25th Central Convention of the YCL-LJC
DISCUSSION BULLETIN #1
Part 1 - the global economic crisis and the youth movement internationally
Part 2 - the condition and position of the young workers
Part 3 - peace and anti-imperialist solidarity
Part 4 - the struggles of secondary and post-secondary students
Part 5 - climate change and youth struggle
Part 6 - other struggles of the youth and student movement
Part 7 - the youth charter and the YCL-LJC's contribution to the youth fight back
Part 8 - building the YCL-LJC, the decisive question
CALL TO 25TH CENTRAL CONVENTION
YOUNG COMMUNIST LEAGUE OF CANADA
LIGUE DE LA JEUNESSE COMMUNISTE DU CANADA
In accordance with the Constitution of the Young Communist League of Canada – Ligue de la jeunesse communiste du Canada (YCL-LJC), the Central Committee hereby issues this call to the 25th Central Convention of the YCL-LJC to be held May 21, 22, 23 in Toronto.
This comes at a significant moment in the labour and people’s struggle, including the youth and student fight-back. In the last few months, the Harper Conservative's anti-environmental approach in Copenhagen, their dictatorial January prorogue of Parliament, and the corporate circus of the Olympic games (breaking the sham Olympic truce with a major offensive in Afghanistan) have all engendered widespread public outrage and protest by youth and students. Our discussion documents are being released immediately after the 2010 Federal budget, which is an accelerated attack on the youth and the people.
As according to Article 12 of the LJC-YCL constitution, “The Central Convention shall decide on the policies of the organization, elect the incoming Central Committee and is empowered to amend the constitution.” All members of the outgoing Central Committee shall be delegates to the Central Convention. Election of delegates to the Central Convention shall be in accordance with the following guidelines issued by the Central Committee as to basis of representation: a 2 to 1 ratio for the LJC-Q; a 3 to 1 for the rest of the YCL-LJC.
Policy development, Leadership renewal
The following convention discussion documents are being proposed by the outgoing Central Committee of the YCL-LJC for full discussion and revision. Since our last convention in 2007 was oriented towards re-founding the YCL-LJC, the major work of the Convention will be on policy and analysis of the youth and student movement, and will be completed with the adoption of the documents, as well as electing a new leadership.
In the opinion of the Outgoing CC, the question of leadership renewal and cadre development in the YCL-LJC has particular significance for this convention. In accordance with Article 11 of the constitution, the Central Committee and alternates shall be elected in such numbers and in such a manner as decided by the Central Convention, taking into account the need to promote sexual, gender, ethnic, national equality and so forth. We are proposing the size of the incoming Central Committee be set at nine full members and seven alternates, as follows:
• BC: 2 members, 2 alternate
• Prairies: 1 members, 1 alternate
• Ontario: 3 members, 3 alternates
• LJC-Q: 2 member, 1 alternate
• East Coast: 1 member, 0 alternate
The Central Committee shall elect from its ranks a General Secretary, Organizer and Treasurer. It shall meet at least once a year between conventions while the Central Executive shall meet at least once every three months.
The outgoing Central Committee offers the following additional consideration of the duties and roles of a full member. A full Central Committee member comes to all meetings within reason; holds voice and vote in the committee; consists of existing cadre and leaders in the League; is locally active in the youth and student movement and their club; communicates action and decisions of the CC from membership to the CC and back; expresses a commitment to the League and the to CC collective, holds central assignments as well as assignments from other centers, and is a Rebel Youth builder.
The role and duties of an alternate member are: to be invited to all meetings without obligation; to be entitled to vote when replacing delegate; voice with attendance;
responsibility with carrying out decisions; to be prepared to take on central assignments and at the same time play a supportive local leadership role. Alternates should be prepared to assume the role of a full Central Committee member if necessary.
The documents enclosed are the first Discussion Bulletin. There will be at least two more issues of the Discussion Bulletin, and may be more if a sufficient number of contributions are received. The Discussion Bulletin will publish written contributions submitted by members, clubs, and committees on the Draft Political Resolution and any other matters properly before the Convention.
The Discussion Bulletin will be distributed to all members of the League, through the clubs, or in the case of members at large, through the appropriate committees. Club organizers are asked to convene special meetings of each club during the pre-convention
period to ensure energetic theoretical and political discussion of the Political Resolution
and other materials before the Convention. In select cases good friends of the YCL-LJC may also be invited to make written interventions (only members of the League who are elected delegates will have voice and vote).
Clubs as well as individuals, should develop their thinking on key questions, and express their views in the Discussion Bulletin so that all members and clubs can respond and comment.
Contributions should be sent by email to: Stephen Von Sychowski c/o
- The Central Committee of the YCL-LJC presents these documents to frame our 25th central convention discussion. Our goal is to help the youth and student fight-back across Canada turn a new page in the struggle and to deepen our League’s contribution. At the end of each section, we present action-plan items.
- 2. The dangers today
- The convention meets at a time when dangers threaten literally the future of the working class, even humanity:
• global warming is both escalating and a potential catastrophe;
• wars and aggressions spread misery, racism, gendered violence, even nuclear holocaust;
• corporate attacks sharpen;
• millions of people have lost their jobs;
- The need is pressing for the people to discover and create an alternative future.
- We open the document with an international assessment of these dangers. We argue that the main culprit is imperialism and the capitalist system, because of its drive to accumulate profits. ‘We make it, they take it’ is the central contradiction of this system today. That contradiction, however, triggers its destruction and the creation of a new society.
- 6. Important prospects
- The 24th Central Convention of the YCL-LJC agreed that despite fundamental set-backs to revolutionary, national liberation, socialist and communist forces since 1989, “even in the present conditions liberating advances towards sovereignty and social progress are possible.” Since then the pro-socialist left-ward shift in Latin America has been reinforced. Elsewhere, anti-capitalist sentiments and advocacy of socialism are growing, albeit unevenly.
- We agree with the November 2009 Paris seminar of the World Federation of Democratic youth: “The capitalist crisis is a proof of the system’s weakness. Young people should take advantage and courage at this weakness by strengthening their anti-imperialist struggle.” As the February 2010 Central Convention of the Communist Party of Canada noted, these are dynamic times, with dangers and challenges, and the potential of resurgent socialism.
- 9. Goals of the document and discussion
10. Like hospital emergency ward nurses, we aim to triage the grievances of the youth and students, for the YCL-LJC’s collective attention. After presenting the international section, we look at the four areas the outgoing Central Committee is proposing for main areas of struggle:
• Young workers and the labour movement
• Peace and anti-imperialism
• Student movement
• Climate change
11. We also present sections on other youth struggles, including for:
• full equality;
• sports, recreation and culture;
• parliamentary struggles.
12. We conclude with a proposal for the youth to advance a Charter of Youth rights as a counter-offensive tactic, and a discussion of the YCL-LJC’s role in the struggle.
13. Our strategic goals in the YCL-LJC’s Declaration of Unity and Resistance are: short term, to build the youth resistance; long term, to build socialism. There is no artificial separation here. There is one strategy that expresses itself flexibly, in different ways under different conditions, but can not be dissected.
14. The insight of the Communist Party of Canada on the road to socialism is decisive and essential. Together, we orient on the unity of the youth and the working people to win immediate struggles -- but with the perspective of turning the fightback towards a counter-offensive, beating the capitalists, winning working-class state power, and building socialism. The YCL-LJC’s tactics and day-to-day work comes from an awareness of this strategy.
16. The global economic crisis, transferred through the policies of the Harper Conservatives, is the primary attack that the youth and people’s movements must unite and combat. Our priority areas of struggle are: young workers, peace and anti-imperialism, the student movement, and global warming.
17. The Central Committee is optimistic that our proposals will be supported. We’re seeking to democratically harness the potential of our League to embellish, re-focus, reinforce, and perhaps redesign this document as it sees fit – not as an academic editing exercise but making points of connection between the documents and the local reality of our struggles. We welcome and encourage consultations with friends and allies and hope this discussion will be creative!
18. PART 1
THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS AND THE
YOUTH MOVEMENT INTERNATIONALLY
19. We begin with the problems facing youth on the international level, and their global response, particularly with the economic crisis. Globally, we see an attack on the youth by imperialism, and a youth fight-back, on the ideological, political, and organizational levels.
20. The biggest part of the world’s population are workers and peasants under 25 years old. The youth face the same problems of the general people’s movements: war, environmental destruction, famine, disease (especially AIDS), gender discrimination, racism, homophobia, attacks on labour, civil and democratic rights, the denial of culture and leisure, etc. There is no class of the youth. The majority of the youth are part of the working class. However, overall problems of the people’s movements are not simply reflected into the struggles of youth as an age demographic. Rather, they are refracted through specific challenges to the generation that will inherit the future.
21. Imperialism in action
22. The major problem that is new since our 24th central convention in 2007 is the management of the world economic crisis by imperialism. The economic crisis has not been the only development in the attack of imperialism, whose meddling, aggressions and wars is outlined below.
23. Imperialism's current tactics are not limited to wars and occupations but include:
• further development of a network of US military bases around the world;
• sanctions and blockades, especially towards socialist and socialist-oriented countries;
• destabilizing by exacerbation of the national question in the third and second world;
• multi-national trade agreements destroying environmental, labour, and other state-level standards.
This is seen in each part of the world.
• funding colour ‘revolutions’ in Eastern Europe;
• separating Kosovo from Yugoslavia;
• a stepped-up anti-communist campaign;
• North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expansion;
• European Union (EU) expansion;
• Free trade deals like the Bolkestein Directive and Bolognia process.
25. An important setback to the anti-communist campaign was over-turning the ban on the Czech Communist Youth (KSM). Widespread rejection of the EU constitution, and strike actions including in France and Greece, also showed the people’s resistance. However, the support of far-right and neo-fascist elements in the 2009 European elections shows the weakness of left and people’s forces.
