Berkeley needs to stand up to fascist ideas

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Over the last two years, pro-Trump fascists have attacked Revolution Books in Berkeley and even threatened to burn it down. This past Sunday, Sept. 1, pro-Trump protesters once again attempted to march on our bookstore but were prevented from doing so by a defiant and joyous counter-protest.

The call for their “No to Marxism” protest said, “Revolution Books is a communist anti-American store.” Innocent as charged. Revolution Books is the intellectual, cultural and political center of a movement for an actual revolution. At the heart of our store is the new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian — a further development of Marxism and an even more scientific and liberating understanding of the world and how it can be radically changed.

We will not be intimidated by these anti-communist protesters. At the same time, these threats must be taken seriously. This fascism is not a sideshow or something that can be voted away, but it is deeply rooted in this system — it can and is “happening here.” Reflect on this poem from Nazi Germany, written by Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

How much do these words from Neimöller echo right now, after a summer of white supremacist terror unleashed by the Oval office’s words and muzzles of AR-15s? Look at what has happened in the last two and a half years: the administration has banned the entry of people from Muslim-majority countries; it’s said Jews who vote Democratic are “disloyal”; it’s told Congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from; it’s revealed a regulation to allow it to detain migrants indefinitely; it’s had the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, carry out raids that leave children to come home from school to find that their parents are gone; it’s packed the courts with conservatives and is aiming to take away women’s right to abortion; it’s threatened multiple nations with nuclear war; it’s stripped away one environmental protection after another as our planet stands on the precipice of climate disaster.

All this, while way too many people turn their heads away because “it’s not happening to me” or because they’re not willing to get out of their comfort zone to make the sacrifices necessary to stop all this. Yesterday’s outrage becomes today’s new normal as people accommodate themselves to the unacceptable.

UC Berkeley students might think that it is scary to stand up to fascism. And there’s no denying that there are risks. But what’s more scary is allowing fascists to march through Berkeley unopposed. What’s even more scary is allowing the Trump administration to remain in power and fully implement its agenda.

At the same time, we have to pull the lens back and ask a deeper question. What kind of system creates people like Donald Trump? Is this an aberration in America and American democracy, or is this the culmination of this nation’s history, since it’s foundations were built on slavery and genocide? As Bob Avakian put it, “There’s a direct line from the Confederacy to the fascists of today.”

What kind of system produced this fascism? A system whose “normal workings” mean 1,000 people are shot and killed by police every year and over 2.3 million people are in prison in this so-called “land of the free”; it’s 1 in 4 women sexually assaulted on college campuses; it’s Barack Obama, who deported more immigrants than anyone else and drone-bombed seven countries; it’s imperialist wars and coups carried out all over Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, whether there are Democrats or Republicans in the White House; it’s environmental destruction, which will continue on and get worse as long as capitalism is in command — a system based on the competitive chase for the highest profit.

As Bob Avakian has written, “There’s nothing more unrealistic than the idea of reforming this system into something that would come anywhere near being in the interests of the great majority of people and ultimately of humanity as a whole.”

But whether we are for revolution or for reform, these attacks on Revolution Books are attacks on everyone who values social justice, art and imagination, intellectual engagement and the search for the truth. It matters that we stand together, from our diverse perspectives, in defense of Revolution Books.

We invite you to come to the bookstore. Browse the literature. Open up a world of radical ideas. Be part of discussions about the big questions. With the Trump/Pence regime perpetrating one atrocity after another, why are people not in the streets like Puerto Rico and Hong Kong? Can fundamental change be brought about by working within the system or does the whole system need to be overthrown? How could revolution actually be made in a country like this? What would we replace this system with? And what is our role and responsibility in all this? There are real answers to these questions, and many others, at Revolution Books. At the same time, your ideas, your creativity, your energy and your contributions are urgently needed as we work together to solve the monumental problems facing humanity at this critical moment in history.

Rafael Kadaris is a supporter of Revolution Books and the National Get Organized for an Actual Revolution Tour