Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Roy Smith, Chairman of the Communist Youth Organization

Student Movement–Upsurge on the Horizon

First Published: The Call, Vol. 7, No. 14, April 10, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
Copyright: This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

After returning from the march against apartheid by some 3,000 mostly Black students in Nashville, Tenn., and hearing reports of the mass protests taking place against the Bakke decision, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the militant spirit of the students.

The capitalist press has been flooding us with propaganda aimed at convincing people that the “student movement is dead” or that most young people are “satisfied with the system.”

And while it is true that things aren’t on the same level as they were in the late ’60s, there are signs of new and even greater mass struggles ahead. This is a reflection of the nature of the student movement with its ups and downs. But young people will inevitably rebel against injustice and their voices are being heard once again.

An important difference between the movement then and now is the participation today of even greater number of students from working class backgrounds. This is a sign of the severe economic crisis and new attacks on working class and minority youth, like the Bakke decision.

Key to the future of this movement is the question of leadership. The student movement of the ’60s sparked the mass anti-war struggle and was a vanguard force in the fight for civil rights and Black power. However, it was not able to sustain itself or link up with the majority of the population primarily because of the lack of conscious leadership.

In Nashville, the question of leadership was a central part of the whole Davis Cup demonstration. It was dominated by the NAACP who were obviously more worried by the militancy of the students than they were by the fascist government in South Africa. Serving as frontmen for the liberal bankers and politicians, (among whom NAACP Chairman Benjamin Hooks proudly counts himself) the NAACP’s main duty was to keep the people in line and miles away from the stadium where the match was being held.

Another weakness of the march, and the anti-Bakke movement too, is that the anti-imperialist forces were badly divided and were only partially able to win over the students, even though the majority, largely on their own, rejected the wishy-washy stand of Hooks and his crowd.

All this shows a weakness of the work of the CYO, which has concentrated almost entirely on organizing in the factories and working class communities. While this work is important, it has left the millions of potentially revolutionary students in the hands of the reformists and opportunists, Trotskyites and other phony “revolutionaries.”

A recent national CYO meeting took some steps toward straightening out this neglect. Student organizers from all around the country are now working together to coordinate their efforts. While the next upsurge in the student movement isn’t here yet, now is the time to begin to get organized.

The CYO must pay more attention to student organizing and concentrate now on carrying out revolutionary education of the students in the course of mass action.

Let’s get organized now. And let’s work together to build a mass movement among the students that will really deliver a blow to the system that stands behind apartheid, Bakke and all other forms of oppression we face today.