Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Revolutionary Communist Party

Communism – Road Forward for Youth

First Published: Revolution, Vol. 3, No. 4, January 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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On November 19 and 20 a new organization was born–the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade. With its founding convention, attended by 650 youth from around the country, the American proletariat and its vanguard Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, gained a valuable weapon in its struggle for revolution– a youth organization capable of harnessing the potential strength of millions of youth in the cause of the class struggle. For this reason the convention last November can truly be called an historic event.

What is the importance of this organization to the proletariat and its Party? What is the leap that has taken place with the founding of a communist youth organization uniting youth and students? What are the tasks and its role in the strategy for revolution in this country? These are crucial questions for the entire revolutionary movement since youth and young communist organizations have historically played an important role in revolutionary movements in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The Role of Youth

The importance of this organization is clearly based on the important role youth have to play in making revolution. The millions of youth in this country–both working class youth and students–form a powerful reserve for the proletariat. It is an army of millions, the great majority of whom are sons and daughters of the working class.

But it is not just numbers and potential strength or even the fact that most youth will one day enter the ranks of the working class that make this strata such an important one for the working class. There is also the fact that as Mao says in “Orientation of the Youth Movement,” that youth can, in a certain sense play a vanguard role. Youth can be a “shock force”, often being the first to take up revolutionary ideas and the struggle for revolution. This constitutes one of the most valuable contributions youth can make and why the Party sees this as a key strata to work among. Along with this potential for youth to act as a vanguard in a way, is the potential for large numbers of youth to be won to the stand of the working class and join the ranks of the Party.

Conditions Facing Youth

This potential is based on the characteristics of youth that arise based on the real conditions youth face in general and particularly during this period of deepening crisis.

As we’ve pointed out before, the conditions youth are growing up under are rapidly worsening. Millions of young people growing up in this country are entering into a maddening situation. Growing up with big hopes, dreams and ideas of the world they’d like to live in, with decent lives for themselves and others, they’re finding these dreams and hopes run smack up against life today under capitalism in the United States, 1978.

This is especially sharp for working class youth, seeing their parents work their whole lives and having a harder time than ever keeping their families’ heads above water. The sons and daughters of the working class find themselves in a situation where 30% of them can’t find any place to work at all–with the percentages going up to 50 and 60% for Black and other minority youth. The neighborhoods and cities they live in are rotting and collapsing. Friends, brothers and sisters get caught up in drugs and crime. Military recruiters hang around their neighborhoods and schools like vultures preying on their dead-end situations, drawing them in with phony promises and then shipping them overseas to protect the rich man’s profits.

While the level of struggle and organization among youth is pretty low, all of this is leading to greater frustration and anger among millions of young people in this country. Anger that the Labor Department’s report on youth worriedly calls “social dynamite.” Anger that will be important for the RCYB to tap, direct and focus into hammer blows at the bourgeoisie in the years to come.

This means carrying out the three tasks put forth by Chairman Bob Avakian of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party in his speech to the Founding Convention: leading the masses of youth in the struggle against the attacks and abuses they face; fighting at the side of the working class under the leadership of its Party; and broadly and boldly propagating communism among the masses, and especially youth.

Youths’ tremendous anger and frustration–though at present unfocused and often misdirected–provides a basis for their rebelliousness to be channeled into the fight against the capitalist class. There is plenty of raw material–sharp contradictions–for building struggle around the conditions of youth, as well as the broader questions of society. At the same time youth stand at a crossroads in their lives–and are faced with the impossible task of picking the road to a decent future out of the dozens of dead-end situations offered by the capitalists. Faced with making a choice, and still in the process of checking out different alternatives, youth are very open to investigating and taking up whole new outlooks and ways of doing things if they seem to offer a solution to the mess youth see around them.

