Response at LA book festival boosts national drive

By Deborah Liatos
May 9, 2022

LOS ANGELES — The constant stream of workers, students and other youth visiting the Pathfinder booth at the L.A. Times Festival of Books here April 23-24 were seeking an explanation for the deepening capitalist economic crisis and its resulting wars.

The Socialist Workers Party members and supporters staffing the booth discussed and debated questions ranging from the cause of soaring inflation, the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine, the example of Cuba’s socialist revolution, and most importantly, what is the road forward for workers and our unions to form an independent working-class party, a labor party, to chart a course to take political power into our hands. Many wanted to know more about the SWP and some wanted to know how to join.

Overall, 71 subscriptions to the Militant and 234 books by SWP leaders and other revolutionaries were sold, twice as many of each as at the last LA Times festival held before the pandemic three years ago.

Many took literature on the Socialist Workers Party campaign of Ellie García for U.S. Senate and Joel Britton for governor, as well as the March 3 SWP National Committee statement, “Defend Ukraine’s independence! For defeat of Moscow’s invasion! US troops, nuclear arms out of Europe, all of Europe!”

The top selling books were 20 copies of Labor, Nature, and the Evolution of Humanity; 16 copies of Are They Rich Because They’re Smart?; 13 copies of Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power; 11 copies of The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation; and seven copies of Teamster Rebellion.

“When I saw pictures of strikers at Kellogg’s on picket lines in the snow, that got me started on getting our union to reach out beyond our own international,” Lisa Walker, a member of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees, told García at the booth.

“We frequently work between 72- and 84-hour weeks. We don’t stop for lunch, they just pay us a meal ‘penalty.’ I tell my co-workers we’re running ourselves off the rails. I’ve witnessed some very bad accidents,” Walker said. García responded, “Those kinds of schedules were the same issue in the fights at Kellogg’s and here in Los Angeles County at Jon Donaire.”

García said our unions need to lead the fight for safety on the job, fighting for workers control over production. Walker agreed, saying, “It’s up to us collectively to make change.”

Walker renewed her Militant subscription, which she initially bought from SWP members on the Jon Donaire picket line. She also purchased four of the books.

Zoe Swinton, who is 24 and grew up in rural Iowa, discussed the crisis facing working farmers.

“The Cuban Revolution nationalized the land, taking it out of the hands of the landlords and putting it into the hands of the peasants who tilled it,” García said. “That’s one of the reasons the U.S. capitalist rulers hate the revolution and its example.”

“I think it’s very important to take up what is facing farmers and white rural Americans,” Swinton said. “Our movement has to be multiracial.”

García described the avid response of many young people and others to the SWP’s literature in the booth.

Swinton, who got a subscription to the Militant, said she wasn’t surprised. “I think it’s partly due to the pandemic showing all the holes in the system. Young people see things are unfair, that workers organizing show we can fight back. We have the power if we stand together. Young people are ready for change.”