International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO)

On Youth

The world today is being shaken by a profound crisis of the capitalist-imperialist system, which is developing unevenly in different countries, especially affecting negatively the working class, youth and peoples. It is a crisis of the structures and superstructures.

The destruction of the productive forces caused by the crisis is huge. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), worldwide unemployment now exceeds 205 million people and 1,600 million people are in vulnerable employment.

The youth is one of the main victims of the crisis. The youths without work are more than 75 million, 4 million more than in 2007. Data released in April by the European Union show that the unemployment rate among young people aged 15 to 24 years exceeds 50% in Spain and Greece. In France, youth unemployment is 21%, and in Portugal, 30.8% of young people under 25 years old are unemployed. In Bulgaria, Slovakia, Ireland and Italy, youth unemployment is above 30%. The worst situation is in the Middle Eastern countries: there the average youth unemployment rate is 27%. In Latin America, according to the ILO, unemployment was 14.3% in 2011 and is expected to be between 14.4% and 14.6% in 2016. In Brazil, according to the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), the unemployment rate among young people between 18 and 24 years is 14.5% and for those between 15 and 17 years it is 24%.

It should be noted that these official figures take into account only young workers who have looked for jobs in the four weeks preceding the survey. That is, young people who gave up looking for work, who are studying full-time or live with their parents are considered employed. Thus we have a huge army of unemployed, composed mainly of youths, that is growing in all countries.

That huge youth unemployment is what some economists call the "lost generation," that is, millions of young people who, after they are vocationally trained, cannot find a job; they are obsolete or become superfluous for the capitalists, for the owners of the means of production. That is, they move on to living from temporary work or turn to crime, the fastest growing activity in the 21st century together with drug trafficking. In short, they become unemployed for the rest of their lives. What is happening is what Karl Marx and Frederick Engels warned about in the Communist Manifesto in 1848, "the bourgeoisie is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave (wage worker) within his slavery."

The fact is that young people, rather than taking advantage of and developing their knowledge leading to a decent job, are facing a harsh reality or frustration and insecurity for the future. As a result of this huge number of unemployed youth, prostitution and drug trafficking are growing in all capitalist countries. Indeed, without being able to work, millions of girls are forced into prostitution. Today, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), 223 million of girls and boys are victims of sexual exploitation in the world.

In the dependent countries, the situation is even more serious. In Africa, Asia and Latin America, the masses of young workers, students and peasants suffer brutal exploitation. Many of the youths and adolescents do not attend school, millions are forced to work to help their families and when they do they earn low wages; others suffer chronic unemployment and few have access to quality vocational training. Bourgeois ideologists blame the youth for unemployment, claiming that the young people are not prepared, that they do not have adequate vocational experience or training and, therefore, they do not get jobs. This is a big lie, because for the capitalist system the existence of a large reserve army is essential to reduce still further the price of labour-power.

Unemployment and the total lack of perspective for young people under capitalism is not enough; the youth is forced to live in a world of imperialist wars and interventions in ever-increasing numbers. In 2010 alone, $1.5 trillion was spent on wars and weapons. Half of this money was used by the U.S. to finance the attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan, to maintain a thousand military bases in 40 countries, 5,200 nuclear weapons and to fund military coups, as in Honduras.

With the knowledge of the rotten United Nations organization (UN), the Western imperialist powers (U.S., England, France, Germany) joined together to drop bombs on Libya and prepare new military interventions in Iran and Syria. These interventions are living proof of how the imperialist powers use wars to increase their fabulous profits in the arms industry and to seize the wealth of the peoples.

Actually, for the capitalists, young people are only "cannon fodder" in their military strategies designed to increase the economic and political dominance in the richest and most strategic regions of the world. To make up their armies, the imperialist countries recruit in the peripheral regions where millions of unemployed Black, Latino, Asian or African young people are concentrated, as U.S. filmmaker Michel Moore denounced in his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Capitalism is a real war machine and the only choices it has to offer young people is being a soldier in the reserve army, cheap labour, precarious work or a future of death and destruction.

In fact, the solutions presented by the imperialist countries and their agencies – the IMF, European Central Bank and the European Commission – are economic plans and neoliberal reforms leading to increased exploitation by the bourgeoisie over the proletariat, deepening economic dependence of dozens of nations, subjecting them to the interests of the big monopolies, restrictions on the rights of workers, mass layoffs, budget cuts in social areas, outsourcing, privatization and job insecurity.

