The Young Vanguard, The Militant, Vol. III No. 23, 14 June 1930, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
Of the organizations in the Communist International, none have suffered and continue to suffer such mangling as the Young Communist International. With a splendid background – the struggle of the Youth against the war in unison and under the political guidance of the Bolsheviks, the Russian Revolution, and the splendid leadership of comrades Lenin and Trotsky during the early days of the organization of the Communist International – the Y.C.I. was destined to enjoy a healthy growth and activity.
Education and participation in mass activity – these were the watchwords of the Youth Leagues. Progress was inevitable, The Leagues everywhere enjoyed considerable growth. They embodied a revolutionary enthusiasm and energy that gave rise to splendid activity. The education in Communism and the participation in the class struggles prepared hundreds and thousands of young revolutionaries for future leadership in the ranks of the Party.
This ascent, however, in the ranks of the Young Communist International was halted abruptly. In preparation of the struggle against the Russian Opposition under the leadership of comrades Trotsky, Rakovsky, etc., the Stalinist bureaucracy aimed heavy fire against the Youth International. The Youth International was made a mere appendage to the Right-Center bloc. Made to think that the youth alone were the leaders in the struggle for correct political lines in the ranks of the revolutionary movement, the theory of “vanguardism” once again made its way in the Youth International. From this theory grew a negative attitude toward the education of the Youth and their participation in mass activity. In place of a training for the future, the international leagues entered a stage of heated participation in “high politics” and into an unprecedented period of factionalism. There developed in the ranks of the youth cynicism for the elementary tasks of organization.
Beginning with the period of 1923–24 a state of passivity, opportunism and stagnation set in. Bureaucratic direction displaced the education of the Youth. Mass activity was shunted for an accelerated condition of factionalism. The scandalous maltreatment of the Young Communist International left horrible gaps in its ranks. The Russian League alone withstood the heavy decline of its organization.
In Germany the social democratic and Reformist youth gained heavily at the expense of the Young Communist League. In France the League lost 12,000 members and has today a membership of only 3,000. The opportunist policy of the Right-Centrist leadership was not without its effect on the British League. There with the splendid situation caused through the split in the Guild of Youth (Social Democratic) and the General Strike, the League numbers only a few hundred (even Bulky Bill Rust cannot count more). In Sweden the Right wing split carried more than half of the Youth membership into its ranks. The young workers of Austria remain under social democratic influence while the Communist influence is almost nil. The American League continues to remain at a static membership of between 1,000 and 1,500 members. Here the fruits of the Lovestone leadership and the present incompetent, pretentious and impotent leadership of Steuben, Green and Harvey have made matters only worse. (Of the American League more will be said in other articles.) And so on ad infinitum.
The invention of the spurious “third period” theory and the rise of adventurism in political policy has only made matters worse. It has added greatly to the already achieved sectarianism and isolation. The present policies of the Y.C.I. and its Leagues only promise to perfect this condition.
This situation in the Youth movement is but a reflection of the situation in the Communist International. The past seven years history of the Comintern is mirrored in the Leagues, though at times even more grotesque and more accentuated. The solution of the present crisis in the International Youth movement can come about only through a solution of the problems facing the Communist International. The struggle of the Opposition against the present revisionism, adventurism and opportunism alone will solve this crisis. A resurgence and re-education is necessary – on the basis of a correct political program. That program is the platform of the Opposition. Participation in the ranks of the Opposition and common struggle together with the Party comrades is an imperative task of the Youth. The bureaucratic Stalinist leadership cannot bring about a revitalizing of the International Youth movement. That task belongs to the Opposition. In the solution of the present crisis in the Communist movement the Youth will play no little role.
Last updated: 13.10.2012