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1936 Trotskyist Resolution on Youth

Source: Trotskyist Youth Archives –
adopted by the Preconference of the Youth, August 1, 1936.

The epoch of the decline of capitalism can offer nothing to the great mass of the proletarian youth but permanent unemployment, hunger, and misery, and as the final end, the destruction of millions of young proletarian lives in a new imperialist mass murder. Within the framework of capitalism there is no salvation for this generation. The proletarian revolution, which by a political and economic transformation of society is alone capable of letting the youth satisfy its right to life to the utmost, is for it, therefore, not a matter of a distant aim, but an Immediate issue of life or death.

The path of the proletarian revolution, the way to socialism, is, however, blocked by the opportunist and treacherous policies of the Second and Third Internationals, which lead the proletariat from defeat to defeat, and by the lack of a revolutionary leadership with its roots in the masses. This is the basic reason why the tremendous revolutionary possibilities of recent years have remained unutilized, and why the revolutionary energies of the masses have repeatedly burst forth only to be thwarted. These demoralizing defeats have furthermore had the result that today sections of the proletarian youth have become alienated from their own class, lost faith in the revolutions, and stand to one side or even furnish material for the storm troops of fascism, the deadly enemy of the proletariat.

The policies of the SYI [Socialist Youth International], the youth section of the Second International, are no less fatal than those of the Second International itself. The SYI bureaucracy continues to proclaim its faith in the League of (capitalist) Nations, whose pitiful role has now become manifest even to the most backward petty bourgeois. The SYI is not ashamed of calling upon this prostituted League of Nations to organize a peace which is impossible in a capitalist regime and to advocate the deceitful slogan of disarmament, at the moment when rearmament proceeds at a feverish pace in all countries including those where the Second International is represented in the government. The SYI bureaucracy demands the abandonment of the use of force in the class struggle (and even of the class struggle itself) at the very moment when the bourgeoisie everywhere is releasing its fascist terrorist troops against the labor movement.

A most pernicious role is played under these circumstances by the so-called “left” SYI leaders (Godefroid, Chochoy, etc.), who today under the pressure of the tremendous mass movement in the Western European countries adopt a revolutionary phraseology, but in reality completely support the counterrevolutionary policies of the reformist parties of their countries. In words, these “left” SYI leaders are for the revolution, armed insurrection, the conversion of the imperialist war into civil war, etc., but at the same time, by their daily policies, they drive or ask the young proletarians to give their confidence to the minister-socialists, who, as with Vandervelde, proceed with tear gas against striking workers or, as with Leon Blum, use the bourgeois police apparatus for the prosecution of proletarian revolutionists. That the differences between “right” and “left” SYI leaders bear no irreconcilable character but are mere skirmishes between opportunists of different national color, is also indicated in the ridiculous plan of Godefroid and Co. (today more or less abandoned!) which would divide the SYI into “political” and “cultural” sections and thus settle the differences in a purely bureaucratic and administrative manner. For the proletarian youth it is not a question of “political” or “cultural” work, but of social betrayal versus social revolution, an issue which permits of no compromise solution. This, however, Godefroid and Chochoy cannot admit, because they refuse, at all costs, to break with the social patriots and social traitors, Vandervelde and de Man, Blum and Salengro. The task of the young proletarian revolutionists is to show the true role of the “left” leaders of the SYI who employ revolutionary phrases but who, in the last analysis, cover with their “revolutionary” authority the social patriotism of the Blums and the Vanderveldes, the counterrevolutionary policy of the Second International.

The Communist Youth International (CYI), whose opportunism has revealed itself to a point where it permits even the “leftists” of the SYI to claim Lenin and Luxemburg with impunity, unquestionably exercises today a most pernicious and demoralizing influence on the new generation. The Stalinist bureaucracy has succeeded in completely throttling the revolutionary spirit and enthusiasm which animated the CYI in its first years. The last world congress of the CYI, which was held in connection with the Seventh World Congress of the CI (August 1935), laid upon all sections the task to “depoliticize” themselves and to build broad mass organizations standing above parties and above classes. The CYI, in other words received the assignment to bring the proletarian youth in the countries allied with the Soviet Union (and those countries whose foreign politics are in one way or another directed against Japan or Germany) into friendly relations with the bourgeois youth of these countries and so to guarantee the national unity in the coming war.

