Hal Draper

World Youth Congress
Beats Drums of War

Inspired by Stalinists, Sponsored by Reaction,
It Issues Open Appeal for Robber War Alliances

(September 1938)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 37, 10 September 1938, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The “Second World Youth Congress,” recently held at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with about 500 delegates from 54 countries, gives a composite picture of a caricatured League of Nations Assembly and a typical Stalinist “innocent” congress. The delegates present, the larger portion of whom were of the usual youth careerist type, argued out the viewpoints of the national imperialist states they represented, as do their elder diplomats in Geneva; but the dominant tone was given by the Stalinist line of collective war which was put across. Shouts of “peace” filled the air at Vassar, but the decisions of the Congress spelled out unmistakably the word “war.”

The First Congress was held in Geneva in 1936, as the illegitimate offspring of the international federation of League of Nations Societies and the Young Communist International, and was of course also held under the sign of collective security. The intervening two years have been spent mostly in building up the Second Congress.

No Soviet Delegation

A few notes on the set-up of the Congress are necessary before we consider its decisions. There were only four important countries which had no delegations at the Second Congress: Germany, Italy, Japan – and the Soviet Union. The absence of the latter was one of the mysteries at the Congress, and there was a good deal of whispering among the delegates, although nothing was said about it at the proceedings themselves. The delegates of the Young Communist International – including the chiefs of the Y.C.L.’s of America, France and England as well as the international secretary – disclaimed any knowledge of why the Soviet delegation was absent, when asked by others. It was recalled that there had been a substantial Soviet delegation at the Geneva Congress in 1936, that a National Committee had been operating to popularize the World Youth Congress, etc. Yet this time there was only a formal telegram of greetings from Kosarev.

Germany and Italy had remained away from the first Congress also; the official report to the Vassar Congress commented on this as follows: “A source of dissatisfaction (with the First Congress – Ed.) was that the youth of Germany, Italy and Japan all remained away. Their abstention was the more surprising since the young delegates of the first two had until spring (1936) collaborated loyally and without reserve in the preparation of the Congress.” The Vassar gathering took steps to remedy this deplorable state of affairs by adopting a special appeal to the youth of Italy and Germany to join their ranks, the contents of which will be noted below. The Socialist Youth International sent only an observer.

The “Distinguished” Sponsors

The character of the outfit is likewise indicated by the list of official sponsors given in the official report noted above. The list is headed by: His Grace, the Archbishop of York, Great Britain; and His Holiness the Patriarch Dr. Miron Cristea of Roumania, head of the Greek Orthodox Church of that country, and the power behind the anti-Semitic Cuza government of about a half year ago.

His Holiness is well known as a bulwark of reaction in the military dictatorship of Roumania. Other “International Patrons” include Barrio, the Spanish Prime Minister responsible for the suppression of peasant actions under the Republic, and Wellington Koo, who was directly in charge of the suppression of the Chinese Communists in 1927.

The official report points to the Roumanian National Sponsoring Committee as an example to other countries; this committee consists, in addition to the Patriarch, of the wife of the President of the Economic Council, the Minister Governor and the vice-governor of the Roumanian State Bank, the President of the Telephone Co., five former State ministers and two present ministers, two former presidents of the Council of Ministers, Royal Counsellors, and the Commandant of the Boy Scouts – all, it must be remembered, creatures of the viciously anti-working class dictatorship.

This “model’’ sponsoring committee, of which the other National Committees are only diluted (less successful) examples, points to the character of the World Youth Congress as the “company union” of the youth.

Among the speakers at the Congress were Mrs. Roosevelt and Aubrey Williams. The delegates were divided up into four commissions: taking up the political, economic, religious and philosophical bases of peace respectively, with the fourth considering the question of activities to be undertaken by the Congress. All the reports of the Commissions were adopted.

Eyewash for “Innocents”

The Religious and Philosophical Commission report based the cause of peace on the “value and dignity of the human personality”, saw the cause of war in such machinations of the devil as “glorification and use of force”, “idealization of hatred,” selfishness and lust,” etc., and reaffirmed “Man’s loyalty to religious or philosophical truth which comes before allegiance to any institution or individual,” putting forward “moral standards,” “ideals” and “love” as the means of doing away with these things. The head of this Commission was none other than Raymont Guyot, head of the French Y.C.L. and of the Young Communist International.

Aside from this tomfoolery, which was useful to the Stalinists in ensnaring the religious “innocents” at the Congress, the real business of the Congress was performed in the first Commission, which drew up the political program of the Congress. This program does not merely stop at the bare idea of collective security: it is almost explicitly a call to arms to defend world democratic imperialism against the fascists.

Program Protects Plunder

The program “is founded on the conviction that the principles underlying the Covenent of the League of Nations are right and practicable” – namely, the robber Treaty of Versailles, based on the right to plunder; and the League Covenent which has become the classic example of futility. From this the conclusion is naturally drawn that peace can be maintained through “a system of International Law” and they call for the setting up of “an International Authority,” to enforce collective security. The report makes no fine distinctions between economic actions against aggressors and military action. Quite the reverse. The international authority which is demanded is not the spirit of love which Guyot’s commission recommended.