On the other hand, to save the financial oligarchy from bankruptcy, the capitalist governments allocated an amount equivalent to U.S. $25 trillion, one more proof that even with the crisis finance capital imposes its dictatorship.

As one can see, under this system the rights of the youth to employment, education, culture and sport are systematically denied. That is why an increasing number of young people, with no future, become easy prey to drugs, prostitution, sex trafficking and crime.

Meanwhile, a tiny group of people, the world capitalist class, owns the major industrial and commercial monopolies and banks, and do not stop getting rich.

According to Forbes magazine, 217 tycoons are richer today than last year. The billionaires listed by Forbes have $1.37 trillion in assets, while in 2009 their assets were $1.27 trillion.

Meanwhile, the sale and use of drugs is growing, emotional ailments, suicides, the growth of prostitution, unemployment and wars are increasing around the world,. This is the real "world order" that imperialism offers to the youth and peoples of the world.

The struggles of the youth for their rights and for a new world

Against this policy and further, against the system, the youth is continuing to fight for their rights and against the policy of the capitalist governments that place the whole weight of the economic crisis on their backs and those of the workers. Since the beginning of the crisis, there have been demonstrations in 85 countries against this policy of sacrificing the people and the youth in order to save the bankers and monopolies. As a result of the anger of millions of unemployed youth, with no access to education and no rights, the revolts of the youth are spreading throughout the world.

Already in 2006, the French youth showed enormous willingness to struggle and fight against the measures of Nicolas Sarkozy's government, which established the First Employment Contract (CPE), defining rules that made their labour power "precarious" and reduced their rights. It was one of the most important struggles of the youth for the guarantees and rights of the world of labour. One year earlier, in 2005, there was a revolt of young people in the suburbs of Paris against the police brutality that led to the deaths of two youth who were descendants of immigrants. The youth rebellion spread to other cities and lasted 19 consecutive nights, forcing the government to declare a "state of emergency" for three months in 25 departments. New revolts occurred again in the following years, showing that the youth were one of the main forces responsible for the defeat of the fascist government of Sarkozy.

Another very important demonstration took place in July of 2001, this time against the G8 meeting in Genoa, Italy. In the clashes with police, a young Italian, Carlo Giuliani, was killed while taking part in demonstrations against the imperialist countries.

With the development of the greatest crisis of capitalism since the Second World War unemployment and police repression have been growing, the demonstrations and struggles have intensified in the last two years.

In Africa, the youth participated decisively in the overthrow of the dictatorships of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt; in both countries there were major clashes with the military forces of those fascist regimes.

In Europe, thousands of young people occupied plazas and carried out marches in Greece, Ireland, Denmark, England, Spain, etc. against unemployment and the so-called austerity plans of the governments.

In the U.S., the main imperialist country, the Occupy Wall Street movement organized several struggles in about 70 U.S. cities against economic packages of aid to the big monopolies and banks, while hundreds of thousands of families were dispossessed from their homes. A high point of the movement was the occupation of the square near the New York Stock Exchange for two months between September and November 2011. Since then, new demonstrations of this kind have been taking place in several regions and cities in the U.S. and bring out thousands of young people.

In Latin America, the youth has also carried out struggles and demonstrations in most countries. In Chile, the first was a wave of protests known as the "revolt of the penguins" in 2006, which paralyzed the major cities against rising transport fares and measures that restrict entry of young people into the university. New protests occurred in 2011, with a national strike that united high school students, university students and teachers, demanding a larger budget for education and against the privatization of education. Also in Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Brazil and other countries the political participation of young people and their presence in the streets is increasing.

All these mobilizations and struggles reinforce the enormous fighting potential of the youth and make clear the need for the parties and organizations that fight and defend the proletarian revolution to devote much of their efforts towards young people, trying to direct their discontent towards the revolution and socialism.