26. Middle East and Asia:
• Supporting Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine including: the Apartheid wall; intensification of Gaza’s siege; an all-out genocidal war in 2009;
• Continuing Iraq’s occupation;
• Deepening Afghanistan’s occupation;
• Destabilizing Pakistan and Iran;
• Supporting the Sri Lankan government massacre of Tamils;
• Funding national uprisings in China;
• Military provocations on the Korean peninsula;
27. The defeat of imperialism’s oppression of Palestine would not only end a barbarous injustice, but also have major positive global implications for progressive people’s forces.
28. People’s resistance includes:
• growing isolation of Israel and support of Palestinian solidarity;
• upsurge of Iranian students against the theocratic regime;
• overturn of the monarchy in Nepal and establishing a strong leading presence of left and communists forces;
• determined resistance by the people’s of Iraq and Afghanistan;
• resistance by the people’s of the Philippines;
• strong people’s opposition to the Iraq war, including in the US, and growing rejection of the Afghanistan war;
• Brave trade union organizing throughout the region;
• expansion of US and NATO base system;
• support of wars and coups over natural resources (ie. Nigeria);
• destabilization in Zimbabwe, Sudan and Somalia;
• supporting the occupation of Western Sahara;
• denying basic humanitarian support against AIDS, malaria, mal-nutrition, and desertification
30. We greet the 2009 election of the African National Congress Zuma leadership in South Africa and the announcement of the 2010 World Youth Festival in South Africa with great excitement and enthusiasm!
31. The Americas:
• restarting the US Caribbean and South American fleet;
• helping Colombia's government with its major offensive against the FARC-EP and establishing new US bases;
• intensifying the occupation of Haiti,
• orchestrating Honduras’s coup;
• destabilization attempts in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela
32. In the USA, US President Obama’s election had both positive and negative dimensions:
• defeat of George Bush’s ultra-right leadership;
• engaging progressive people’s forces;
• electing the first African-American US President;
• However, the ultra-right were not defeated;
• Obama’s agenda was never progressive but a tactical shift by imperialism.
• The fundamental challenges of the youth and people’s forces in the US continue.
33. Resistance in the Americas includes:
• continued guerrilla resistance in Colombia;
• mass demonstrations in Haiti and Honduras;
• consolidation of anti-imperialist and pro-socialist forces across Latin America especially in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Brazil, and El Salvador;
• Reinforcing the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA)
• Growth of Communist forces supporting the pro-socialist trend. This is tremendous!
34. Foremost in Latin America pointing a way to socialism has been Cuba. The resignation of Commandante Fidel Castro and the continued socialist direction of Cuba has shown that the mandate for the socialist leadership of that country comes from the people. We express our special solidarity to the Cuban people, the Communist Youth Union of Cuba, comrades Raul and Fidel, and to the Five Cuban Heros unjustly jailed in US prisons for over ten years for fighting terrorism!
35. The Central Committee encourages elaboration in convention discussion. From our viewpoint, this reinforces our general thesis: that it is imperialism, not the workers, peasants and oppressed peoples and nations of the world that are to blame. Foremost is this seen with the economic crisis.
36. Economic crisis and the youth
37. The economic crisis is rooted in the systemic crises of the capitalist system. It has come about at the same time as crises in environmental problems and food supply that have related but distinct origins.
38. As we’ve said, while neo-liberalism has intensified the outcomes of the current crisis, the crisis “is not the result of the implementation of neoliberal policies such as free trade, deregulation, privatization, and anti-labour employment policies, etc.; rather, it is the inevitable outcome of the systemic crisis of capitalism itself.”
39. As the 11th International meeting of the Communist and Worker’s Parties in Dehli, India, declared: “Though the capitalist system is inherently crisis ridden, it does not collapse automatically. The absence of a communist-led counterattack, engenders the danger of the rise of reactionary forces.”
40. Now the crisis has matured. There is a major campaign to convince us that we have experienced a ‘jobless recovery.’ In fact there is no such thing. The February 2010 convention of the Communist Party of Canada drew several points of conclusion regarding the economic crisis. We elaborate here regarding the youth:
41. Growing impoverishment.
42. Internationally, the young workers have seen a major spike in unemployment:
• No other age group has been hit as hard.
• 1 in 5 youth are unemployed in United Kingdom.
• United States AFL-CIO labour union central calls this the “lost decade” for young workers
• For third-world and global South’s unemployed, youth are majority:
43. Young workers [especially from the ‘second’ and ‘third’ worlds] are the first victims of labor market deregulation, produced by imperialist globalization, with alarming results: millions of young workers are unemployed, sub-employed or working in slavery-like conditions without health or social security; they are homeless and persecuted emigrants; as well as child labor. A whole generation of young workers are in material and spiritual ruin, with no promising future. (Nov. 2009 Lima, Peru meeting of World Federation of Trade Unions youth)
44. The capitalists are claiming that the debt and deficits incurred to ‘fix’ the crisis must be resolved by anti-people and anti-youth measures, like:
• reduced accessibility and privatization of education, transit, housing, dental care, and childcare;
• even lower rates of youth unionization, ageist two-tier collective agreements, poorer wages;
• and even more debt;
45. The consolidation of these plans by imperialism are found on the state budget-level, and special trade agreements. Those hit hardest include:
• Indigenous youth;
• youth from racialized communities;
• young women;
• youth in sub-Saharan Africa,
• youth in countries subject to imperialist wars, occupations and blockades.
46. The intense ideological offensive designed (a) to divide the working class, including scapegoating, racism, anti-communism, etc, and (b) convince people that a recovery is in full-swing.
47. Efforts to convince the youth through the corporate media and culture that “the crisis has ended” is broadened to include campaigning for the hearts and minds of the youth, for their vision of a better future. etc. The methods are sophisticated although the basic message is sometimes very crude, found in all media.
48. Ways to divide the young and old includes:
• the ultra-accessibility of credit to youth, fosters a “false consciousness” of economic security
• anti-consumer critiques (“la décroissance”) that ignorant hordes with their 1.5 kids, dogs, SUVs, etc. and polluting jobs have caused climate chaos
• trade unionists, especially industrial workers and public-sector workers, are to blame because of their ‘high’ salaries (essentially a dangerous ‘race to the bottom.’)
• attempts to scape-goat (im)migrant workers (ie. in Europe, North America);
• promoting values of individualism, greed, and competition;
49. These attempts to win the minds of young people are carried-over into school class rooms, college and university lecture theaters.
50. Aggravation of inter-imperialist contradictions, a precursor to war; and exposure of US economic might’s relative decline.
51. Imperialism’s rivalries are playing out in response to in forums ranging from trade protectionism (ie. ‘Buy American’) to climate change agreements. These objective contradictions within imperialism could break-out with global war. At the same time, the economic power of the United States has been rocked and challenged, including by China and India.
52. The labour and people’s fight back against the crisis has been slow and sporadic due to a general sense of weakness and caution by working people, state restriction and even repression, ideological disorientation, and the betrayal of opportunist leaders.
• mass united fightback (like in the Great Depression) has not developed globally;
• expressions of internationalism inspiring the youth ten years ago, with the anti-globalization movement, have not developed but dissipated and dissolved;
• despite energetic claims of a ‘new’ people’s politics by anarchist anti-globalization activists, contradictions within the World Social Forum have lead to its demise as an expression of anti-capitalist sentiment.
• Youth of the Socialist [Social Democratic] International do not present themselves as a home for a militant pro-people, pro-democratic youth resistance.
53. On the other hand, genuine anti-imperialist efforts have been seen globally:
• outpouring of support by the youth for the revolutions of Latin America – both on that continent and internationally;
• the resistance of the youth in Honduras;
• international youth support for the Cuban Five;
• strikes and actions of the Greek youth and workers;
• resistance of the German, Austrian and French students;
• sharp criticism by the ANC Youth and Young Communist League of South Africa of neo-liberalism;
• rejection by young Americans of Bush and the war in Iraq;
• rise in youth support of the Japanese Communist Party;
• global outrage by the youth about climate change, seen at militant protests in Copenhagen.
54. These fight backs on the surface have a strong spontaneous dynamic, but in fact are part of organized struggle. Often they are connected with the specific work of youth organizations.
55. The most advanced global expression of anti-imperialist resistance is the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY). We also express our hope for strengthening the International Union of Students. The continuation of the World Festival of Youth and Students movement is a terrific step forward. It should be greeted with the greatest energy and enthusiasm by our YCL-LJC.
56. Action items:
- 1. That the YCL-LJC should deepen its participation in the international youth and student movement by:
- a. Helping to build a strong and diverse delegation of youth and students to the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students in South Africa reflecting the pan-Canadian youth movement;
- b. Developing relations with other anti-imperialist, socialist and communist youth and student organizations around the world;
- 2. Regarding the World Federation of Democratic Youth, the YCL-LJC should:
- a. Continue our membership in WFDY and work to attend more WFDY events;
- b. Work to connect our international work with the WFDY;
- c. Expand our participation in WFDY fundraising and political campaigns;
- d. Continue dialogue with WFDY to clarify perspectives on international questions.
- 3. The YCL-LJC should continue its membership and evaluate its participation in the following organizations:
- a. la Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba;
- b. the Canadian Network on Cuba;
- c. the Canadian Peace Congress
57. PART 2
THE CONDITION AND POSITION
OF THE YOUNG WORKERS
58. The global capitalist economic crisis has added a special character to the struggle of young workers. The political report of our 24th Central Convention pointed out that:
Conditions facing young workers are getting worse year by year. Across the country, injury rates to young workers are at all time highs, and safety regulations are being gutted. At the same time, real wages for youth are the lowest they have been in 25 years and minimum wages across the country are at their lowest point in 30 years. This is one factor that has let big business take unprecedented levels of profits.
