Look around you. The planet is burning beneath our feet; exoduses of refugees flee for their lives on nearly every continent; the drums of war, from East Asia to the Middle East beat louder; and all over, from Brazil to Poland, from the Philippines to Italy and, of course, to the U.S., fascists move toward, seize and/or further consolidate power.
The capitalist-imperialist system is in a deep crisis. The world we know—which, for billions around the world has already been a living hell—is being shattered. Two blocs within the ruling classes in nearly every major power face off with radically different solutions. On one side, fascist forces who believe strongly that the old rules must be shattered and the old ruling strata either forcefully put in their place or, if need be, violently suppressed; and, on the other, the more or less “liberal” imperialist forces who have ruled these past decades. Two futures contend—each at bottom representing the old order of exploitation, oppression, violent domination of nations and war, and ecological devastation in the service of profit, with one “promising” to go at it even more blatantly and viciously and making progress doing so.
There is also, however, something else in the mix—something of vital, indeed existential, importance: a third future—a radical break with all camps of imperialism, a different society based on eliminating all forms of exploitation and oppression, overcoming the social relations, morality and ways of thinking that have been stamped on people by trying to survive in those societies, one that is as different from today as day from night. A future for the emancipation of humanity. There is today a highly developed vision and strategy and a leadership founded on a scientific method understanding the dynamics of society and how it could be radically transformed through revolution.
This is the context in which the recent U.S. elections took place, and this is the context in which they have to be understood.
What the Trump/Pence Regime Was Fundamentally Doing in the Electoral Campaign: Aggressively Fighting to Push Forward Fascism
First point: the Republicans, led by the Trump/Pence regime (and don’t be so righteously upset by Trump that you underestimate the role of Pence and his Christian fundamentalist legions) campaigned more fiercely than ever as fascists. The media call it by the polite—and normalizing—euphemisms of “populism” or even “white nationalism,” but let’s not mince words here. Trump and the people around him campaigned in an even more openly fascist way than they did in 2016. His daily rallies, televised to the faithful on Fox News, were festivals of racist and anti-immigrant agitation, saturated in white-racial and U.S. chauvinism. They flaunted a proud ignorance (and indeed a hostility to reason) and a morality combining patriarchal piety and me-first money grubbing. Think about it: for the last two weeks before the election, Trump campaigned by pointing to a caravan of desperate immigrants as “invaders” and summoned 6,000 armed troops (still there, by the way) to stop them; he attacked and insulted his opponents, especially his Black opponents; and he trafficked in dog-whistle code-worded anti-Semitism.
By the end of the campaign, pipe bombs were being sent to prominent opponents of Trump (including ex-presidents, Black politicians, and major donors to the Democratic Party of Jewish heritage), a horrific and explicitly fascist-inspired massacre went down in a Jewish synagogue, and report after report of racist badgering of Black people—including the murder of two Black people at a Kroger store by someone allegedly professing white supremacist ideology—filled the media.
Meanwhile, some commentators couldn’t understand why Trump and the other Republicans weren’t campaigning on the “strong economy and the fact we weren’t at war.” These commentators miss that Trump had a different objective in mind: while such a campaign might have actually picked up a few extra seats in Congress, it would not have served the aim of mobilizing, firming up and further hardening his fascist base: it would not have further broken the norms and constraints of “(capitalist-imperialist electoral) politics as usual”; and it would not have delivered a strong message that more fascist policy was to come. Trump was not “making up” a crisis like the caravan of immigrant invaders to win Congress so much as he was building a movement and solidifying his hold on Congress, the courts and all the levers of power to consolidate fascism.
Other commentators misanalyzed Trump’s rampage in the week following the elections—saying that he was trying to “change the subject” from the Republican loss of the House. While electoral concerns may enter into things, there are larger objectives in play. In fact, his appointment of a thuggish and loyal hack as his acting attorney general, in an obvious move to sidetrack the investigation of his ties to Russia; his attacks on the press, and singling out prominent Black women journalists as well as CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, who dared demand an answer from Trump on his immigrant-bashing; his claiming of electoral victory while threatening Democrats over ballot counting in several states; then his flying to Europe and further taking a hammer to the alliance with the imperialist partners-in-crime of the U.S., all served different elements of fascist consolidation. They don’t get, or don’t want to convey, that this regime is further gearing up, clearing its decks, and cohering its base for battles to come. To do that, he is “doubling down” on what Bob Avakian called “… the triad of fascism, that is, the unapologetic aggressive assertion of white supremacy, male supremacy and American supremacy (or racism, misogyny and bellicose xenophobic jingoism, if you want to use other terminology), reinforced with defiantly—not apologetically, defiantly—ignorant and belligerent opposition to science and rational thought, combined with equally ignorant and belligerent assertion of the ‘superiority of western civilization’…” (See Part 1 of “The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us” at revcom.us.)