But this rebelliousness and daring cannot of and by itself lead youth onto the path of revolution and communism. That is a task that the Party and its youth group must consciously take up. And in doing this, communists must enter into battle with the bourgeoisie. This battle must be waged around the constant outrages and attacks against the people. And it must be waged as well in the arenas of culture, art, and ideology, where the bourgeoisie is daily trying to rally the masses of youth around its outlook and its “solutions.” It does this in 101 different ways–by offering out the hope of “making it,” throwing out the crumbs of jobs programs, careers in the military or other “outs.” And as their freedom to do this in conventional ways dries up, they increasingly promote the view of surviving any way you can–hustling, ripping people off, in short, going all out to build up the bourgeois outlook of “Me-First.”

The bourgeoisie also puts out other variations of its world outlook to lead youth away from the path of revolution. Religion–both conventional and more far out mystical, Jesus freak or hari-krishna cults, is a big weapon of theirs. Anti-communism in many different forms is promoted in schools, the media and increasingly (although the influence of these groups is still very small) through their agents in the Nazis and the KKK, promoting incidents like in Marquette Park in Chicago, etc.

Experience in struggle leading to the convention helped show that this battleground of ideology is a key one for the RCTB to enter. Communist ideology is like a red thread which runs through and gives shape to the basic nature and tasks of this organization. For it is only by offering another road to youth-the road of proletarian revolution–that the RCYB can really tap the potential of youth as a mighty force on the side of the working class. On this basis the RCYB will be able to lead the masses of youth forward in struggle.

Here we stress ideological tasks because there has been confusion and not enough emphasis given to them in the recent period. Overall, of course, leading the mass struggle of youth is the RCYB’s main task.

As the Programme of the Revolutionary Communist Party states, “There is only one path that offers youth a genuine opportunity to put to use its enthusiasm, its innovativeness, its daring and its determination to change the world–proletarian revolution. Here and only here will they genuinely find life with a purpose. To enable the proletariat to fully utilize these qualities of youth, and to systematically channel them toward proletarian revolution, the Party actively works to build and lead a communist youth organization based mainly among working class youth. The development of this organization will make vital contributions to the revolutionary struggle.”

The working class and its Party needs organization that will openly and boldly go up against the daily offensive being waged by the bourgeoisie to lull and dull youth, and to win them to support the capitalist system. An organization that will not only fight around many immediate attacks, hardships and difficulties, but will openly hold high the banner of proletarian revolution among youth–playing off of youth’s readiness to take up a whole new way of doing things, at the same time taking into account youth’s lack of experience, discipline and ideological understanding.

Youth need an organization that can take their desire for a decent life–and their anger and rebelliousness against the way they are forced to live–and channel them in the service of a definite class–the working class. They need the RCYB, an organization that clearly shows how the future lies with the working class and wins youth to stand with the workers and their Party–in the struggles the working class is engaged in today and in the fight for socialism–working class rule. The RCYB must bring youth into struggle not only around their own pressing battles–but to stand shoulder to shoulder with the working class in the broad struggles going on throughout society.

The RCYB must, as the Party Programme says, offer youth a life with a purpose, a future and road where they can put their lives to use fighting alongside the working class and for a new world. This life with a purpose is a far cry from the empty promises and dreams the bourgeoisie hold out while forcing youth into a life of wage slavery. It’s also totally different from the kind of “life with a purpose” held out to youth by different forces that claim to stand for a “radical” or even revolutionary change like the youth group of the revisionist CP–the Young Workers Liberation League (YWLL). What these young social workers hold out is nothing less than the road every poverty pimp has taken–using the struggles of the working class and masses of people or using the revolutionary movement to find a convenient niche and position. The road the YWLL offers to youth is just another version of the old “Hustle to get ahead”, “Get some skills to get a good job”, and “Me-First” mentality that youth are shown every day–only this time with a “revolutionary” cover. This outlook has led these pimps to such actions as opposing students or teachers’ just strikes under the step-on-others’-backs-to-the-top excuse of “we workers and minorities have to study and get our skills to ’serve the people.’”

The RCYB must offer youth a total break with this way of doing things and looking at things. It can’t confine itself to being a group that deals with the needs of youth in a narrow or reformist way offering a solution only to a handful of careerists. The road it must offer is one of serving the people by helping to build the struggle against the bourgeoisie on every front and use every struggle to move closer to overthrowing the enemy–to working class revolution. It must train youth in the science of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought–the working class science of revolution, and it must prepare large numbers of youth to join the Party.

