Wrangling with a Social Work Prof About What We’re Facing—and Working Together for a Showing of the BA Film

April 30, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


A team of two met with a social work professor at a local university. We’ve periodically sent him emails over the past months and since Trump was elected. Over numerous years, he’d take time to seriously engage Bob Avakian and the RCP, who he genuinely respects, but also has fundamental disagreements with. He’s specifically raised in the past and recently “a tension I feel regarding being a progressive Catholic and my challenges of understanding Avakian’s desire to work with those in the progressive faith traditions.” But we hadn’t met for quite a while. Two major things we wanted to get into with him: a segment of the BA film THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! Q&A on “Minorities have been in not a very favorable situation in this country to fight against everything that is going against them...” and to discuss the new 2018 Call to Action from Refuse Fascism.

The professor took us out to lunch. He wanted to have some conversation before we turned on the film. So, we spoke some... and then we asked him to read the new Call to Action. He read it. He said there wasn’t anything in it he disagreed with. He more leans toward “normal processes and channels”—the 2018 and 2020 elections—to change the direction of things, and is a big supporter of Move On and Indivisible, so wrestling with the thrust of argument in the new Call to Action provoked rich “comparing and contrasting.”

He made clear and he was arguing “can’t there be both voting for Democrats and protest too?”—but not “a different kind of protest” of the type Refuse Fascism is talking about, thousands and ultimately millions in protest led with the clear-cut objective of driving out fascism in America before it consolidates. There is a “dualism” many democratic progressives have, with the normal processes and essentially the notion that this is a very bad Republican regime that can be changed through voting as the principal aspect, even if they participate in certain protests, or support protesting. He laid out a similar approach at our lunch.

So, there was some struggle over this being fascism (not a “bad Republican regime”), and we also debated there actually is a viable road to oust this regime—nonviolent, sustained, mass protest of tens of thousands, ultimately leading to hundreds of thousands and millions to create conditions where a “crisis of rule” could lead to this regime being removed, but that contended with this illusion of voting out Trumpism in 2018 and 2020 as the principal way to turn the tide and contain or stop the full implementation of the program of the Trump/Pence regime.

There were a couple of intense moments during this initial part of this discussion!

He made clear: “I am a Democrat.” We exposed the Democratic Party leadership and what they are saying and doing in the face of this fascism: Obama... Jimmy Carter... and we told him Democratic Governor Brown welcomed Trump to California saying, “We build bridges not walls” and we agitated around the U.S. National Guard being sent to further militarize the border and about military concentration camps being set up for refugees.

We spoke about the Trump/Pence regime ripping up norms and not going by the rules. We also made clear Refuse Fascism has many who vote in it and needs many more voters, and we explained Refuse Fascism doesn’t say stop voting, what Refuse Fascism is saying is this is fascism, and these fascists are not playing “by the rules” and if you understand that you understand this is a danger to humanity... and Refuse Fascism does have a plan, for a different kind of protest and a vision that has the potential to drive them out.

He said that he supports Move On and Indivisible and they’ve been to campus. He’s invited them to campus (and contributed funds to those groups) and he’s participated in their campus work to promote the “Blue Wave.”

At a certain point he said that the RCP did have this correct (the analysis that Trump is fascist and the implications of that), and either no one else did or very few did... however he put it. It was important he acknowledged that. This is one line of this report, but there is an acknowledgement that’s important. The problem is, however, that we don’t want to be right and lose on this, we have to drive them out, so that got sharpened up—we have to drive these fascists out in the name of humanity and to save humanity and the Earth itself and there is a vision in the new Call to Action and we have a Spring 2018 Plan (which was shared with him) to “get from here to there” to drive this regime out. And we don’t have a lot of time—it can become too late.

He asked about, and we spoke with him about, Refuse Fascism events and actions on campuses, for example versus the antiabortion fascists recently at campuses in So Cal, and the actions challenging U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at UCLA. He wanted to know what RF had been doing. So, that was in that context. We were ordering food and eating at an outside eatery while the above was going on.

I asked the restaurant to turn down the music for a little bit. We then watched together the Bob Avakian Q&A “Minorities have been in not a very favorable situation in this country to fight against everything that is going against them....” He has the entire film queued up, he told us, but hadn’t watched it yet. So, we watched that part of the Q&A with him saying he’ll watch the full hour ASAP on his own.

After watching the Q&A with BA, he began to talk and we encouraged him to keep going... we said to him there is something very important in what he is saying about the Bob Avakian film and about Bob Avakian. We said we would like to quickly write up what he said, as a draft, and send it to him in 15 minutes after we break up, and then he should finalize it. He developed a notable statement.

After seeing the film, right after his comments, he said we should show the film in the social work department, and he would immediately put in for a room. That got nailed down over the next two days with the university’s classroom scheduling department.

He is going to build for this and get the people there—that is how he is looking at it—it’s his responsibility. He said he’d send out something immediately once he got the spot. We worked the poster through with him. The entire film is going to be shown and there will be time for responses from the audience, but that will be compressed, so we need to do a good job keeping everything tight and on schedule.

One challenge: rather than a broad view of who to invite for the showing and recognizing the need to both cordially invite and to challenge students and other professors (including in person where possible) to attend such an event (brief but sharp, using the poster for guidance)—including in this current context which have serious implications for humanity—such engagement and struggle often doesn’t happen amongst students and professors and is simply left to social media. This is a challenge before the professor and others building for Bob Avakian film showings on campuses nationwide. This professor is seriously considering making a financial contribution to Refuse Fascism.


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