Thursday, February 12, 2015

`Unity Of Workers And Farmers Makes Everything Possible' Life Of Veteran Communist Celebrated

From a 1995 article:

.... John remained "a member of the Socialist Workers Party until his health prevented it, and a supporter of the party until the day he died," Jenness told the St. Paul celebration. The Renville County farmer "participated in virtually every major farm movement in North America this century."

He did so from a belief, captured in a letter written in 1982 that, "The good things that have happened to farmers have been the result of workers and farmers. But I have learned that until the workers move, the movement of farmers fizzles out. No one has aided, nor will they come to the aid of the farmer except the workers. Without this unity, my experience tells me that there can be no victory for workers and farmers - and no further progress for mankind on planet earth. Through the united effort of workers and farmers, everything is possible. Without it, nothing is possible."

This political stance, developed in work in the Non- Partisan League in the 1920s, the Farmers' Holiday Association in the 1930s, the National Farmers' Organization and its militant strikes in the 1960s, and the mobilization of working farmers against foreclosures again in the 1980s, earned a hearing among fighters in the countryside.

In a message to the celebration describing the meetings leading up to what would be a protest of 20,000 farmers at the Minnesota state capitol in 1985, Delores Swoboda, a longtime leader of Groundswell, which emerged from that rising of working farmers, stated that she "noticed that one elderly farmer was approached time and again for input, leadership, comments, and personal feelings. My husband Gene and I wondered who this man was. Later we learned it was John Enestvedt."

She and Gene would spend "numerous hours sitting at his house, asking for explanations, asking for help to understand an issue, and we learned, we grew."

Enestvedt, at the age of 78, was elected to Groundswell's board of directors in 1985.

Joe Johnson, who served as the Minneapolis SWP organizer in the 1960s, sent a message explaining, "I saw him in action in the early `60s with the National Farmers' Organization and its history-making Midwestern strike.

"In this huge farmers strike of 23 states, John's deep experience and extensive practical skills combined with his energy and devotion to make him a leader," Johnson stated...

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