Workers Hammer No. 197

Winter 2006-2007


Workers Hammer welcomes new readers!

Subscription drive success

Comrades and sympathisers of the Spartacist League/Britain and Spartacus Youth Group spent six weeks participating in our annual subscription drive campaign, exceeding our quota of 200 points with a total of 320 points, our best result in a decade. These points represent 129 subscriptions to Workers Hammer, 64 subscriptions to Workers Vanguard, the Marxist, working-class bi-weekly newspaper of our American section, the Spartacist League/US, 57 subscriptions to Spartacist Ireland and 6 subscriptions to other International Communist League sectional newspapers.

Workers Hammer welcomes its new readers and greets those who renewed their subscriptions. The Spartacist League is a fighting propaganda group whose aim is to build a revolutionary vanguard party of the kind that VI Lenin and the Bolsheviks forged in order to lead the working class to power in the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia. We make a special effort to sell subscriptions to our press because it is our main tool for seeking to influence and to lead struggles and for winning workers and youth to our ranks. Our annual subscription drive is crucial to maintaining an ongoing readership and reaching out to new layers and to regions where we do not have branches. Our supporters went to Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Colchester and Brighton and held stalls and sales at a number of London campuses. We also had a very successful trip to Belfast with comrades from the Spartacist Group Ireland.

Our opposition to the “war on terror” and our defence of Muslims and others targeted for repression were central to our discussions with students, youth and workers. We vehemently defended ourselves against attempts by student union bureaucrats on several campuses to censor our communist propaganda during this year’s freshers fairs. At London South Bank University, our comrades fought for our right to display our placard which calls for “US/Britain hands off Iran! Iran needs nuclear weapons!” At SOAS, our comrades protested an attempt to censor our foreign-language literature under the pretext of an “English-only rule” (see article page 12).

We encountered much opposition to the imperialist occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as to the bloody Zionist war on the Palestinians. Yet many believe that the imperialist bourgeoisie — which has unleashed unparalleled misery and violence on the peoples of the world — can be pressured to serve the interests of the oppressed. This illusion is nurtured by the reformist left, most of whom peddle the view that British imperialism can be persuaded to adopt a more benign foreign policy. For example, the overwhelming theme at the “Time to Go” demonstration in Manchester on 23 September was to call on Blair to resign and pressure the Labour Party to change course. A common issue in discussions with students was the search for a “lesser evil”, a solution between the horrors of capitalism and the fight for socialist revolution. On several campuses our comrades engaged with students who thought that the UN, despite its bloody history in the Balkans and in the Near East itself, was the only solution to the desperate situation of the Palestinians. Our comrades emphasised instead that opposition to militarism and war must be based on a fight against the system that breeds it — capitalism.

A central part of this year’s subscription drive was building the international campaign undertaken by the Partisan Defence Committee to free American death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther and later an award-winning journalist and supporter of the MOVE organisation. Our subscription drive was an opportunity to introduce his case to a wider layer of students and trade unionists. We gathered a number of signatures on the PDC’s statement of support for Mumia (see page 5) and held a showing of the PDC’s DVD “From Death Row, This is Mumia Abu-Jamal” at SOAS.

Our slogan for “Free Abortion on Demand!” created quite a bit of controversy during our trip to Scotland. In Scotland, where the left has been embroiled in moralism over the “sex scandals” surrounding Tommy Sheridan, our comrades argued that for Marxists, all sexual activity ought to be a private matter in relation to the state and that sex with a prostitute is consensual sex. Our article on “The Russian Revolution and the Emancipation of Women” in the current issue of the ICL’s international theoretical journal Spartacist helped explain what a true social revolution achieved for women and to concretise the revolutionary programme that working people need to fight to end capitalist exploitation and oppression.

Workers Vanguard articles published during the subscription drive explained the Russian Revolution of 1917 and motivated the Trotskyist programme in defence of the deformed workers states of China and North Korea — a programme that the ICL uniquely upholds. Our subscription drive concluded with a forum titled “Defend, extend the gains of the 1949 Chinese Revolution!” (see article, page 6).

Congratulations to comrade Dan who with 47 points sold the most subscriptions. Thanks to all comrades, and to our sympathisers who joined us in making this campaign a success! We encourage our readers to let us know what they think of our press and to contact us to discuss its contents and get involved in the activities of the Spartacist League and SYG.