At a rally following its 40th constitutional convention in San Francisco, the Socialist Workers Party launched a Party- Building Fund to raise $75,000 by June 15. The fund will help cover expenses as the party responds to the changing reality in the capitalist world and the rise in resistance among workers, farmers, and young people in the United States and other countries. More than $47,000 in pledges and contributions was raised at the April 3 rally.
An "emerging pattern is taking shape, defined by the actions of a vanguard whose ranks increase with every single worker or farmer who reaches out to others with the hand of solidarity and offers to fight together," explains the opening chapter of the new book Capitalism's World Disorder: Working- Class Politics at the Millennium by SWP national secretary Jack Barnes. That chapter, entitled "A sea change in working-class politics," was one of three documents discussed and adopted by convention delegates.
The Militant is now running a labor and farm action calendar as a weekly feature (see page 3). It is put together by reports from locked-out oil workers in Texas, immigrant rights fighters in Iowa, farmers from Georgia to Pennsylvania, striking Steelworkers, and others. Participating in these struggles by workers and their allies on the land - across the width and breadth of North America, and beyond - takes political attention and collaboration. And it also takes money.
The party-building fund will help pay for increased travel, phone, and other expenses incurred in the course of extending the reach of the communist movement and winning new members to the Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialists. Joel Britton, a leader of the party's national trade union work who will be on the road over the next few months helping to advance this effort, explained the purpose of the fund during discussion on his convention report, "Stand Up, Act, Fight, and Be Counted."
Prior to the convention, workers in the party's national trade union fractions, composed of SWP and YS members who belong to six industrial unions, held meetings at which, among other decisions, they adopted a campaign to sell 500 copies of Capitalism's World Disorder to co-workers on the job and to unionists and working people at solidarity activities and in the course of other social struggles. Building on that initiative, convention delegates decided to campaign to sell an additional 1,000 copies. This will be led by branches of the SWP together with Young Socialists members and YS chapters, who are enlisting the aid of supporters and co-fighters in this effort.
Delegates to the SWP convention voted to deepen the party's collaboration with miners in the Western coal fields as well as in Central Illinois and throughout the United States. One delegate reported that just in the two weeks prior to convention, he and another party member had logged a few thousands miles (and many gallons of gasoline) driving throughout the Mountain Time Zone. SWP and YS members in Illinois have begun a campaign to get 100 copies of the newly reprinted pamphlet Coal Miners on Strike into hands of members of the United Mine Workers and other coal miners there. Party members in central Illinois are also continuing to reach out to fighting workers at Caterpillar and others across the state.
Workers in the SWP and YS are also joining in efforts through their unions and in other ways to mobilize solidarity with Steelworkers on strike at the giant shipyard in Newport News, Virginia; catfish workers in Mississippi fighting for dignity; and many others. They are reaching out to working farmers in the South, across the Midwest, and joining with farmers who are Black to oppose government discrimination at meetings across the South.
As the brutal U.S. bombardment of Yugoslavia escalates, a major New York big-business newspaper, the Daily News, recently trimmed its budget by recalling its Balkans correspondent - with a statement by the owner affirming "a commitment to send a correspondent there should conditions warrant"! In contrast, an international team of worker- correspondents led by Militant staff writer Argiris Malapanis is now in the Balkans to help politically arm class-struggle militants with the truth about Washington's nearly 10-year assault on the working people of Yugoslavia.
All this activity over the spring and summer converges along the road to the August 5-8 Active Workers Conference in Oberlin, Ohio, sponsored by the SWP and YS. Wherever socialist workers and youth are traveling to join in struggles, they are encouraging workers and farmers to pack up their cars and vans to come to the conference and exchange experiences and ideas, help broaden active solidarity, and participate in classes on books and pamphlets recording the lessons of workers' struggles the world over.
Supporters of the $75,000 Party-Building Fund will be reaching out broadly to workers, farmers, and rebel-minded youth who want to make a contribution to this effort as an important way of resisting the devastating consequences for toilers of capitalism's growing world disorder. Working people and youth interested in joining the Young Socialists or the Socialist Workers Party, or who are collaborating with them regularly in common battles, understand why the working-class movement can only advance on the basis of self-financing organizations whose efforts are supported by voluntary contributions of time, labor, and money.
SWP branches and trade union fractions, YS chapters, and groups of supporters of the communist movement are currently discussing goals for the fund drive in their areas. They will be organizing special Party-Building Fund public meetings and banquets to hear reports from some of those directly involved in leading the political activities the campaign is organized to help finance. When such meetings are organized early on in the drive, they can help maximize contributions and help ensure that payments are made on a regular basis throughout the effort, not left to a frantic last-week surge.
A scoreboard listing the goals from cities across the United States will appear in the issue of the Militant printed May 6. Each week articles reporting the progress of the drive through the course of activity in the class struggle will appear in the Militant, along with the scoreboard and chart recording the regular progress toward making and surpassing the $75,000 goal by June 15. Checks that arrive in New York by noon each Tuesday will be recorded in that week's issue.
Contributions can be sent to 410 West Street, New York, NY 10014. Please make checks and money orders out to the Socialist Workers Party.
Brian Taylor Steve Clark
co-directors, 1999 Party-Building Fund
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