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Albert Glotzer

Toward the Fourth International

Revolutionary Youth Meet
in International Conference

Another Step on the Road to the New International

(March 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 12, 24 March 1934, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

(Ed. Note – Albert Glotzer, the author of the following article, has just returned from the International Youth Conference held at Luxemburg, Belgium which he attended as the representative of the Spartacus Youth organizations of the United States.)

The international youth conference, called by the youth section of the Independent Socialist Party of Holland for the purpose of discussing the international situation and the tasks of the youth, was dispersed two hours after convening by the Dutch police, acting under the instructions of the Minister of Justice. On February 24th, noon, delegates representing independent socialist and communist youth organizations from over fifteen countries of Europe and America, gathered at Amsterdam, and in a body proceeded to the town of Laren, one hour away. The police entered the conference while it was in the stage of organizing itself, arrested the 19 foreign delegates and drove them away by bus to the Laren jail. There the delegates were divided into two groups, one remaining at the Laren jail and the bulk of the delegates transferred to the investigating prison at Amsterdam.

German Delegates Handed over to Hitler Police

Four German comrades who remained in the Laren jail were summarily handed over to the Hitler police by the mayor of the town, despite the active intervention of comrade Sneevilet of the Revolutionary Socialist Party of Holland and a member of the Dutch Parliament. The delegates transferred under heavy guard to Amsterdam (three Germans, two Norwegians, two Americans, one Frenchman, two Belgians one Swiss and one Pole), were deported to Belgium, after remaining for two days in prison where they were severely cross-examined, photographed and fingerprinted.

If the “democratic” Dutch regime thought that by this dastardly act they had thereby prevented the actually convening of the conference they were to be rudely disappointed. While in prison the confined comrades prepared for the reassembling of the deported delegates and the holding of a conference. Luxemburg was chosen as its meeting place. On Monday, February 26th, the deportations were effected and on Tuesday evening a plenary session was held by the deported delegates under illegal conditions at Luxemburg.

Conference Reorganized

The original conference was initiated by the Independent Socialist Party Youth of Holland. With the events in Holland, it became clear that the conference would have to be completely reorganized. The plenary session decided that the conference, while having its origin in Holland was actually a new conference, and resolved to hold it in the name of the Internationalist Communist League and the Socialist Workers Party of Germany. The plenum agreed upon an agenda for the conference and decided to issue a manifesto to the international working class movement denouncing the actions of the reactionary Dutch regime and calling upon all organizations to voice their protests.

On Wednesday, February 28th, the conference convened. The following organizations were represented by delegates:

  1. The Youth Secretariat of the Internationalist Communist League, representing the youth sections of the I.C.L. which could not send delegates.
  2. The American, French, Belgian, German and Swiss sections of the I.C.L.
  3. The Socialist Youth Association of Germany (SAP).
  4. The Workers Youth Association of Norway (NAP).
  5. The Mot Dag group of Norway.
  6. The Revolutionary Youth Association of Holland (RSP).
  7. The Socialist Youth Association of Holland (OSP).
  8. The Youth Group of the Communist League of Struggle, U.S.A.

By a transfer of mandates, the youth organization of the PUP of France, and the Roumanian Association of United Socialist Youth were represented. Holland had refused to admit the representatives of the Independent Communist Youth organization of Sweden, who had sent telegraphic greetings of solidarity from Copenhagen, and transferred their mandate to the Mot Dag group of Norway.

Reports of National Sections

With the opening of the conference it was found that while a smaller number of delegates were present, actually, all the organizations assembled in Holland were represented at Luxemburg. The first point on the agenda was a series of reports by the national sections on the status of their organizations. These reports showed that in almost all the countries present active and vital organizations and groups existed with a will to reorientate the proletarian youth movement.

The reports formed the introduction to the political discussion. The political discussion of the international situation and the tasks of the youth was the most important question of the conference. Here was expressed the opinions of the various organizations present on the basic question of what to do. In the course of the discussion apparent agreement was reached by the delegates on a series of principled questions such as the proletarian dictatorship, the soviet system, the armed struggle for power, the united front, etc.

But on the decisive question of what to do sharp differences expressed themselves between the delegation of the ICL and the left, centrist elements adhering to the London Bureau (now transferred to Amsterdam). The ICL declared that, following the fundamental agreement on a series of principled question, and following the general agreement as to the degeneration and collapse of social democracy and Stalinism, including their youth organizations, it was necessary to declare openly and without equivocation the need of creating the new international and the new youth international.

