First Published: The Call, Vol. 5, No. 34, December 27, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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It has been one year since the Communist Youth Organization (CYO) was founded at its first National Convention in Chicago. Now as the Second Convention is being held, the CYO is reviewing its practice over the past year and making plans to continue its important work.
The founding of the CYO was a great step forward for the working-class movement in the U.S. After decades of struggle without communist leadership, the young workers, minorities, revolutionary students and intellectuals now have an organization which links their day-to-day struggles against imperialism to a program calling for an end to capitalism and the building of socialism.
At its first convention, CYO members set themselves the task of getting the organization squarely on its feet, adopted guiding principles and elected a leading body. This was done in the heat of sharp struggle against representatives of the so-called “Revolutionary Wing” who came to that convention to oppose the formation of the CYO. Their defeatist, pessimistic line was thoroughly repudiated, and the CYO was enthusiastically brought to life.
Following the convention, the CYO launched its main campaign around “Jobs for Youth,” a part of the overall fight-back of the working class. A campaign led by the CYO calling for summer jobs exposed the massive unemployment among young workers, especially minority youth, through demonstrations at unemployment offices and government centers. The CYO took a principled position at its first convention in support of the Afro-American people’s liberation struggle, and expressed this commitment in a widespread series of activities in building the Black liberation struggle.
In Boston the CYO was active throughout the year in supporting minority students in their struggle against school segregation and the racist terror of the anti-busing movement. CYO members in Detroit and other cities demanded an end to the police attacks on minority youth, attacks carried out under the guise of “breaking up the gangs.”
Since its very beginnings in Los Angeles, the CYO has taken up the struggle of foreign-born workers. Several CYO members were arrested in the course of their protests against deportation.
Recently the CYO has stepped up its work among students, taking its anti-imperialist agitation and propaganda to the campuses. The CYO has led a number of important struggles against cutbacks in education, attacks on minority students and against the growing war preparations. An example is the large-scale protest last month in Decorah, Iowa, where 1,000 students defended the right of the CYO to speak on the college campus.
One of the high points of the past year’s work was the establishment of the CYO’s newsletter, The Young Communist, which combines news of the youth and workers’ movement with education on all the main questions facing activists in the revolutionary struggle. The CYO also set up education campaigns to train scores of its members in the science of Marxism-Leninism.
Another high point was the trip which many CYO members took last June to the People’s Republic of China, where they saw first hand the great advances of socialism. They visited Chinese schools and met with the revolutionary youth who are the successors to China’s great socialist revolution.
The CYO also sent a representative to the Red Summer Camp in Oslo, Norway where it participated along with other communist youth from a dozen countries in building firm proletarian internationalist unity.
Of course, the growth and development of the CYO in its first year has not been without some setbacks and weaknesses. Primarily because of inexperience, the CYO has made many mistakes. These are presently being summed up by the CYO and will be discussed at the convention. The CYO has a firm commitment to criticism and self-criticism as its main weapon in correcting mistakes.
It has been pointed out in pre-convention discussion meetings and papers that the CYO still must raise its political level much higher and put the politics of Marxism Leninism in first place. No matter how broad its mass activities are, the CYO will never succeed unless it concentrates its forces, consolidates its activities and gives adequate training to its new members.
On the other hand, the tendency to forget the masses, to substitute a small group of communists for mass struggle, has also been criticized for turning the CYO in some places into simply a Marxist study circle.
The Second National Convention will be a time to sum up the strengths and weaknesses of the past year, to set new tasks, and to elect new leadership.
This past year the CYO was planted firmly on its feet and great advances we made. The next year promises to push the CYO even further ahead to new and greater victories.