Reflections on BA’s Statement

Monumental ... Inspiring ... Scientifically grappling with real contradictions



Editors’ Note: Following are edited excerpts of reflections from readers on the historic statement by Bob Avakian, “ON THE IMMEDIATE CRITICAL SITUATION, THE URGENT NEED TO DRIVE OUT THE FASCIST TRUMP/PENCE REGIME, VOTING IN THIS ELECTION, AND THE FUNDAMENTAL NEED FOR REVOLUTION

It is extremely important, it IS monumental, especially its correct assessment of the extreme situation, and what is objectively at stake in the election should it happen, but also including the conclusion with its points about the complexity of the situation, and uniqueness, and the need not to pose against each other many things that we have in fact posed to some degree against each other, including voting out Trump and mass upsurge against the regime. Yes, to cast away dogmatism and sectarianism, to have a broad vision....

Within the framework of how extreme the situation is, the danger of fascism, and what this would mean for humanity, this assessment is crucial:

But, again, this election is different—in a crucially important way. The question is not whether Biden and the Democrats represent something “good,” or whether, in fundamental terms, the Democrats are “better” than the Republicans. Both of these parties are ruling class political parties, and none of their candidates represent anything “good” in the most basic and essential sense. Biden is not “better” than Trump, in any meaningful way—except that he is not Trump and is not part of the move to consolidate and enforce fascist rule, with everything that means.

If it comes down to it, and there is an election, and Trump is not ousted by the people, would we be better off with a Trump defeat in the election, or a Trump victory? I think we would be better off with a Trump defeat. But if Trump is defeated by voting, but there is not movement in the streets, then the people would be in a very weak position, and the forces of fascism would have a great deal of initiative to carry out coups, to refuse to accept the results, to claim it was simply manipulation by elites, and to find ways to hold on to power, or, if Trump actually accepted defeat, to take to the streets and find ways to reassert fascist authority—while Biden is stretching his hand across the aisle and seeking to find unity. That would be a very bad picture.

But if there were an electoral defeat combined with mass uprisings against the regime, it would greatly impact on the ability of the fascists to carry out things like coups, and even to claim that the defeat was the work of manipulators behind the scenes (Soros...).

[I]f you look at it, in three weeks the mass BLM movement did more to combat police murder and racism than three years of people sitting on their butts is true. But I think a stronger way of making a similar point is that the BLM movement did more in three weeks than a year of Democratic Party candidates including Bernie, flying all over the country.

This points to the fact that the Democratic Party candidates actually support white supremacy, if in a “nicer” form, but it also points to the fact that the mass movement can change things in a big way, fast, that can impact and weaken Trump far more than sticking to normal channels can do. We need to make more of this which has been graphically demonstrated by recent events ... the people in Congress taking the knee which you did not see them do before—this is the kind of thing that the mass movement can do—it does not make the Democrats into something other than what they are, but it can force them to respond to necessity posed from below—from their own class interests.

Part of what we are dealing with in this is the relation between the aspect of civil war, and the aspect of the contradiction between the masses and the state, as it takes expression in elections and the results of elections. The question has been posed—including by people who have a basic agreement that this is fascism, whether big defeat in the elections would help to get rid of Trump. Of course the liberals have argued all along that that is the only way to get rid of the regime, and part of their argument is that this is the only legitimate way to get rid of the regime, that the regime must be and can only be really de-legitimized by elections. For the liberals, the point of “de-legitimize” means to de-legitimize on the terms of bourgeois democracy and the system. BA makes the point that there is no legitimacy to the fascist regime, regardless of how they came to power. It is important to sort these “legitimacies” out.

I think that what is true and real is that a defeat in the elections, combined with masses in the street, especially a resounding one, would politically weaken the regime. Not just in bourgeois democratic terms—they would lose the election, but they would also lose politically. For one thing, a major electoral defeat combined with a powerful mass movement against the regime—on the terms of “in the name of humanity we refuse to accept a fascist America”—would strip away or demoralize some of their supporters, even while it would harden others. It would also greatly embolden and uplift the people who hate Trump and want him out.

