Howe Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Irving Howe

Jingo Note Loudest at Y.C.L. Meeting

(May 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 33, 16 May 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

NEW YORK – The 9th national convention of the Young Communist League will open here this week-end with a mass meeting in Madison Square Garden. This convention will mark a climax to the drive to transform the Y.C.L. into an open jingo organization.

According to the preamble to the new Y.C.L. constitution proposed by its National Committee, the Y.C.L formally abandons any pretense to revolutionary ideas and becomes an organization which has, among others, the following purposes:

“Educate youth for citizenship in our democracy”; “Oppose all subversive efforts to attack, undermine or destroy our democracy from within or without”; and “promote clean living and develop healthy minds in healthy bodies and to protect the American home and family.”

Despite the accompanying bashful mention of socialism, these points – especially the one on “subversive efforts” which means to be against all idea of revolution – show that the Y.C.L. is trying its desperate best to prove itself to be a respectable organization desiring to live at peace with the capitalist world and capitalist youth organizations.

Pro-War Rally

The convention will have as its main function the whipping up of a war spirit among the delegates, especially those who are not hardened bureaucrats. In view of the war crisis, the Y.C.L. leadership wants to make sure that the organization will serve as an integral part of the war machine and the convention is the place, the youthful Browders figure, to whip up an appropriate war spirit.

Another function of the Y.C.L. convention will be to make certain changes in its declaration of principles in order to bring it up to date with its present political line. Such embarrassingly reminiscent points as “We condemn American intervention in the internal affairs of the Latin-American countries and the Philippines, and we support the Puerto Rican people in their fight for independence” will be eliminated. For it is obvious that the Stalinist movement, youth or adult, can no longer have any connection with movements for the liberation of oppressed colonial peoples, even if that connection is in an obscure document.

Jim-Crow Stalinists

A further indication of the rightward swing which this convention will mark may be seen from a recent article in the April pre-convention number of the Young Communist Review, which admits that Y.C.L. recruiting and education is on such a reactionary basis that in Chicago many branches exist on a Jim-Crow basis, dividing white and Negro youth into different groups!

Another step the convention will take will be the dissolution of student branches. These have in the past been centers of dissidence from the party line.

Irving Howe Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 16 Januar 2016