59. In many ways, this remained the same throughout the years following that Convention. However, what our report three years ago could not have predicted was the scope of the impending economic catastrophe and the devastating effect it would have on young workers across our country.
60. The economic crisis
61. Young workers have been amongst the hardest hit by the crisis. Youth unemployment hit a 30 year high in 2009 with official numbers, which are generally considered conservative at best, hitting 16.3%, and 19.2% for students seeking summer work.
62. This comes as no surprise since young workers continue to hold mostly low-paid, part time or casual jobs in the service and hospitality sectors. They are often the first to go when layoffs are the order of the day. Furthermore, they find it increasingly difficult to compete in a job market super-saturated every day with more unemployed workers. Unionized youth are sometime subject to divisive two-tier wages and other concessions in collective agreements.
63. They face declining real wages, increasing cost of education and difficulty accessing Employment Insurance due to the part time or casual nature of much of their work. Many young workers find themselves in conditions of poverty and desperation from which there is only one path out; the path of militant, mass struggle.
64. Youth workers' fight backs
65. In BC and Ontario, young workers took up the fight for an increase to the minimum wage during the last few years. The YCL supported and participated in these campaigns despite the fact that the demands were very low ($10). This policy was correct in that the alternative was turning our backs on a crucial issue which had mobilized young workers into action and won the support of the vast majority of society in favour of sitting on the side lines and criticising. Furthermore, the possibility of the young workers movement carrying forward to bigger and better fights and victories would be built on by the increase in organization and class consciousness brought about by such a campaign.
66. Another campaign which has picked up momentum has been the Living Wage Campaign which calls not for a minimum wage increase but for wages based on the cost of living. There have been small scale successes in BC and Ontario. A re-assessment of YCL policies surrounding minimum wages at the Provincial level, the idea of a Federal minimum wage, and the campaign for a living wage may be in order to ensure that our policies and demands remain current and appropriate.
67. While these campaigns have been positive, the experience of the past years proves the need for action beyond campaigns led primarily by trade union activists and towards organizing the unorganized into the struggle. The effort to build a fighting organization of low wage workers in BC is one of the most significant developments to grow out of the young workers movement in Canada in the past few years. Other notable efforts have been made along these lines such as work to build an unemployed workers organization in Hamilton. At a time when union density is eroding and deindustrialization is in full swing, organizing the unorganized is a task that can only be ignored by a movement which is suicidal.
68. Among the unorganized one should not forget migrant and temporary foreign workers. Through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), and the Live-in Caregiver Program workers are brought to Canada from the Third World to work as labourers, farm workers, nannies, live-in caregivers and more. These programs are fundamentally racist and exploitative. The YCL must continue to say “good enough to work, good enough to stay.” Capitalists in Canada are not just abusing and exploiting temporary foreign workers, they are seeking to use these workers against Canadian workers by helping to ensure that there is always a pool of unemployed to use as a threat to workers who fight for their rights. The plight of temporary foreign workers is one that affects all working people. Farmworkers under SAWP have, against all odds, successfully organized on some farms, but in southern Ontario faced evictions and deportations, although they and supporters are fighting back including our members.
69. Trade union movement and the youth
70. The growth and proliferation of young workers committees in some unions, labour councils, provincial federations of labour, and at the CLC is a positive development. However, some committess suffer from lack of action and tokenism. The policies of some trade unions around casual employees and exclusion policies which keep apprentices out of the union, are also of concern as they weaken the youth voice in the labour movement and damage trade union unity. Two-tier contracts in which senior workers protected in terms of wages and benefits during negotiations while a second tier of employees with lower wages and benefits is formed for new workers also disproportionately affect young workers and can damage the unity between older and younger workers.
71. Despite these stumbling blocks, the importance of the continued growth of young workers committees is undeniable. It should be considered the task of all Communist, left and progressive young workers in organized labour, and all young workers who wish to build a movement based on action, to establish and/or build young workers committees wherever they can and to work to make them active, vibrant, diverse and action oriented bodies. At the district labour council level, young workers committees should be structured when possible to allow the inclusion of un-organized young workers.
72. District labour councils play an important role. They are the bodies which bring labour together in a given community for the purposes of taking collective action. Many councils have been hard hit in recent years by new limits on funding from the CLC, de-affiliation of some unions, and the notion paraded by some on the right that labour councils have become outdated and should either be eliminated or “reformed.” All reforms which seek to reduce or eliminate council or their capacity to take action at the local level must be defeated. Labour Councils should play the role of action oriented bodies which serve to unite the labour movement with other working class and peoples forces on a community level.
73. Action Caucuses are another important apect of the trade union movement today. These caucuses bring together those members who want to build a fighting labour movement, a movement based on action. These are also typically the most politically progressive segments of the organization and the most class conscious. They are broad based, non-sectarian groupings which find their main moment of activity at conventions where they can fight for the adoption of militant programmes and challenge right wing leaders. Young Communists in the trade union movement should, wherever possible, seek to establish or build on existing Action Caucuses.
74. Young workers have often been visible amongst the most militant segments of the trade union movement in action, at conventions, and in their committees. It should be noted that there has been a clear increase in the level of class consciousness in organized labour in the past two years. The failure of the capitalist system, exemplified by the current economic crisis, is opening the eyes of ever more workers to the need for significant change. In some cases, it is opening their eyes to the need for revolutionary change.
75. Class and revolutionary consciousness
76. Although the level of revolutionary consciousness is still low, it is increasing along with the level of basic class consciousness without which this would be at least superfluous if not impossible. We must remain cognisant of the fact that young workers are the future of the labour movement and can both play a significant role in carrying forward working class struggle in the present as well as building a foundation for a stronger and healthier movement in the future.
77. Social democracy continues to be the predominant ideological force in the Canadian labour movement. The political nature of social democracy is shifting clearly and openly to the right across Canada. The New Democratic Party, which is still considered by most to be labour's political party, has opened its arms widely to embrace business, big and small. Meanwhile it has made conscious efforts to move away from its association with the labour movement, while still expecting and receiving full support from the majority of unions.
78. At the same time, there are splits within the ranks of social democracy. The growing class consciousness and militancy in the trade union movement is leading to an increasingly large left within social democracy which has not developed a revolutionary consciousness but sees the need for a serious fight back, and may even have identified capitalism as the problem. These are potential allies.
79. The YCL’s role
80. The YCL’s goal must be to build a strong, united, militant, fighting young workers movement while building the YCL itself in the process. Specifically, this means:
- working to establish, and build on existing, young workers committees at all levels, with special attention to district labour councils;
- promoting organization of the unorganized into unions, and other forms of class organizations, for example, low wage workers organizations and unemployed organizations, preferably linked to the trade union movement where possible;
- striving in our work to bring our revolutionary perspective into the movement and to provide leadership in the direction of class struggle, not conciliation and collaboration.
81. Class struggle is our frame of reference; we must aim to make it the frame of reference for organized labour and then the whole of the working class. We must engage in the ongoing ideological struggle, the battle of ideas, between those who seek to preserve the capitalist system and those who seek to smash it. Our policy should be one of open Communist work in the trade union movement, as in all the mass movements although tactical exceptions to this may occasionally be necessary. The YCL should strive to educate its members and allies about the contradictions that exist within organized labour so as to overcome misconceptions about the nature of the trade movement, many of which are caused by the encounters of youth with business unionism, class collaboration, tokenism and other negative aspects brought on by right wing leaders.
82. Finally, we must re-assert that the working class is the only consistently revolutionary class in this historical epoch. It is the primary contradiction in our society – that between the social production of wealth and its private appropriation, which is ultimately maturing and leading towards the end of capitalist society. The working class, and especially its organized segment i.e. the trade union movement, is the only class which has the ultimate power to shut down the capitalist economy and to seize state power.
83. We must say frankly that this is no time for arguments that “socialism is not on the table today.” Our long term goal of a socialist society must remain at the forefront of our minds during all of our work with fellow working people. It is a goal which me must disdain to conceal. If we don’t put socialism on the table, how can we expect it to get there?
84. Action items:
85. The following should be taken as flexible guidelines given the differing conditions of young workers movements across Canada.
- 1. The YCL-LJC should support campaigns and work of the trade union movement including:
- a. Connecting unorganized young workers and students with the struggles of organized workers such as picket line strike support;
- b. Support local and provincial campaigns for minimum wage (as well as pay equity, child care, fix ei, etc.);
- c. Helping with organizing the unorganized;
- d. Support the community campaigns of Quebec’s Common Front;
- e. Supporting class organizations like low paid or unemployed workers organizations;
- 2. Where membership is engaged in trade unions they should:
- a. Join and build young workers committees;
- b. Work to participate as delegates in labour meetings;
- c. Participate in left-center unity or ‘action caucus’ formations
- 3. The YCL-LJC should maintain an independent outlook on young workers questions, expressed in:
- a. YCL-LJC pamphlets, statements, etc.;
- b. Exploring organizing young workers conferences in other centers across the country
86. PART 3:
PEACE AND ANTI-IMPERIALIST SOLIDARITY
87. While correctly noting that “Youth often make up the most energetic and vocal members of the anti-war movement and international solidarity movements,” our 24th convention was not able to make an assessment of Canada’s growing militarism. We are still in a nuclear-weapons era and as long as these weapons exist, the military-industrial complex includes their utilization in nightmare fantasies.
88. Resistance against imperialism and the question of Canadian sovereignty
89. Peace issues are directly linked to young workers' and students' daily struggles. Student and labour work must also work against war and militarism. The peace movement is a broad, multi-class formation. In addition to workers, students and trade unionists, our peace efforts unite with pacifist and religious organizations like the Student Christian Movement and Muslim youth, as well as liberal groups opposing certain wars.
