Drive to win new ‘Militant’ readers off to a good start

By Maggie Trowe
October 12, 2020
“I like the idea of workers acting together,” Michael Little, right, told Socialist Workers Party campaigner Dan Fein Sept. 26 in Kankakee, Illinois. Little renewed his subscription to the Militant and bought two books by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.
Militant/Ruth Harris“I like the idea of workers acting together,” Michael Little, right, told Socialist Workers Party campaigner Dan Fein Sept. 26 in Kankakee, Illinois. Little renewed his subscription to the Militant and bought two books by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes.

The Militant ’s eight-week drive to sell 1,200 subscriptions kicked off Sept. 26. This effort to expand the reach of the paper during and after the 2020 election is coupled with selling an equal number of books by Socialist Workers Party leaders and other revolutionists. Simultaneously, the Socialist Workers Party has launched its annual Party-Building Fund, with a goal of $120,000.

Party members are introducing the Militant and books to workers on their doorsteps in big cities, small towns and farm areas; on strike picket lines; at protests against police brutality; and to co-workers on the job.

Party branches are discussing higher, more ambitious quotas than in last spring’s drive to take advantage of the increased openness to the party’s political program. This was registered over the summer when party supporters met thousands of workers as they campaigned and won ballot status for the SWP presidential slate of Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett in Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Tennessee, Vermont and Washington. If anything, there is more interest now.

“In the course of a 16-day ballot drive in Tennessee in July and August, campaigners not only gathered 810 signatures, we sold 67 Militant  subscriptions, 104 single copies of the Militant, 38 Pathfinder books, and won 11 endorsers for the Socialist Workers Party campaign, as well as getting $166 in contributions,” Susan LaMont from Atlanta told the Militant.  “And we’re staying in touch with a number of the people who supported and helped us.”

SWP: voice of working class

The SWP candidates are the only voice of the working class in the 2020 elections. Their campaign platform can be used by fellow workers to advance building a powerful working-class movement to fight against boss attacks on wages, safety and working conditions. The fall subscription drive and the election campaign reinforce each other and help fellow workers see the need to break from the political parties of the capitalist rulers.

Every financial contribution to the fall Party-Building Fund — large and small — makes it possible to carry out the work of the SWP. Workers and working farmers are the bedrock of financing everything the party does.

On the first day of the fall drive Ruth Harris and Dan Fein knocked on the door of Michael Little in Kankakee, Illinois, an hour south of Chicago. “The Militant ? Am I glad to see you!” said Little. “I got a subscription a year ago and read the paper.” Little is a member of the AFSCME government employees union and a patient assistant in a mental health facility.

They discussed the importance of the fight that nurses and other hospital workers at the University of Illinois hospital complex waged, winning their strike for hiring more nurses and some wage increases for other hospital employees. “Solidarity works,” Harris said.

“I like the idea of workers acting together,” Little replied. “We can change things.”

Little renewed his subscription to the Militant and got two books by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes — Are They Rich Because They’re Smart?   and Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power.

Little smiled and said, “You may have noticed my last name, I’m related to Malcolm.” Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little.

“I like your energy and enthusiasm,” he said.

Little’s reaction is not unusual.

“We got off to a strong start selling five subscriptions to workers we met during the visit to Florida by Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett,” Anthony Dutrow from Miami told me Sept. 28. “Campaigning among agricultural field and packing workers in Lake Worth and outside the Walmart store where I work in Miami, we found many workers interested in learning more.”

“The Chicago SWP branch set a target week for the first week with a goal of 30 subs and 30 books,” Ilona Gersh told the Militant. “We’ve already collected $1,000 for the fund and have sold 12 subscriptions and almost as many books. We’re preparing for our next target week.”

SWP members and supporters in Louisville are using the Militant  coverage to build support for the Dominion grocery workers strike in Newfoundland, Canada, and two local labor struggles — the strike by DSI Tunneling workers in Louisville for a first contract and the contract struggle of union workers at Caesars Casino in nearby Elizabeth, Indiana.

Many workers want to discuss the police killing of Breonna Taylor, the destruction and looting condoned by some protest organizers, and the large national guard and police presence and curfew that city and state officials imposed after minor charges were brought against one of the cops.

“Most workers we meet campaigning or on the job tell us they oppose racism and police brutality, but they also oppose burning and looting, shooting police officers and race-baiting against Caucasians,” Kaitlin Estill, the organizer of the drive in Louisville, told the Militant. “They agree when we say that such actions damage the struggle and alienate many who could be involved.

“In the intense debate around this and other political questions we have already sold 14 subscriptions and four books,” she said. “Four DSI strikers subscribed on the picket line Sept. 25.”

Starting next week the Militant  will run weekly charts on the progress of the subscription drive and the Party-Building Fund. To join in winning new readers or to make a contribution to the Party-Building Fund, see directory for the party branch nearest you.