In France where, at this time, on account of the extraordinary sharpening of the class antagonisms all political developments assume the clearest form, the CYI has carried its shamelessness to the point of holding out the hand of reconciliation to the fascist youth organizations and denouncing the civil war as the worst of all evils. The Stalinist betrayal reaches its climax in the organization of the “world movement of the youth for peace, freedom, and progress.” Here the Stalinists combine with nationalist and religious youth organizations for the purpose of holding parade-congresses “for peace” (Brussels, Geneva) under the protection of reactionary clerics and bankrupt imperialist politicians such as Lord Cecil and others. The aim and result of these Stalinist peace congresses is not the organization of peace among peoples, which within the frame work of capitalism is simply a reactionary utopia, but on the contrary the organization of the holy alliance between the classes of the imperialist nations whereby the imperialist war is made possible. The Communist Youth International, which came into being in the struggle against the social imperialism (socialism in word and imperialism in deed) of the Second International during the last world war, today pro pares to lead the new proletarian generation to the imperialist slaughter. The proletarian youth movement has today no worse enemy, in its own ranks, than Stalinism.

Of no particular practical importance is the “International Bureau of Revolutionary Youth Organizations,” the youth section of the so-called London Bureau, this replica in miniature of the Two-and-a-Half International (SAP, ILP, etc.). This Youth Bureau conceives its task to be to act as a handyman for Stalinism. In a joint Manifesto to the German worker youth the German section of this Youth Bureau (the Youth of the SAP) certify that the Stalinists (who truly did more for Hitler's triumph than Hitler himself) have correctly enlightened the German proletariat with regard to “the form, essence, and task of fascism.” For the rest, the youth sections of the London Bureau participate, so far as their limited means permit, in the Stalinist class-peace congresses for the preparation of the imperialist war.

The youth section of the Fourth International can only be built in the sharpest struggle against the above outlined tendencies and conceptions in the camp of the proletarian youth movement, which in the long run can only lead the new generation, bound hand and foot, into the hands of international capitalism, fascism, and war. Only through an intransigent revolutionary policy, which condemns every concession to the concepts of social imperialism and social pacifism in the sharpest manner, and which pursues the aim of the proletarian revolution with audacity and determination, will it succeed in rallying the masses of the proletarian youth again under the red banner of the social revolution. Only the organizations of the Fourth International, reassembling the revolutionists around themselves, can and will follow this path, and only they will succeed in freeing the working class from the swamp of opportunism, betrayal, and defeat-strategy of the Second and Third Internationals.

The degeneration of the Second and Third Internationals has resulted in the exhaustion to a considerable extent of the political energies of the older proletarian generation. The building of the Fourth International is indissolubly bound up with the political awakening of the new proletarian strata and, above all, of the young proletarian generation. It is therefore of tremendous importance that the cadres of the Fourth International within the proletarian youth movement should move steadily forward. In France and Holland there already exist independent youth organizations which are for the Fourth International. In Belgium the truly revolutionary wing, which groups itself around the journal Action Socialiste Revolutionuaire, has been expelled from the Young Socialist Guard at the initiative of Vandervelde and Co. and with the direct assistance of Godefroid, who thereby proved he preferred unity with the socialists of the holy union. It is on the verge of establishing itself as an independent league. Within the Spanish United Youth League (the merger of the socialist and Stalinist youth leagues), within the English Labour League of Youth, the Polish organization “Zukunft,” the Young Peoples Socialist League (Yipsels) in the USA, in Switzerland, in Austria, in Canada, and in a number of other countries, factions, groups, and tendencies for the Fourth International exist All these elements of the proletarian youth movement basing themselves on the Fourth International will, without neglecting the special conditions of their respective countries and their work, find ways and means to exchange and share their experiences, to learn from each other, and to jointly march forward to new victories. Forward to the building of the Youth section of the Fourth International!


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