Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/814/18753
Now is the time to join the Socialists!
On Sunday 8 June, Observer comment writer Will Hutton wrote: "Last Monday, the mayor of Seattle signed into law a city-wide minimum wage of $15 (£8.90) an hour. It will be phased in over the next three to seven years, but nonetheless it remains a path-breaking commitment. More amazingly, Kshama Sawant, Seattle's first socialist councillor since 1916, had been elected last year with the $15 wage as her key pledge."
Regular readers of the Socialist will know that Kshama is a leading member of Socialist Alternative (SA), co-thinkers of the Socialist Party in the US. And that the mayor was put under big pressure to deliver on $15 by Kshama's election campaign and the 15 Now campaign which SA and Kshama then built.
Hutton acknowledges the earthquake that this represents: "This does not happen in the US. Socialist candidates in city elections don't win 93,000 votes." But this is not the full picture. SA linked the anger over low pay, poor housing to the anger released by Occupy about the huge inequality inherent to capitalist society.
At a 6,000-strong Left Forum in New York, Kshama was invited as the featured "surprise guest" to speak alongside Harry Belafonte, Angela Davis, and David Harvey.
To loud applause Kshama said: "Our primary task is to challenge capitalism. We must create an alternative". "To do that, we need mass movements to challenge the state and strong organisations to run in elections."
At a 15 Now workshop during the Left Forum independent journalist Arun Gupta explained: "It was impressive to see how effective SA was at combining inside/outside tactics. It was like a chess game, with every move by the Mayor and business met with a counter-move by 15 Now. Sawant's position at the negotiating table was strengthened by rallies and protests."
The $15 campaign is set to spread to Chicago and could spread like prairie fire across the US and to everywhere that income inequality is provoking enormous anger and hunger for action. The interest in socialist ideas among all those forced to fight for their future can also spread rapidly.
Glen Ford, the executive editor of Black Agenda Report, introduced Kshama and also praised the role of SA's leadership in the $15 struggle in Seattle. Socialist Alternative has "doubled its membership since Sawant's election," Ford informed the packed hall.
While not yet at the same level as Seattle, there are also opportunities for Socialist Party branches in Britain to grow as bigger numbers see the need for an alternative to capitalism.
From 14 to 21 June the Socialist Party is hosting a 'recruitment week' to put special emphasis on building our party.
If you are a member already please think about the people you know through work, family, campaigns, etc, who may be interested in finding out about your party. Have they expressed anger over the falling living standards, disgust at all the capitalist parties, interest in the many struggles going on in Britain and internationally?
The recruitment week involves organising bold public stalls to invite people to find out about our ideas and campaigns.
We will also use the week to make extra effort to contact anyone who has expressed an interest in the Socialist Party but not yet joined. And we will be organising meetings to, as we always do, invite discussion and debate on key questions and the socialist alternative. All members are needed to make these events a success.
If you are reading this but haven't yet considered joining the party - get in touch now! We need you too!
In The Socialist 11 June 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Readers' comments and reviews