90. It would be a fatal mistake to dismiss these forces as, for example, “the status quo left.” We also reject the view that the slogan of peace somehow makes us seem weak. Against imperialism’s gigantic military build-ups of “weapons of mass destruction,” against its aggressions, blockades, sanctions, occupations, bombing and mass killing of civilian life – peace is the main response.
91. While standing with the vast majority of anti-imperialist movements, it is not automatic that we are in solidarity with every force that is objectively fighting imperialist. At the same time through the struggle for sovereignty, progressive developments often occur within resistance forces, and imperialism does not need our help in critiquing of its enemies.
92. The YCL-LJC needs to also engage more on complex youth debates about democratic sovereignty. While expressing solidarity with the sovereignty of the peoples of Afghanistan, Palestine, Cuba, Haiti, Korea, etc., we can not obscure the relationship between Canada and the United States. Canada is not a colony or vassal of the US, it is a full imperialist power; at the same time the US dominates Canada’s economy, political life and culture. It is not a simply either/or, it is both.
93. Resistance to the US role in Canadian society is not a distraction. It is entirely natural that, while recognizing their short-comings, the YCL-LJC would work with pro-Canadian forces in defense of issues of sovereignty (ie. Free Trade and deep integration with the United States, for a democratic people’s culture, and for an independent foreign policy based on peace and disarmament).
94. This is not in conflict with internationalism. For us, Canadian sovereignty means the sovereignty of the peoples of Canada – the vast majority of whom are workers and their closest allies – and the basic democratic right of the Canadian people to determine their own future, their own destiny. It is also sovereignty against US imperialism. Sovereignty is directly connected to the rights of nations and peoples to self determination.
95. This is not a selective right reserved only for oppressed nations, or those which have already embarked on a revolutionary path. Recognition of the national rights of Aboriginal peoples, Quebec, and the Acadians, does not detract from or negate the sovereign rights of the peoples of Canada who as a whole to resist the onslaught by U.S. imperialism and international finance capital.
96. Militarism in Canada
97. Militarism here refers to three associated developments:
- restructuring and integrating the Canadian Forces (CF) with the US military;
- massive increases in Canadian military spending;
- the CF shifting from pro-US ‘peace keeping’ to anti-insurgent combat.
98. Ottawa’s Harper Conservative foreign policy could be typed in Bush-era Washington. One of the most marked shifts is 100% uncritical support of Zionist Israeli and fascist Colombia. Canada’s Cuba policy is perhaps the only exception.
- The deep integration of the US and Canadian armies includes:
- creating “Canada Command” styled after its US counterpart;
- directing Canadian soldiers within the US army either as units or individual military experts;
- training of Canadian officer cadres at the School of the Americas;
- Canadian government now permitting US troops to operate anywhere on Canadian soil, beyond US bases.
100. In 2002 the US Bush-regime Ambassador to Canada stated his main goal was to increase Canadian military spending. After a short-lived drop in the early 1990s, Canadian military spending has now outpaced Cold War records:
- now 7th highest among the 26 NATO countries;
- military spending was $12.3 billion in 2001;
- now $19 billion in 2009 with plans to increase spending to $30 billion by 2027;
- The Afghanistan war’s cost alone (assuming Canada’s participation ends in 2011) is estimated to be $28.3 billion;
- Despite the economic crisis, this spending is officially ‘locked-in.’
101. Canadian peace-keeping operations occurred during the Cold War. They consistently sided with the US against the Soviet Union and socialist countries. Since the set-backs to socialism, the number of Canadian peace keepers can now fit on a Greyhound bus! The CF have stated their new emphasis is on insurgencies like in Afghanistan. This means wars where the people themselves are the primary enemy – ie. the Operation Charging Bison training that took place over downtown Winnipeg in 2007.
103. The war has created great pressures on the Canadian military. Many – 15 to 25% – of soldiers on rotation to Afghanistan are now reservists. The CF are now recruiting thousands of young people. Operation Connection is an aggressive recruitment plan, announced at the time of our last convention. It includes elementary, high school and post-secondary campuses outreach.
104. Almost 8,000 were recruited last year; 60 % were under 24. Special target is made at poor and working class youth, Aboriginal youth, and young people in the East Coast. At various points Newfoundlanders, who make up two percent of the Canadian population, accounted for about 25% of all troops in Afghanistan.
105. Military recruiting is both an ideological pro-war pipeline to the youth, and a transmission belt for imperialist cannon fodder back to the military. Sophisticated recruitment tactics include:
- presence at sports events, cultural celebrations, air shows;
- mass-advertising in student washrooms with the lure of free-education;
- special recruiting vans near high schools;
- cooperation with high school job councilors;
- special visits to classes with guns;
- paid high school co-op programmes;
- presence at job fairs on campuses.
106. A heavy corporate media campaign supports the war in Afghanistan. The ‘enemy’ is racialized as ‘vermin,’ while the 138+ Canadian Forces deaths (plus a few civilians) are mourned as heroes. Family criticism of the military and their role has been silenced.
108. Both the Afghan and Canadian people have rejected the occupation, especially the youth. The war in Afghanistan has been a disaster, causing:
- a spike in infant mortality rates;
- tens of thousands of Afghani deaths, including from bombing weddings, shooting-up markets, hospitals;
- expanding opium poppy production;
- further oppression of women’s rights
109. Youth and student resistance has included conferences, participation in mass rallies, campus educationals and opposition to military recruitment (generally under the banner of Operation Objection). Opposition to the war been sporadic but lively in English-speaking Canada from coast to coast, and well organized in Quebec where the military is also seen somewhat as an army of occupation.
110. Although protests against the war in Afghanistan were large mass demonstrations at the time of the convention, since then they have shrunk in size. In Quebec, there is less participation by the trade union movement and organizers have shifted from demonstration mobilizations to educational-oriented conferences. These problems deserve discussion and analysis.
111. Other campaigns
112. The struggle against the war in Afghanistan is not the only anti-imperialist campaign. Across Canada, including Quebec, youth and students are fighting for:
- Palestine solidarity;
- To free Omar Khadr from US Guantanamo Bay torture camp;
- To defend the Tamil peoples in Sri Lanka;
- Against human rights abuses in Colombia,
- And on many other causes.
113. Notably disconnected with these struggles is solidarity with Tibet, a movement which has exposed links with imperialism. Here we look at two specific struggles.
114. Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was a 15 year old youth, when he was captured by US forces after a battle in the village of Ayub Kheyl in Afghanistan in 2002. He was detained at Guantanamo Bay, charged with fighting with the Taliban against US forces. Despite his juvenile status, weak evidence against him, repeated claims of abuse at Guantanamo, and his Canadian citizenship, the Harper government has not taken action to have Omar Khadr repatriated and reunited with his family in Canada. The YCL supports the campaign to bring Omar home immediately, and not to try him in Canada but instead to rehabilitate him into society.
115. Campaigning by students, together with support of some trade unions, has been an important factor in the shift of public opinion against the Zionist state of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. The Harper Conservatives, working with university administrators, have made obstacles to students working on solidarity campaigns with Palestine. For example at several Ontario campuses this has included heavy fines and punishments to students for staging demonstrations, banning event posters, attempting to ban the phrase Israeli Apartheid, and intense public criticism in the media.
116. The Central Committee welcomes expansion and discussion of these efforts.
117. Action items
- 1. That the YCL-LJC continue to participate in the Troops Out Now campaign and support the efforts of Collectif Échec à la guerre and the Canadian Peace Alliance;
- 2. That the YCL-LJC re-start the peace conference call and coordination of peace activists in the League, focusing on:
- a. Operation Objection and military recruitment;
- b. Troops Out Now;
- c. Other relevant anti-imperialist solidarity efforts;
- 3. That the YCL-LJC continue and deepen its work with local Palestinian solidarity campaigns, including Israeli Apartheid Week;
THE STRUGGLES OF SECONDARY
AND POST-SECONDARY STUDENTS
119. The primary contradiction in the struggle for increased access to education is: corporations want a trained workforce but they will not pay for it through corporate taxes, forcing the people to pay for education through wages, savings and especially debt. The working people want accessible, emancipatory education.
120. This class perspective is often obscured. The struggle for access is presented as a simply universal fight against the government. Right-social democratic ideas in the student movement deliberately avoid class perspectives and mis-represent the state as neutral. Yet the state’s decisions are, generally, in line with the banks and businesses. And the single largest group of youth impeded and excluded from post-secondary are youth from the working-class majority.
121. The student movement is vital in the fight back. It makes up the most organized component of the youth movement. The students are concentrated onto campuses. Education also gives them skills for struggle. Yet students also contain strong non-working class elements in their leadership with associated values. Students are a therefore a contradictory and dynamic force.
122. The corporate agenda for schools
123. Over the past generation, the hungry drive of the corporations for profits has led to:
- restructuring the tax system and federal-provincial relations, restricting post-secondary funding;
- ‘eating’ the public sector as a new source of profits through privatization.
124. In BC, for example, students pay will pay more in tuition in 2010 than corporations pay in provincial taxes. This is restructuring for rich-only, American-style education.
125. Thirty years ago tuition fees were negligible or even zero! What has changed?
- Federal government's role in funding reduced transfer payments, no longer requires provinces to allocate money to secondary and post-secondary education;
- tuition fees have emerged as a major user fee on a service which should be free;
- in spring 2010 student debt will top $13,500,000,000;
- mass increases in illegal ancillary fees (like “library access” fees);
- Boards of Governors have adopted an increasingly pro-corporate, pro-privatization, anti-student line;
- a small army of students work on and off campus for corporations, essentially free labour.
126. In Quebec, tuition fees are very low. But the loans programme sharply reduces accessibility. Currently tuition is highest in Ontario and Nova Scotia. It is frozen in Newfoundland.