The importance of the work of the communists among the youth

Throughout history, the youth have always played an outstanding role in the struggle for national independence and for the liberation of humanity; they were always in the forefront of the demonstrations in the streets and in the confrontations against the violence of the bourgeois state. As the history of all revolutions shows, the youth has an immense fighting potential and at the side of the workers it always gives evidence of its self-sacrifice and commitment to the revolutionary cause. Moreover, the youth holds the future in its hands and has always forged thousands of cadres for the vanguard of the proletariat. In particular, the action of revolutionary communists together with the secondary-school and university student movement is of great importance in the large mobilizations that have been carried out for their specific demands over the years. They also show great sensitivity toward social issues and toward joining in the struggle against imperialism and for social transformation.

Because it is unable to resolve the problems of the youth, the bourgeoisie spares no efforts to control the youth ideologically. In reality, the bourgeoisie and imperialism, knowing this enormous revolutionary potential, acts to control the minds and hearts of the young people, trying to prevent the youth from developing their sentiment of rebellion and revolt.

The bourgeois media daily state that it is possible to live in freedom and be rich under capitalism, while "socialism is a dictatorial regime." To transform these lies into "truths," they produce hundreds of films directed exclusively toward youth, they organize major sporting and cultural events, finance institutions and organizations that are called nonpartisan; in fact, they are anti-revolutionary or religious youth groups. The latest example is the movie "The Social Network" by director David Fincher, which tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg, a young North American who becomes a billionaire at age 23 after stealing the idea for the creation of Facebook from his two friends . Brought to trial and found responsible, Zuckerberg was forced to pay compensation to his former friends and hand over 10% of the shares to his former partner, but he kept his wealth and fame as the "new genius of the internet."

TV is another important media used by the bourgeoisie, as is evident with the creation of the channel MTV. In it, through programs and interviews with bourgeois artists, egoism is promoted and, thus, the material and spiritual problems in society. The goal is to instill in the minds of the young people the bourgeois values of society and its lifestyle in order to keep the youth docile, harmless and unable to fight consistently to change the world. In these TV programs, the human values ​​of solidarity and politics are ridiculed and mocked. In order to spread the idea that it is possible to become a millionaire by deceiving people, they created the so-called Reality Shows around the world.

To divert the youth from the revolutionary road, some bourgeois ideologists even defend the use of drugs as a rebellious attitude among youth. In fact, this is a false expression of freedom, since drugs are a means for the capitalists to make large profits, and at the same time to cause the degradation of millions of young people and deepen their political oppression and alienation.

Their goal is to lead millions of young people to have nothing to do with the political struggle as a way to resolve the serious social and economic problems of the world, to live in despair and surrender to drug use and alcoholism. In short, the lack of perspective imposed by the system aims to prevent young people from seeing that the road to liberation is the revolution and the transformation of the old society.

Combat bourgeois ideology

Also, in order to maintain the illusion of the youth in capitalism, the bourgeois ideologists claim that capitalism is a democratic system, of free men and women in which people can do whatever they want. But the truth is that capitalism is a system that profoundly schackles all human beings. It is a hypocritical system whose ideological, social and economic basis is the exploitation of people by people, the subjection of one human being to another and the existence of thousands of millions of people living in poverty and without opportunities, while a small minority live in luxury and with total freedom.

Thus, one of the tasks of the revolutionaries together with the youth is to carry out an offensive against bourgeois ideology and its false promises of a world of wealth and peace for all and of a democratically planned economy without crisis, firmly fighting these forms of co-optation and alienation of the youth. In other words to show that only with an organization and intense revolutionary struggle to transform society, can the youths free themselves from the exploitation and oppression of capitalism.

The need for the revolutionary organization of the youth

To achieve this goal together with the youth it is essential to create a political organization in each country that brings together the revolutionary young people. As we know, the revolution does not occur spontaneously and without a mass movement that has a revolutionary leadership. On the other hand, the ruling classes never surrender power peacefully. On the contrary, the deeper the crisis, the more they cling to power and struggle to maintain it.

The question of the revolutionary organization of the youth is becoming one of great relevance, given the immense propaganda of the bourgeoisie to deny the role of the youth organizations in the struggles taking place in the world today. In fact, the big media are persistently spreading the idea that the youth movements in Greece, Tunisia, Egypt, Spain, U.S., etc. are spontaneous and are taking place without the participation of the revolutionary political parties and organizations. They spread the idea that the "social networks" are replacing the political parties of the left, they over-estimate secondary factors of the political struggle and downplay the advance in the consciousness of the masses. All with the goal of distancing the youth from the parties and organizations of the left and from the revolutionary struggle.