In short, the RCYB is and must be an openly communist organization, and one that boldly goes out to propagate communism. It is only this form of organization that provides the basis for uniting working class youth together with students–that is a life of fighting for working class revolution. It is the only form of organization that can win the greatest numbers of youth to revolution and communism, the only one that can train youth as communists and that can become a powerful force among broader and broader numbers of youth, and in the course of every battle, point to the greater battle looming ahead, the fight to topple capitalist rule.

A Bold Step

All of this means taking a bold step as a very important part of the RCYB’s tasks–going out openly to propagate communism among the masses of youth in order to bring the most advanced into the RCYB and to begin creating a working class pole among youth.

Will this be an easy task? Certainly not. And in fact, much of the struggle and discussion leading up to and at the founding Convention of the RCYB centered around how and why this step must be taken. For example, some comrades–Party members and others– did not agree with the view that the word “communist” should be in the name of the organization. Would having the word “communist” in the name stand as a roadblock to people joining this organization? Should the new organization have some more general, looser principles instead of clearly being a communist organization?

Drawing on different experiences, both longer time communists and many new people took part in the discussion leading up to and at the convention, most talking in favor of the RCP’s proposal of the name Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade. People put forward that in fact the correct way to deal with anti-communism is to have communism openly identified with he kind of mass struggle and work the RCYB will be taking up–only in this way will the lies and distortions spread about communists and communism by the bourgeoisie begin to be broken down.

In going out to lead the struggles of youth and bringing youth into the overall struggle against the imperialists and doing this openly as a communist organization, the RCYB will help to break down anti-communism not only among youth, but among the masses of people generally. Of course, this will create controversy–but this controversy is not only unavoidable but something the RCYB and all communists do not seek to avoid. It is only by taking this controversy head on, taking up the struggle against the bourgeoisie on the ideological front–that the RCYB will be able to bring in and train new communists.

As for the question of the word “communist” being a roadblock to joining the group, with some youth this will undoubtedly be initially true. The point that must be grasped is that the RCYB must struggle with youth to make a leap to communism. Youth joining the RCYB must embrace the basic stand that Marxism means a whole world outlook and that communism is the final aim of our struggle. If this were not the case, then what would be the point of having a RCYB?

This doesn’t mean that we should write off those youth not immediately ready to make this step–ways have to be found to work with them–but the fact is that if the RCYB is going to win the battle to win over youth to the struggle against the imperialists, it has to build an openly “red” pole among youth. This can only be done through repeated experience-as through different battles over a period of time, youth begin to see what in fact “the reds” stand for. This requires that the RCYB cannot be any fly-by-night outfit, but must, while picking up on key struggles, be based in the neighborhoods as well as the campuses. And it must be remembered that this will be taking place in the context of worsening conditions, with imperialism in a downward spiral. As youth and the masses of people face increasing attacks, as the solutions of the bourgeoisie are more and more exposed as no solutions at all, the practice and ideas of the RCYB and the Party will stand out more and more as the only alternative to the situation people face. But this will only occur if from the beginning, and throughout the long struggles people will be fighting, the road and future of standing with the working class is held out clearly and openly to youth by the RCYB.

Especially throughout this period of deepening crisis but a still low level of organization and struggle, only a group of young people with a relatively high degree of unity will be able to weather the ebbs and flows of the mass movement and consistently put out the other road to youth. That is an important reason the RCYB must struggle with youth to join on the basis of making a leap to embracing communism. Of course a big task will be to continue to train members politically and ideologically as communists, but it is only this communist “glue” that will be the basis for the group to stick together through this period–and in fact will enable it to unite broadly with many youth in major battles.

As was said earlier, this is definitely a bold step–but has to be taken and there are many examples to draw on when similar bold steps were taken. Lessons should be learned from those who carried NLF flags in the early anti-war marches, who openly stood with the “enemy” and faced tremendous red-baiting or from the Panthers who popularized revolution and Mao’s “Red Book” in a bold and broad way at a time when, even among large numbers of radical youth and students, Marxism-Leninism was considered obsolete.

