“You ask what’s it like here,” said 28-year-old Rachel Meeler when Anthony Dutrow, Socialist Workers Party candidate for Miami City Commission, and campaign supporters met her in Clewiston, Florida, 100 miles north of Miami, Jan. 19. They were knocking on doors to introduce the party in towns on the shores of Lake Okeechobee. “I’ll tell you what it’s like — there’s no jobs and no housing, and you can thank U.S. Sugar for all that’s bad about it. They’d rather have us all poor and desperate so we’ll put up with their rotten pay and dangerous conditions.”
The reclaimed wetlands area is dominated by the sugar industry with miles of cane fields dotted by sugar refineries.
“In Clewiston the sugar company won’t let a new casino be built because they’re afraid wages will go up,” Meeler said as she rounded up her four kids to go to the store. “I used to work for the Seminole Casino in Immokalee, but they forced me out when I got pregnant.”
“We think working people in cities like Miami have more in common with people in rural areas like this than we know,” Dutrow said. They discussed what working people face today amid the ongoing crisis of capitalism that bosses try to lay on their backs. Meeler bought a copy of the new book, In Defense of the US Working Class, by SWP leader Mary-Alice Waters, along with a subscription to the Militant.
Teams of campaigners from the Socialist Workers Party and from the Communist Leagues in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are driving down highways and byways to cities, towns and rural areas and stopping to knock on doors in working-class neighborhoods.
The goal of the weekly campaigning is to learn more about what working people face from the blows of the capitalist rulers in areas where a majority live outside the big cities. Workers, small proprietors and the self-employed, as well as farmers are looking to share experiences on how the dog-eat-dog capitalist bosses are impacting their lives and ways to fight back.
Uncertainty about jobs, housing, rising costs of living, debt problems, the difficulty of starting a family today, and the ways imperialism’s wars devastate people at home as well as abroad are topics that come up. The campaigning is aided by SWP candidates the party has fielded across the country.
SWP members introduce the party, books to read, study and discuss by party leaders, and the Militant newspaper. They discuss workers’ struggles taking place and seek to build solidarity and participation. They point to the example of the revolution made by Cuba’s workers and farmers. The goal is to expand the party’s reach and win new members.
‘Come in, it’s cold outside’
In Canada, Jean Grant, an 85-year-old retired nursing instructor, greeted Communist League members Michel Dugré and Katy LeRougetel Jan. 16 at her door in Merritt, a town of 7,000 in British Columbia’s southern interior. “Come in, it’s cold out,” Grant said, who was interested in talking about politics. She described her years of activity, first in the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and then, with increasing disillusionment, in the New Democratic Party. “The CCF began as a farmers’ party,” she said, “but the NDP is just another corporate entity now.”
“The yellow vest protesters in France, the teachers’ fight in West Virginia and across the U.S. last year, show what working people can do when we begin to organize and fight, and gain confidence in our own capacities,” LeRougetel said. Dugré showed her In Defense of the US Working Class, which is available at the special price of $5 through March 1. It contains a talk Waters gave last year at a workers’ conference in Havana.
Besides buying the book along with a Militant subscription, Grant got three other books on special: Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? and The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record, both by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes; and “It’s the Poor Who Face the Savagery of the US ‘Justice’ System”: The Cuban Five Talk About Their Lives Within the US Working Class.”
Grant said she would help get out the word about the Communist League, including telling her son in Vancouver. She offered to put up League members when they come back to the area for more discussions with her and others. “Thank you for helping lift my frustrations of the past few years!” she said.
While talking to workers and farmers, SWP members are building the April 21-May 5 International May Day Volunteer Brigade to Cuba. This annual brigade provides an opportunity to see a living revolution. One highlight is joining hundreds of thousands of Cubans in the May Day march and celebration in Havana.
Brigadistas learn firsthand how working people took political power and carried out a deep-going social transformation in their interests that they’ve successfully defended for the last 60 years.
The campaigners use the books on special, and dozens of others from Pathfinder Press on the history and politics of working-class struggle, to help explain how the Cuban Revolution is an example for workers and farmers everywhere to emulate, and to show that working people have the capacity to unite and make a socialist revolution.
When readers helping to get the Militant and books by party leaders around have similar back-and-forth discussions, please write them up for this column. What working people have to say, their reactions to the party, as well as accompanying photos help enrich the paper.
To join in the campaigning or to find out more about the party, contact the SWP or Communist League branch nearest you.