The formation and development of revolutionary political organizations that act constantly and profoundly among the young people and with a clear program are fundamental. We also support the formation of a democratic, revolutionary, centralized and disciplined organization that awakens the consciousness of the young people for the class struggle; that is identified with the most advanced in the field of science and the ideas produced by mankind, Marxism-Leninism. This organization should be open to all young people who want to fight for a new world, for the expansion of democratic liberties, against imperialism and for a socialist society. It is necessary to note that revolutionary youth who disdain the conscious elements, the Leninist principles of organization and are organized spontaneously cannot fulfill their role of helping the communist party in the task of leading the revolution and building the new society.

Because the young people have certain aspirations, characteristics and peculiarities, the work among them, besides prioritizing the struggles for their rights and for their deepest aspirations, requires a heightened level of understanding and awareness on the part of the revolutionaries, above all in the revolutionary development.

A real school of cadres: the importance of political education

Political education in the revolutionary youth organizations should be based on the study of scientific socialism and the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, of the revolutions and the reality of each country; it should be an ongoing task of great importance in the work among young people. Without a doubt, the mastery of dialectical materialism among youth is essential to understand in depth human and social development and the phenomena of nature themselves. Moreover, youth are hungry for knowledge, and increasingly bourgeois education asserts itself, without allowing knowledge and critical learning from reality. Hence the importance of the regular functioning of the schools of revolutionary training and education of the youth and courses in Marxist-Leninist training.

Training is not only political but also of the personality of the young communists, in order to develop in them ethical, moral and revolutionary values, as Lenin summarized this well.

"In dealing from this angle with the tasks confronting the youth, I must say that the tasks of the youth in general, and of the Young Communist Leagues and all other organizations in particular, might be summed up in a single word: learn communism.

“But this reply – ‘learn communism’ – is too general. What do we need in order to learn communism? Naturally, the first thought that enters one's mind is that learning communism means assimilating the sum of knowledge that is contained in communist manuals, pamphlets and books. But such a definition of the study of communism would be too crude and inadequate. If the study of communism consisted solely in assimilating what is contained in communist books and pamphlets, we might all too easily obtain communist text jugglers or braggarts. Without work and without struggle, book knowledge of communism obtained from communist pamphlets and works is absolutely worthless, for it would continue the old separation of theory and practice, the old rift which was the most pernicious feature of the old, bourgeois society." (V. I. Lenin, The Tasks of the (Communist) Youth Leagues)

Also, in these organizations, young people learn the first steps of the political struggle, practical lessons and theoretical instruction, they develop their first actions and begin to live their communist militancy. For that reason, it is very important to create newspapers and magazines aimed at young people in order to discuss their problems, struggles and revolutionary culture.

In the organizations of the youth, new revolutionary leaders always arise, they advance in their the understanding and knowledge and are trained through concrete experiences and the struggles of the masses, they become great revolutionary leaders. There are many examples of how a bold and profound work of ideological education among the youth soon provides new cadres for the revolutionary ranks.

In conclusion, the political organizations of the revolutionary youth are of great importance to advance the popular struggles, they are an effective, creative and innovative school to train cadres for revolution. Therefore, we must also be clear about the need to guarantee stable and ideologically experienced cadres in the political experience of this important and valuable work.

The importance of the AFAIYC for the anti-imperialist and anti-fascist struggle

To advance in the struggle against imperialism in the world and to confront the domination of finance capital and the big monopolies, it is necessary to unite broad anti-imperialist and anti-fascist forces. That is, without any doubt, one of the major tasks of the revolutionary forces, especially at this time of deep capitalist crisis and rising demonstrations of the willingness to struggle on the part of the youth. As we know, in all these struggles the policies of intervention, the economic domination by the imperialist monopolies and the neoliberal policies dictated by the international financial system are present. Thus, the current crisis favors the conditions for increasing the level of consciousness and organization of millions of young people in the world.

Under these conditions, the International Anti-Imperialist and Anti-Fascist Youth Camp (AFAIYC) as a space for reflection and struggle for the transformation of the present society is of great importance.

The AFAIYC is held every two years and should have among its objectives to promote the actions of the youth, to share experiences of struggle, to expand the political denunciation of the crimes of imperialism and to unify campaigns and struggles of the youth on a world level.