As the remedy against bombing of cities, “we urge that the law-abiding states should set up an international force of mobile anti-aircraft units and interceptor planes, to be sent to the places now subject to such attacks.” Under the heading of “Collective Defense,” the program further states: “Until such time as nations can rely for their security upon the forces of an international authority, we recognize that the law whereby aggression is outlawed, can best be maintained by the pooling of the defense forces of the law-abiding states” – i.e., war against the “aggressor.”

Unite the Generals!

This is to be implemented by “a series of regional pacts for mutual assistance,” on the model of the Franco-Soviet Pact. And – these youth diplomats are willing to go to any length to “preserve peace” – “the effective coordination of the collective defense forces within each of these regions necessitates regular conversations between the general staffs and military, naval, and all cooperation to ensure the efficiency of such pacts.” As an immediate recommendation, it further urges the pooling of armed resources in the Pacific by the signatories of the Nine-Power Treaty, against possible reprisals by Japan against the “law-abiding” states.

This is the real content of this “peace” congress – a call for collective war by one group of imperialist states against another. This is the explicit program of the World Youth Congress – imperialist war. Here are the forces which the anti-war youth must fight in their own ranks – the stooges of world imperialism of the Youth Congress.

After this one need not be surprised that the program comes out explicitly against any self-determination for national minorities, puts forward the white man’s burden theory of colonialism, urging the imperialists to civilize the natives, “prepare” them for self-government, with a view of giving up their control when this is accomplished, etc.

This program of collective security was crystallized in the form of a Peace Pact for Youth, which is to be published broadside by the Congress for signatures, and which will be the agitational instrument of the Congress. Naturally, it is not as frank as the programmatic statement on which it is based.´


The “Program of Action”

The last labor of the Congress was the formulation of its “program of action,” in addition to the circularization of the “Peace Pact.” These include: sending a delegation to report on the Congress to the League of Nations Assembly and sending the report of the Congress to the governments of all countries (this is “mass pressure”); demand for a secretary of peace in all cabinets; an international youth secretary in the League of Nations Secretariat; cooperation with the World Youth Hostel movement; a peace week, with one day of fast and sacrifice; encouraging the study of languages in general and of an international language in particular; etc.

Under the head of Aid to the Victims of War, this aid it seems is quite non-partisan in its application being motivated by humanitarian considerations, like the Red Cross, but with “special efforts” for the victims of aggression. Point 2 under this aid is: “Boycotting the goods of aggressor nations and the alternative measure of promoting the sale of goods of threatened nations.” This will insure getting the president of the Czech Chamber of Commerce on the sponsoring committee.

Appeal to Fascists

Another of the tasks set by the Congress was drawing In the countries not represented. To this end special appeals were drawn up for Italy and Germany. The Appeal to the Youth of Italystarts with “we realize that we cannot yet, without your concourse, speak for the whole world community of youth. We cannot but deplore your absence from us ... We send our fraternal greetings to you, the youth of Italy ... We are certain that you are not absent from us in spirit ...” Since “we believe in better conditions of life for young people of all nations, races and classes ... our love for our country is so deep that it expresses itself without hatred or enmity, for any people ... We believe that you too love your country in the same spirit ... Youth of Italy! We wish to be brothers with you in this struggle for peace.” And so on – not a word about fascism, or the fight against it, or anything except the expression of the deepest fraternal love, in either the appeal to the German or Italian youth.

Second International in Line

The Second International groups at the Congress played through their assigned roles in this farce to the end. In the first place, the various national delegations from the Socialist (Second International) Youth distributed themselves over the political spectrum in almost exactly the same degree as the delegates as a whole on the central questions before the Congress. The British Socialists thought the American Socialists were crazy for being opposed to collective security, etc. The American Socialist Party youth, the Norman Thomas group, distributed a statement to the delegates which, however, as reprinted in their organ, contained no mention of collective security at all!

In view of the bureaucratic way in which the discussions of the Congress were conducted, their opposition to collective security was limited to the meeting of the American delegation, where they politely presented their view in one speech. Voted down and ignored at the general assembly, they quietly accepted their role of critical but loyal support to the Congress. Not a word from them in their organ or at the congress as to their attitude toward this congress of war-mongers – no dissociation or break with the outfit! In their organ, the Socialist Call, they listed 12 countries in the bloc “against collective security,” including countries like Bulgaria and Hungary, whose delegates were against the Congress decisions because they belonged to the unsatisfied bloc of nations whose imperialist interests would be harmed by the collective security of the satiated powers. In this way, they lined themselves up politically with the representatives of the reactionary anti-Versailles powers, literally with no attempt to differentiate themselves either at the congress or in their own paper.

The World Youth Congress desires to become the center of the war movement among the youth. The militant anti-war youth must treat it accordingly – struggle against it together with the rest of the war-mongers.


Last updated on 11 September 2015