We will use the book to introduce working people and youth to the party while going door to door in towns small and large, on the picket lines of workers standing up to capitalist greed, at demonstrations to defend women’s right to choose abortion, and at protests against deportations of immigrant workers.
Growing numbers of workers, in the United States and beyond, are looking for answers to the economic crises, unending wars, attacks on political rights and other effects of world capitalism.
The most important answer the working class needs is to see who we are: the creative, producing class that in the course of fighting for solidarity and against every form of exploitation and oppression will change ourselves and each other and open the road to overturn the dictatorship of capital we live under.
“I think workers sooner or later will come together and make a revolution. It will either be epic or it will be chaos,” said Chantel Berard, a maintenance worker, when SWP campaigners knocked on her door in Winooski, Vermont, June 28.
SWP supporter Dale Torberg responded that a revolution needs leadership. “The Cuban Revolution was led by people who were few in the beginning but they had a clear program and perspective,” he said. “That is what the Socialist Workers Party is building in this country.”
Berard got a copy of Are They Rich, Because They’re Smart?, a Militant subscription, and took a petition sheet to help put the SWP ticket of Alyson Kennedy for president and Osborne Hart for vice president on the ballot in Vermont.
Two dozen other workers bought copies of the book in four days of campaigning in Vermont, including Mark Cherrier, a truck driver in Saint Albans. Cherrier said he was pleased to hear that the SWP is getting a good response in talking to working people across the United States, “It’s about time people started getting fed up,” he said.
Kelsey Brooks lives in South Burlington and works at a gas station. She asked to take some extra leaflets for the Socialist Workers Party campaign. “I know a bunch of disgruntled co-workers who will want to support this,” she said.
This is just scratching the surface of what’s possible. If campaigners act boldly, workers who are attracted to the party’s revolutionary perspective will want to help get Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? around as well.
Defend women’s right to abortionSWP presidential candidate Kennedy took part in the June 24-26 50th anniversary conference of the National Organization for Women in Washington, D.C. She joined hundreds of supporters of the right to choose abortion who celebrated outside the Supreme Court June 27, as the court issued a ruling overturning a Texas law aimed at drastically restricting women’s access to abortion.
Sabrina Larez, a student at Diablo Valley College in California who met Kennedy at the NOW conference, joined her at the rally sporting an SWP campaign button reading “It’s not who you’re against, it’s what you’re for.”
Larez described how her campus Women’s Empowerment club had mobilized 30 students to counter a handful of anti-abortion protesters who showed up with big signs “with the school administration’s permission and in the name of science.”
“That sounds like a good experience,” Kennedy said. “Countermobilizations have been an important part of how abortion was won and how it can be defended — and give us confidence in ourselves.”
At the conference, Kennedy, accompanied by James Harris, the Socialist Workers Party candidate for U.S. president in 2012, campaigned and introduced the party to many of the almost 500 participants.
The party’s table in the exhibit room was a center for discussion on a broad range of questions from the vote in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union to the roots of the war in Syria. Several people commented on the eye-catching cover and title of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Thirteen bought copies, including a student whose parents are farmworkers and a woman whose father was a United Auto Workers member and millwright in Detroit.
Rose Garrity, a long-time activist in the fight against domestic violence, visited the table four times, picking up books each time. “We are so brainwashed to identify with the wealthy ruling class, and what good has that done us?” she said. “I’d like to get a copy of Is Socialist Revolution in the U.S. Possible? for everyone I know. You should come to a conference I’m organizing in October.”
‘They call us stupid when we resist’“It seems we are always called stupid when we stand up for ourselves,” Terri Binkerd told SWP campaigners who knocked on her door in Bountiful, Utah, June 28. At least workers in the U.K. “did something about the crisis they face,” she said.
When Rose Engstrom showed her Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Binkerd commented, “I’m a teacher and I see that every day. ‘Education’ is not about learning, it’s more about belittling. We need to start over with the whole thing. It can’t stay this way.” She asked them to come back in two days so she can get the book, a Militant subscription and continue the discussion.
“For the last 10 years I’ve been an example of what you’re talking about,” said Chuck Lawrence in his front yard in Orem when campaigners raised how workers have been hit by capitalism’s worldwide economic crisis. After being laid off from RR Donnelley, he finally found work at another printing company. His new job conditions were bad, “So we got together and organized into the Teamsters union,” he said.
“I’m not voting,” Lawrence said. “I don’t like any of them, Democrats or Republicans. Others at work think like this.”
“We need to build a mass movement of millions of workers that fights to end the dictatorship of capital,” SWP campaigner, Maggie Trowe responded. “As we defend ourselves from the effects of the depression we will gain more confidence that we can organize society. The SWP candidates are campaigning to raise this.” After more discussion, Lawrence subscribed to the Militant and bought Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? and Is Socialist Revolution in the U.S. Possible? “I’m going to take these to work to read them,” he said.
In Utah, where the Socialist Workers Party has a long history of participating in working-class struggles, campaigners are also organizing to put the party on the ballot. Karen Stockert, a home health care worker who drove from Heber City to join the campaigning, remarked, “We met workers at three different houses who remembered the struggle of miners at the Co-Op mine in Huntington that Alyson Kennedy was a part of. They were glad to hear she was the party’s candidate.”
On the ballot in MinnesotaOn June 14, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon certified that Kennedy and Hart will appear on the November ballot. In May and June, SWP supporters campaigned door to door in every corner of the state, in big cities and small towns — 48 in all. They introduced their party and its program to a broad cross section of workers, speaking with supporters of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders as well as many who did not support any of the capitalist politicians.
In three weeks, 161 workers subscribed to the Militant, more than 2,400 signed to put the party on the ballot, and 42 books on the party’s perspective and program were sold. Now is the opportunity to go back and continue the discussions, using Are They Rich Because They’re Smart?
Chris Hoeppner in Vermont, Jacquie Henderson in Utah, David Rosenfeld in Minnesota and Arlene Rubinstein in Washington, D.C. contributed to this article.
A book about the capacity of workers
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