By doing this, the RCYB will be making a valuable contribution to the whole revolutionary struggle. Youth as a strata are not isolated from the rest of society–as more and more of a red pole is built among youth, this will have the effect of helping “give a good name” to communism among the broad masses of people.

Tasks of the RCYB

How will the RCYB carry out this bold step and its purpose of training and developing communists while exerting a steady influence on the broad masses of youth? By taking up the three tasks put forth by Chair man Bob Avakian in his speech, outlined earlier in this article.

The RCYB must immediately set to work developing a program of struggle on the major issues of the day facing youth and the American people. It must develop forms, mass organizations and campaigns to unite broad masses of youth in these struggles against the enemy and in the course of these struggles fight to more clearly reveal the face of that enemy.

But in addition, the RCYB must pay attention to taking up the ideological struggle among masses of youth, work which has a potentially powerful positive influence on the broader sections of the people, especially the working class. Ideological work is not some garnish that’s sprinkled on to dress up and give some flavor to the battle–it is an integral part of waging struggle against the bourgeoisie.

The RCYB must enter into the controversy created around the word “communism” and communist views of God, democracy and so forth, and put out an entire world view to oppose the world view that the bourgeoisie is constantly pumping out in dozens of ways. This is especially important among youth who have big questions. We must actively work to answer these questions through struggle and ideological work, and in this way channel their daring and unwillingness to accept things the way they are, into the revolutionary struggle.

Of course, this doesn’t mean dropping out of everything else and just going out on street corners to talk about socialism with a red T-shirt on. But as was said by several people during the discussion at the Founding Convention, “Dammit, we are communists–and we should say so!” And more than saying so, the RCYB must actively take up propagating communism as an important task in and of itself, boldly attacking the old and dead-end ideas and solutions of the bourgeoisie, creating controversy that even partly from its shock value will be able to break youth loose from the way they’ve been trained by the bourgeoisie, and open their eyes to a whole new way of looking at and doing things. And so when the RCYB does enter into a struggle with broad masses of youth, it will be with a clear communist presence.

As the RCYB links up with the struggles of the masses of youth, there must be a close relation of theory to practice. Within the organization, Marxism-Leninism must be consciously applied to leading the struggle forward, to linking it with other battles, and to helping the broad masses of youth raise their heads and see a bigger picture than what can be seen in any particular struggle– the nature of this society as a whole and the historic goal of revolution and communism.

In all this, as in the period before the Founding Convention, the correct line and political leadership of the Party and the Central Committee are the fundamental guarantee of continued advances.

Build the RCYB

Much hard work is needed to get this new organization rolling, and discussions and decisions raised at the convention need to be deepened and developed.

Plans for mass campaigns around fighting the Bakke Decision, supporting liberation forces in South Africa, and “Jobs for Youth” have to be fleshed out. Already in the works are plans for a national week of action against the Bakke Decision sometime this spring. A schedule for work leading up to this year’s African Liberation Day has to be developed and this takes on special importance with each new victory in this country, as well as in Africa itself, against apartheid and minority rule. Also on the agenda are efforts to support the coal miners’ strike entering its second month.

A big task this year will also be to carry on and deepen the ideological education and consolidation begun at the convention. Forms of political education both internal and mass forums have to be developed to help RCYB members continue to make the kind of leaps in understanding that occurred at the convention and to take up the struggle on the ideological front among broader numbers of youth. Regular newspapers for students and youth are in the works, as well as a series of pamphlets. New ways of carrying on this work will also have to be developed in the course of all this.

It is necessary in the near future to take up in an organized way and under the leadership of the Party these and other questions such as organizational structure, strengthening the working class youth section of the RCYB, etc. The whole RCYB certainly has its tasks cut out for it. But there is no doubt that based on the great advance of the Founding Convention that the RCYB will continue to make advances, in the spirit of daring and enthusiasm of youth fighting for a new world that was captured in the closing speech at its Founding Convention:

We are determined to be the generation that grows up to establish socialism in this country. The future is ours, because we have shown this weekend that we do dare to take it.