YOUNG COMMUNIST LEAUGE - LIGUE DE LA JEUNESSE COMMUNISTE DU CANADA
25TH CENTRAL CONVENTION -- MAY 21-23 -- TORONTO
DISCUSSION BULLETIN #3
The following submissions make up Discussion Bulletin #3 for our upcoming 25th Central Convention. We welcome your submissions either individually, or from your Club, for Bulletin #4. Please send your submission to
by May 9th.
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1. Discussion Submissions
- Urgency and the student movement
- Cops out of high schools!
- The Reduction of Meat Consumption, Global Food Production, and the Environment
- YCL Toronto Amendments – Part 1
Urgency and the student movement
Submitted by Jamie, LJC-Q
We find ourselves at a very dangerous time, I don't want to equivocate. Governments around the world, including provincial governments, are deeply in debt from having dumped massive sums of public money into “softening” the economic crisis, at least for particularly well-dressed financial scammers. And in the name of “responsibility”, they're coming for everything we have left. As could have been, and in fact was, predicted, a major axis of their assault on working class people is an attack on quality, accessible public education, postsecondary and otherwise, and more broadly, an attack on the student movement.
What's worse, this attack interacts very viciously with serious internal problems in the student movement. In Québec, struggles between, to simplify a complex situation, social democracy and more radical approaches to student politics, while generally well intentioned and about serious issues, frequently serve to distract from our real enemies and tasks. This was made in clear in 2007, when tactical divisions made it possible for the Charest government to begin breaking the victories achieved by the Québec student movement two years earlier.
In English Canada, and perhaps here it's worth including the anglophone schools in Montréal, things are even more grim, though for different reasons. The struggle in English Canada is not, for the most part, between an occasionally right-wing social democratic movement and a more radical one (though it is sometimes), but for the existence of a progressive student movement at all. And it is an extremely fierce fight. The very ugly victories against the CFS by a coalition of capitalists, right-wing politicians and students, and in some cases ultraleftist students, confused or otherwise; these victories for the ruling class, and against the student movement, come at an excellent time for the ruling class. It is a strange fantasy to assume that one of the worst moments of disunity for the Canadian student movement in decades only coincidentally occurs precisely when we need a strong student fightback. It is quite clear to me in Montréal: almost the entire anglophone student movement here has spent the past academic year campaigning against the CFS, and with the CFS all but gone from town, we will need to spend the next several months rebuilding some minimal way to unite anglophone students here, while it becomes increasingly difficult to fight crippling fee hikes. And make no mistake: while too complex and multi-faceted to be a simple conspiracy, the assaults we have seen in recent months against student unity are being managed and executed by people with very specific interests in seeing a weak student movement, and they're coordinated. And they're winning.
It is going to take a lot of work, and a lot of smarts, going from here. The essential propaganda ploy by the right in targetting working class members fo the CFS was to portray the CFS as “the man”, as a large corporation staffed by unconcerned rich people to which struggling students are being forced to give their money, and sued if they try to cease. This is an unspeakable load of bullshit and the cynical hacks spreading it mostly know it. But right-wing populism, while totally absurd at all times, is neither an unfamiliar nor an ineffective tactic. It's quite clear, for example, that Sarah Palin and the like are not actually advocating politics which are good for working class people, even for working class white Christian American people. But when people are really suffering under capitalism, and when the left is not extremely well organized to provide an alternative – and the CFS as only one example certainly had internal problems prior to the present crisis – people look for some alternative, and the ruling class is extremely adept at providing an alternative which serves its interests.
We have to know this, and we have to fight it. What we have on our side is the fact that our alternative really is in the interests of working class people, while others, for example social democracy, mostly aren't at all working.
There is another complexity here which we have to address, however, that relates to the class nature of postsecondary schools. The first discussion bulletin is correct in its assessment that while the student movement – in particular, in Canada, the university student movement – is troubled by class contradictions, especially in its leadership but also in its membership as a whole, it has a tremendous capacity to contribute to progressive people's movements. It is a major ally of movements for peace, against racism, and especially when organized in bodies like the CFS, of the labour movement. While univeristies can be tools of ruling class domination, they can also be critical resources for developing understanding of the world, and using that understanding to make real accomplishments. The ruling class knows this, and this is a major reason why the right wing is so afraid of accessible education – it empowers the working class.
Accessible education, while good in and of itself for workers and students, is also about a struggle for the class character of the student movement. When we lose battles for more accessible education, we don't just make things harder for individuals – we weaken the student movement, as it allows other class tendencies to bring the movement to the right. But when we win, and we can, we're winning a working class student movement and an educated working class.
