Workers Vanguard No. 904
7 December 2007
Subscription Drive Success
WV Welcomes New Readers
Every year the Spartacist League, Spartacus Youth Clubs and Labor Black Leagues embark on a Workers Vanguard subscription drive, an all-out national campaign from late August to early October. We extend greetings to our first-time subscribers and welcome back those who renewed their subscriptions. This year we exceeded our quota of 2,700 points by 20 percent, achieving a grand total of 3,241.5 points, modestly raising our subscription base and arresting a decline in recent years. The points include 1,506 subscriptions to WV and 103 subscriptions to Espartaco, newspaper of the Grupo Espartaquista de México, section of the International Communist League. The Chicago and Bay Area locals raised their quotas after early successes, and all locals exceeded the quotas they had set. Special congratulations to comrade Inessa in the Bay Area for selling the most subscriptions.
Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League/U.S. and the flagship paper of the ICL. We produce a polemical press that takes on the “death of communism,” pro-Democratic Party politics of our reformist opponents, as part of our struggle to build a multiracial workers party that fights for socialist revolution. Our task is all the more important in the current political period, which is marked by the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991-92. The final undoing of the world’s first workers state has ushered in a global offensive against the working class and oppressed and an ideological climate in which proletarian consciousness has been thrown back.
Throughout the subscription drive, we raised our Trotskyist call for the unconditional military defense of the remaining deformed workers states of China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam and for workers political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracies. All our locals held public forums on China. We also built for our forums on the 90th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, which were held shortly after the subscription drive, stressing our fight against capitalist counterrevolution in the USSR and the deformed workers states of East and Central Europe.
Racial Oppression and the Fight for Mumia’s Freedom
Throughout the course of our campaign, we made clear our opposition to U.S. imperialism, including our call for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Calling for U.S. hands off Iran, we underlined the fact that Iran needs nukes to deter an imperialist attack. We emphasized the need to mobilize the power of labor to fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants. Our placards calling for free abortion on demand drew a lot of attention on the campuses and attracted new subscribers. We stressed our fight for black liberation and the need to mobilize the social power of the multiracial labor movement to fight for freedom for death row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Our staunch opposition to the capitalist Democratic Party of racism and war was a major question discussed with youth and workers, many of whom supported Barack Obama and to a lesser extent Hillary Clinton as their preferred presidential candidates. We encountered increased activity from the “fight the right” liberals and reformist groups whose aim is to pressure the Democrats.
In Berkeley, the Campus Antiwar Network, a creature of the reformist International Socialist Organization (ISO), was passing out flyers for a rally in front of Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office to “hold our leaders accountable.” In Texas we found discontent among ISO members regarding their group’s support to the Green Party, a capitalist appendage to the Democrats. At Howard University in Washington, D.C., a student trying to compare Revolution, the newspaper of the misnamed Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), to ours decided to subscribe to WV because of our revolutionary working-class perspective as opposed to the RCP’s “Anybody but Bush” politics.
Our subscription drive also intersected the explosion of outrage against Jim Crow justice in Jena, Louisiana. Following months of racist insults and threats, including the hanging of nooses on a “white tree” at their school, five black youth were initially charged with attempted murder and a sixth charged as a juvenile after a scuffle with a white student, though the charges were later reduced. Teenager Mychal Bell, who was hounded by prosecutors for nearly a year and spent some ten months in jail, pleaded guilty to a juvenile charge of second-degree battery on December 3 and faces another eight months in prison. The other youths are still awaiting their trials (see “Jena Six: Racist ‘Justice’ U.S.A.,” WV No. 899, 28 September). We say: Free Mychal Bell! Drop all charges against the Jena Six!
On campuses and in workplaces across the country, the case of the Jena Six touched a raw nerve among black people, many of whom recognized that “Jena justice” is not some aberration but rather epitomizes the day-to-day conditions of black youth. Our trip to overwhelmingly black Howard University was particularly successful. On campuses throughout the country, our signs on Jena attracted the attention of students who wanted to join protest actions.
