PORTLAND, Ore. — Hundreds of people attended the Portland Book Festival here Nov. 13, where publishers and booksellers set up showcases of their featured titles. After almost two years of pandemic-justified government lockdowns, many were eager to get out to a book fair. Pathfinder Press books and the Militant newspaper were a hit with many attendees, who got books on special discounts that deal with the most pressing class questions today. Twenty people decided to subscribe to the Militant.
Top sellers were Are They Rich Because They’re Smart? Class, Privilege, and Learning under Capitalism, and Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power, both by Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes; The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation by Abram Leon; and books of speeches by Thomas Sankara, leader of the 1983-87 popular revolution in Burkina Faso.
Supporters and members of the Socialist Workers Party, including this Militant worker-correspondent, met a number of people who said they are interested in learning about and supporting union struggles today. They told us about the 220 Cascade Behavioral Health workers, members of Service Employees International Union Local 1199NW, who won a strike this week that had begun in August in Tukwila, Washington, outside Seattle.
Bryan Miller, who works at an adult foster care home, described the deplorable working conditions, low pay, and poor treatment of the residents there. “I have been talking to co-workers about getting a union. It’s hard to maintain quality of life of the residents if you don’t have it either.”
“The big strikes today by coal miners at Warrior Met in Alabama, at John Deere, Kellogg’s and others are showing working people are tired of taking it on the chin, and saying ‘Enough!’” I told him. He subscribed to the paper and picked up Are They Rich Because They’re Smart?
I also talked to Ashley Jemes, who subscribed to the paper and bought The Jewish Question. “I really want to understand this,” Jemes said. “I want to know more about the Marxist interpretation of current events, what’s the perspective, what can I do to reframe what I’ve learned” under capitalism.
“These books are drawing the lessons of the class struggles here and around the world to fight more effectively today,” I told her.
We also knocked on doors in area working-class neighborhoods, selling a couple more Militant subscriptions and one more book, as well as getting a contribution to the SWP Party-Building Fund.
Some of those we met told us they want to stay in touch and help introduce the party to people they know, get Pathfinder Books around, and sign up more readers of the Militant.