Something else I think is often overlooked in these discussions, which we all have had, is the fact that there already exist educational institutions whose staffs and students are almost entirely working class – public high schools. I know from experience that while political and student movement organizing in high schools is difficult – and organization is difficult everywhere – it is possible, and in fact, while there are indeed problems of understanding and maturity, there is also a lot of energy and desire on the part of students to fight and to change things. Moreover, this is even more useful and meaningful when it can be incorporated into an organized movement. This again will take work; there are a lot of practical organizational problems to work out with regards to, say, high school student unions. There are also political problems, in terms of overcoming the same sort of bigotry which is targetted against the youth in general and especially against high school students, and also in finding a way for high school students to work with teachers.
Relationships between high school students and teachers can be tense, with students viewing teachers themselves as the problem, and I've seen these tensions exacerbated when teachers view high school student organizing as threatening what little control over their workplaces they've managed to maintain. But here, the interests really are ultimately the same. If high school students can unite in organized struggle with teacher's unions (which are much more working class and much more political, generally speaking, than university professors' unions, and even with the latter students and teachers can find powerful, productive unity), it would be a major, major success for the student movement and for the working class in general. And right now, we need it.
Cops Out of High Schools!
Submitted by Zach, YCL Toronto
While we should recognize the importance of the police force in maintaining a safe environment, we cannot condone the improper use of police powers. We should condemn zero-tolerance based decisions and believe in order for the police force to operate properly, arrests should only be made when they serve to protect the community.
We must condemn the Toronto District School board's student resource officer (SRO) program, because it goes against said vision. While SROs might be appreciated in certain situations, it is unacceptable to put them in schools where no additional security is needed.
The arrest of a student at Northern Secondary school last fall should be seen as a sign that SROs can create unnecessary panic in situations where crime is not an issue in the first place. Arresting a student for being rude is an abuse of police power. I believe that students should only be arrested in extreme situations where they are a threat to others around them and where more subtle forms of punishment can't be used. The SRO got far more media and teacher support than the student he arrested, despite the legal principal that one is innocent until proven guilty.
The Reduction of Meat Consumption, Global Food Production, and the Environment
Submitted by Philip, YCL Toronto
Our policy document makes no mention of the benefits for global food production, the environment and human welfare that a reduction in meat consumption would bring about. This is a mistake. Section five should make at least some reference to the points raised below.
Meat production is a tremendously wasteful process that causes enormous environmental damage:
- In the U.S., for example, half of all fresh water used in that country goes toward the maintenance of livestock; at a time when our planet faces multiple ecological threats (threats which disproportionately affect those already suffering most from the vicissitudes of global capitalism), this amounts to an urgent problem.
- When we say we are concerned about climate change, species depletion and destruction of the world’s rainforests, can we afford to ignore the fact that the main reason for rainforest clearance is the raising of cattle for slaughter? This is especially true in Central and Southern America.
- Taking beef as an example, it takes 21 pounds of protein (in the form of livestock food-stuffs) to get 1 pound of protein back in the form of meat on your plate. Comrades should remember this next time they’re eating a steak.
- Vegetable-based food production is not only vastly more efficient with regard to the production of all the major sources of nutrition (protein especially), it uses far less land (and water resources). This is hugely significant with regard to the preservation of a variety of ecosystems, especially rainforests.
- Ultimately, reduced meat production and an increase in the production of vegetable food-stuffs would not only be a great leap forward for the environment, it would lead to a very large overall increase in global food production and a victory in the battle against hunger.
The myth that meat is good for you:
If it were true that the consumption of meat was essential for human well-being there would be far less cause for me to be writing all this. But it isn’t.
- Meat (and dairy) products are the prime causes of heat disease, stroke and diabetes.
- The meat industry goes to great lengths to convince people everywhere that meat is necessary for a healthy diet. This is an outright lie compelled by the profit imperative. Across the developed world even official governmental departments of health (usually in thrall to meat industry lobbyists) have repeatedly made it clear that a vegetarian diet can easily meet nutritional needs for protein, iron and vitamin B12 (the nutrients usually associated with eating meat).
Is vegetarianism a bourgeois life-style movement?
No. I live on a below-minimum-wage level of income and do not face extra financial hardship because of not eating meat.
- In fact, far from being bourgeois-orientated, vegetarians and vegans tend overwhelmingly to be on the Left.
- Vegetarians and vegans are a natural constituency for Communist recruitment as only socialism can respond effectively to the abuses of the meat industry.
