BY GREG McCARTAN
Socialists workers and members of the Young Socialists launched a one-month drive this week to bring several new titles published by Pathfinder to workers in struggle and to youth attracted to revolutionary action and ideas.
The charts published here show goals taken by socialists in cities around the world. In addition, they will be contacting readers of the Militant and its Spanish-language sister magazine Perspectiva Mundial to discuss with them the many reasons to renew their subscriptions.
The feature title in this campaign is Pombo: A Man of Che's `Guerrilla,' recently released by Pathfinder. In this book Harry Villegas, known by his nom de guerre Pombo, tells the story of the 1966 - 68 revolutionary campaign in Bolivia led by Ernesto Che Guevara. At the time Pombo was a member of Guevara's general staff and in his 20s. Pathfinder published at the same time two new pamphlets in Spanish and English: At the Side of Che Guevara: Interviews with Harry Villegas (Pombo).
Socialists are also making The Changing Face of U.S. Politics: Working-Class Politics and the Trade Unions part of the campaign. The book, by Jack Barnes, was recently published in Spanish for the first time as El rostro cambiante de la política en Estados Unidos.
Verónica Poses, a member of the National Executive Committee of the Young Socialists, said in an interview from the Chicago that YS members are getting involved in the sales campaign because "We want to do in the United States what Pombo was part of doing in Cuba: leading a revolution that put in power workers and peasants."
"In Pombo you can see the kind of person that they tell us under capitalism cannot make a real difference," Poses said. "But by standing up and fighting they did make a difference. He was a young Black from a poor family who joined the revolutionary struggles that changed the world."
The Young Socialists are "trying to get these books into the hands of revolutionary minded young people and those who are already fighting here in the United States," the youth leader said. "I went out to the Teamsters picket line at UPS today and we talked about Cuba, Ireland, and affirmative action. Some strikers were very interested in what happened in Cuba and wanted to discuss how we can make a change here in the United States. That is the kind of people we want to get these books."
Asked about The Changing Face of U.S. Politics, Poses said the two books "are very much related. One is the diary of how revolutionaries tried to make a revolution in Bolivia and the kind of disciplined and political leadership they were fighting to forge. What The Changing Face talks about is how we can do that in the United States."
Poses said the YS in Chicago "took a goal to sell eight copies of Pombo: A Man of Che's `Guerrilla,' three of The Changing Face of U.S. Politics, and two copies of El rostro cambiante de la política en Estados Unidos."
Socialist workers in Chicago got a good response calling subscribers in the area. Isom Weems, who works at the fuel systems division of Caterpillar in Pontiac, Illinois invited them to visit him. He explained, "Cat is still trying to break our union. Management has forced some of the workers in the plant onto a 12-hour shift." Weems decided to renew his subscription to the Militant and bought Pombo: A Man of Che's `Guerrillá and At the Side of Che Guevara. He also became a member of the Pathfinder Readers club and purchased a copy of New International no. 10.
Joel Britton, a leader of the Socialist Workers Party and its trade union work, said in a phone interview, "The evidence is mounting that the long retreat of the working class in the face of the rulers' drive to increase their profit rates is bottoming out. You could say workers have fought their way onto a plateau, and aren't in a retreat right now."
Britton, a member of the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers in Chicago, pointed out that, "With the numbers of younger workers on strike at UPS, we are seeing a lot of militancy and creativity," he noted. "For example, many workers showed up at company gates early last Thursday when the contract expired to be a part of whatever was going to happen. Millions of working people are watching this strike closely. People who subscribed to the Militant last spring will be especially interested in the paper's continued coverage of this fight, as well as the class struggle internationally."
The SWP leader said that "socialist workers in industrial trade unions have found among our co-workers quite a bit of interest in and thoughtful reaction to the strike. There is also a tremendous recognition that the bosses at UPS need to be fought. Many of our co-workers have worked at UPS, often as part-timers, and felt the sting of UPS management's speedup and vicious anti-labor profit drive," he said. "This is an immediate opportunity to get fellow workers involved with us, going to the picket lines, and throwing in our lot with these fighters."
"One of the first workers we talked to remembered the Militant from 1991 when the paper covered the workers fight for a union, which lost by 200 votes. This worker was fired when the union lost the election, but was reinstated in April 1997 after a union victory against the company," she said.
"I liked the truthful way the Militant wrote about what was happening here in 1991, why we felt we needed the union," the mill worker told Rubenstein. "But you know the company lied to us - they told us you were communists," he said. "We are communists," she explained. The worker replied, "Okay. What is a communist then?" he asked as he bought a paper and made a donation.
The team sold seven Militants at two plant-gates and several more workers gave their names to stay in touch.
Pathfinder will be producing several new pieces of
material to aid supporters in the campaign to sell the new
titles. They include a brochure featuring the new titles and
books on Che Guevara and the Cuban revolution, as well as a
poster, promotional photos, and press release on Pombo: A
Man of Che's `Guerrilla.'
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