March 5, 2014

Submitted for discussion by David S. Bell, Philadelphia PA.

Many of us who believe there is still a prominent place for printed material have been accused of being on the wrong side of the digital divide, case closed. However, we do recognize that there is a time and place for all forms of 21st century technology.  The other side of the coin is the infatuation with electronic media to the almost total exclusion of the print.

Much like Move On, the Party has relegated membership and activity to those who have computers or access.  Even this pre-convention discussion that should include our members, who for what ever reason do not use computers, has left them on the sidelines.

By limiting ourselves to electronics who and what are we missing?

1.    Although a large segment of the working class, including unemployed and low income, have smart phones there are practical limitations.  The phones are best for quick communication of events and access to the internet.  They do not lend themselves well to reading and studying lengthy news articles and analytical materials, such as pre-convention contributions.  Have you tried to focus on the small screen of a smart phone when reading an article that may be equivalent to several letter sized pages?

2.    A significant number of working class families do not have access to computers.  With cities cutting library hours, that means of accessing computers is limited.  Many of us with computers and printers find it useful to download materials to read them at our leisure and location other than in front of a desktop.  No computer, no printer means no access.

Perhaps one answer to the question why we are not recruiting African-Americans through the internet is the lack of access and the almost total reliance on the internet to build the Party.

3.    At demonstrations, it is downright embarrassing to see all sorts of left publications being sold or handed out but nothing from the Party unless it is produced at great expense by the districts.  The problem here is that each district has to decide if and what to reproduce at a much greater per copy expense than if reproduced on a larger scale centrally.  This is OK if a district has a local issue to promulgate.  But if the Party has a national focus, each district is still left to decide what to reproduce.  This does not lend itself to unity of action.  The few times (maybe once a year) that something is produced nationally, the cost to each district prohibits it from being used in a mass way.  Again this excludes large sections of the working class.

The 30th Convention should resolve to set up a media committee with the power to recommend how materials should be circulated including the reestablishment of the printed version of the People’s World.  It is my understanding that the 29th Convention resolved to exam the printing of the paper.  However, any discussion in my district with national leaders has resulted in the blanket statement that we are on the wrong side of the digital divide.