So not only would the combination of uprising and electoral defeat lead to the fascists most likely losing state power or at least the Presidency (more on that later) it would also weaken their ability to wage a civil war.

But in a situation in which there were a defeated regime, with a powerful mass movement playing a decisive role, there would be a lot of “entanglement” of the “legitimacy” of elections, and the legitimacy on terms of basic interests of humanity. After such an upheaval, there would be a huge political struggle—if a section of the fascist base were somewhat neutralized and weakened, the people who are more attached to the need for things like laws from Congress and elections, the hard core fascists would be out in force, furious and outraged, almost certainly carrying out actions which were armed and violent as well and merely threatening violence (as they do now). The mainstream imperialists would immediately seek to assert military and police control of the situation, and at the same time mobilize everything they had to pull people into the process of re-consolidating “normalcy,” which would of course mean involving the Republican Party in running the government. Remember how Obama refused to go after the CIA torturers1 in the name of the larger interests and unity of the U.S., Biden would do that only immensely more so. The broader anti-fascist masses would be pulled in different directions about what to do next. There would be complex political struggle. ...

One other angle in looking at this. Another possibility is that there were a powerful mass movement, and Trump either canceled the election, or won. (I do think that one likely effect of the mass movement in the streets, especially to the degree it is clear that it is not opposing elections, is that it would weaken Trump electorally, and strengthen Biden, but it would still be possible under some circumstances that Trump would win. And certainly possible that he would use the excuse of the mass movement, the virus, and other possible things, to cancel the election.) If Trump canceled the election in the face of millions of masses demanding his ouster, it would enormously sharpen everything. He would have to have backing from the military or sections of it, and he would bring every fascist group he could into the street. If Trump somehow won a rigged election with a mass anti-fascist movement in the street, it would also sharpen things up very hard and fast.

An important point is this point about why we need to have the slogan and politics of Refuse Fascism at the forefront, and why revolution must be in the mix in a growing way. The basic reason is that for the movement to have the strength and determination to come back repeatedly to drive out the regime, and for it to have the political and ideological coherence and the moral authority, it has to be led with the politics of Refuse Fascism.... The question of political power must change is really important, and will make things or break things—and not just change in any way, but the fascist regime must go. I do not anticipate that such a movement would be organizationally cohesive. But how strong the understanding in the leadership and in the broader movement that this is about removing fascism from power in the interests of humanity will make a huge difference in whether it can succeed, and whether it can deal with the situation that exists if it does succeed.

Looking through these scenarios has made it clearer to me that what BA is arguing for is correct. Refusing to recognize and correctly handle this election would lead to pitting the mass movement against voting even if we tried not to do that (e.g., RF doesn’t make a dividing line out of voting. But that is not enough.) ... The point though is that what we do IS very important for the mass movement—which is the principal and decisive factor....

BA says in the statement:

The fact is that there can be one—and only one—“good” that can come out of this election: delivering a decisive defeat to Trump and the whole fascist regime. Doing this would create far better conditions for continuing to wage the struggle against everything represented by the Trump/Pence regime and all the oppression and injustices of this system, and would be a great gift to the people of the world.

Because this is true, acting in concert with this should not pull us away from, but should enable us to also act in relation to our fundamental objectives and goals, to strengthen the forces and movement for revolution. This will be complex and very hard, and the pulls will be strong, but it IS possible to do this.


At the outset, I was thoroughly inspired by revolutionary essence of it, learning from every well-reasoned and inspiring argument as to why going all out to remove this regime, even at this late hour, is an “immediate, urgent question and truly historic imperative.”

I was inspired by his orientation in reaching out to the people as a whole, whose future literally rests in the balance. Inspired by his approach in reaching out to those like myself active in Refuse Fascism who have labored to navigate a forest of illusions and self-delusion, of stubborn paralysis—not to mention official and unofficial adversity—in our efforts to drive out this regime.

