Party branches across the country have taken quotas to sell 1,750 copies of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? between now and Aug. 22 as part of a far-reaching campaign to introduce thousands of workers to the Socialist Workers Party. The new book, by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes, is a great way to present the party’s revolutionary perspective. In face of the slow-burning depression and spreading wars caused by the world crisis of capitalism, it explains, the working class is capable of using its intelligence and capacities to begin to transform ourselves and others on the road to workers power.
The centerpiece of this campaigning is going door to door in working-class areas in cities, small towns and farming areas across the country. Since June 25 teams campaigning in Utah have sold 76 copies of the book; in Vermont, 133 copies; and in Washington state, 16.
In these discussions many people bear witness to the toll of the grinding social and economic crisis of capitalism. Accounts of difficulties in getting adequate health care for illnesses and work injuries abound.
“I work for FedEx from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. and for myself after that” doing mowing and other work, Michael Wilcox, who lives in a trailer park in Bolton, said July 1. “I am not covered for health insurance, so that comes out of my pay.”
Two days earlier, Sharon Holcomb in South Burlington described the “donut” gap she and her husband face — the shortfall between Medicare coverage and their medical expenses.
Both Wilcox and Holcomb bought a copy of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? They took advantage of the special offer to get the book and a 12-week subscription to the Militant for just $10.
Many others have also been eager to discuss and start reading the book, noting the words on the back cover, “In the coming battles forced upon us by the capitalist rulers, workers will begin to transform ourselves and our attitudes toward life, work and each other,” thereby discovering “our own worth and … what we’re capable of becoming.”
Other social problems often mentioned on Vermont porches include inadequate wages, the debt burden from student loans and the epidemic of addiction to opiates.
In Rutland an announcement by the mayor in April that 100 refugees from the civil war in Syria would be resettled in the city of 16,500 has sparked controversy. The proposal, which is yet to be approved by the State Department, is part of a broader resettlement plan being discussed across the state.
In a July 3 discussion in a trailer park in Milton, George Ladabouche, who works as a carpenter, differed with the attitude of a friend who said the Syrian refugees would be taking the jobs of American workers. “They have to live too,” Ladabouche said, adding that immigrants are often left with no choice but to “work for minimum wage.”
“It’s true that the capitalists try to use immigrants to divide the working class and push down wages,” Sergio Zambrana, one of those going door to door, told him. “Workers need to counter that by bringing them into the unions and fighting any discrimination they face.” Ladabouche’s response was to buy the book and subscription.
Several of those met door to door have volunteered to campaign. “The line that caught my eye from your paper is that this is ‘the crisis of capitalism,’” Thomas Locatel, 58, a carpenter who is now disabled, told Chris Hoeppner in Winooski July 4. “I never thought of it like that,” he said as he bought Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? and a Militant subscription.
“When I described how open people are to the Socialist Workers Party and to our explanation of the course of building a movement to take power out of the capitalists’ hands,” Hoeppner said, “Locatel asked if he could go with us door to door. I said, ‘Yes, of course.’ He said he would start reading the book right away.”
As of July 4, the results of the campaign in Vermont — beside the books — stand at 92 subscriptions and 186 copies of the Militant, and 1,190 signatures on the petition to place SWP candidates Alyson Kennedy for U.S. president and Osborne Hart for vice president on the ballot in the state.
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