What the Dems Were Doing: Opposition Within the Bounds of Normalization + Conciliation = Collaboration
Second point: The aim of the top Democrats was to “check” Trump by making gains in Congress, while confining the opposition to Trump within boundaries safe to the overall system. To be clear, the main Democrats do see Trump as very dangerous—to them and to their beliefs as to how to best maintain and preserve the system they preside over and how best to secure the imperialist interests of this ruling class in its ceaseless struggle to dominate and brutally exploit the entire world.
These top Democrats were joined in this by more than a few prominent Republicans, including some who “served” in the George W. Bush regime—a regime which itself carried out egregious violations of rule of law, including torture and suspension of habeas corpus, and a murderous war in Iraq, which killed literally hundreds of thousands of people and turned millions into desperate refugees. Even some of these people openly called on people in 2018 to vote against the Republicans. The breadth of this opposition is one element showing the sharpness of the divide “at the top.”
At the same time, an extraordinary number of “everyday people” poured tremendous energy and “moral investment” into electing Democrats to Congress because they are bitterly opposed to Trump. These millions were instructed nightly on CNN, MSNBC, and most every mainstream and “progressive” media propaganda and organizing machines that this was the only meaningful way to resist. Different things entered into this with different people, but the main reason was a deep-going visceral opposition to the fascism embodied in the Trump/Pence regime, often but not always spelled out as such by the people themselves, but certainly in regard to one or most of its grossest manifestations.
But the Democrats were determined to a) never mention anything remotely touching on the actual fascist character of the regime, and b) refused to seriously challenge Trump (and his whole regime) on the grossly outrageous attacks on immigrants embodied in Trump’s rantings on the caravan, the overall racist hatemongering, the continued disgusting patriarchy along with his attacks on the right to abortion and birth control, let alone his even greater militarism and jingoism than the Democrats.* For many, voting for the many women candidates, as well as Muslim, gay and transgender candidates who ran as Democrats, felt like a rebuke to the regime and all it stood for; and in a way it was, but neither most of these candidates nor certainly the Democratic Party as a whole took this on frontally.
Instead, the Democrats hammered single-mindedly on health care. This is tantamount to mounting an election campaign against Hitler in 1934, say, and making your main point that his road-building program could be improved. To take it to the present day: Think about what it means that prominent Democrats have not drawn a line and declared that a president who champions the honor of the Confederacy and blatant white supremacy cannot legitimately serve as president—that to do so would be the same as the compromise made with the slave owners in the U.S. Constitution.
The question is, why? And here, too, this does not reduce to a narrow electoral calculus. Imagine if the most prominent Democrats were to actually call Trump out as fascist—in other words, if they called him out for what he really is. Imagine if they told the truth, even as they understand it—that this faction headed by Trump and Pence is setting out to remake the whole society in fascist ways, with truly horrific potential consequences.
Well, then what? Then they’d have to admit that people really did have to get out there and put something on the line to resist this; for horrific as imperialism is, fascism takes that to another level of intensity in the severity of its attacks on masses, especially of the oppressed nationalities (as we see today) and in the relentlessness of its repression (including the more or less full evisceration of the legal and civil rights associated with the rule of law in this system, as limited and routinely violated as those rights may be under the ordinary workings of capitalism-imperialism). Such an admission could begin to point to questions as to the system that turns to fascism as a way out in times of severe crisis.
And what happens when people do get out in the streets—including the kinds of people whom the Democrats paid such attention to roping into the system through the elections, in particular Black and other oppressed “minority” nationalities (Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, etc.), women, LGBTQ people, Muslims, etc.? Things can get out of control of these Democrats—in the sense that once awakened to struggle, people can become more eager to search out answers to WHY we’re in this mess, and less likely to be bottled back up if their demands are not met.