127. In secondary schools there has been similar under-funding and cut-backs. In Ontario alone, schools are short several billions of dollars from mid-90s levels because of the flawed provincial funding formula. All schools have seen a wave of cut-backs: support staff, teachers, supplies, repairs and new buildings. Teachers' pay has been frozen (ie. Alberta in 2008) and collective agreements torn-up. In Nova Scotia and elsewhere, Public Private Partnership (P3) school buildings are scandalously over-budget.
128. Privatization is not just an attack on service – costing more, but delivering less because of the new need to make a profit – but an attack on workers. Privatization attacks union collective agreements, and decertifies unions (ie: privatization of campus food services). This strengthens the objective basis for student-teacher and student-worker unity.
129. Resistance in secondary and post-secondary
130. The attack on education has been met with continued resistance since our last convention. In high schools the majority of resistance has been lead by the teachers. School boards have also opposed funding cuts and been placed under receivership by provincial governments. The YCL-LJC supports school board autonomy and local democracy and youth running for school board elections raising a pro-teacher, pro-student agenda.
131. In English-speaking Canada the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) organized a cross-Canada day of action in spring 2007 but has called none since. In some high schools, students have walked out of class, joining in solidarity with university students. More assessment by the YCL-LJC needs to be made on the situation in trade schools.
132. In Quebec, following the spectacular 2005 students strike, an attempted 2007 general student strike failed, discussed below.
133. Individual provincial CFS actions were organized in Ontario and Manitoba in fall 2008 and 2009 under the new and positive slogan ‘Drop Fees.’ Manitoba students occupied the legislature. Although there were very few mass mobilizations in BC and elsewhere, these Drop Fees actions are very significant. They visibly show the students' power. Mass protests must be supported by more youth and people’s forces, including labour. There more regular organization will only help push the students beyond lobbying.
134. Other potential sources of campus resistance for a students' agenda include:
- Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGS), uneven and decentralized, but often home for many genuine anti-capitalist students;
- Part-time and mature students and international students;
- Racialized student clubs;
- Environmental and social-justice clubs like the Student Christian Movement;
- University professors (too often absent from demos) and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT);
- TAs and sessional instructors, whose actions have been dynamic, especially at York U.
135. Greater student participation in university affairs has also been demanded in confrontation with the corporatization of education. Workers, students, administrators and the state have a role at the table. Corporations do not.
136. Harper Conservative attacks
137. On a number of campuses university administrators have been heavy-handed against demonstrators. This has engendered widespread campus solidarity:
- British Columbia, UBC – students arrested protesting privatization and destruction of campus environment, support committee developed;
- Alberta, U of A – student protest blocked administration from abolishing elected student residence representatives, after reps had petitioned against rising fees;
- Ontario, U of T – administration deliberately had police arrest 14 campus activists on the pretext of occupation of the President’s office weeks prior, campaigning forced dropping of charges and restrictive bail conditions;
- Quebec, UQAM – student protest (ie. demos, posters) banned within the vicinity of all campuses.
- Quebec, CEGEP du Vieux Montreal –over 100 arrests at one student occupation, although campus was well know for long-standing tolerance of protest; across Quebec the student movement experienced reduced tolerance towards any campus activism;
138. Conservative Party youth organizations have also stepped up their activity against progressive and left student organizations. For some time the Conservatives have held a secret slush-fund to seek office in student unions. But in the spring of 2009 on campuses across Canada, Conservative youth organized training sessions about:
- building front organizations, working with Zionist and anti-abortionist organizations on campus;
- attacking Public Interests Research Groups;
- de-federating from the Canadian Federation of Students;
- Strikingly, workshops featured sitting Members of Parliament;
- Since, at least one MP has been caught interfering directly in student elections through administration (MP Peter Kent and the York Federation of Students);
- Conservative youth also a catalyst in several attacks on PIRGS (ie. Guelph, Halifax);
- Conservatives implicated in thirteen de-federation campaigns from CFS;
139. The question of de-federation has brought to light the problem of cross-Canada student unity.
140. English-speaking Canadian student unity
141. The struggle for student unity is playing out in various ways on different campuses. Political problems have sometimes been expressed in administrative solutions. Although the CFS AGM created new rules regarding de-federation, the campaigns against the CFS continue, and the right-wing enemies of student unity have not disappeared.
142. There are also right-wing student organizations that can “fill the hole” of the CFS – specifically the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, historically a device of the federal government to split the student’s movement. The tacticians of the Liberal and Conservative Parties, happy political prisoners of the big corporations, may view CASA as of less use today. Therefore a new wrecking ball has been swung into motion.
143. Post-de-federation campuses will not engage political campaigns. Simon Fraser University was the test ground for this, in 2008. Right-wing students worked with some leftist critics of CFS to de-federate in the context of mistaken management by the student union.
144. People’s organizations like CFS have internal problems. There is a struggle for democracy and militancy. Claiming the left should provoke a “few” de-federations to “shake things up in CFS” is opportunist. Claiming the CFS can not be reformed plays the right-wing’s game.
145. The counter-offensive required in this struggle is broad united fronts. The political reason for the CFS must be brought back to the students who must empower themselves to democratically drive the student struggle.
146. This is an internal battle students are fighting out. Liberal as well as right and centrist social democratic outlooks are predominant but not ‘hegemonic’ within CFS. The British Columbian, Manitoba and Nova Scotian components of CFS have made open criticism of the NDP. Some leaders have torn-up their membership cards. Students understand the need for militancy, unity and grass-roots campaigns.
147. Student unity in Quebec
148. Although there is greater militancy, unity of the students in Quebec is arguably weaker than in English-speaking Canada. In Quebec CFS has organized a few student unions. The bigger players are the FEUQ for university students, FECQ for CEGEPs, ASSÉ and the new Third Voice who organize both. The majority of student unions are unaffiliated.
149. The most militant student union central is the ASSÉ. The FECQ/FEUQ hold an annual action, but have a narrower lobbying and compromise approach focusing on immediate student issues. In 2005 the ASSÉ initiated the largest mobilization of students in Quebec and Canadian history against cutbacks of student bursaries (with support of labour and people’s forces). In 2007, the ASSÉ launched a failed call for a general strike after the Charest government un-freezed student fees, and then launched another failed call for an unlimited general strike (like 2005).
150. ASSÉ continues to have a serious internal discussion about the failed strikes and the implication for strategy and tactics today. The debate is around how to place the demand of free education. Reasonable voices with ASSÉ have identified a like lack of unity, between ASSE and the FECQ/FEUQ, as detrimental to their cause.
151. The way forward for the students in Quebec demands that they overcome these barriers to unity. Of necessity, this requires a transformation of the FECQ/FEUQ position towards a more mass-student and class struggle-based approach.
152. Aboriginal students
153. Education is a human right – and for First Nations a treaty right. However, in addition to long-standing neo-colonial policies against Aboriginal peoples, in 1996 the Federal government imposed a 2% cap on all basic core services funding increases, breaking the Treaties. Rising numbers of Aboriginal youth seek degrees. Over half of the aboriginal population is under 25. There are long waiting lists for First Nations youth to attend post-secondary. Non-status and Metis people do not receive any funding, while facing the same racism.
154. Racist policies against Aboriginal students hurt the entire movement. Although First Nations students centers and associations have been established at most universities across the country they must fight for funding. Only one First Nation’s University exists in Canada, in Saskatchewan, which the Harper Tories are shutting-down. The YCL-LJC condemns the closing of First Nations University. The YCL-LJC demands abolition of the funding cap, emergency action to improve Aboriginal people’s social and economic conditions, and full recognition of sovereignty and self-determination for aboriginal nations.
155. Pan-Canadian student unity
156. The necessity for a united organization for all students at the federal level is an objective need. Some efforts have been made uniting CFS and Aboriginal students. The CFS has campaigned on Aboriginal student’s issues especially in Manitoba, and condemned the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs’ continued approach to aboriginal education and closure of First Nations University.
157. Unity between English-speaking and Quebec students is sporadic and limited. On the surface, language is a barrier to greater communication. In fact this is a political problem about the national question with reflections into tactics:
- the Millennium scholarship was opposed by the CFS as ineffective;
- for Quebec student’s however it was an advantage to their loan system;
- the “Post-secondary education act” first advanced by the CFS and the CAUT and now adopted by the New Democratic Party contains no special provisions for Quebec and Aboriginal students.
158. While narrow nationalism (encouraged by the Parti Québéquois) discourages some Quebec students from pan-Canadian, Federal-level action, the main problem is English-speaking Canadian chauvinism. Many English-speaking students speak as if there were no militant student battles in Quebec.
159. In our view there is one working class within distinct nations in Canada. The situation has changed since the days of the National Union of Students when there was one organization of Quebec students (ANEEQ). If the CFS were to withdraw from Quebec there is no guarantee that something beneficial would arise in its absence. There are many English-speaking student unions not organized into any progressive student movement. First outreach could be made by the CFS and its own position on the national question should develop to recognize the multi-national character of Canada.
160. Action items
- 1. That the YCL-LJC continue its focus on post-secondary student unity, through:
- a. Student activist conferences and calls;
- b. Membership participation in student elections;
- c. The incoming Central Committee ensuring the publication of our own perspectives on post-secondary education, including our demand for eliminating tuition fees and a living stipend for students, and connecting access to education with class issues;
- 2. High school struggles
- a. That the YCL-LJC continue to engage in campaigns, mobilization, forums, and other political actions of high school students;
- b. That the incoming Central Committee ensure publication of high school student brochures and a newsletter or zine.
161. PART FIVE
AND YOUTH STRUGGLE
162. While the issue of global warming is increasingly important in the international political agenda and especially with respect to the mobilization of youth, it is necessary to open the debate on why the YCL-LJC should get involved in the movement against climate change as a priority. The issue of climate change has engaged many young people today – first, because the nature of the impacts which will primarily involve the young generation, secondly because most of us were born at a moment when climate debate became very public.
