From The Militant, Vol. IV No. 33 (Whole No. 92), 28 November 1931, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
We reprint the following statement and appeal of the Youth Fraction of the Communist League of America (Opposition) from the first issue of Young Spartacus. We feel sure that it will prove of interest to all readers of The Militant, and call upon them to give all possible support to Young Spartacus through donations, subscriptions, putting young workers and comrades in touch with the Youth Committee, etc. Readers who wish to obtain a copy of the first isue may do so by addressing Young Spartacus, 84 East 10th Street, New York, N.Y. – Ed.
With this issue we introduce Young Spartacus to the Communist youth and young workers in the United States. There is a sore need for what the organ of the Communist youth of the Communist League of America (Opposition) sets out to accomplish.
What The Militant has been achieving in its tasks of regeneration of the official Communist Party, now under the domination of the American political underlings of Stalin, the youth of the Communist Left hope to carry through on an ever wider front among the members of the Young Communist League and youth in this country. Young Spartacus will be a spokesman and guide in this necessary work. The confusion and misleadership of the Y.C.I. and Y.C.L. have brought the official Y.C.L. to a sorry state of theory and practice. Young Spartacus, we hope, can cleanse this Augean stable with the fresh air of Marxism and Leninism. It is imperative again to begin the work of clarification and education of the American working youth along Marxian lines.
We but merely assert here, what Young Spartacus will have occasion again and again to prove; namely, that the Y.C.L. like the official Communist Party, having acquiesced in the expulsion, oppression and exile of the Left Opposition in the Soviet Union, led by Leon Trotsky, and of countless hundreds of Bolsheviks in the other Parties, and Youth Leagues, has fallen also into a theoretical swamp and adopted the pernicious practices of the Stalinist bureaucracy. The result has been that the Communist Parties and Y.C.L.s everywhere are but caricatures of what genuine Communist Parties and Young Communist Leagues should be.
By the printing and distribution of the writings and platform of the International Left Opposition and its sections, we shall in time demonstrate that the salvation of the international Communist movement, of the Comintern and Youth Comintern lies, – first; in the abandonment of the false, anti-Marxian doctrine of “socialism in one country” the theory from which Stalin proceeds and from which flow the other incorrect doctrines and practices that prevail in the official movement of Communism; and, second, in the acceptance of the platform of the Left Opposition, led by Leon Trotsky, and which, in a few words, is but the acceptance again of the original theories of Marx and Lenin and which enabled the Comintern during the first four congresses of its existence, to flourish.
We state plainly and unequivocally in here addressing ourselves to the membership of the Y.C.L.: Nothing can be hoped for from a leadership of acquiescent Mineriches and the tiny bureaucrats like the Greens. They epitomize the groveling type of “leadership”. As they demand it from those below them, so they, like fawning lap-dogs whining for a bone, submit unquestioningly to the lash of those above them, to the party whip. Stalin and Stalinism are the source of the cancerous growth of political boot-blacking in the Party and Y.C.L. Will a thinking, red-blooded Communist youth in the Y.C.L. long accept such a situation. We think not, if the truth is laid before his eyes to read and judge.
The official organ of the Y.C.L. is the Young Worker. In its columns we can find the quintessence of the “ideas” and practices of the Greens and Mineriches. A paper should be one of the best, if not actually the best, means for the development of an educated, theoretically clear and militant Communist youth. In this fundamental task of education, of clarity to achieve correct actions, the Young Worker has signally and woefully failed. We believe that we are only stating what every honest member of the Y.C.L. thinks, when we say that the Young Worker is a crude and vulgar mish-mash of ideas and events. In it is to be learned – exactly nothing. It is a perfect reflection of the youth leadership that runs it and the Y.C.L.
The members of the Y.C.L. are expected to accept policies from above without question. Free discussion and democracy, as within the Party itself, is on the Catholic index, it does not exist. Genuine examination of the validity of theories and policies is not allowed; the practices and results are to be noted in the low ideological and numerical status and influence of the Y.C.L. Other columns of Young Spartacus tell the unpleasant story. What discussion takes place in the Y.C.L. membership is either in secret or in the secret chambers of their minds.
