July 29, 2019

Why remain a communist?

By Peter Miller 

We often are asked what made us become communists, but I think the more interesting question we should ask is why we remain communists? Becoming a communist is not as hard as remaining one, and the latter question is more critical to our struggle against imperialism and for socialism.

I joined the Young Communist League of Canada as a left social democrat involved in campaigns for free education. I realized that the Young Communist League on my campus was the most organized, and I wanted to become a member to have more support in my work in the student movement. As often expressed by fellow activists, the communists work the hardest in the union movement, and this is true in the student movement as well.

Soon in my work, I realized that the YCL has a sharp analysis that connects issues we face under capitalism. The league aims to unite us as we fight against capitalist neoliberalism, oppression, and war. The YCL’s non-sectarian attitude on working within leftist movements, including students’ and workers’ unions, also helped me join the league.

I did not remain a left social democrat but underwent the process of becoming a communist after I worked together with comrades in the League. We had schools with comrades across Canada as well as educationals within my club that helped me make this shift. I also learned the discipline it takes to be a communist as my club worked together to be visible on our campus and in mass movements.

As I became a communist, I learned that as the YCL supports the work in mass movements this work improves our organization through gaining experience in our work, respect for our organization, and recruitment of new members. Why would I ask how mass movements can help build the YCL through recruitment? I ask because I believe other activists would benefit from a transition from activist to communist just like I did. In the YCL, I work in a collective that doesn’t begin and end with the timing of campaigns but consistently meets and works to both build the league and improve the unity and militancy behind mass movements. If I remained simply a member of the student movement fighting for free education, I fear the irregularity of mobilization and various crises in the student movement would have resulted in me stopping my political work in frustration.

Not that being a communist today lacks any headaches - quite the contrary. But none of us are only communists for what the YCL is (though this is a big part of it for reasons mentioned above), but we also become members because of what the YCL can become. One only needs to look at the leading role young communists play in Portugal or India to have an idea. Keeping this in mind, as we improve the influence and respect of the YCL in Canada, we need to be patient and come to our problems from a constructive instead of a defeatist or overly-critical approach. As we continue our dedicated fight for socialism and remain consistent and principled in building unity and militancy in the fights we are involved with, other potential members like myself will join us in our work and build the young communist movement in Canada.

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