The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.59/No.42           November 13, 1995 
What Next? Socialist Leaders Lay Out Tasks, Perspectives  


What next?

Many Militant readers have been involved in actions in defense of Cuba, especially regional actions that took place October 14 in San Francisco and Chicago and October 21 in New York, as well as a series of activities around Cuban president Fidel Castro's visit to New York. In several cities, activists built and participated in meetings during the speaking tour of Cuban poet Norberto Codina.

"With these modestly successful actions behind us, it's a good time to discuss the range of activities socialist workers and youth should look to next," said Joel Britton, national trade union director of the Socialist Workers Party. He spoke to the Militant together with Laura Garza, a member of the SWP Political Committee, who was a leading activist in the coalition that built the October 21 action in New York, and Diana Newberry and Brock Satter of the Young Socialists national steering committee.

These socialist leaders discussed the tasks and perspectives before the party and youth organization in the coming weeks and months. "There's a broad range of things that those who want to win others to a revolutionary perspective can be part of now," Britton said.

This includes strike support work, campaigning to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, joining fights around affirmative action and against police brutality, and winning new supporters to defend Mark Curtis. "It's through participating in different struggles, and studying the history and lessons of the workers movement, that new layers of youth and workers will be convinced to join in building the Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialists," he said.

"In all of this work, talking socialism and getting out the socialist press and other revolutionary literature is a top priority," Britton continued, pointing to the importance of successfully completing the Militant subscription drive and selling Pathfinder books.

The response to the anti-embargo demonstrations and to Castro's visit "reflect the openings that are there to discuss Cuba and revolutionary politics with young people and workers," said Garza. "Vanloads of young people came to the New York from Greensboro, North Carolina; Chicago; and many other areas." Particularly notable were two buses from Montreal, "with many people who were also active in the campaign for a Yes vote in the Quebec referendum," she said. Others came out in the streets in Harlem and the Bronx to greet Fidel Castro when he spoke at meetings in those neighborhoods who "don't necessarily know much about Cuba, but like the fact that the Cuban people have stood up to Washington and are open to learning more."

Educational work around Cuba, such as teach-ins, video showings, or touring a speaker from the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., can now be organized by local coalitions in every city, Garza noted. Following up Codina's tour by selling subscriptions to the magazine he edits, La Gaceta de Cuba, which is a leading publication on culture and politics in the Americas, can be part of this.

Join picket lines with striking workers
Britton said he was "particularly pleased by the short, effective talk given at the October 21 Cuba rally by Floyd Davis, a striking newspaper worker from Detroit." Davis and fellow striker John Peralta, who also attended the New York demonstration, are part of a speakers bureau set up by the strikers.

"I participated in picket-line mobilizations in Detroit two weekends this fall," Britton continued, "where several thousand workers from the region helped delay delivery of the Sunday papers. This strike, along with the ongoing fight of UAW members at Caterpillar, is an example of the fact that there continues to be resistance in the working class to the employers' offensive against working people, their unions, and their democratic rights."

Britton also pointed to the recent victory by steelworkers at WCI in Warren, Ohio, against the company's attempt to run the mill with strikebreakers. "Socialist workers have a responsibility to bring workers and young people they've been working with around the Cuba actions to this and other labor fights taking place," the SWP leader said, visiting picket lines and helping set up speaking engagements for strikers. "Those coming around the communist movement need to get a picture of how the working class can resist, build unity, and ultimately come to power." One opportunity coming right up is the November 12 rally in Everett, Washington, to support strikers at Boeing.

Supporting workers' struggles is an important part of building the Young Socialists, Satter said. A member of the group in Indiana, for example, visited the picket lines in Detroit and then organized other young people to go as well. Following this experience and a trip to New York for the October 21 Cuba demonstration, three more people have asked to join the Young Socialists in Indiana, he reported. In Seattle, YS members have been out to the picket lines of the Boeing strikers, and in California they have jumped into the fight to defend affirmative action.

Defending Abu-Jamal, Curtis
The Young Socialists are also involved in defending Mumia Abu-Jamal, a framed-up journalist on death row in Pennsylvania. Various events supporting his fight for a new trial are planned across the United States in November, including a November 6 rally in Philadelphia. A YS representative will be part of the platform at a rally to support Abu-Jamal at Borough of Manhattan Community College in New York that same day.

"The turnout by hundreds of thousands at the Million Man March shows that many workers who are Black are looking for ways to fight against racism and the depression conditions they face," Garza said. "There have been fights against police brutality across the country, marches to defend affirmative action, debates around school desegregation, and protests against attacks on immigrant rights. These are the kinds of fights socialist workers and youth should be involved in."

During the next three weeks, socialist workers and other supporters of Mark Curtis need to put a special effort into getting additional letters to the Iowa Board of Parole urging that the framed-up unionist be released, Britton said. Curtis's case for parole is stronger than ever, and it is harder for Iowa authorities to justify keeping him in prison.

Garza pointed to upcoming conferences on women's rights and on the Irish freedom struggle, as well as widespread discussion in Canada and beyond on the referendum on Quebec sovereignty, as further examples of discussions and activities communists need to be part of.

Sell and study socialist literature
Consistent socialist propaganda - selling the Militant, the New International, and Pathfinder books - must be an integral part of this work, Britton said. "It's also a good time to organize educational series that can help young people and others just coming into politics to read and discuss the history of the communist movement, from Marx and Engels to the Russian revolution and the record of the workers movement in the United States.

"The Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialists are going to be hosting regional educational conferences in four or five cities during the New Year's weekend" to further this aim, Britton reported.

"These conferences will be a great chance for many generations to discuss world politics today," said Newberry, from veterans of working-class struggles in the 1930s all the way to the newest youth interested in learning how to struggle more effectively as part of the communist movement.

"As we participate in all kinds of struggles over the next couple months we'll be meeting people who will want to come and can be won to joining the Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialists," she said.

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