- A Left-wing critique of the meat industry is not just about food and the environment. This sector of capitalist industry is guilty of the most extreme and appalling labour rights violations with regard to exploitation of migrant labour, wages, and injuries and deaths in the workplace. This horrendous catalogue of abuse toward the most vulnerable section of the working class can hardly be ignored by Communists.
- Apart from being Left-wing, vegetarians and vegans tend to be women (with regard to vegetarians, the figure is around 80%). We have an urgent problem with the recruitment of women in the YCL, and we should be doing all we can to speak to the concerns of our female comrades, both current and prospective.
It would be a crime for Communists not to be involved in the fightback against the meat industry – on grounds of the environment, food production, human health, and the alleviation of hunger and poverty. As Communists and members of the YCL we claim to be engaged with the issues that affect the world and its communities; we claim to understand the destructive power of capitalism and how a socialist society would be far superior in a multitude of ways; we claim to be informed activists – let’s not ignore this burning issue any longer.
Amendments to the Main Political Resolution
Toronto Club Amendments – Part 1
YCL Toronto recognizes the thorough analysis put forward in this section. What follows is mostly just about editing.
- Does Yugoslavia even exist as a legal entity anymore? Club thinks the final two countries in the federation (Serbia and Montenegro) have in fact now become fully independent. We should therefore no longer be using the term “Yugoslavia”.
- Sentence “However, the support of far-right and neo-fascist elements in the 2009 European elections shows the weakness of left and people’s forces” should instead read “… shows there is still work to be done in strengthening left-wing and people’s forces.”
- Strike “including” from “… strike actions including in France and Greece” for improved wording.
- This paragraph would be better placed in between paragraphs 34 and 35, and combined (perhaps also expanded) with paragraph 33 to give an overall picture of people’s resistance around the world after the various sections on regions (i.e. section 26 on Mid-east/Asia, 29. Africa, 31. The Americas) have been presented.
- Sentence “overturn of the monarchy in Nepal and establishing a strong leading presence of left and communists forces” should add “ing” to “overturn” and strike “s” from “communists”.
- Sentence “determined resistance by the people’s of Iraq and Afghanistan” should strike the apostrophe in “people’s”.
- Likewise with apostrophe in sentence on Philippines.
- Sentence “strong people’s opposition to the Iraq war, including in the US, and growing rejection of the Afghanistan war” should strike “including in the US”.
- We can greet the election of the new ANC leadership and likewise express enthusiasm for the Youth Festival. Do we need to ‘greet’ Zuma by name? Doesn’t he represent a rightist trend in the ANC?
- This paragraph should express concern at the lingering threat posed by a highly organised white supremacist presence in S. Africa. Terreblanche may be dead, but the aspiring Nazis that make up his old Party and base of support are not.
- Final sentence, “this is tremendous!” is not necessary and does not read well.
- Phrase “… and to the Five Cuban Heros unjustly jailed in US prisons for over ten years for fighting terrorism!” should add an ‘e’ before the ‘s’ in “heros” and replace “for over ten years” with “over the last ten years”.
- Reference to Fidel resigning: should be “retiring” (even though resigning is technically correct, it sounds negative).
- Reference to Fidel as Commandante, although technically correct, may sound too militaristic to non-communist readers; replace with “comrade”?
- Strike entire paragraph.
Paragraphs 36 and 37
- Should be combined into one paragraph.
- Strike first three words, “as we’ve said”. Does not read well.
- Perhaps a bit more detail about why a Communist vanguard is necessary and how that facilitates the transition to building a socialist society. In other words, elaborating our position in regard to the quote from the 11th meeting of Communist and Workers Parties cited in this paragraph.
- Combine with paragraph 42.
- Replace “2nd/3rd world” with “global south”.
- Make it clear at the beginning, not the end, of this paragraph where this quote is coming from (i.e. WFTUY).
- Use the term “anti-working class” instead of “anti-people”.
- Sentence “The methods are sophisticated although the basic message is sometimes very crude, is found in all media” should read “The methods are sophisticated, and although the basic message is sometimes very crude, it is found in all media”.
- However, reference to “all media” is perhaps incorrect. Should be “all mainstream media”. After all, we have our own media, and there is some limited amount of good media out there.
- Strike the French phrase in parentheses
- Strike “(im)” from before the word “migrant” – no ‘immigrants’, no ‘emigrants’, just migrants!
- From the first sentence of this paragraph strike “s” from the end of “includes”
- Strike “… in response to” from first sentence
- Replace “including” with “especially” in third sentence
- Regarding the numbering of points: the numbers and letters in bold type make sense, why are they accompanied by numbering (not in bold type) which doesn’t make any sense at all?
- Consistency when referring to “WFDY” or “the WFDY”