‘I want to read these socialist books and that Militant paper’

By Dan Fein
April 30, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. — “I want to read these socialist books and newspapers. They are just what I was looking for. Capitalism has nothing to offer workers today,” said math teacher Charles Coulston when he came up to the Socialist Workers Party literature table we set up at the April 14 teachers’ rally at the state Capitol here.

Thousands of teachers and their supporters were demonstrating to defend their pensions that are under attack by the state legislature.

Nineteen subscriptions and 19 books on special offer were grabbed up by teachers and others looking for how to confront the effects of today’s crisis of capitalism. Fifty-one single copies of the Militant were sold. Two teachers made donations to the Militant Fighting Fund.

Members and supporters of the SWP and Communist Leagues in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. are on an eight-week campaign to sell 1,400 subscriptions to the Militant and a similar number of books by party leaders and other revolutionaries, and to raise $112,000 for the paper. The annual fund drive helps cover the paper’s operating expenses and to set up an improved website, scheduled to be completed before the end of May. The five books on special are shown below.

Dozens of SWP supporters have joined rallies of teachers and other schools workers fighting for higher wages, better conditions and more funds for schools in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona.

Joanna Thompson, a teacher from Hazard, told SWP member Ilona Gersh, “If we don’t do something now, the public school system will lose its funding and be forced to close the doors.” Gersh asked her, “Where do you think the school funding should come from?”

“They can’t put more taxes on us,” Thompson said. “Tax the coal companies, the gambling industry and medical marijuana companies.” She signed up for a Militant subscription and got Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power. SWP members Rose Engstrom and Rachel Wilson participated in a teachers’ rally in Oklahoma City April 10 where they met Christa McAlister, a 26-year-old band director. “This crisis shows Oklahomans how important it is to vote,” she said.

“In every social struggle that gains some strength, we see the Democratic Party tries to usurp that power and suck it off the streets and into the capitalist two-party system,” Wilson replied. McAlister thought about it and agreed, and got a Militant subscription.

“I support the teachers 100 percent! I think it’s great!” was the response of Charley Manning when SWP members knocked on her door in Chandler, Oklahoma. She said she took her kids to see the teachers’ march from Tulsa to the Capitol in Oklahoma City when it came through town to show support to their fight. Manning got a subscription, as did two other people in Chandler when we knocked on their doors April 11.

A team of three SWP members from California went to Arizona April 13-14 where teachers are fighting for a 20 percent wage increase after years with no raises. The team went door to door in Mesa where they met Martin Hernandez, an organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers.

Hernandez picked up a year’s Militant subscription as well as a copy of “It’s the Poor Who Face the Savagery of the US ‘Justice’ System,” written by five Cuban revolutionaries who had been imprisoned up to 16 years in the U.S. for their activities in defense of the revolution. Team members sold six Militant subscriptions and nine books on special.

Erin O’Brien met Communist League member Katy LeRoux in the employee cafeteria at the retail store where they work in British Columbia. She wanted to learn more about Cuba, so LeRoux told her about “It’s the Poor Who Face the Savagery of the US ‘Justice’ System.” She invited LeRoux over for coffee.

When LeRoux showed her the Militant’s coverage of the U.S. teachers’ fights, she said, “I’d like to read that,” On Monday she brought in $20 for the subscription, the book and a donation to the Militant Fighting Fund.

“As part of teams going door to door in Carlton, a working-class suburb in Sydney’s south April 15, I met Yuantu Huang, 58, a worker in a computer factory,” Ron Poulsen writes from Australia. “He told me that after some layoffs at the factory, he is now forced to do the job of two workers and to take work home to complete without pay.

“Huang made a $20 donation to the Militant Fighting Fund,” Poulsen said.

To go with SWP members to the teachers’ fights, and to join efforts to expand the reach of the party’s publications and raise funds for the Militant, contact the party branch nearest you.