Abstract of "The Tasks of the Youth Leagues"

Written by Colin S. Cavell, 1997


In his 1920 address entitled "The Tasks of the Youth Leagues", presented before the Third All-Russia Congress of the Russian Young Communist League, Lenin sought to motivate the revolutionary youth of Russia to its necessary tasks and responsibilities, given the general backwardness of the country and the interventionist war being waged by Britain, France, the United States and other anti-communist powers, while simultaneously capturing the imagination of youth by pointing out the non-exploitative nature of communism, the revolution in historical development it represented, as well as laying out the fundamental tasks of youth organizations, particularly the Young Communist League, in a socialist society.

Foremost among the responsibilities of youth, instructed Lenin, was to "learn". Specifically, the youth must learn communism. And to build a communist society, we must utilize the "totality of knowledge" at our disposal. Book knowledge, however, without work and struggle, will lead to a complete rift with practical life; hence, theory and practice must be intertwined and interrelated. Also, knowledge must not be merely assimilated, rather, Lenin instructs, "assimilate it critically". Cut-and-dried conclusions should not be expounded, he cautions, unless they are backed up by "serious and hard work" and a critical examination of the facts.

Lenin then expounds upon how communism should be taught and what must be taught touching upon the key questions of communist ethics, classes and the class struggle, unity between the workers and the peasants, and organizing youth for participation in the common struggle of all working people against the exploiters.

To belong to the Youth League, one must devote one's labour and efforts to the common cause. This is the essence of a communist education. Only in the course of such work do we become real commmunists, and this, Lenin notes, will be indicated by our practical results.

"The Young Communist League," Lenin states, "must be a shock force, helping in every job and displaying initiative and enterprise". Through the League's "practical work and activity" any worker will be able to see that the YCL is demonstrating the correct road to follow--correct because it leads to the liberation of all workers. Emulation of communist methods and actions will follow upon the successful solution to practical problems by the method of labour in common and as the youth prove that they can unite their labour. This is the standpoint from which one can judge the success of communist construction.