So, despite their sharp differences with and real concern over the direction of things, they are even more concerned to, as much as possible, keep all this within the bounds of “proper norms”—when those very norms are being undermined and abolished, a point which Bob Avakian drives home in this audio clip.
To get a sense of this, just listen to what the top Democrats say now, after they won some seats and have a clear majority in the House of Representatives. “We’re going to show we can govern,” they say. They’ll “work with” Trump and negotiate with him—that is, they’ll go even further in normalizing the monster, further in not just accommodating to, not just conciliating with, but collaborating with the openly racist fascists who are still, yes, running the show.
And look at the great efforts of the Democratic leadership now to keep even their own Congresspeople in line. Look at the editorial in the New York Times the day after the election, counseling Nancy Pelosi to make sure that Democratic committee chairs in the House don’t go “wilding” against Trump. (See “The Elections Just Past, The Future We Face, And The REAL Revolution Humanity Needs”) Think about what it means that the Times actually repurposes a racist code-word from the 1980s that was used to frame up the Central Park 5 in New York (a frame-up which Trump leaped to the fore of, calling for the death penalty for five teenagers later proved to be innocent of all charges) to tell Pelosi to make sure that nothing develops which could in any way even come close to upsetting the applecart. (See here and here for more on Trump and the Central Park 5.)
People like Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Democrat now heading the House Judiciary Committee, goes on TV to say that he won’t impeach Trump “because it would tear the country apart.” Again, think: if this is fascism, and it is, then wouldn’t “tearing the country apart” (politically speaking, which seems to be what Nadler means) be worth it? Was it worth it to end slavery? Yes, by the logic of the masses of slaves, by those who opposed slavery for other reasons, and by those looking at the interests of humanity as a whole.
And remember, top Republicans like Newt Gingrich openly make analogies to the Civil War in terms of the kind of change that they are preparing for. This is NOT to say that it would take a civil war to drive out this regime; that is not in fact what is on the agenda right now when this horror to humanity could still be prevented by massive, nonviolent civil disobedience, millions in the streets protesting every day and night until their demand that the whole regime must go is met—an approach which has in fact worked in a number of countries around the world during this past decade. This IS to call attention to the kind of struggle and the willingness to go all-out that the fascist section of the ruling class is preparing their followers for.
To pursue Newt Gingrich’s analogy just a bit further and to return to the logic—and morality—of those who fought to end slavery: President Lincoln, by contrast to those masses, did NOT enter the Civil War to end slavery but to preserve the union. But what got unleashed by the war itself, along with the necessity Lincoln faced in order to actually win the war, forced him towards the Emancipation Proclamation. By analogy today, a massive push from below—but ONLY a massive push from below—could change the whole equation at the top of society as well, and a way found to compel the fascist regime to “step down.” To be clear, we are not talking about the Civil War as any kind of immediate step; we are responding to what all forces see as a situation in which the whole society has been highly polarized on basic questions of morality and politics, and responding to the analogies being made by others.
Even the prospect of what is on the agenda right now—massive, sustained, nonviolent civil disobedience—is heavy. But think again what it will mean if this fascist regime gets bolted fully into place, with the costs already being incurred by humanity and future generations going to a whole other level.
… And What Will You Say to the Future Generations?
Which leads to the third and fourth points we want to make: on the immediate goal to drive out the Trump/Pence regime, as well as the larger and more fundamental need to make revolution, to bring in a whole new world.
On the first point: there is time to reverse this juggernaut—but there is not much time. And there is a way to do it as well—but that way is hard and will require people to get out of their comfort zones.
To those of you who put your hopes in the Democrats, if you are now inebriated at their “great victory,” if you think that somehow this shows there is “still goodness in the soul of America”—then you were played. To go back to Malcolm X, you were bamboozled. And, to too great degree, many of you bamboozled yourselves. These leaders have made clear to you that they are not going to challenge Trump in any meaningful way. They made it clear during the election campaign, and they are making it even clearer now; and all the posturing by people like the “socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who herself did not utter the truly forbidden “f-word”) does not change that.
So, again, there is still time to change this, to reverse this fascist juggernaut… but there is not much time. Any day could witness some international incident that could serve as a pretext for making a leap in the evisceration of the rule of law or worse; or there could be no pretext at all. Think about it: while the top Democrats dither over how to show they can “govern” (read: how to show they can wrest crumbs out of a fascist regime) and take care to make sure that their investigations don’t go over certain limits, Trump continues his assaults on things like birthright citizenship, the right to vote, the judiciary, and so on… again, all just in the past week!
