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Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker is the main publication of the ISO and its leading public face aside from members. Socialist Worker has been a newspaper since the ISO’s founding, and is currently published on a monthly basis, while SocialistWorker.org has taken on greater importance in recent years -- and has expanded its readership well beyond the ISO’s membership. In both formats, SW is a crucial tool for reaching out to a wider audience for socialist politics.

SW is more than just a tool for putting forward socialist views and publicizing the ISO’s analysis of political events. We use the Russian revolutionary V.I. Lenin’s conception of the uses of a revolutionary paper to understand the roles both Socialist Worker and SocialistWorker.org can play for us. Lenin summarized those ideas in the article “What is to be done?”

The role of a newspaper, however, 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 organizer. 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 organized labor. With the aid of the newspaper, and through it, a permanent organization will naturally take shape that will engage, not only in local activities, but in regular general work, and will train its members to follow political events carefully, appraise their significance and their effect on the various strata of the population, and develop effective means for the revolutionary party to influence these events.

In other words, SW is also a crucial tool in the ways it creates a concrete relationship with an audience for socialist ideas. Selling the paper and promoting the Website identifies the people who are interested in the organization and puts us in a tangible, face-to-face relationship. In addition, ISO members gain from conversations with SW readers because the process of ongoing political engagement with nonmembers helps members learn to articulate our politics more effectively to those outside the organization.

Even though the SocialistWorker.org website has taken on more importance for the ISO, we continue to publish and sell a paper edition. Selling the newspaper is an important part of being a member of the organization.

Branches organize tabling events in communities and on campuses on a weekly basis where selling the paper is an important part – sometimes the main thing – we’ll want to be doing. Tablings have to be planned carefully. There should be signs to draw people’s attention, and a well-organized table with petitions, leaflets for upcoming meetings and protests, the ISR, and some basic books on ISO politics. Whether you’re asking people to sign a petition, to buy the paper, or to take a leaflet about an important struggle or upcoming ISO event, you should be confident and thinking about how to engage people who are interested in the ISO.

We also sell the paper as a part of how we relate to political events like demonstrations or public forums. Again, the priority isn’t selling as many papers as possible but identifying the people who are interested in our politics and beginning a discussion with them. For the same reason, members are expected to buy five or more copies of each issue, and to sell individually to workmates, friends, etc. with the goal of building a political relationship with people who are sympathetic to the ISO and could be drawn closer to the organization.

Members should also be reading SocialistWorker.org regularly – hopefully every day, since it is updated daily during the week. The website provides news of struggles we are involved in around the organization and also provides a political analysis of important issues. Members should promote the website to anyone interested in socialist politics as the place to go regularly for news and views from the left – this is an important way of increasing the ISO’s profile. Be sure to send out articles from the site by e-mail or to activist listservs. Socialist Worker has a Facebook page that members should promote if they’re FB users, as well as contributing its presence on other social media.