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Vol. 81/No. 33      September 11, 2017

(front page)

SWP builds protests, takes discussion to working class

Socialist Workers Party members and supporters have been joining marches against racism in cities across the country and discussing with workers and youth at these actions and taking the discussion more broadly to the working class, going door to door in neighborhoods across the country.

They also discussed President Donald Trump’s announcement Aug. 21 that Washington will send thousands more young soldiers to continue the U.S. rulers’ 16-year-long war in Afghanistan — the longest in U.S. history.

In Berkeley, California, SWP member Joel Britton set up a display of party literature near where a few thousand anti-racist protesters were rallying.

“I showed people Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes, the Militant and other books by party leaders,” said Britton, who sold three of the Workers Power books in an hour. Among those buying the book was a woman originally from Vietnam, Britton said, “who was intrigued by photos about Malcolm’s opposition to the U.S. imperialist war there and by GIs opposed to the war. He added, “I also bumped into an older Iranian man who told me he already had the book in Farsi.” Twenty copies of the book were sold overall, at this action and another the day before in San Francisco.

“An important part of the discussion was explaining the SWP’s working-class course in contrast to antifa thuggery, how that’s a danger to the working class,” said Britton. This group attacked conservatives, Trump supporters and others they deemed to be “fascist” who were in the park where the protest took place. (See article on page 6.)

“The cops pulled back and allowed some antifas into the park, carrying long thick clubs with small green ecology flags attached to the top — clearly prepared for using the clubs,” said SWP member Dennis Richter, who was part of a table in the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park in Berkeley where the rally took place. It became a center for discussion and debate on what was going on.

Richter and other protesters intervened after seeing some of these thugs beating up a man at the action and helped force them to back off.

At the SWP table, he had a discussion with a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who had purchased a Militant in San Francisco at an anti-racist protest the day before and said he supported the actions of the antifas.

“There is no serious threat of fascism today,” Richter said. He described how the SWP, which was centrally involved in Teamsters union organizing battles in Minnesota in the 1930s and over-the-road organizing efforts across the Midwest, responded when there were serious threats to workers from company goons and ultrarightist outfits. Mass labor action, accompanied by organized and disciplined union defense squads, were key — not small groups of self-appointed thugs.

Richter explained how thuggish actions by antifas give city governments and their police forces openings to close down space for workers to organize and conduct further actions against police killings and racism. “I didn’t convince him but he listened,” Richter said.

In Augusta, Georgia, more than 200 people participated in a rally Aug. 24 demanding a memorial to the Confederacy that was erected in 1877 be taken down. The action was organized by the Augusta NAACP. “I came to this rally to learn about this issue,” college student Twyla Wallace told Lisa Potash, SWP candidate for Atlanta mayor, at the action, as she got a copy of the Militant.

At a rally against racism attended by a few thousand people in Seattle Aug. 26, Tanner Osborn, 17, a student at Everett Community College was attracted to the Socialist Workers Party members there and their literature. “I was a bit surprised to see all these revolutionary books,” he said. Osborn purchased a Militant subscription and a copy of Is Socialist Revolution in the US Possible? by SWP leader Mary-Alice Waters.

Along with the book Workers Power book and the one by Waters, SWP members and supporters are also introducing workers to Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? and The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record, both by Barnes.

Farmworkers in Washington state recently went on strike following the death of a farmworker who was denied medical treatment by the bosses, Mary Martin told the Militant. “Members of the SWP went to support them and told them about the silver miners’ strike against Hecla Mining bosses in Idaho, where the main issue is union control of safety and working conditions,” she said.

“The farmworkers made a solidarity video in Spanish. They sent it to the ‘mineros’ and the Idaho miners posted it on their website,” she said. “One veteran miner posted a response, saying, ‘I don’t speak Spanish but I understood every word. Good luck to you brothers in your struggle.’”

‘Want to see what you’re saying’
In Colorado, SWP members have been discussing these questions going door to door in working-class neighborhoods in Denver, Aurora and Pueblo. “I want to see what you are saying about the world instead of the talking heads on TV,” Chris Kettle, who recently got a Militant subscription, told SWP member Diana Newberry after she knocked on his door. He said that “a lot more people are talking about socialism because of Bernie Sanders.”

“Bernie Sanders believes that the system can be reformed,” Newberry said. “We believe that it is the capitalist system that is the problem and the working class needs to take political power so we can build a society based on human solidarity, not dog-eat-dog capitalist exploitation for private profit.”

In Pueblo, a truck driver told SWP member Alyson Kennedy that he voted for President Trump because “he says what he thinks and may be able to do something about these problems.”

“Working people are fed up with the Democratic and Republican parties because they do nothing for us.” said Kennedy. “The SWP is totally different. We are a working-class party that has a revolutionary perspective of building a workers movement that can take political power.”

“That will never happen,” the truck driver said, “because we are being replaced by robots.”

“Yes, the bosses try to use technology to squeeze more production out of us. But they haven’t and can’t replace the working class,” Kennedy said. “The meritocratic layers who honeycomb the government and associated nongovernment organizations and colleges wish we could be replaced, because they increasingly fear the deepening class struggle they see coming down the pike. And it is coming. The working class will have its day.”

Leaders of the Socialist Workers Party, along with the Militant, are putting together proposals for a fall campaign to step up party campaigning in the working class and increase the circulation of the paper and the set of campaign books. Stay tuned.
Related articles:
Socialist Workers Party: ‘Protest racist attacks!’
Liberals, ‘antifa’ combine to deal blows to political rights
SWP: ‘Join debate on how to fight effectively’
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