What will future generations—if those future generations even exist—say to you when you explain that you knew there was a way to get rid of the regime but it was very risky, it wasn’t guaranteed, and it might well have required you to change a lot about your life… so you tried to take a safer path?
And, yes, there is a way to change this… but it is a hard way. It means facing the truth about this country and its real history and social fabric, and the truth about what it will actually take to drive out this regime. And it means actually taking it to the streets, in nonviolent civil disobedience, small at first but with the aim of awakening and bringing forward millions. Right now, it means going everywhere and both struggling with people to get out of this framework which the Democratic leadership, MSNBC and the rest are jamming you into AND taking action against the outrages being perpetrated by the regime as part of the fascist offensive, even if small at first. And most of all it means finding the ways to get the demands of Refuse Fascism—This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America—which many, many people either agree with in their hearts or would agree with it if they heard about it, into the public square and the public debate.
Again, in that context, in the context of millions saying NO! in the streets, then the very real and very serious differences between the fascists and their mainstream bourgeois opposition can come into play as part of a struggle to drive him out. In that context, conflicts over something like shutting down the Mueller investigation into Trump’s dealings with Russia could become part of advancing a whole larger struggle, in the interests of the people and for what is needed: not just the supposed constraining of but the very real driving out of this regime.
A Whole Different—and Far Better—System Is Possible: Get Into BA!
The fourth and most essential point is this: this fascist juggernaut didn’t come out of nowhere; it is the creature of a very specific economic and political system. It’s been building for years as a response to very deep-seated and now sharpening contradictions in the kind of society we live in—capitalism-imperialism—and the form of rule which, much as this is covered over, is in essence a dictatorship of this capitalist-imperialist class. The democracy of this country is a democracy founded on and conditioned by the needs of the ruling strata of this country—for its first eight decades, the slave owners and capitalist classes; and since then, the capitalist-imperialist ruling class, stretching its tentacles worldwide. The civil and legal rights, which are important to defend, are nevertheless rights hemmed in by what serves or at least does not conflict with the needs of this system. These normal workings create the illusion that “we are ruling ourselves”—when in reality, we at most have the power to elect which representative of the ruling class will pursue its interests and defend its form of rule over the masses of people worldwide and over us. And when the system enters into deep crisis, as it has now, even the limited rights that do exist can be scrapped by those in power and blatant dictatorship can be instituted. For the ruling strata, fascism is preferable to a revolution that would do away with their system.
But whatever the form of rule, the actual power is in the hands of a small class of capitalist-imperialists. So ask yourself: why are we locked in such a system in which we are told we can only choose between blatant and more democratic forms of dictatorship? Why do we face, continually, the built-in outrages and horrors so deeply woven into this society of the genocidal mass incarceration and overall oppression of Black, Latino, and Native people; the persecution and demonization of immigrants; the degradation and oppression of women; the invasions and occupations of other countries; and the insane plunder and destruction of the environment by capitalism?
Yes, all these are being made far worse and more intense by the Trump/Pence regime—but why do we accept them at all? The Democrats have no answers for any of that—other than, in some cases, to enforce these basic oppressive relations slightly differently. So let’s not only struggle against the regime, as important as that is—let’s actually get into the work that has been done by Bob Avakian to dig deeply into the source of the problem we face and to dig into the solution he’s brought forward: the blueprint for a whole different society in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and the strategy he’s laid out for making an actual revolution, in the new film Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.
Getting into this work, getting into this solution, should ground people further in the need to enter into and push forward the fight against this regime. Those drawn to and taking up and beginning to fight for this third future—the emancipation of all humanity—need to be constantly engaging and challenging people as we do from the deepest understanding of where this problem came from… what is the solution to that deep underlying problem… and in that light the real seriousness of the threat posed by this regime and what must be done now to drive out the regime now pushing forward so furiously. The more that revolutionaries bring this to bear, the broader the numbers of people that can be brought forward and the deeper the unity that can be forged.
These are momentous times. Will you, will we all, live up to the challenge they pose?
- On this last point, certainly one of the most disgusting things in the campaign was the way in which the Democrats preened themselves on running ex-military and ex-CIA people and glorifying their “service to the country”—that is, their participation in criminal wars of aggression against oppressed peoples.
Originally published at revcom.us