From protests against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, to strike picket lines, truck stops, at workers’ doorsteps and with co-workers, Socialist Workers Party members are discussing the party’s statement: “Defend Ukraine’s independence! For defeat of Moscow’s invasion! U.S. troops, nuclear arms out of Europe, all of Europe!”
Through this effort they’re making a good start on the nine-week drive to sell 1,600 Militant subscriptions and the same number of books on working-class and revolutionary struggles. And to raise $165,000 for the Militant Fighting Fund.
Some 3,000 people demonstrated in New York City’s Times Square March 5 in defense of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Members and supporters of the SWP participated in the action, selling 13 Militant subscriptions, 153 copies of the paper and seven books, including two copies of The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation by Abram Leon.
“All over the world people support the Ukrainian people,” Zura Parkoja from the country of Georgia told Joanne Kuniansky, SWP candidate for Congress in New Jersey. The Putin regime invaded Georgia in 2008, seizing territory and setting up two pro-Moscow state-lets of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. “It’s not a fight just for Ukraine. It’s the world’s fight.”
Parkoja said he backs the call for the U.S. government to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine. Kuniansky disagreed. “Washington and other imperialist governments are no friend of working people. They just want to advance the interest of their own capitalist class,” she said. Parkoja got a Militant subscription.
“I don’t want another Afghanistan in Ukraine,” Travon Brown, a 28-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan, told SWP member Janice Lynn at a March 5 protest in Atlanta against Moscow’s war. “If we get the U.S. military involved that would start another world war.”
“The only thing that will stop a world war is for working people in Ukraine, in this country, and elsewhere to take political power into our own hands,” Lynn said. “And carry out a foreign policy in the interests of the working class.”
At a rally of some 75 people in Dallas, SWP leader Dennis Richter was among the speakers who addressed the crowd, March 5. “We support the courageous fight of the Ukrainians to take back their country,” Richter said. “This fight is with Moscow not the Russian people,” he said to applause. He said opponents of Moscow’s war should also demand U.S. troops and arms out of Europe. This was controversial, but many wanted to discuss it after he spoke.
Discussions at Texas truck stop
The following day at the Pilot truck stop in Hurst, Texas, Gerardo Sánchez, SWP candidate for U.S. Congress, spoke with truck driver Gerry Turner. “I’m just returning from the convoy in Utah and Wyoming,” he said, where truckers were protesting government vaccination mandates. “There were a lot of people on both sides of the road cheering us on.”
“After fuel and operating expenses,” Turner said, truckers have “hardly anything left.” He told Sánchez he opposed Moscow’s war, picked up a copy of the Militant and donated $4 toward the paper’s fund.
At a truck stop in California’s Central Valley, SWP members talked with driver Otis Youngblood. “Russia should get out,” he said. “The U.S. should get out of there as well. Both are just out for their own selves.”
Youngblood is a part-time trucker who farms on a small plot near Fresno. After hearing the Militant is covering the fight of farmers to keep their land, he decided to subscribe, reports Betsey Stone.
In Cincinnati over 150 people rallied on the steps of City Hall Feb. 28. The action was organized by two Ukrainian women, Nazly Mamedova and Jane Nemic, who have been winning support from workers in the U.S. and getting material aid to relatives fighting in Ukraine. Members of the Amerian Jewish Committee participated in the rally.
“Ukrainians have been fighting for their own identity,” said Mamedova at the demonstration. “They’re a sovereign nation.”
Samir Hazboun, SWP candidate for U.S. Senate from Ohio, joined the discussions at the rally. “Socialists? Aren’t you guys supposed to be on the side of Russia?” asked Sergiy Fesenko, a former Olympic swimmer for Ukraine.
“The SWP has an unbroken history fighting to defend Lenin’s course for the right to self-determination for oppressed nations and against the ‘Great Russian chauvinism’ of the czars and of Stalin,” Hazboun said. He described how Stalin destroyed the voluntary federation of Soviet republics that existed in Lenin’s time. Fesenko wasn’t convinced, but he subscribed to the Militant and purchased a copy of Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity.
On March 5 Hazboun addressed a crowd of 300 protesting Moscow’s invasion in Mason, Ohio.
‘My world turned upside down’
At a protest of 1,000 in London March 5, members of the Communist League attracted a lot of interest in the Militant and a display of revolutionary literature.
“Three weeks ago I supported Putin. My world has been turned upside down,” Iryna Usenko, a young woman originally from Ukraine, told CL member Jonathan Silberman. She signed up for a Militant subscription and purchased Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity.
“I knew nothing about what you’ve told me about the course of Lenin and the Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution, or about the Cuban Revolution’s internationalism,” Mathew Parsons, a young photographer, told Silberman. “I need more.” He also got a Militant subscription.
In Toronto a dozen Communist League members and supporters joined several thousands protesting in front of the Russian Consulate March 6, reports Katy LeRougetel.
Office worker Tetiana Burdyna, originally from western Ukraine, said she was in touch with relatives back home and a friend who is part of the volunteer forces fighting in Chernihiv, north of Kyiv. “They say demonstrations and rallies like this one help,” she said. “They also need help from governments — they need weapons.”
When LeRougetel asked her what she thought needed to be done, Burdyna replied, “It won’t help to call for a no-fly zone. That will involve more countries in war.” As the discussion continued, she added, “I agree with you that the governments in Canada and the U.S. just want to make their own power base when they intervene somewhere. But if the Russians keep on, they will get an empty country or a constant fight.”
When Felicity Coggan and Janet Roth, members of the Communist League in New Zealand, knocked on the door of Alofaaga Taiki, they got an immediate response, March 5. “We don’t need this war. Putin shouldn’t be shooting down people,” Taiki said. She worked as a sewing-machine operator but now stays at home taking care of her family.
“Capitalism is run by wealthy owners of the factories,” Roth said. “They are always searching for ways to make more profits, including by trying to exploit other countries.”
Coggan pointed to the triumph of the socialist revolution in Cuba and the transformation of workers and farmers there. “You can see this with the willingness of Cuban medical workers to travel anywhere to assist in fighting diseases,” she said.
“They have a heart for humanity, not just in one country but anywhere in the world,” Taiki responded. She subscribed to the Militant.