Young Spartacus aims to assist in the reformation of the Y.C.L. The youth of the Left Opposition accept this policy and will work to revitalize the Y.C.L. in all respects. A Y.C.L. must have the spirit of youth, militancy and independent thinking, it must aim to be broad organizationally, to make it possible for young workers and youth who WANT TO LEARN COMMUNISM to be able to become members and to feel that they have full rights in the organization. In a Communist youth organization the first task is to learn, to become equipped with the theoretical weapons of Marx and Lenin which will best enable them to put them into practice in the shops in the factories, in the unions, in the fields, among the student youth, wherever the youth is to be found. The field is broad and immense. A Communist youth organization must take this into consideration in outlining its tasks. A youth movement is a young movement, and there must be no fear about the youth who wants to learn. Let there be fearlessness in expression. The youth will learn through education, mistakes practices. It is necessary to follow a route instead of the rut that is the Y.C.L. today. This is the road toward Communist CLARITY AND ACTION.
Trotsky, in his famous letter, on The New Course to his Party nucleus, has this to say concerning the youth:
“The bureaucratism of the apparatus has its heaviest consequences in the intellectual-political growth of the young generation of the party. This explains the fact that the youth – the most reliable barometer of the party – react the most sharply of all against party bureaucratism ...
“... It is wholly inadequate that the youth should repeat our formulas. It is necessary that the youth should take the revolutionary formulas fighting, transform them into flesh and blood, work out for themselves their own opinion, their own personality, and be able to fight for their own opinion with that courage which comes from sincere conviction and independence of character. Passive obedience, mechanical drill, characterlessness, obsequiousness, careerism – away with these things from the party! A Bolshevik is not only a disciplined man; no, a Bolshevik is a man who boring deep, has worked out for himself in each given instance a firm opinion and courageously and independently defends it, not only in war with his enemies, but also within his own organization. To-day he may be in the minority in the organization. He submits because it is his party. But that obviously does not always mean that he was wrong …”
The slogans of Young Spartacus, as in the early and best days of the revolutionary youth movement in the United States, the Young Workers League, are CLARITY AND ACTION.
Young Spartacus espouses the cause of the Left Opposition. It will, however, endeavor to be a youth paper, reflecting the attitudes and needs of the youth in the fields of education, sport, economic, trade union and political activity.
The youth of the Left Opposition regard themselves as the Left fraction of the Y.C.L., whether officially members or otherwise, and therefore endeavors to redress the organization of the Y.C.L. At the same time, recognizing the broad field of work before them, and the failure of the official Y.C.L. to reach even a fragment of the youth and young workers that properly belong in a Communist youth organization, the Communist Youth Opposition will try to draw every possible young worker into conscious, active, revolutionary work in the Communist .movement. Through Young Spartacus, we hope to be able to achieve a measure of success.
Young Spartacus will no doubt not be all that we want it to be. Mistakes will be made – errors of initiative and lack of knowledge and experience. But that is not to be feared. The Communist Youth Opposition WANTS TO LEARN that it may be ABLE TO TEACH, organize and win the American youth to Communism.
In Young Spartacus will be reflected the policies and activities of the Communist Youth Opposition on all phases of youth work. This need not therefore be discussed here. In line with the program of the Communist League of America (Opposition), the Communist Youth Opposition and Young Spartacus will steer its independent course on all youth and political issues before the Communist movement. Although a fraction of the Communist movement, the Communist Youth Opposition will endeavor, to the extent possible, under the conditions, to develop its own independent activity wherever the official Y.C.L. fails, is negligent or persists in a false line.
Lastly, we have adopted the name Young Spartacus in honor of Spartacus, the great leader of the revolt of the oppressed slaves and gladiators in Rome; further, we take this name in an effort to follow in the traditions of the Spartacus League of Germany, organized by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg in their revolt against the German Social-Democracy that trampled revolutionary theory and practices into the dust.
In the glorious name of Spartacus, Liebknecht, Luxemberg and Lenin, we pick up the banner of Communism now being besmirched by the Stalinist Comintern; under the leadership of Leon Trotsky, we will march forward to again win the Comintern and Y.C.L. to Leninism.
Upon this program we call upon the Y.C.L. members and class-conscious youth everywhere to support Young Spartacus.
Last updated: 12.2.2013