge into Revolution Books in Berkeley, located near the University of California campus. They  verbally assaulted staff members who stopped them, and threatened, “We’re going to burn down your bookstore.” The store has been targeted by “alt-right” fascists before, but this is the first time a threat like this was issued.


About 70-75 people packed into Revolution Books in Berkeley on March 18 for an emergency program featuring Andy Zee on “Why Fascists Want to Burn Down Revolution Books—and Why We Must Stand Together to Defend It!” There were many longtime and newer friends of Revolution Books and activists who have worked with Refuse Fascism. There were about 10 students, including some who are involved in THE NEW COMMUNISM study classes or who were part of screenings and discussions at the bookstore recently 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. There were bookstore industry people, and people who just care about books and don’t want to see modern-day book burnings. And there were many new people who came because they saw the video of what happened online and wanted to be there to support the store and find out what it’s all about.

The program opened by showing the Now This video of the March 3 fascist attack on Revolution Books, which has now been seen by 2.7 million people just on Facebook. This was followed by a number of video statements of support and written statements—from David Gunn Jr. (son of the first abortion doctor killed by anti-abortion extremists), Peter Coyote, and others—which were read. UC Berkeley Boalt School of Law professor Jonathan Simon spoke powerfully to the historical and present-day danger of liberals remaining silent while fascists attack revolutionaries, ultimately making it easier for fascism to roll over liberal democracy. Andy Zee gave a substantial and exciting presentation, infused with the spirit of Bob Avakian’s new communism, bringing alive the revolution and the books that Revolution Books is all about, the relationship between knowing and radically changing the world. He ended with a challenge to everyone who cares about truth, justice, and critical thinking, to stand with Revolution Books, unite to drive out this fascist Trump/Pence regime, and engage this new communism. This was followed by an hour of Q&A. Over $1,000 was raised for Revolution Books, and many people filled out forms to volunteer and get involved.

The following is excerpted from Andy Zee’s speech:

Why Fascists Want to Burn Down Revolution Books—and Why We Must Stand Together to Defend It!

by Andy Zee

One of my favorite things to do is to be and speak at Revolution Books—here in Berkeley or in New York.

This is so even as the occasion of this talk is to oppose the ugly assault on Revolution Books-Berkeley—the vicious and vile misogynist personal assault against Reiko as well as the staff culminating in the vicious threat to burn down the store itself. These fascists will not stop Revolution Books, they will not deter from why this is a precious and essential place that embodies the future.  And, NO! their assault will not diminish either our sense of purpose or joy in what is represented by Revolution Books.

We mean both words of our name: Revolution … Books. Not a marketing slogan, it is what we are and embodies for whom and for what we exist. This is a bookstore about the world, for a radically new world. A place that is guided by a radically new and emancipatory understanding of the first word of our name—REVOLUTION, as it has been re-envisioned in the new communism developed by Bob Avakian, the revolutionary leader, who it should be said, is a “son” of Berkeley—the Berkeley High School Yellowjackets and UC Berkeley.

These fascists will not diminish the excitement of digging into the rich and varied explorations of the natural and social world contained in the books that surround us, or the engagement with each other and thrill of dialogue and debate over the world we live in, and how we could together change it. No, we will not, we must not let Trump, Pence, and their fascist thugs turn Revolution Books and the potential that it, and the intellectual, political, and cultural life that is contained within its walls into a 21st century burning of the Library of Alexandria. And, we will stand against such attacks wherever they occur.

The ugly spectacle of the two fascists who assaulted sister Reiko and the store with their threat of arson conjures and concentrates the present reality that not only Revolution Books faces, but that we all do. Any and every person whose work, whose morality, whose values aspire to a world of diversity, of overcoming the oppression of all peoples regardless of nationality, race, gender, or beliefs is under siege. The harsh fascist future that these thugs acted in service of impacts everyone who values critical thinking, scholarship, and engagement. If you appreciate what the arts contribute to our being human—to the tremendous import of imagination to the life of the mind and the vital richness of society, the attack on this bookstore is a frontline fight for you. The assault on Revolution Books is an attack on truth itself—on the importance of the scientific method, of why evidence matters, and even on the existence of objective reality. These are critical tools, essential modes of thinking, without which, at this moment in human history, our species and this planet might not survive. And let’s not step over that this is an attack on the radical discourse and struggle that is the legacy of Berkeley, while we understand that this fight is bigger than Berkeley.

This attack is against all I’ve just said, and as such, it is no accident that Revolution Books has been their target—10 times in the last 6 months. Why? Because RB embodies all those values. And, beyond that, it is and will continue to be the political and the intellectual and the cultural center of a movement for an actual revolution to bring about a radically new liberatory world. And, that world—or frankly any world that is not the fascism that is being cemented into place today—depends on all of us joining together to defend this store as one front in the great challenge of this year, which is to drive the fascist Trump/Pence Regime from power.

