We answer some questions about our plans for making our newspaper, Solidarity, a weekly - not only how we're going to do it, but why, and why you should help us.
Why have you decided to go weekly?
We felt we needed to pick up the pace of our political activity. We need to respond promptly and seriously to all the attacks that governments around the world are making on the working class. We wanted to support, feed political ideas into, and build the fightback.
Fair enough, but it’s going to mean a lot of work for you.
Yes, but we hope to have some help.
You know some student journalists who could be “interns”?
That would be good, but it wasn’t what we were thinking of. We think our readers can help.
I’m not much good at writing, I’m not sure I’d be able to help you.
Of course you can! Scribble down what you consider to be important and interesting about what you are involved in, and post it in. Send us an email. Forget about commas and paragraphs, if you feel you need to — we’ll sort out that sort of thing.
I hope the new Solidarity isn’t going to be like Socialist Worker — full of back-slapping reports where every demo you’ve had a hand in is “great”...
Absolutely not! Of course we want to be encouraging and positive about direct action and self-organisation. But we won’t fear to “to be true in little things as in big ones”, as Trotsky put it. If something needs to be questioned or criticised, we’ll do that too. The health of the movement depends upon that kind of attitude.
…Or full of boring cack about things that happen all the time.
Every piece of political activity has something interesting to say about it.
Really? The only interesting thing about the last anti-cuts event I went to (the 23 October London FBU-RMT demonstration) was meeting up with someone I hadn’t seen for years.
That is interesting! I mean, the fact that lefties and activists who “faded away” years ago are remobilising themselves.
So you’re going to print people’s reminiscences about “the good old days”?
Probably not! And we won’t print everything people send in. But we really do want to hear from readers, so that we can build up a picture of the class struggle, get a real feel for what is going on.
What else is going to be “new” in the new Solidarity?
Some of it will be the same. We will continue writing and publishing longer educational and background articles. We want to include a lot of history — especially the history of past struggles. We want reviews and theory and commentary on industrial issues.
But we also plan shorter comments on the politics and ideology of this ruling class attack. We want to be closer to the movement in Europe, especially France. We’ll ask some people with specialist labour movement knowledge and writers from other countries to write columns. We’ll try and cater for less experienced and younger readers.
That all sounds good. How can readers help with that?
In the first place, by sending a donation, and subscribing! Then telling us what they think of the articles — by sending in short letters, including critical letters. Before the launch we’ll make available on our website a guide to what we want from reports, what feedback we want, and how to submit longer articles.
Sounds like a lot of work! Won’t it stop you from getting out on the streets?
If we thought that, we wouldn’t be doing it! The whole point is to make Solidarity a tool for socialist activists who share our broad outlook in the tumultuous times ahead. In every area where we have activists, we are already doing new regular public sales — in town centres, colleges and workplaces and on estates…
On estates? Don’t people find it a bit strange socialist paper sellers knocking on their door?
Not strange enough to stop them buying papers! The rule of thumb seems to be: knock on eight doors, find four people in, sell two papers. Many people are willing to “give it a go”.
And lots of people right now want to talk about what is happening at work, in their community. Having those conversations and linking them to articles in the paper that reflect those experiences, giving answers to problems and posing political alternatives — that is what we want to do.
But where will those conversations lead?
In the first place to more conversations! By working through ideas, talking about the world, they can lead ultimately to people taking action for themselves, or getting interested in socialist politics, or just feeling less isolated.
I’m quite impressed and I’d like to help you with all this. But I don’t have the commitment to become a member of the AWL right now.
Sure. And we want people to join the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty for the right reasons, when they feel they understand and agree with the basics of our ideas. But, in the meantime, why not take a few papers to sell — to a workmate, to a friend, to your mum....?
The class struggle will still be here in a few months’ time when you feel ready to “do more”. The chances are that the political shape and dimensions of what we can do to fight back will be much clearer as well.
OK. I didn’t mean to sound cynical, earlier, but I find it very difficult to get my head around whether workers can fight back. I should to talk to you about socialist politics more, maybe about what’s in the paper each week…
If you have questions or you'd like to help or discuss further, get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org.