BY NAOMI CRAINE
"Get to places where workers are, especially workers who are going through struggles, and follow up with those who are interested. Get their phone numbers and call them back." That's the recipe Salm Kolis, a steelworker in Pittsburgh, gave for getting Capitalism's World Disorder: Working-Class Politics at the Millennium and the Militant into the hands of others.
That is the key to meeting goals socialist workers have taken to sell 1,500 copies of Capitalism's World Disorder by Jack Barnes, as well as the drive that has just begun to win 1,100 new subscribers to the Militant, 350 subscribers to Perspectiva Mundial in Spanish, and sell 600 copies of the Marxist magazine New International. After launching the campaign to sell Capitalism's World Disorder April 1, supporters have sold 437 copies of the book internationally. So there's a lot of work ahead.
Kolis gave an example of how fighting workers get convinced to buy Capitalism's World Disorder. "Last week socialist workers from Pittsburgh drove out to Newark, Ohio, to meet with Annette, who is on strike against Kaiser Aluminum. We met her at the April 24 strike support rally. Annette recognized the Militant newspaper from seeing it in California, where she traveled as part of the strikers' campaign exposing the role of the owners of Kaiser, Maxxam, and CEO Charles Hurwitz, in cutting down the redwood trees in Headwaters Forest. `I want one of those papers. I want to subscribe,' she said upon seeing the Militant.
"As soon as we got to her house, we showed her a copy of Capitalism's World Disorder. She immediately decided to take advantage of the special $30 offer for a subscription and the book. After putting away her checkbook, Annette got down to some of her questions. `What are communists? I always heard they were bad people, where did they get that name and what do they stand for?' she asked. We spent quite a while discussing what communists stand for and the program that is laid out in the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.
"Our discussions ranged over a broad spectrum of subjects - from the state of the labor movement, to the question of abortion rights, to the environment. When we were preparing to leave, Annette took down the phone number of the Pathfinder bookstore in San Francisco, as she was headed back to California in a few days."
Take the book everywhere
More copies of Capitalism's World Disorder have been sold in San Francisco than anywhere else. Asked how they're doing it, Deborah Liatos writes, "We take at least two copies of the book with us on every table we set up in working-class communities, on campuses, and at political events. Going door- to-door in neighborhoods where workers live and selling at plant gates, we make sure we have a copy with us.
"We have found that no matter what political question we are raising - from what's behind the U.S. war in Yugoslavia, to the growing resistance in the working class or the example of the Cuban revolution, we can point to the book as an essential source for workers and youth.
"There are displays of multiple copies of the book in various parts of the bookstore, making it as easy as possible to reach for the book while you are talking with someone. There is also a very large wall display with quotes and pictures from the book. Speakers at Militant Labor Forums often use the book in raising political points.
"Some of the sales include seven sold by members of the United Transportation Union, three sold by members of the International Association of Machinists , and one sold by a member of the United Steelworkers union.
"During the week of the tour of two Cuban youth in the Bay Area, members of the Socialist Workers Party here took a goal of selling 20 copies of the book. We sold 18 during that week, which included the April 24 demonstration to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. At the demonstration alone, distributors from Los Angeles and San Francisco sold 12 books." Members of the Young Socialists from throughout California were among the most active in selling the book and the Militant.
Emulate teams to mines, packinghouses
Another initiative to emulate has been the teams socialist workers and young socialists have been organizing in the coalfields. Over the last few weeks hundreds of miners have bought copies of the Militant at coal portals in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Wyoming, and Utah. A few miners have also decided to subscribe to the paper, or bought Capitalism's World Disorder or the recently reprinted Pathfinder pamphlet Coal Miners on Strike - especially when supporters of the campaign are able to talk with workers who are interested in more discussion after they leave the portal.
Over a 10-day period, teams of socialist workers visited mine portals in Alabama and Kentucky, selling a total of 144 Militants. While concentrating on talking to workers during shift changes at the portals, the effort included door-to- door sales in the coal communities of Brookwood and Northport, both near Tuscaloosa, Alabama. These netted three Militant subscriptions and 13 copies of the paper.
Over the last week, three other teams have been on the road in Illinois and in the western coalfields.
Socialist workers in Pittsburgh are planning a team starting May 15 to visit mine portals in West Virginia and Ohio. "We're calling miners who subscribe to the Militant or have read it in the past in advance to set up visits to show them Capitalism's World Disorder," said Kolis. "We also plan to visit places where there's been struggles, like the Inco Alloys plant where workers were recently on strike."
Socialist workers in United Food and Commercial Workers union are initiating efforts to meet packinghouse workers at the plant gates and in working-class communities. To join any of these teams, contact the Militant supporters nearest you (see listing on page 12).
Sales on the job
Kay Sedam, a member of the United Transportation Union (UTU) from Miami, sold two copies of the book to co-workers on the railroad this week. "The first was to a Black van driver who has been involved in a fight to get a union contact with the UTU. The drivers won the vote to have the UTU represent them but have not gotten a contract yet. I showed him the sections about the resistance that is taking place among other unionists - the coal miners, oil workers, catfish workers, and farmers. Alfred bought a subscription to the Militant to follow the coverage of the discrimination suit by farmers who are Black against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After looking through the book he said that his son was doing a paper for a political science class and that this book would be just what he needed for the class. He had also bought a catalog from Pathfinder Books and said many of the books by Lenin would be very helpful also.
"The second book was sold to a conductor who is also a Militant subscriber. I had just returned from the Cuba vs. Baltimore baseball game and was showing the pictures I had taken. My co-workers wanted to know all about the protest and the referee's slam dunk of the right winger who the cops failed to stop in a timely way from disrupting the game.
There was another Militant subscriber in the crew room who wanted to know my opinion about the recent bombing of the Chinese embassy. This was the easiest opportunity I've had to introduce this whole crew to Capitalism's World Disorder. I opened to the index and pointed out the many places these two topics are discussed. The pictures were an added sales point."
In all the areas where socialist workers are close to being on target in their goals, selling the book to co- workers and other fellow unionists has been an important part. In Washington, D.C., this amounts for 15 of the 29 copies sold so far. Rail worker Tom Headley has sold 10 himself.
Sam Manuel reports that in Washington they are also calling Militant subscribers about the book. Nine have bought copies since April 1 as a result. "We have pointed out the sections in the book that deal with Yugoslavia as well as the descriptions of new changes in the labor movement and the increased resistance of working people. One subscriber was particularly interested in the section on education," Manuel said.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home