The vicious ghouls that attacked RB are not only emboldened and unleashed by this regime, but are a strike force—a reactionary revanchist movement whose purpose is to intimidate and bludgeon people to accept and capitulate to this fascism. As part of its mission, Revolution Books has been a key site, a gathering spot, where people come to learn about and dig into this fascism, its roots and how to stop it. Revolution Books in New York held the first forum on the fascism of this regime in the month after Trump’s election, and today both the New York and Berkeley stores are featuring the film, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible, A Talk by Bob Avakian—a must-see film to understand what we face and what we must do to stop it. So we are not surprised by their hatred for Revolution Books and we will not be deterred.

We will not back down because of all of you, because of all of the people who can and must be rallied to defend Revolution Books. We should see the fight to defend RB as one part of a great cause, an unprecedented struggle to recognize, organize, and act decisively to stop the fascism unfolding before us. Everyone can be a part of spreading the word and forging the principled unity so that the million or more people who learned of the attack on RB Berkeley through videos and the media coverage can become a part of the movement to stand not just with RB, but against the whole Trump/Pence Regime.

Fascism rules through reliance on open terror and violence, trampling on civil and legal rights, wielding the power of the state, and by mobilizing organized groups of fanatical thugs, to commit atrocities against masses of people, particularly groups of people identified as “enemies,” “undesirables,” or “dangers to society.”  And, books and bookstores are definitely all three of these things to fascists. We should recognize that the assault on RB is not an isolated occurrence. The night after the attack on RB, a store window was smashed and an outdoor bookshelf torched at Groundwork Books Collective in San Diego. There is virulent connection between these fascist groups and the project of the Trump/Pence Regime to consolidate fascism in this country. This is deadly serious and I will return to our responsibility to stop it later.

So, it is a very serious purpose and responsibility that brings me to Revolution Books-Berkeley, yet, as I said, that does not diminish my appreciation and joy of being at and representing for Revolution Books. The walls around us hold a curated collection of books that matter in a place that matters. Books that are the repository of the experience of people all over the world over the millennia—stories of lives and of dreams. But more, RB is a place that is a bridge between the world that is today, and what could be.

Let me read you something that animates Revolution Books:

Let’s imagine if we had a whole different art and culture. Come on, enough of this “bitches and ho’s” and SWAT teams kicking down doors. Enough of this “get low” bullshit. And how come it’s always the women that have to get low? We already have a situation where the masses of women and the masses of people are pushed down and held down low enough already. It’s time for us to get up and get on up.

Imagine if we had a society where there was culture—yes it was lively and full of creativity and energy and yes rhythm and excitement, but at the same time, instead of degrading people, lifted us up. Imagine if it gave us a vision and a reality of what it means to make a whole different society and a whole different kind of world. Imagine if it laid out the problems for people in making this kind of world and challenged them to take up these problems. Imagine if art and culture too—movies, songs, television, everything—challenged people to think critically, to look at things differently, to see things in a different light, but all pointing toward how can we make a better world.

Imagine if the people who created art and culture were not just a handful of people but all of the masses of people, with all their creative energy unleashed, and the time were made for them to do that, and for them to join with people who are more full-time workers and creators in the realm of art and culture to bring forward something new that would challenge people, that would make them think in different ways, that would make them be able to see things critically and from a different angle, and would help them to be uplifted and help them to see their unity with each other and with people throughout the world in putting an end to all the horrors that we’re taught are just the natural order of things. Imagine all that.

These words are from Bob Avakian, published in BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian drawn from his 2003 film, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About.

These are values and ways of being that the first communist revolutions in the 20th century began. But, those revolutions no longer exist, defeated by the strength of the prevailing imperialist system as well as their own limitations in understanding and practice. After these defeats, determined that the struggle for total emancipatory revolution would not die, Bob Avakian went to work. Through over 40 years study and struggle—practically leading the movement for revolution and developing the theory that could win and bring about a fully liberating society, he has developed a new communism. Sifting through the previous experience, taking on board the changes in the world since, engaging work from other fields of inquiry, he developed a new synthesis of communism that really could bring about a far better world—a radically new society in which people could collectively go to work on overcoming all of the oppressive and exploitive divisions that exist today, a new society that could, at long last, achieve human emancipation all over the world.

Read the full speech here

Revolution newspaper/revcom.us, the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, provides the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for the whole process of carrying out our strategy for revolution. Through publishing works of Bob Avakian, and through many different articles, interviews, letters, graphics, and other features, Revolution enables people to really understand, and act to radically change, the world.


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