Socialism or Suntan

Miami's revolutionaries may not be plentiful but they're persistent

A booklet entitled Women, Leadership, and the Proletarian Norms of the Communist Movement provides Kulchur with a promising window of inquiry: What's the SWP position on Sex and the City?

Rebecca looks confused and shrinks back slightly from Kulchur. "How do we feel about having sex in the city?" she asks hesitantly.

No, no. The TV show Sex and the City, based on Candace Bushnell s collection of columns from the New York Observer.

Workers' paradise: The SWP bookstore offers Miamians a different  take on the world
Steve Satterwhite
Workers' paradise: The SWP bookstore offers Miamians a different take on the world

Rebecca says she's never seen the show, but suitably primed by Kulchur's buildup of Candace Bushnell as one of the moment's most widely publicized post-feminists, she agrees to walk over to the nearby building where Bushnell just happens to be reading as part of the book fair.

The auditorium is packed with several hundred Bushnell fans sitting expectantly, many clutching copies of her two books to be autographed. Kulchur and Rebecca quickly slip into the back of the room as Bushnell begins reading a short story from her new collection, 4 Blondes. It's a tale of a B-level model, aged a bit past her prime, embarking on her annual rite of spring: the quest to score a summer home in the Hamptons -- or more precisely a man with a summer home attached. "I'm a feminist," the model proudly tells a friend. As for her legendary gold-digging skills, "It's all about the redistribution of wealth."

Ah, certainly Rebecca must have something to say about this appropriation of a hallowed Marxist phrase. Surely the SWP's take on feminism is about more than scoring a free pair of Manolo Blahnik slingbacks?

Rebecca politely declines to criticize Bushnell's writing. "I'm really not familiar enough with her work," she says, suddenly looking flushed. She excuses herself and Kulchur follows her outside.

With one hand on her stomach she explains she hasn't eaten anything all day. Per party orders she has taken a job in a Hialeah factory, and she was unexpectedly called into work today. The factory manager decided his schedule didn't permit a lunch break, so Rebecca and her fellow garment workers all sewed for eight hours straight. Both exhausted and famished, Rebecca still rushed straight from her job to the book fair to man the SWP's table.

"I'm just so angry," she mutters bitterly of the factory manager's dictate, a move that's not just cruel, it's also illegal. Surely then, it would have presented the perfect opportunity for a socialist such as Rebecca to rally her fellow workers, demand better conditions, maybe even win the party some new (noncollegiate) recruits. Isn't that precisely why SWP members have been told to take physically demanding industrial jobs (meat packer seems to be the occupation of choice for males), to insert committed revolutionaries into the workplace and ultimately bring about the revolution?

Rebecca sighs and explains, as if to an errant child: "If we tried to agitate people in the workplace and lead people to strike, it would be crazy, totally ultra-left. And not what we're about at all." Her voice hardens a bit: "You have to be disciplined. That's what's most important about the party."

She begs off any further questions until tomorrow. Right now she really needs to get back to manning that book fair table. Her comrades have been covering for her there all day. Then she needs to prepare for a party-sponsored forum on the situation in Yugoslavia later that evening. She waves goodbye and Kulchur reminds her to eat something.

Next week: What s a nice Jewish girl like you doing in a communist sect like this?

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