Proposals of S.A.P. Youth

The representatives of the SAP, elaborating on their thesis, presented the unique, and not entirely new, point of view, that it is necessary to win the broad masses of workers and worker youth to the support the and following such an event to then conference on principled questions declare and work for the new internationals. The comrades argued that while they agreed to the necessity of the new international, it was not the decisive question. They proceeded to divorce the question of the new international from the agitation for the principles of communism, as if such a separation was possible.

The SAP concluded their discussion with the proposal: to accept their thesis which did not contain the necessary declaration for the new international and the new youth International. Following the acceptance of this, to elect a buro, with a secretariat located at Stockholm which would have as its tasks the work of rallying the broad masses of youth around the banner of the principles contained in the thesis. Then, in order arrive at a concord with the ICL, they proposed an additional resolution proclaiming the necessity of the new youth international and to elect a buro located in Paris to work for the realization of aims of the resolution. Standpoint of I.C.L.

These proposals were unacceptable to the delegation of the I.C.L. which decided to reject the motions. To us it was inconceivable that the proposed Paris buro could carry on an intense activity for the new youth international without at the same time working and agitating for it on the basis of the principles of communism, which could not and should not be separated from the question of the new international. The existence of two buros of this character would only result in a dualism of work.

The Stockholm buro which would stand on the position that the social democracy and Stalinism were bankrupt, would carry on its work without telling the workers what to do. We demonstrated that to wait until mass national organizations were in existence before building the new international could lead to nowhere, and that it was inverted “internationalism”, since the reorganization and reassembling of the new organization of the working class could only be on the basis of the existence of the International movement. We therefore proposed that the conference come out openly and clearly for the new youth international, with one buro to work in this direction.

Agreement on Amended Thesis

After an intense and protracted discussion, agreement was reached between the two tendencies at the conference. The representative of the Socialist Youth Association (S.A.P.) proposed them to include in their thesis the clauses for the new youth international and the new international, to elect one buro with its secretariat at Stockholm, which would have the task of realizing the decisions of the conference in practice. Inasmuch as the thesis in general renders a correct characterization of the present world situation and a correct criticism of the 2nd and 3rd Internationals, we found it possible, with the acceptance of our proposals on the new international, to agree to the motions.

All the other organizations present – with the exception of the Norwegian Workers Party – accepted the theses. As a result the basis for the creation of two buros became non-existent. These decisions of course remain provisional, dependent upon the actions of the organizations represented at the conference.

Appeal to All Revolutionary Youth

With the above political basis laid, the conference proceeded to the more practical questions of the future. It was decided by the conference to extend invitations to all independent revolutionary youth organizations, including those organizations within the official internationals, who show leftward tendencies, to attach themselves to the decisions of the conference. The Buro, the conference decided, should consist of one member for every national section adhering to the decisions of the conference. Because of its international character the ICL is to be represented by three members.

It was further decided to create a secretariat of this buro, consisting of three members and made up of representatives of the Socialist Youth Association (SAP), the Independent Communist Youth of Sweden, and the Internationalist Communist League, with its center at Stockholm. This secretariat would have as its tasks the practical carrying through of the decisions of the conference and the buro.

Thus, the conference dispersed by the Dutch police, became a reality through the efforts of the ICL and the SAP. After a day of sharp and intensive discussion of a comradely character, we succeeded in overcoming the differences of the conference, and arriving at an agreement which makes possible for us to go a step forward. But it must be stated very clearly that the conference and its decisions while marking a tremendous step forward, is after all only the first step.

Great Tasks Ahead

The real work lies ahead. Everything depends upon how the buro and its secretariat proceeds to realize the conference decisions in life. This, after all, is decisive. In our opinion, the executive must emulate the activities of the International of Socialist Youth during [the war years when it] continued to carry the banner of internationalism and proletarian revolution. It must be an active body alive to the needs of the hour.

Because of the hurried character of the conference it was unable to discuss separately, nor to work out a concrete program of action on the war danger. Similarly with the question of Fascism and the struggle to win the mass of working youth. These are fundamental questions that have to be acted upon and solved by the leading body. It must begin at once with an international campaign to popularize the decisions of the conference, to win greater support for them, to initiate an international campaign against the danger of war and the Fascist reaction. It must work out a program of rallying the wide masses of proletarian youth. In a word the leading body must build a genuine Communist youth international.

The youth organizations of the Internationalist Communist League will do all in their power to further this work. The buro can rely upon our active initiative and support in this direction. We feel confident that an application of the decisions of the conference, a persistent and intense activity on the part of the buro and the sections adhering to the conference, will make possible the creation of a mass Communist youth international based on the principles of Marxism.

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