Our comrades participated in the September 20 march in Jena, which drew as many as 50,000 people—overwhelmingly black and comprising workers, students, retirees and church groups. Democratic politicians Jesse Jackson Sr. and Al Sharpton were the central leaders of the protest, preaching reliance on the same “justice” system that from the county sheriff on up is a machine of racial and class oppression. Our comrades argued against this losing strategy and stressed the importance of a class-struggle fight against racial oppression. Many of the protesters appreciated the connection we made between the Jena Six case and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one of the worst racist atrocities in modern U.S. history. We also distributed our newspaper to buses setting off for the march from cities as far away as Los Angeles and to solidarity events being held in Raleigh and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and other areas.
Our comrades also participated in protests at Columbia University and elsewhere against the racist backlash following the Jena protest, marked by the nooses hung at workplaces, homes and schools to terrorize black people. We emphasized the need to fight for the independent mobilization of the working class against racist terror (see “Vicious Racist Backlash After Jena Protest,” WV No. 901, 26 October).
As part of our struggle against black oppression, we raised the urgency of fighting to mobilize workers and youth around the struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose case is at a critical juncture right now. We put up signs, made announcements, gathered statements for his freedom from union officials and held showings of the Partisan Defense Committee video, From Death Row, This Is Mumia Abu-Jamal, including at several campuses where the SYC was invited by campus groups. At the University of Oregon in Eugene, comrades from the Bay Area gave a presentation on Mumia’s case on the campus radio station. We underlined our perspective of class-struggle defense—the mobilization of mass protest, centered on the power of labor, to fight for Mumia’s freedom and to abolish the racist death penalty. Though a number of students were learning about Mumia’s case for the first time, the PDC pamphlet The Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal—Mumia Is Innocent! was the most popular “giveaway” with new WV subscriptions.
The SYCs held “Meet the Marxists” events on campuses across the country, particularly focusing on the struggle against black oppression, a central question in the fight for socialist revolution in the U.S. A good deal of lively discussion and debate ensued at these events. Many students did not understand our slogan “Finish the Civil War!” or the centrality of black oppression to U.S. capitalism. Our comrades explained that black oppression has been built into the American republic from its inception, and that it took a bloody Civil War to smash the slavocracy and free the slaves. However, the promise of black equality was subsequently betrayed by the Northern capitalists. We pointed to our program of revolutionary integrationism: While seeking to combat every manifestation of racist discrimination, fighting in particular to mobilize the social power of the multiracial labor movement, we understand that black liberation can be achieved only through the overthrow of the capitalist order and the integration of black people into an egalitarian socialist society. We say: For black liberation through socialist revolution!
Local and Regional Highlights
New York comrades made tours of the Boston area and Western Massachusetts colleges, and we sent several teams on trips, including to North Carolina, Washington, D.C., Norfolk, New Orleans and Atlanta. In Charleston, South Carolina, comrades got a notably good reception at ILA longshore union Local 1422, which had sent a contingent with a banner to the September 20 Jena Six march. In New Orleans we found the devastation wreaked by the racist neglect after Hurricane Katrina is still very much evident in people’s day-to-day lives.
Los Angeles and Bay Area comrades went to several University of California and Cal State campuses and made trips to Texas, Arizona, Colorado and the Northwest. Chicago comrades went to Wisconsin and Michigan and sold several subscriptions to striking AFSCME clerical workers at the University of Minnesota. When the two-day, nationwide United Auto Workers strike against General Motors began on September 24, our comrades went to picket lines in the Mid-Atlantic region and in the Detroit area and sold several introductory subscriptions.
We joined our Canadian comrades of the Trotskyist League/Ligue Trotskyste in Vancouver and Montreal to assist with their annual subscription drive. Comrades working with other sections of the ICL also contributed to our subscription drive totals.
We seek to build a Leninist vanguard party that fights for socialist revolution, the only road to a world free of capitalist exploitation, imperialist slaughter and racist oppression. As a Marxist biweekly, Workers Vanguard is a key political weapon in that struggle. As Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin put it in “Where To Begin?” in 1901:
“The role of a newspaper is not limited solely to the dissemination of ideas, to political education, and to the enlistment of political allies. A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser. In this last respect it may be likened to the scaffolding round a building under construction, which marks the contours of the structure and facilitates communication between the builders, enabling them to distribute the work and to view the common results achieved by their organised labour.”
Congratulations to all comrades and friends for their very hard work in making this subscription drive 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, Spartacus Youth Clubs and the Labor Black Leagues.