163. The Copenhagen conference teaches us many things. First, it illustrates how global warming is mobilizing the masses and especially the youth in all countries. The Asia-Pacific started the flow of events around the world with some 50,000 people in the streets in Australia, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. In Manila, Hong Kong, Jakarta, and as in most major Canadian cities, rallies of several hundred protesters were also held. In Copenhagen itself, hundreds of thousands of people began marching in the cold to protest.
164. One thing is interesting to note in this mobilization: some have noticed, like the French deputy José Bové, a farmer and altermondialisme personality, that here is an opportunity to link “climate justice and social justice: Today, there is no break between the fight against global warming and the fight for another world.”
165. With the abysmal failure of this United Nations conference which was suppose to conduct an agreement between states to reduce GHG and be following the Kyoto agreement, it becomes obvious to the people that the imperialist countries have no desire to act. The strings of this conference were pulled by the United States and its allies including Canada. The so-called agreement that came out was not obtained in a democratic way and is a farce. In summary, the countries simply have the obligation by the end of the year to provide targets for 2020.
166. Causes of climate change
167. At this summit, leaders of imperialist countries have been singled out and accused of being in the pay of the industry. For the general public belief is that industry and our individual consumption is causing climate change. But as Marxists, we know that this is not so much the industry as the way it is implemented; in other words, how capitalism works. For itself, industry is not necessarily something negative. In fact, because of industry for the first time in history, the development of productive forces has the potential to produce enough to meet the needs of all.
168. About the individual consumption, this is a way for capitalists to individualize the problem and put us all in the same boat. Under this idea, people are all equally responsible for the disaster. But the working men and women of the world do not consume as the bourgeoisie class does. Half the planet lives on less than $ 2 per day and is not liable as the capitalists who exploit them.
169. It is not without reason that the media propagate massively the idea of the individual solution. Only the rich can afford an electric car, organic vegetables or any other new product supposedly green. The conditions of the working class already determine its consumption. This idea of individual responsibility is dangerous and leads to even viewing with a negative eye the aspiration of some developing countries to achieve a standard of living equivalent to the occident.
170. Instead, we need to consider the demands of Evo Morales, President of the Republic of Bolivia and others who call for climate reparations, and funding sustainable technologies in the developing world. The obstacle to this is imperialism, which prefers to make trillions off these countries rather than address the gravity of climate change.
171. Climate change is not caused by all classes. Furthermore, it will not consistently impact humanity. Those who are most affected by environmental crisis will be the poorest in the world. Climate change will bring the disruption of ecosystems, and therefore lifestyles that are more dependent on the immediate environment. It will affect the health of populations, such as the development of certain infectious and respiratory diseases. Which brings us back to fight for a public health system accessible to all.
172. In 2007, the Secretary General of the United Nations said that in many developing countries, youth, and in particularly girls and young women, are often responsible for agricultural work, collecting water and firewood, tasks which "will become more difficult and take longer at the expense of education and productive activities as climate change affects access to water, agricultural productivity and the survival of ecosystems.”
173. Imperialism is considering other approaches to solving global warming as well – so called “Plan B.” This is because the effects of global warming have already begun and are expected to get much worse. Therefore immediate problems of mitigation come into play. Plan B or Geo-engineering is the intentional large-scale manipulation of the global environment, generally to reduce undesired climatic change (i.e., initiating a giant plankton bloom in the ocean, or the injection of large amounts of sulfate aerosols into the atmosphere simulating a volcanic eruption). NASA, the British Institute of Mechanical Engineers, the British Royal Society, and the UK parliament are all doing studies on geo-engineering. But these nightmarish solutions could cause unknown damage.
174. YCL-LJC can not be absent from this debate, especially since it excites the youth of today.
175. Action items
- 1. Central Committee should develop the YCL-LJC’s campaign work on global warming by identifying allies, campaigns, and where the YCL-LJC can make a contribution within our capacity;
- 2. Present coverage of the global warming movement in Rebel Youth, and put forward our own viewpoint anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, pro-socialist perspective.
176. PART SIX
OTHER STRUGGLES OF THE
YOUTH AND STUDENT MOVEMENT
177. Beyond the YCL-LJC’s priority areas of struggle there are a number of important battles that the youth and students and all the people’s forces combat. In identifying priorities the YCL-LJC do not preclude our active participation in other movements. Democratic struggles are a vital part of revolutionary struggle. While we cannot cover every struggle in this document, others may be covered throughout the course of Convention in the form of special resolutions.
178. Culture struggles
179. We are encouraged not to think of culture as a right of the youth; however unemployment is not the same as leisure! Recreation, leisure time and democratic culture are all rights, most certainly not privileges whether you are in a city or rural area.
180. One of the foremost areas of spontaneous youth resistance is music. Rock, Hip Hop, Punk, Folk and Electronic music and other genre’s all contain contradictory elements of dominant corporate mass culture and people’s democratic culture. The YCL-LJC supports people’s democratic culture and grass-roots art.
181. Reinforcing the industry’s elitist approach, many young people cannot learn in public schools in the area of culture they want because there is inadequate funding of music education, drama and arts. Youth are afraid to risk a career in the arts because they will not get a job, and art schools are limited to a tiny provincial archipelago of Colleges of Art and Design.
182. Access to recreation facilities varies wildly across the country as do training programmes for young athletes. Corporate advertising and the cult of violence is promoted. Women’s sports are still deeply undervalued.
183. Struggles for full equality
184. Sexism and misogynistic ideologies are alive and well even in 21st century Canada. The YCL-LJC rejects arguments that policies and legislation aimed at enforcing gender equity and overcoming sexism are outdated, unnecessary or even “reverse sexism.”
185. Women work the majority of low-paid, casual, and part time work; making 70% the wages of men on average for the same work and experience. This wage gap has remained largely unchanged since the 1970’s despite an increasingly educated female work force and despite increasing numbers of women on the job. Furthermore, women continue to perform the majority of household chores and bare the brunt of raising children.
186. They face sexist and male chauvinist attitudes every day at work, at school, on the street and even in the home. Not to mention from the corporate media and entertainment industry which continue to portray an unhealthy, disempowered vision of how women should be.
187. In recent years, women’s right to chose has also been under increased attack with the coming to power of the anti-choice Conservative government. It is well known that the Conservative Party opposes women’s right to chose. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has even suggested holding a referendum on the question aimed at stripping women of this fundamental right over their own bodies. The YCL-LJC defends women’s right to chose.
188. The YCL-LJC demands strong legislation against gender discrimination, total economic equality between men and women, and unity between men and women in the youth and student movement to defeat sexism. It isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s a class issue. Sexism divides and weakens the peoples fight back.
189. 51% of Canadian women have faced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 16. Every minute of every day, a woman or child is being sexually assaulted. Yet, the majority of these cases go unreported and almost all of them go unpunished. Violence against women is the natural outgrowth of the sexism inherent in the capitalist system.
190. A common form of violence against women amongst youth and students is date rape. 31% of sexual assaults are reported as being perpetrated by a date or acquaintance. Many more are carried out through the use of date rape drugs. The majority of victims in these crimes are young women between the ages of 16-24.
191. The YCL demands better protection for women who are or have been the victims of violence. More funding is needed for rape relief centres and counseling. Women’s self defense programs should be funded to allow women to protect themselves. The practice of further victimizing those who have suffered abuse through relocation and other forms of “protection” while the victimizer remains free must be ended.
192. National oppression
193. Although the youth and student movement is often justifiably praised for its dynamism, energy, creativity, and boldness, the issue of the national question continues to be poorly understood in English-speaking Canada, both for Quebec and Aboriginal national rights.
194. The situation of the Quebec people has changed markedly since the “quite revolution” in the 1960s and the greater development of a Quebec capitalist class. The new generation of Quebec youth can work and study mainly in French, unlike their parents, and have less commitment to national struggle. The main demands of the Quebec people are still the recognition of their national rights including sovereignty and self-determination.
195. The aboriginal youth face sharp oppression including: lack of basic services on-reserve like clean drinking water; discrimination in housing, education, employment and culture; high male suicide rates; abduction and coercion of young aboriginal women by gangs into the sex trade; colonial legacy of policy reinforced by the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs.
197. In the past few years we have witnesses some alarming displays by racist organizations in Canada, particularly in Calgary where neo-nazis have even resorted to firebombing and other violence.
198. The YCL-LJC continues to stand firmly in opposition to every manifestation of white supremacy and racism. We call for a complete ban on racist and white supremacist organizations, literature and symbols.
199. Canada cannot continue to pride itself in its diversity and “multiculturalism” while allowing neo-nazi organizations to terrorize new Canadians and Canadians of visible minorities. Hate crime legislation must be enforced and strengthened.
200. We reject the notion that hate speech is a question of “freedom of speech.” The freedom of racists is incompatible with the freedom of those they attack and with the unity and interests of the working people as a whole. It must be ended.
201. We also oppose Islamophobia and anti-Arabism, which are forms of racism that are a desperate attempt to gain support for wars abroad by demonizing and terrorizing people in Canada, and also abroad, who come from predominantly Muslim national groups. There is nothing secular about white supremacist and ultra-left attempts to suppress the democratic rights of Muslims under the guise of protecting “Canadian values.”
203. Homophobia continues to plague Canadian society and the youth and students of Canada. Even amongst some progressive circles where racism and sexism are repudiated, homophobia retains a strong foothold.
204. The YCL maintains that hatred of the LGTB-QI community is no better and no less dangerous to the youth and student movement than any of these other bigoted beliefs.
205. As with sexism and racism, homophobia serves the ruling class by dividing youth, students, and the working class as a whole.
