The campaign runs through Dec. 16. It is rooted in regular door-to-door sales in working-class neighborhoods, with special attention to communities with concentrations of workers who are Black. Over the last few weeks, several readers have joined the effort, introducing the paper to friends and relatives or going door to door with Militant distributors.
“The Militant is the only paper that told the truth about our struggle,” said Shelly Porter at an Oct. 20 campaign meeting in Seattle with James Harris, Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate.
Porter is a member of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 in Longview, Wash. She was part of an eight-month-long battle in 2011-2012 against an attempt by EGT Development to keep the ILWU out of its new grain terminal. The company was eventually forced to hire ILWU members.
“At first I thought this was a full-time job for these people,” Porter said, referring to the Militant’s worker correspondents who write for the paper and help circulate it. “Then I found out they are workers and do this in their spare time, and this blew me away.”
Porter had initially taken a quota of five for the subscription campaign, putting Longview on the chart for the first time. But at the Seattle meeting, she turned in six new subscriptions, prompting her to raise her quota to eight. “The Militant is important to me and I want everyone to read it,” she said.
Members of the Revolutionary Socialist Alliance, a campus group at the University of Texas-Pan American in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas have adopted a goal of 25 subscriptions. Readers from Redding, Calif., and Tampa, Fla., also asked this week that their regions be added to the campaign scoreboard—bringing to seven the total number of areas joining the subscription effort for the first time.
Readers in several areas are still discussing their local quotas in light of initial experiences in the campaign and the political situation that makes possible organizing the biggest subscription effort in years.
Interest in revolutionary courseDuring a weekend trip to southern Illinois, three Militant supporters from Chicago and one from Aurora, Ill., sold six subscriptions to the paper and several books on revolutionary politics going door to door and talking to coal miners, farmers and other workers.
Many knew about the attempt by Peabody Energy and Patriot Coal to slash health and retirement benefits through bankruptcy proceedings. (See “Miners Fight Patriot Coal Plan to Dump Health Care and Pensions” in last week’s issue.)
Among residents of the area who subscribed to the paper was Joshua Walls, who quit a mining job at American Coal in Galatia, Ill., over unsafe working conditions and has been fighting for six months to get unemployment.
“Safety issues reported to my supervisors were not addressed,” Walls said. “The slope where I worked was dilapidated. This was the secondary escape way for the mine. Roof bolts were rusty and areas had no bolts. We were trying to repair things, but you can’t weld to rust. The fire boss did nothing about this. What if one of my buddies got killed, how could I live with myself?”
The Mine Safety and Health Administration investigation claimed the slope was safe, said Walls.
More and more working people face these kind of experiences, with boss assaults on wages and government attacks on our rights, as the propertied rulers react to the worldwide crisis of capitalism.
At the same time, working-class resistance remains, for now, limited under the pressure of persistently high unemployment and the consequences of decades of collaboration with the bosses, along with support for their political parties, by the labor union officialdom.
On the other hand, far from being demoralized or disinterested, we find a growing interest among working people in a communist explanation of the capitalist crisis and a revolutionary solution to it that is presented in the Militant and books on revolution by Pathfinder Press.
We find more working people today, of all nationalities and backgrounds, receptive to the revolutionary conclusions presented in books like Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, which become more relevant as the crisis deepens. The book is one of four titles on special sale at reduced prices with a subscription. (See ad on this page. Beginning with the selection on page 2 this week, the Militant will periodically run excerpts from these books.)
The book, as its introduction explains, is about “why [a] revolutionary conquest of state power by a politically class-conscious and organized vanguard of the working class—millions strong—is necessary. And why that new state power provides working people the mightiest weapon possible to wage the ongoing battle to end Black oppression and every form of exploitation and human degradation inherited from millennia of class-divided society.”
“It’s a comfort to me. I like to read it. That’s what I tell everyone,” said Joyce Nelson from Brooklyn when asked by Militant distributors Susan LaMont and Ma’mud Shirvani why she wanted to renew her subscription to the paper.
Nelson is a Jamaican-born retired home care aide. She said she knew other friends and family members who would be interested in the paper, starting with her daughter Pauline. She then called the latter and handed the phone to LaMont. “Sure, I’ll subscribe,” said Pauline, adding she was familiar with the paper, seeing it in Harlem and reading it from time to time.
In addition to renewing her subscription, Nelson got a copy of The Cuban Five: Who They Are, Why They Were Framed, Why They Should Be Free.
Shirelynn George met Militant distributors Emma Johnson and Steve Clark Oct. 21 to go around the East Flatbush area of Brooklyn where she lives in order to publicize a meeting on the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution where both George and Clark are speaking and introduce people to the Militant. (See Militant Labor Forum calendar on page 6.)
George participated in the revolution led by Maurice Bishop in the Caribbean island-nation of Grenada, which opened the door for workers and farmers to begin confronting the legacy of slavery, colonial oppression and imperialist domination. The revolution was overthrown and Bishop murdered in a 1983 coup by a Stalinist faction inside the revolutionary government, making it possible for Washington to invade the island.
By walking around the stores and talking to people George knew in the neighborhood, several leaflets advertising the Grenada meeting were posted and two subscriptions to the Militant and one copy of Maurice Bishop Speaks, a collection of speeches and interviews by the revolutionary leader, were sold.
“I find it important to make the information contained in the Militant available and also because it presents a viable alternative to capitalism and the way to get there,” Philippe Tessier said when asked why he joined with Militant distributor Bev Bernardo going door to door in Montreal last weekend.
Tessier is a student at the University of Montreal. He subscribed to the Militant at the Montreal Book Fair last fall, along with several books published by Pathfinder Press. He regularly attends the Militant Labor Forum program in that city and has begun to sell the Militant, including a subscription, to fellow students and friends.
These are examples that all readers can emulate.
You can order subscription blanks and Militant bundles at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 244-4899.
Your reports, comments, quotes and photos are crucial for this column. Send them by 9 a.m. EDT every Monday.
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