Rebel Youth magazine recently sat down with Johan Boyden, General Secretary of the YCL-LJC, to talk about the YCL's convention.
So when and where is the convention taking place?
It is at the University of Toronto in three months from now, May 23-25th, and is expected to bring together delegates from across the country and especially Quebec and Ontario. Non-members are welcome to come and check it out, and you can read the documents on our website and the Rebel Youth blog.
More: Read the documents here
Your documents say the convention comes together at an important time for youth. Isn't this just another tired phrase of the left?
Not at all! What we are saying in the documents is that there is a lot at stake for young people and need for a more active, visible and coordinated fight back of youth. With the economic crisis and the growing threat of war, we won't stay in the same place. Either our future is ripped from the current generation by the capitalists and we are thrust further -- much further than our parents -- into poverty, debt, insecurity, an increasingly dangerous world of imperialist war, and ecological catastrophe. Or we push back.
"Enough is enough"?
Yes -- it is not the time to be apathetic or uninvolved. If the youth expand and deepen the positive signs of mobilization we've seen recently, we can build a powerful movement that halts the corporate attack and actually pushes our class opponent onto the defensive. And what we are saying is that is possible with an approach which is both militant and united at the same time, and links the youth with the struggles of working people across Canada.
And that brings you in conflict with the current direction of labour and mass movements?
We are critical of the failure of the top brass of labour, influenced by the right-wing leadership of the New Democratic Party, not to launch a united fight back and we explain how the idea that the struggle should just "wait to 2015 and vote for Muclair's NDP" is mistaken. We need a coordinated fight back right now. But this is not in conflict with the peoples struggle, it is in the same direction. There are lots of left-minded young folks who might, currently, not be completely convinced of revolutionary politics but they sure want to fight and get active.
Your document, after the general international section, spends a lot of time talking about immediate strategy.
Yes. But we're not saying that socialism is some distant question that we can deal with eventually. For the youth struggle, only socialism can fulfill and guarantee their demands. Take the demand of the raise the minimum wage movement; higher minimum wages are necessary right now. The capitalists will always find some way to erase those gains, and as an anti-poverty measure higher minimum wages need to be coupled with many other demands -- like full employment, access to education, etc. Does that mean we throw-up our hands and walk away? Of course not. Fighting for a higher minimum wage is not in contradiction with fighting for socialism.
This is the old reform/revolution debate?
Well, for each generation of youth and student activists it is a very fresh debate. The mistake is to see it as either one or the other, either we fight for reform -- or revolution. Actually, it is both opposites together. We need to fight for reforms as part of a revolutionary process, ie. a class struggle where reforms strengthen the side of the people's forces, and recognizes the necessity to ultimately defeat capitalism and build socialism. And the experience of socialism shows that further progressive and much deeper reforms can take place after a socialist revolution driven by the people themselves. Cuban healthcare and education is a well-known example.
So what do you see as the best outcome of your convention?
A successful convention will orient the YCL forward in these difficult times for the youth. A stronger YCL-LJC will positively impact the youth movement and make that movement much stronger too. The recent developments like the new social movements call out for more protest. They call out for even bigger actions and ever stronger solidarity. They call out for courage and confidence in the youth, not concessions and cynicism. They call out for people’s power and open the question of an alternative to capitalism. And they call out for a stronger, bigger and more effective YCL-LJC united with the Communist Party of Canada, because we are decisive ingredients in the struggle of working people in our country and around the world.
Johan will be in Kelowna, British Columbia, at the end of March to talk about the struggle of the youth and student movement today.