Socialist Workers Party members and other readers of the Militant are not waiting for the Jan. 1 start of the international campaign to win renewals to the working-class paper and to get back in touch with new subscribers.
A team in New York City headed to a Brooklyn neighborhood Dec. 12 to visit three recent subscribers. They also planned to introduce other workers there to the Militant, books by revolutionary leaders and the program of the Socialist Workers Party.
They never got past the first door. “Hamin Sialana, a retired merchant seaman originally from the Maluku Islands who had just sent in a contribution to the Militant Prisoners Fund, invited us all in for tea,” reports Sarah Katz. “We talked for well over an hour.”
“He told us he had gone to Indonesia as a youth and was there in 1965 when army generals carried out a coup, massacring hundreds of thousands of working people, students and Communist Party members,” Katz said. “Sialana later became a merchant mariner and a backer of the seamen’s union.”
He renewed his subscription to the Militant and bought a copy of Teamster Rebellion by Farrell Dobbs, which tells the story of how the Teamsters in the Midwest were transformed into a fighting union that organized hundreds of thousands of workers in the 1930s. “Sometimes when I get a little extra money, I like sending a contribution to help your work,” Sialana said.
“Until I read the Militant, I knew very little about the Cuban Revolution,” Brendan Rains told this worker- correspondent when I phoned him earlier in the week. “I had no idea Cuba was sending doctors all over the world to aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Rains, a student at New York University, subscribed at an Oct. 2 march in defense of a woman’s right to choose abortion. When we met for coffee Dec. 14, he told me that at the Catholic high school he attended in Michigan, “they would make us go to right-to-life actions, but I was always curious about the other side of the debate.”
He had been planning to visit the hunger strike outside City Hall by Yellow Cab taxi drivers, demanding debt relief, after they were bamboozled into buying city-issued medallions that then plummeted in value. “But then I saw in the Militant that the hunger strike was over, I thought I’d missed it,” Rains said. “But I headed over and was able to be at their victory celebration.”
The photography student is no fan of growing assaults on free speech rights on campus. “Sometimes you have to be very careful what you say because of how some people react,” he added. “It’s crazy.”
“We need more debate, more discussion,” I said. “The attempt to shut down opposing views in the name of ‘political correctness’ is dangerous for the working class. Anti-working-class views, wherever they come from, are always present under capitalism. They have to be answered.”
Rains renewed his subscription and bought two books by Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes: Cuba and the Coming American Revolution and Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning Under Capitalism.
“I keep reading about how other subscribers have been getting Are They Rich Because They’re Smart?” Rain said. “I really want to read that book.”
In it, Barnes takes apart the self-serving rationalizations of a layer of well-paid professionals that their schooling and “brightness” entitle them to “regulate” the lives of working people whose capacities and worth they completely overlook.
SWP members in New York City are mapping out plans to contact more new subscribers to ask if they want to get together to talk, join us in bringing solidarity to strike picket lines, attend the weekly Militant Labor Forum, as well as renew their subscription and get books on working-class politics. This work aims to help readers see the Militant as their paper, encourage them to introduce it to others and learn more about building the working-class movement.
Partisans of the Militant are also off to a good start in Montreal. Philippe Tessier from the Communist League had dinner with train conductor and Teamsters member Jonathan Chiasson to discuss building solidarity with day care workers on strike and other labor battles.
Chiasson has been following the Militant’ s defense of rights, like due process and the stakes for the working class in the recent court ruling finding Kyle Rittenhouse “not guilty” in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “The paper shows you the news you will not see on the big media,” Chiasson said.
While getting in touch with readers, supporters of the paper continue to reach out to win new subscribers.
Dan Fein and Leroy Watson campaigned in Bellwood, Illinois, Dec. 12 where they knocked on the door of Dwayne Houston, a worker at Dr. Pepper. They told him about the strike by workers at Kellogg’s to eliminate the two-tier wage setup.
“I support the unions,” Houston said. “Where I work, we won the vote for the Teamsters before the pandemic hit, but the company has been stalling negotiations for a contract.”
“I think I’ll like this paper,” he said as he subscribed.
Want to help introduce friends, co-workers, neighbors and relatives to the Militant and the Socialist Workers Party? See the directory to contact the party branch nearest you, or contact the Militant at firstname.lastname@example.org.