I was inspired by BA’s message to comrades who, at great risk and with great heroism, have been working on the frontlines through the Rev Clubs to make revolution a mass question and to put BA on the map throughout the fascist “Trump era”, while strengthening the #OutNow movement (as noted in “Some Points on Strategic Orientation for the Next Period,” March 2017).

I was inspired by BA’s strategic confidence in the people and contempt for the enemy which infused all of his statement from start to finish.

And yet, I was driven all week to read especially what BA has written on the question of elections. In his memoir, his method and approach stood out in two remarks:

1) In “Agonizing Over McGovern”: “I wrestled deeply with the question: could it actually be true that this was an exceptional case, where which bourgeois candidate got elected might make a profound difference? ... trying to understand more deeply the principles of Marxism and how they applied concretely to this situation.”

2) in “Nixon and Watergate: ‘Throw the Bum Out’”: “But life is always changing, and you have to examine things in real life and not have a dogmatic approach.”

When I 1st read BA’s unequivocal remarks that “all appropriate means to work for the removal of the [Trump/Pence] regime must include voting against Trump ... actually voting for ... Biden in order to effectively vote against Trump”, my first instinct was that it made perfect sense. But then very quickly, “why did he have to say it, spell it out, why does the Party have to take such an ‘odious’ public stand?”

I kept thinking how disturbed I was when first reading (in the days of the RU) about the hardships and Mao’s personal sacrifice in the victorious Chinese revolution, and then the fact of Mao literally shaking the hand of Chiang Kai Shek2 (“Why did Mao do that/how could he personally stomach it?; what message did it send symbolically, regardless of intentions?”) That was my initial, instinctive reaction, my form of “agonizing.” But more importantly I remember how much that was a transformative experience for me, how inspiring it was for me in coming to terms with what an all-the-way revolution is really all about, why communism was the vision and path I should fully embrace, and I think that will apply to some who must be led to wrestle with BA’s position in regard to Biden.

Beyond the power of the Statement itself, looking back at the “mouthful sentence” (once again in “Some Points...”) anew, and renewing my determination to reject any semblance of populist epistemology that I might have read into it, led me to consider BA’s statement at this defining moment as one of great revolutionary courage, courage on a scientific basis, what we are all called upon to emulate.

That is a great, attractive magnetic force for the revolution. And it must and will be fought for.


I recently re-read BA’s memoir. Among many other things, the section on the election of ’72 really jumped out at me. In particular, the approach he took to the question of voting in general, and voting in that particular election, and the criteria he used—an approach radically different from facile dogma. When I read that passage, it did give me pause to think about whether ’72 was a “one and done” that settled the issue of voting once and for all. But BA clearly once again “agonized” (as he says in the memoir) over this and came up with a deep and provocative synthesis that has the potential to impact and transform the entire political and social landscape (as well as jolt the communists).

The whole piece, but especially the conclusion, made me think of the “six paragraphs”3 and carrying out the 3 prepares, and continually striving, collectively and individually, to the stature of “strategic commanders” in a complex social swirl that engulfs all of this society on a scale beyond anything in a long time—probably in the lifetimes even of people my age.


1. After Obama was elected president in 2008, he declared that his “Justice” Department would not prosecute anyone under the previous George W. Bush administration who carried out torture and other war crimes.  [back]

2. In the 1930s, imperialist Japan invaded and occupied China, carrying out horrible war crimes. The Chinese communists, led by Mao, spearheaded the fight against the Japanese imperialists and for national and social liberation. At a certain stage of this, the communists entered into a united front with the U.S.-backed forces led by Chiang Kai-shek. After the defeat of Japan in China and in World War 2 overall, civil war broke out between the communist-led forces and Chiang’s forces. After four years of intense war, the Chinese revolution triumphed in 1949.  [back]

3. This refers to the first six paragraphs of part 2 of Bob Avakian’s 2007 talk, Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity. You can read those paragraphs here.  [back]

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