BY NAOMI CRAINE
To make a revolution it takes revolutionaries. Talking socialism and recruiting workers and rebel youth to a party capable of leading the working class to take state power is the key task before socialist workers today. One of the best ways to do this over the next three weeks is by campaigning to meet the goal of selling 1,550 copies of Episodes of the Cuban Revolutionary War by April 1. So far 907 copies have been sold.
The effort to sell this book by Ernesto Che Guevara - just republished in a new English-language edition by Pathfinder Press - is part of a campaign by socialist workers to increase overall sales of Pathfinder books.
Branches of the Socialist Workers Party, working with Young Socialists and other supporters of the socialist movement, have taken goals to sell 1,800 Pathfinder books and pamphlets each month through local Pathfinder bookstores - including off street tables, to co-workers on the job, and at political events - and 1,400 a month to other commercial bookstores, libraries, and universities. Socialist workers who are union members have also taken goals for selling Episodes and other Pathfinder books to their co-workers. At the same time SWP branches are taking steps to solidify the financial base of the party through the regular voluntary contributions of members and supporters.
After an initial boost from regular Pathfinder readers and socialist activists buying the book, sales of Episodes have slipped. According to the reports sent to the Militant, 81 copies were sold last week, compared to 96 the week before. To make the goal on time, Pathfinder supporters need to sell 214 copies per week for the rest of March. This will require reaching out to many people who have not bought Pathfinder books before.
Episodes is not just a book about the military campaigns and political events that culminated in the popular insurrection that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship in Cuba in January 1959. It explains concretely how workers and farmers can transform themselves through struggle, forge a political leadership capable of leading millions to open a socialist revolution, and organize to take state power.
Selling the book "has been integrated in everything we do," said Tony Lane from Twin Cities, Minnesota, explaining how socialist activists in his area got to the top of the chart in Episodes sales. "We've sold the book at all kinds of political meetings and campus tables, and we now have a list of 50-60 people to follow up on as well," he said. One recent sale was at a conference of the National Farmers Union. A farm activist and supporter of immigrant rights from Dodge City, Kansas, bought a Militant sub and a copy of Episodes.
Holding a public celebration of the book early on in the campaign - February 16 - was a big boost, Lane said. "It helped us get out and talk to people." Several copies were sold at the event, and a couple more at an emergency Militant Labor Forum March 1 responding to Washington's threats against Cuba. Public classes to collectively discuss the book also helped get Pathfinder supporters in the campaign mode.
Meetings are planned to celebrate the publication of Episodes in San Francisco and Los Angeles the weekend of March 16-17. Róger Calero, who was part of the Perspectiva Mundial reporting team at the recent Havana book fair, will be one of the speakers at the two events.
Recruitment to YS
Getting out with the books is part of building the upcoming Young Socialists convention and recruiting to the organization. Lane reported that the Young Socialists in Twin Cities recruited a new member, Jason Drake, who first stopped by a socialist literature table at the University of Minnesota. One of the socialist workers staffing the table called Drake after the sale and gave him a ride to the next Militant Labor Forum. After coming to a few forums and other activities, he decided to join.
Recruitment to YS
The YS also gained a new member in Newark, New Jersey. Aliyah Sabbá, 19, protested racist skinheads in Austria and also studied the history of the Black struggle in the United States. She is now working as a nanny, and was one of the people who stopped by a literature table in New Brunswick March 2. She came to a class on Episodes the next day at the Pathfinder bookstore in Newark, and joined the YS a week later after a second class.
Militant supporters across the country report high sales of the socialist newspaper over the last couple weeks, as they campaign against Washington's aggression toward Cuba. Selling the Episodes, as well as other Pathfinder titles such as the speeches by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in To Speak the Truth - Why Washington's `Cold War' against Cuba Doesn't End, fits in well with defending the Cuban revolution and building activities like the upcoming tour of Cuban youth leaders to the United States and the congress of the Central Organization of Cuban Workers in April.
Campaigning with Pathfinder books and pamphlets provides a framework for other political work, such as reaching out to workers involved in labor struggles. Marty Ressler reported that a team of socialist workers from the General Motors plant in Tarrytown, New York, went to Peoria, Illinois, March 9-10 to talk with Caterpillar workers. They sold a copy of the Action Program to Confront the Coming Economic Crisis, as well as 25 copies of the Militant, at plant gates, door-to-door, and outside a shopping center. The goals for monthly sales of Pathfinder books are aimed at increasing the effectiveness of socialist workers when they reach out.
The experience of Pathfinder supporters in Brooklyn, March 10, demonstrates the cumulative impact of getting out on the streets and keeping Pathfinder bookstores open. It was the second "movement Sunday" in a row, where socialist workers met to plan their activities and then took a full day to campaign on the streets.
As the chart on this page shows, the Militant is not yet receiving weekly reports from every city on their sales totals. A reporting form was sent out by e-mail. It should be returned each Monday by 8 a.m. Eastern time so that the Militant's figures are up to date. Totals should include only Pathfinder books and pamphlets sold, not books from other publishers.
It's important to also get in stories and figures from on- the-job sales. Bob Miller reported the final February total at the Ford assembly plant in Edison, New Jersey, was 52 titles. "By March 8, 13 more titles have been snapped up by auto workers, including 4 copies of Episodes," he wrote. "Four more people joined the Pathfinder Readers Club, bringing the total to 14 new members."
BY LISA ROTTACH, BROOKLYN - Supporters of Pathfinder in Brooklyn sold 43 books and pamphlets on Sunday, March 10. The success resulted from the combined efforts to expand sales through extended bookstore hours, commercial sales, and increased participation in political events.
Teams of socialist workers set up tables in Brooklyn and Queens featuring the Militant newspaper and books and pamphlets from the local Pathfinder bookstore. Ten books and pamphlets were sold off the tables and five titles were sold to people who came into the bookstore. A member of the International Association of Machinists also sold a copy of the Second Declaration of Havana to a co-worker.
Several people came to the bookstore as a result of flyers they had picked up at tables the preceding week. A young man from Spain bought a copy of Nueva Internacional no. 2 on Che Guevara. He ended up staying for a class on Guevara's Episodes of the Cuban Revolutionary War. A student from Haiti also attended the class. He had bought a copy of the book several weeks ago from a team at Long Island University. A week later he came by the bookstore and bought a copy of New International no. 10, with the article "Imperialism's March toward Fascism and War." After the class, several participants went over to a nearby home to view a video on the frame-up of Mark Curtis and to continue the political discussion.
A highlight of the weekend was the 27 books and pamphlets purchased at an event on Sunday commemorating the March 13 anniversary of the 1979 Grenadian revolution. Some 150 people attended the day-long event, where a team of six socialist workers staffed a table. Titles purchased included two copies of Episodes; eight copies each of Maurice Bishop Speaks and New International no. 6, with the article "The Second Assassination of Maurice Bishop"; and others. "This is about the class struggle," Karen Richards, originally from Jamaica, said as she paged through a copy of To Speak the Truth. Richards volunteered to help organize an upcoming tour of two Cuban youth to the United States.
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