One of the most important aspects is to allow a meeting with the cultural roots and the broadest demonstrations of the popular art of each country, making evident the enormous capacity of cultural resistance in the field of music, folkloric demonstrations, theater and film, in short, in every real and profound cultural demonstration of our peoples. Some experiences have been successful in that direction, reinforcing the need to include cultural work as one of the tasks of the revolutionary organizations of youth.

Sports cannot be neglected, considering its role in the physical development of young people, of their motor skills, the ability of sports to attract a huge sector of the youth. For the youth organizations, therefore, it is essential to understand that the AFAIYC, besides exchanging ideas and unifying the anti-imperialist struggles, is also a space for the free expression of the cultural, artistic and sports creation of our peoples.

Among the main topics to be discussed at the AFAIYC should be the struggles of the masses of youth for a higher budget for education, culture and sports, for employment, for decent wages, against discrimination, racism and all the evils created by the capitalist system.

Given the anti-fascist and anti-imperialist nature of the Camps, the work of incorporating into them of broad strata of the youth, we must use them to incorporate in the minds of the youth the struggle for freedom and democracy, the defense of human rights, the principle of self-determination of the peoples, national independence and the ideals of social transformation, of the revolution and socialism.

It is worthwhile to know the study by the Pew Research Center, published in December of 2011, which states that 49% of young people in the United States between 18 and 29 years old had a positive view of socialism, while 43% had a negative view. Thus, the more the propaganda and spreading of the ideas of Scientific Socialism, the more young people will be willing to close ranks in our struggle. Put another way, taking into account the severity and depth of the crisis of the whole capitalist system, the discussion and propaganda of Scientific Socialism are even more appropriate and necessary.

The role of the ICMLPO

In order for the AFAIYC to fulfill its role it is necessary to ensure the full functioning of its organization, in particular of the International Preparatory Committee (IPC) that unites the youth organizations that currently make up the ICMLPO. The IPC – maybe it would be better to call it the Coordinating Committee of the AFAIYC –should have a more dynamic life, seeking greater integration and unity of the revolutionary youth organizations. At the same time the IPC, besides organizing the AFAIYC, should strive to unify some struggles and demands of the youth, to analyze the main problems faced by young people in the various regions of the world.

The AFAIYC can contribute to the accumulation of revolutionary forces, to attract important sectors as allies and thus, without sectarianism or liberalism, to broaden youth participation in the Camps and strengthen the anti-imperialist struggle.

Today, each Camp is the responsibility of the youth of the host country, without any integration with all the youths of the parties and organizations of the ICMLPO in its development. This situation shows, besides the material difficulties, a high degree of spontaneity in the preparation and organization of the AFAIYC.

To overcome this state of dispersion, it is necessary to change the dynamics of work of the organizations responsible for the preparation of the Camps and a more harmonious and coordinated activity of the organizations that make up the CPI, so as to allow its members to give their opinion on the preparation, evaluate its successes and errors, as well as to develop the analysis of the situation of the youth in the world and to involve them in the anti-imperialist and anti-fascist struggles and campaigns. In addition, for an effective training of the revolutionary youth it is essential to strengthen the ties between the fighting youth organizations and to develop internationalism, solidarity and political and ideological unity.

On the other hand, the rotation among the host countries, continents and regions is essential for the organizations of the revolutionary youth to take up the challenges in building camps of this nature and knowing the reality and struggle that is developing in each country.

Thus, an intense work of the Youth in every party that is part of the ICMLPO and better organization of the Preparatory Committee, bringing together various anti-imperialist forces, will help to broaden the political influence and work of the ICMLPO in other countries and regions. Such efforts will push forward the development of proletarian internationalism that we should all cultivate as conscious practice.

One of the main tasks of the Preparatory Committee for the AFAIYC is to seek a closer coordination with the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO), to promote anti-imperialist and anti-fascist struggles of the youth and support the struggles of the workers and peoples. The greater the integration of the youth with the parties of the ICMLPO and their work in preparing the AFAIYC, the better it will be for the development of the work of the youth. In sum, the Coordinating Committee of the ICMLPO should act in close connection with the IPC trying to build more massive Camps and broader international solidarity. These are the questions that need to be discussed and deepened in each of the parties and organizations that make up the ICMLPO.

As we see, our tasks are great. We must put them into practice in accord with our convictions and consciousness.

October 2012

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