206. Hate crime legislation must be toughened and enforced vigorously to end gay bashing. Straight youth and students should join with the LGBT-QI community in opposing homophobia so that we can more effectively fight together for our common interests.
207. Attacks on civil and democratic rights
208. Since the election of the Harper government in 2006, his government has increasingly encroached on the civil and democratic rights of the people and exhibited increasingly anti-democratic tendencies.
209. Harper's eager willingness to avoid, ignore or shut down dissenting voices within and outside of Parliament, his quickness to implement draconian security programs under the guise of “anti-terrorism,” and his quickness to shut down Parliament whenever it suits him should be of concern to all democratic Canadians.
210. Public Services
211. Public services and crown corporations are under attack including health care and education, Canada Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian Wheat Board, Canada Council for the Arts, the National Film Board, and the Marine Atlantic Ferry services to Newfoundland. The same is true on the Provincial-government level. This has engendered wide-spread outrage and activist response uniting trade unions, community organizations, artists and professionals, and senior citizen groups.
212. Because they often do not appear to be sites of militant confrontation, many youth do not understand the connections between these struggles and those of our generation and devalue them. The YCL-LJC should stand behind such struggles because of their significance in the class struggle, and help connect these movements with the youth.
213. Parliamentary struggles
214. Since our last convention, youth have continued to turn away from participation in electoral politics. There are exceptions such as certain municipal campaigns like COPE in Vancouver, and Québec solidaire’s campaign for the National Assembly, that have captured some youth support. But generally the number of young people who are voting is at record lows.
215. The Central Committee has identified two reasons for this. Firstly, young people do not see real alternatives being presented in the programmes of the parties. Secondly, through voting rules and regulations young people are discouraged from participating. In our view the primary reason is that a significant block of young people are disenfranchised from political struggle, do not see themselves as the makers of politics, nor that their engagement would do anything.
216. In marked contrast are the Communist Party of Canada’s campaigns that the YCL-LJC has supported. Despite shoe-string budgets these campaigns have generated interest on campus and among young workers, and have won a much higher level of the high school vote that the popular percentage.
217. We continue to call for deep-rooted electoral reform including: mixed-member proportional system; the right of recall; and a new republican constitution abolishing the Queen and the senate, and guaranteeing the right of nations to sovereignty and self-determination.
218. Action items
219. That the Central Committee coordinate and pay special attention to ensuring YCL-LJC clubs identify and contribute regarding:
- 1. Cultural work
- a. clubs having an awareness of local progressive artists;
- b. Provincial committees helping foster dialogue between progressive artists in different parts of the province
- 2. Anti-sexism, racism and homophobia
- a. clubs having an awareness of local problems and struggles on these questions;
- b. Provincial committees report and check-up on clubs participation in these struggles;
- c. Central Committee follow the struggles of (im)migrant workers and where the YCL-LJC can make a contribution;
- d. The Central Committee work to keep the YCL-LJC informed and involved in cross-Canada efforts on these struggles
- 3. The YCL-LJC should continue to support electoral campaigns by the Communist Party of Canada on the municipal, provincial / national assembly, and federal levels, assigning our cadre where appropriate.
220. PART SEVEN
THE YOUTH CHARTER AND THE
TO THE YOUTH AND STUDENT FIGHT BACK
221. The history of Canada is a history of class struggle. The youth and student movement in Canada emerged in the development of state-monopoly capital and imperialism. In all the struggles of this time the youth and students have, to varying degrees, played a dynamic role with the working class. This history shows the need for the Communist movement – of the Communist Party of Canada and the YCL-LJC.
222. We can not do this as “observers” of the youth movement. Essential to a bigger YCL-LJC is our unity in action. Concentrating and prioritizing our work is not in contradiction with seeking out, identifying and engaging the full panoramic of the youth movement.
223. Strategic policy
224. From Lenin’s perspective the key problems for Communists were to form alliances with other people. As the Communist Party says, building alliances:
- increases the material strength of the working people;
- shows that ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’;
- teaches working people to learn how to work with other classes and groups
- shows the relationship of classes and groups to one another – and the state;
225. In other words, it helps to create the basis for working class leadership of society as a whole. As Rae Murphy, former the leader of the YCL-LJC, wrote on the eve of the League’s 1960 convention:
226. “The main task that we have before us today both as an organization, and as individuals meeting with young people, is to arouse young Canadians not only to the dangers and problems our country faces, but also to the possibilities that exist and the advances that can be made if we can organize and unite.”
227. “Winning the minds of young people is the gigantic task of the Communists, and it is of the utmost importance, for it means winning the future. It means overcoming the passivity and cynicism so carefully natured by our environment, showing young people that there is a future, that there is a better way…”
228. “How to get into the fight? How do we develop the broadest and most diversified approach to young Canadians and yet maintain our character and identity? How do we put forward our own independent public activity and educational programs, and yet maintain the most flexible and persistent approach to united action with other youth organizations and individuals?”
229. The way we exercise our role is not just a virtue of our size. It is our strategic policy. Our style isn’t to play the game by trying to be a one player team. We have to mobilize more people than just ourselves. For communists to influence people, we have to be on the terrain where they are already fighting. We have to be attuned to issues that are already angering youth. We have to be part of the struggles where they are engaged. The most sophisticated tool to make such assessments and ground people as a group is the YCL-LJC club that can work with an eye to bringing other forces in on “the ground floor.”
230. Role of the YCL-LJC
231. Therefore we present the question not as ‘are we relevant today?” but rather: what is our role?
232. The role of the YCL-LJC was discussed in the August 2008 Central Committee and can be identified as:
(1) working with the widest range of progressive youth to:
- fight on the struggles of youth;
- connecting the youth with the broader struggles of the working class and the people including oppressed peoples;
- making a communist contribution of unity and militancy with the tactic of the united front.
(2) Through struggle and action, educating our membership, friends and all the youth about:
- the immediate priority struggles of youth;
- understanding the long-term necessity for a socialist Canada;
- ideological problems the youth face in the revolutionary process
233. This purpose is difficult and challenging. It encapsulates the unity of our short term goals, like supporting the Troops Out of Afghanistan campaign or Reduce Tuition fees, and our long-term goal: socialism. To correctly apply YCL-LJC policy requires a comprehensive approach that sees immediate reform struggles as part of much bigger historic revolutionary process. YCL-LJC club members and leaders need to find their own language for grounded answers to explain our role. The YCL-LJC should also give members and leaders the tools to answer these questions.
234. In this line, we are proposing a Charter of Youth Rights to better articulate the most pressing task facing the youth movement:
- to unite the youth movement around militant actions and class-struggle policies confronting the corporate attack;
- to overcome the national divisions within the youth movement on a democratic basis;
- to connect the youth with democratic and anti-monopoly transformations;
- and to shift the balance of class forces in favour of the working class and its allies.
235. A Charter of Youth Rights would present a unique YCL-LJC tactic that compliments the strategy of the Communist Party of Canada.
237. The YCL-LJC’s relationship with the Party is political and ideological unity combined with organizational autonomy. This is a creative relationship. We must discuss, discover, and invent. Struggle for ideological clearness is essential to chart a way forward, especially among youth and the YCL-LJC which warmly welcomes all young socialists.
238. While we reflect the ideology and politics of the Party, as Georgi Dimitrov – perhaps the greatest promoter and elaborator of the united front – said the united front of youth will have different dynamics and be more flexible than the broad united front. Likewise, YCLs can not “construct their organizations as if they were Communist Parties of the youth” Dimitrov said.
239. Communists view the immediate challenges of the working class and its allies in Canada within the broader perspective of launching a major united-front counter-offensive towards socialism. We project a much stronger left, including a more class conscious working class and a stronger Communist Party, winning defensive battles and then grasping moments of weakness in the capitalist class. Communists also understand the reality of the Canadian state as having one working class but many nations. As the YCL-LJC’s Declaration of Unity and Resistance says:
240. “Our unity is founded on the recognition of Canada as a country of many nations, unequally together, Aboriginal (including first nations and Métis), Quebecois, and the dominant oppressor English-speaking nation. […] Overcoming national chauvinism and recognizing national self-determination and sovereignty must be a key-stone of any truly pan-Canadian movement.”
241. The revolutionary road that the Communist Party of Canada forecasts is not just a singular, decisive blow but includes as a pre-requisite a protracted series of many stages or phases of struggle and that “Uniting the working class across the country will not be possible without combating national oppression and fighting to achieve a new, equal and voluntary partnership of Canada's nations.” The tactical formulation is of a united front on a democratic, anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly basis with the working class at the core. This front, referred to as the people’s coalition, will ultimately have an electoral reflection and could unleash the forces of the working class and its allies, accelerating society towards socialism.
242. Youth and the people’s coalition
243. Historically, the youth in Canada have played a central role in working class and people’s struggles, often spurring onward the broader movements. The youth created a number of united front organizations and actions including the On To Ottawa Trek and the Canadian Youth Congress. These campaigns have become strongest when they have united the aspirations of all the youth, including Quebec and Aboriginal youth. The tendency for the progressive youth and student movement in Canada is to support the militant struggles of labour and people’s forces, but at the same time find expressions that are often autonomous or even separate.
244. In our view, the people’s struggles of the 1920s, 30s and 40s were characterized by:
- greater strength of working class, left, socialist and communist forces;
- the absence of social democratic hegemony;
- a more favourable balance of forces internationally;
245. The dividing line between the magnificent unity and militancy of labour and the people’s resistance in the past and the more tepid response of labour today is the Cold War and McCarthyism, and the partly successful neutralization of the radical, left and Communist forces including in the youth movement. Another obstacle to the unity of the youth is therefore ideological. Right-wing social democracy and anti-communism must be overcome to build the people’s coalition.
