From Camden Communist Youth Movement


First Published: The Marxist, No. 2, January-February 1967
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Lyndon White and Paul Saba
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DEAR COMRADES,

On behalf of the Camden Communist Youth Movement, I should like to welcome the appearance of The Marxist as an important development in the struggle to re-establish a Marxist-Leninist movement in Britain. We have read it with great interest and consider that it can play a big part in clarifying some of the political issues which for too long have been neglected or distorted by the leaders of the Communist Party and the Young Communist League.

The publication of The Marxist at the beginning of November [1966] was for us an important coincidence, for at that time our members (formerly the St. Pancras Branch of the Young Communist League) were under attack from the London District Leadership of the YCL.

For the past year or so the St. Pancras branch has fought hard to prevent the deliberate and inspired degeneration of the YCL into virtually a political teenage ’pop’ society. As a branch we refused to embrace the ’new image’ that the leaders are developing for the YCL and we resisted their attempts to dictate to us which speakers we should have at our meetings and to impose upon us their puerile and thoughtless ’policies’.

We joined the YCL in order to fight for socialism not to see the organisation become submerged in a formless and ephemeral ’protest’ trend. The line adopted by the leaders of the YCL amounts to liquidation and we were not prepared to be part of it.

Our branch tried to work within the framework of the YCL while fighting for a principled policy for working class youth, but found ourselves hampered at every turn. Attempts were made to prevent us from holding classes and schools to discuss the important questions affecting the world communist movement. We were accused of ’Trotskyism’ although nothing we said or did could possibly justify this charge. We were directed to distribute a crass and objectionable recruiting folder which our members had overwhelmingly rejected as useless and harmful. The London District leaders attempted to interfere in our work in the Camden Youth Forum by insisting that all motions for debate must be submitted to them for approval. They tried to prevent us from working out our own programme and insisted that our branch education classes should be arranged by them. In short, they tried to stifle all serious thought and discussion in the branch and to bring us into a meek conformity with a line of disastrous and unprincipled political opportunism.

Our resistance has led to the expulsion of the members of the branch committee from the YCL. The overwhelming majority of our members have consistently supported the committee which has always attempted to give leadership and has never become divorced from the members by acting without them. The branch refused to accept as its leadership anyone imposed by the London District Committee, and has remained united as a group.

The YCL leaders have resorted to all manner of tricks in order to divide us and are exposing themselves to a totally unprincipled clique of authoritarian political hacks to more and more young communists.

As it has become impossible for our members to continue working in the YCL and still remain true to our principles, we have felt obliged to reconstitute ourselves as a new youth organisation. Thus the Camden Communist Youth Movement was formed as a result of a decision taking at a meeting on December 3 [1966]. In taking this step we are not acting thoughtlessly. The YCL has now virtually no base in Camden and we are the only organised group of any real consequence. We are duty bound to continue our work and to strengthen the base we have already built.

Many members of the YCL feel deeply uneasy about the way things are going, but do not yet see that the degeneration behind the gay fašade is a direct product of the revisionism to which the official communist movement in Britain has succumbed. It would be unfair to describe the YCL national leaders as revisionist; before one can be a revisionist, one must have something to revise. They are the carriers of revisionist politics into the youth movement, and the tragedy is that the political education in Marxism of the younger generation has been completely neglected, with the result that the political level of the YCL leadership has steadily declined over the years.

As the Camden Communist Youth Movement we shall continue to fight. We are confident that more will join us as they come to realise exactly where the YCL is going. We have to begin the task of educating ourselves in Marxist theory if we are to give a clear lead to the comrades who are still confused. We shall carry on with the work that has to be done in Camden and play our part in the eventual establishment of a national Marxist-Leninist youth movement in Britain.

Our members will do everything to assist The Marxist for we believe it will help us in our work to this end.

Yours Fraternally, Geoff Lee, Secretary, Camden Communist Youth Movement