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Vol. 75/No. 21      May 30, 2011

(front page)
‘High green, high ball’— Road is open!
Militant/Carole Lesnick
Militant Army volunteer Paul Mailhot, left, talks with ironworker Tim Cameron at his home in Pittsburg, California, May 8, a month after he signed up for subscription. During visit Cameron bought The Changing Face of U.S. Politics by Jack Barnes, one of several books on special discount with a subscription, and contributed $20 to Militant Fighting Fund.

“As us old railroaders used to say, ‘High green, high ball,’” writes Joe Swanson from Lincoln, Nebraska, in a note to the Militant.

“I do not know if rail workers still use those words anymore,” Swanson says, “but I know when I first hired out over 50 years ago, I used to get a little bit of a tingling up and down my spine when I saw the high green and knew the way ahead was clear.” That’s also how Swanson feels, he says, when he reads reports from Socialist Workers Party members and other Militant Army volunteers about “what we as a party and others have open to us right now on the line of march of the working class.”

For volunteers in that army, Swanson’s note is a guide to what’s needed to keep reaching out broadly in the working class to win 2,000 plus new readers and “re-up” subscribers to the Militant in coming weeks, as workers react to growing joblessness, rising prices, and other consequences of today’s deepening capitalist crisis. More and more working people are receptive to what the Militant has to say about the need for a revolution to take power from the capitalist rulers, so workers can begin reorganizing social relations from top to bottom.

Just back from a stint in the Marines, Swanson got his first rail job in 1960, when he was still helping out on his family’s farm in Nebraska. Since then he has worked on the railroad in Missouri, Kansas, New Jersey, and California, as well as numerous other industrial jobs. A member and leader of the Socialist Workers Party since the early 1980s, he has been the party’s candidate for governor of Nebraska, U.S. Senator from California, and mayor of Des Moines, Iowa.

“When I worked on the rails years ago,” Swanson says, “the first crew member who spotted a green signal would call out, ‘High green, high ball,’ and other crew members shouted it too if they saw the same signal.” Whether at night, in fog, or heading into bright sunlight, calling out those words meant “everyone agreed that the track ahead was open to go.”

It’s also a good watchword for the Militant Army. Because experiences going door to door selling Militant subscriptions to workers in recent weeks is showing politically that “the track ahead is open to go.” It captures the confidence of Militant Army volunteers organizing and leading to make and surpass subscriptions quotas in areas across the United States and beyond.

Swanson offers one of his own experiences as an example. On February 26, he reports, there were two events at the state capitol in Lincoln—“dueling rallies over labor,” as a headline in the Omaha World-Herald put it.

One action, sponsored by the liberal group, was attended by some 250 people, including workers and union officials from the area. It was called to support public workers in Wisconsin, who were mobilizing against an assault on their unions by the state government. He continues:

“On the other side of the state capitol, there was a rally to counter the pro-union action organized by two groups that back the Wisconsin governor. At the end of the rally, about 25 AFL officials and others marched over with their signs and chanted ‘union power’ in the faces of the those at the counter rally, attempting to shout them down.

“My auto was parked nearby, and I was able to talk to a few of the union supporters. I sold another paper when I explained that many participants in the counter rally were working people like us who have been impacted by the capitalist economic crisis. I urged them to have a civil discussion with people at the other rally, rather than trying to intimidate.

“They watched as I started to talk with a few participants in the counter rally, including a laid-off construction worker who bought a paper. I think that sort of solidarity surprised those I was able to talk to at both rallies.”

Swanson says his “confidence and class consciousness to talk to those at the counter rally” were bolstered after he attended a public meeting in New York City in January, at which Socialist Workers Party national secretary Jack Barnes emphasized the opportunity missed by socialist workers by not organizing to sell Militant subscriptions to working people at the “Restoring Honor” rally called by Glenn Beck and others in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 2010.

Many of those who turned out for that massive action, Barnes said, were workers, farmers, and others being hit hard by the capitalist economic and social crisis.

Swanson says he “eagerly awaits the socialist education and active workers conference in Ohio in June, where we’ll be able to assess what we’re accomplishing going door to door and what we need to do next” (see box on page 6).


Halfway through the six-week Militant subscription campaign, we’re ahead of schedule, with 57 percent of the international goal now sold. Going into the fourth week, Militant Army volunteers need to keep the pace and pick it up a bit in the United States.

Aiding this effort are four areas that increased their local quotas. Volunteers in Auckland, New Zealand, raised their goal by nearly 20 percent to 65 subscriptions, and those in London upped theirs from 80 to 90. In the United States, Miami volunteers raised their quota from 75 to 85, and in San Francisco members of the Militant Army increased theirs—for the second time—to 175.

Keep sending in reports on your political discussions and debates selling Militant subscriptions door to door. And we need photos!

The Militant Army is also winning recruits! To join up, contact the center closest to you in the directory on page 8.

In solidarity,

Steve Clark
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