246. Today, a small, militant, radical, internationalist (and sometimes ultra-leftist) pole does exist within the youth and student movement that finds expression currently in groups like No One Is Illegal, the ASSÉ, Students Against Israeli Apartheid, the Olympic Resistance, and even the Public Interest Research Groups. Some elements within this pole do pose the question of a united front of youth and uniting youth with the working class. Other elements, however, are anti-communist. Some objectively sabotage the bold, uncompromising, and noble aspirations of progressive youth with a preoccupation on narrow causes, and purist tactical debates – like around direct action.
247. Larger youth organizations (like student unions) have bigger contradictions within their membership that often allows the right-wing youth, currently, to check or block progressive actions. But it would be profoundly mistaken to conclude that therefore these organizations have no potential in people’s struggle. Ideological lines are also less entrenched, and these organizations have greater freedom of motion than trade unions. While their purpose is not revolutionary, their agenda of youth rights draws them into conflict with corporate power.
248. In fact, revolutionary politics is mass politics – the politics not of hundreds, or thousands, but millions. If these all organizations were energized by mass people’s struggle – how could or would the youth and student movement configure itself within and around an upsurge of resistance?
249. A youth charter
250. What is needed is a flexible and creative tactic that proposes to put debates about the policy, tactics and strategy of the youth movement into the motion of political actions. Youth unity can only be achieved when due consideration is taken into account for special issues experienced by young women, immigrants, youth from racialized communities, Québec youth, and aboriginal youth. Our conception of this strategy must be to place the struggles of the youth and students within the class struggle.
251. It would demand as rights of the youth:
- A democratic solution to the national question
- Recreation, culture, sports
- A healthy environment
- Full equality
252. Beyond these broad strokes the YCL-LJC could and should specifically advance our own policy ideas, with the understanding that the youth movement itself must be a drafter.
253. A youth charter would be a tactic to strengthen the militant, left pole within the youth and student movement in a positive and new direction by winning other youth to its demands. It would be the basis to develop the struggles of the youth and students to a higher level, to bridge the gap between the labour and people’s fight back and the youth and student fight back, and therefore position the youth and students as a potential force within and around the people’s coalition.
254. It would make an intervention beyond the immediate demands of today’s youth and student movement. It would be complementary with our longer-term perspective of socialism, not a substitution for socialism. Winning a youth charter would not be socialism. A youth charter would make broad anti-corporate, anti-war demands placed in the positive sense: as rights of youth.
255. A Charter would outline ideas as to the basis upon which youth unity may be achieved. Lasting youth unity will not occur spontaneously nor overnight. It may take various forms such as student unions, peace coalitions, or councils. One thing is for sure, it will take active work amongst the youth, we can not expect it to happen on it’s own. Youth must learn through experience and patient explanation that their real genuine rights can be won only by the determination to fight for them.
256. While we can not simply bring about these conditions through will-power, this is not wishful thinking. If we needed a reminder that situations do not stay the same, just look at the economic crisis. Capitalism has an expiry date. Our task is to project a forward direction for the youth. The Young Communist League should stand ready to engage in mutual discussions with any groups and individuals concerned about young people and willing to discuss the possibilities of united action around the Charter of Youth Rights.
257. Action items:
- 1. That the YCL-LCJ incorporate into its ideological educational work the concept of the united front, the people’s coalition, and the Charter of Youth Rights
- That the YCL-LJC popularize the idea of a Charter of Youth Rights among broad sections of the youth and student movement
258. PART 8
BUILDING THE YCL-LJC
THE DECISIVE QUESTION
259. The YCL-LJC is a unique organization with a role like no other youth group. We bring to the table the idea of the united front and an outlook that is Marxism-Leninist. Above all, we advocate for a better world, without capitalism: socialism.
260. We could be posed for a larger and more influential League. Our experiences suggest that key potential areas for growth are among:
- High school youth and unorganized young workers;
- Students who are new activists;
- Young women and youth from racialized communities;
261. Our membership are good people. We reject the status quo and commit to fighting for a better world. The main achievements since our last convention are modest but important:
- strengthening our clubs in BC, Ontario and the LJC-Q;
- strengthening our provincial leaderships;
- developing the united work of the new Central Executive and new Central Committee;
- building the LJC-Q by launching Juennesse Militant;
- regularizing production of Rebel Youth and expanding participation of members and close friends;
- holding a series of cross-Canada educationals, schools, retreats, seminars and summer camps;
- expanding our internet work with blogs, facebook, youtube, and a new website ycl-ljc.ca.
- implementing a dues-paid membership base with constitutions and membership cards.
262. All our experienced clubs have moved beyond internet recruiting. On campuses and in some circles of youth we are developing a reputation. We are doing things right and can draw a series of conclusions about our organization.
263. Club life
264. Clubs are not independent but the fundamental units of the League. That means that the political work of the YCL-LJC comes to being most often through clubs. The question about what we do outside of our club is all about what we do inside of our club. This can be called “club life” – and includes the identify of the club (such as its name); and that the club operates to protect its membership, providing a political and ideological home, a safe place where communists can openly debate their politics and together make sense of a complicated, busy world.
265. Part of the purpose of our organization is for people to make up their minds about communism and Marxism-Leninism. ‘Membership turnover’ is natural in the YCL-LJC. New members learn how the YCL-LJC works. Within a year a club can change as its members get to know each other, understand people’s strengths, levels of contribution, and learn to have patience with people’s weaknesses. We need to see each club in the YCL-LJC as developing as a collective.
266. Because they are ‘works in progress’ club collectives are never perfect. It is very easy to be impatient with our clubs – that takes no skill. However, no one thing will magically transform a club. In general, political activity and leadership – the club organizer – is very important to the club collective. Everyone knows that irregular club meetings become discussion circles. Agendas, dues payments, and educational work is also beneficial; spontaneity alone does not work. Being a club organizer is a very difficult task.
267. Sometimes it is also hard for everyone to see that their club is stronger than the sum of its parts. We need to make sure that it is not just the leader of the local YCL-LJC, but the club that gets known. In turn, we need to develop the collective ‘radar’ of all our members, their ability to identify youth struggles locally.
268. This is difficult because while the concept and purpose of the club is to send members out into the youth and student movement and do politics, most new members are making a first serious political act by coming to the YCL-LJC. For them, joining the League and attending meetings is doing politics.
269. Membership is not wrong. Leadership has everything to gain from being patient. But in fact sectarian politics are really being reflected in a club life that is insular, just hangs out with itself, and does not have a broad and diverse circle of friends – knowing people who would not otherwise come into contact with each other.
270. Club social life
271. We need to pay attention to our club’s social life, which is also political. Hanging out, we convince people to come to demonstrations, debate tactics and ideology, and even join us. Groups of youth can not organically come together without a social dimension. Therefore the social dimension is always there – if it is ignored and all a club does is meetings and politics, the meetings will become a sort of nerdy social.
272. ‘Nerd communism’ – like how much obscure communist historical trivia from the internet somebody knows – can masquerade as ideology, or just seem harmless. To be sure, studying ideology and reading the classics is very positive. Plus, we should be proud of communist, socialist and labour history. But this is not substitute for a revolutionary, humanist and internationalist solidarity with the real struggles of youth today.
273. As a young socialist organization, our values of solidarity, cooperation, collectivity, respect, equality and equity, dignity, justice, rebellion, peace, freedom, and revolution are shared by many youth especially musicians and artists. We are in an excellent position and need to do a better job connecting with grassroots youth and people’s culture, creating a space that is anti-racist, anti-sexist and not homophobic. It is not us against the world, but us with all those who desire social change.
274. Discipline and club life
275. Another complicated subject is discipline and club life. The YCL-LJC is, fundamentally, a voluntary organization. Leadership must explain the political reason and basis for action and discipline, and then people move themselves. Our leadership has had to balance the need to push the organization forward, and being bossy. Sometimes a balance has not been found. Too much pressure can be destructive, as is stopping report-back and check-up.
276. Likewise, we have a constitution for a reason. With that said, the constitution is not a book that gets thrown at people. Before pressing charges and pursing discipline against members every other option of dialogue should be exhausted. Criticism and self-criticism must be done with a certain sensitivity. At the same time they are objective phenomena – if they are not done, they will come back anyway and slap us in the face.
277. Other committees
278. The two main other leadership bodies in the YCL-LJC are Provincial Committees and the Central Committee. Provincial committees are key bodies in the League for communication with, and coordination of, all clubs across the province. Especially important is the education work the Provincial committees perform, the issuing of statements, ensuring YCL-LJC presence at events, and administrative tasks.
279. The Central Committee is faced with producing the YCL-LJC’s press, Rebel Youth and Jeunesse Militante. Rebel Youth needs to be more at the center of our political work. It needs to be understood better – as a window in which youth and students can view their movement. It is a unique publication that sets us apart. Another special problem the Central Committee has to deal with is translation. Electing a strong Central Committee is an important task of this convention.
281. The policies and strategy of the YCL-LJC and the Communist Party have the potential to bring down governments, and change the direction of Canada. When these liberating ideas and demands are taken up by the masses of the people, they become a material force for change.
282. That’s why we are dangerous. Across Canada today there are 4.6 million youth between 15-24. Wouldn’t it be a big underestimate to say only 20 per cent of these youth hold progressive views? Yet that number alone is larger than the population of the city of Winnipeg. We are not saying these youth are about to join the YCL-LJC. People’s life background, personality, politics and ideology are reasons not to. But as the Communist Party recently said at its convention:
It is our revolutionary essence, and our objective potential to grow in size and influence as the systemic crisis of capitalism deepens, that makes the Communist[s] a potent threat to the capitalist system and a consistent force in the struggle for fundamental change and for socialism in Canada.
283. If we successfully fight to be seen, heard and read – we will recruit.
284. War, misery, exploitation, apathy and poverty cannot be our future. Young people cannot and should not remain indifferent.
285. Now is the time to unite and organize!