Towards a student-worker alliance!
The Connolly Youth Movement has been in a form of resurgence for four years, every Congress and every national gathering has created new discussions and new demands. To consolidate our position as the leading youth organ of Marxism we must therefore not only have the correct analysis, but also the correct synthesis which leads us to act on this analysis. For what is revolutionary theory without revolutionary praxis? It is empty talk.
As the program from 1970 stipulates, there is need for a Marxist youth movement that can mobilize young workers and students alike. Conditions for young people have been made so insufferable that over 1/6th of all those born in the 1990s have left. The rest, who cannot leave or will not leave continue to struggle through rapidly increasing poverty and a deteriorating standard of living. All of this comes from the mantra that free market capitalism and neo-liberalism contains the solution to the resolution of our economic problems.
On this basis, austerity has been rained down on the working class of Ireland. Turbulent events in Ireland have led to community groups actively rising up, organizing and fighting back against austerity, notable in the form of the water tax. The crippling austerity inflicted on the working class has led to an immediate and often spontaneous growth in activism and popular action. The Communist movement as an entity has not played as much of a role as it should be playing in injecting Socialism into the everyday rhetoric of the working class and most importantly Marxist thought and theory. The CYM will strive to adopt a three-fold strategy in resolving this issue.
- We will address the depoliticization of young people by advancing radical and militant politics with a Marxist grounding. The normalized conventions espoused by liberalism which demand an acceptance of respecting the right or co-existing will be abandoned and the right as well as their social fascist allies the liberals will be treated for what they are: enemies of the working class. We feel that politically conscious members should not show kindness to those who enable the systematic murder of working class people.
- We will construct our political power as a vehicle towards the liberation of the working class. Therefore we will have no bindings to parliamentary procedure(s) and struggle on the street with the unique and social objective of a) fighting capital and capitalism and b) developing alternative methods of organizing societal structures in relevant fights against capital. For instance for poor employers we will advocate and train workers on the formation of self-managed work co-operatives. We will encourage our generation to participate as much as possible in participation and joining of their relevant industry trade unions. In the fight against landlordism and absentee landlordism we will strive to the organization of tenant associations and the occupation of vacant buildings.
- We will fight the permeation of capital in the cultural sphere. The normal and healthy interactions which should exist between young workers have been replaced by profit-motivated relationships that alienate people from the truth of interaction and creative expression. The CYM aims to create countercultural spaces that are mediated on a different economic base – one of shared enjoyment of collective resources rather than divisive and individualised exchange. This will be achieved through the provision of alternative forms of information and recreation to those that presently predominate and are solely provided by profit-driven enterprises. The objective of this strategy is not to simply compete, but to overtake and eliminate capitalist culture.
The CYM will therefore exist as a political organ and expression of the young student-worker demographic in Ireland that has for so long faced these brutal policies and thus far launched little fight-back. In the course of the development of this struggle we will commit to co-operation with progressive forces, be it for the reproductive rights for women or the decriminalization and legalisation of different drugs for successful rehabilitation.
It is especially important that we lay the basis of a powerful cross-border all Ireland anti-imperialist Marxist youth movement. Not only are we drawing inspiration from the cataclysmic social events of the 1916 Rising and 1917 October Revolution, but we are also elaborating on the theoretical and practical successes they faced and catapulting them into the contemporary era. Our collective examination of past successes and failures leads only to one thing, an analysis of contemporary material conditions which we have to offer contemporary solutions to.
The austerity which we face, has led to many young people turning to fascistic ideas throughout the Western world. History demands that a youth movement espousing a firm Marxist analysis on our crisis emerges, in fact, the many pressures of capitalism have thrown doubt and in doubt, we sow the seeds of revolutionary thought and spirit.
What has differed, what has changed and how shall we deal with these changes in contemporary society?
Since the drafting of the first CYM program we have seen a weakening of the Socialist world, most notably with the dissolution and dismantling of Socialism in the Warsaw Pact and USSR in the East. Those under illusions or with legitimate criticisms drifted away from the Communist movement and those firmly committed to the struggle for Socialism did not flinch nor sneer and the red flag was kept flying here. In the immortal words of then General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland: “The red flag may not fly in Moscow any longer, but it will continue to fly over Connolly Books”.
In these conditions the projection that the Western world has of Socialism is firmly ingrained in the mentality, culture and physiology of a huge proportion of the Western population. It is one of the many successes of the hegemonic nature of capitalism. While we live in complete subjugation to capital we are taught to understand and view the ideas behind Socialism as oppressive and against our own interest. It is the greatest lie of the 21st century! Unfortunately many who identify as ‘leftists’ also peddle this capitalist fantasy.
The basis of a Marxist movement must involve discipline, organization and structure. While providing these pillars however, democracy must also flourish. Democratic centralism focuses on the unity of collective discipline and the discipline of the individual. Can the branch and movement adhere and enforce decisions and can the individuals which compose the branch and national movement abide by decisions they disagree with? If democracy demands, they must.
But democratic centralism is not just a political manifestation of policy, it is also a cultural attack on one of the main aspects of capitalist hegemony: the cult of the individual. In developing a culture of collective action, unity of thought and unity of action we inadvertently challenge the individuation and atomisation of society. The challenge lies in the provision of an environment where political decision making is bound to the collective but in a way which also includes the input and position of the individual. To uphold actions that you may not necessarily agree with, but had the freedom to critique and provide input into. This forms the basis of a functioning revolutionary movement. One that suspends the infantile outbursts of the individual for the benefit of the collective.
Democratic centralism by its nature preserves the democratic functions and liberties of its political membership while harnessing their political conclusions and transforming them into political action. This form of organization is integral to our movement and a healthy Communist movement that can deliver long-lasting and permanent change. We are not a debating society designed to accommodate the views of everybody, we are Communists. Our function is to serve as the spearhead of the working class and its struggle against capital and capitalists.
DEMANDS VERSUS ACTIONS
Many political youth movements as well as general political parties first conceive a radical political program. Lambasting their demands all over media/social media and informing the world: THIS IS WHAT WE WANT. But as Marxists firmly rooted in the tradition of materialism and dialectics we must ask ourselves: Is there a purpose to having a radical program of demands we cannot fulfil or act upon? We set an agenda in the hopes of drawing people to it but if we cannot fulfil it what purpose does it serve? It is not enough to demand.
The CYM will not encapsulate demands but instead apply itself to the material conditions surrounding it. What can we do right now to empower the working class and if so, what tactics should we adopt in doing so? What are the practical realities of our position as youth activists and how can we consolidate our position? This is how we must structure our approach to resolving difficult political questions. We will lay no claim to being able to provide all of the answers but instead attempt to ignite a passion for organic intellectual development among other young people.
REFORM VERSUS REVOLUTION
To take action, we must also understand and comprehend where our political struggle lies. Where does a political struggle lie for young communists and how must we engage with it? How do we integrate ourselves into this struggle and lend it Socialist leanings and ultimately what do we hope to achieve?
The underlying nature of the work of young Communists should be against capital and capitalism. But capitalism as we know, is a voracious hydra. You cut one head off and two more sprout in its place. So how do we make strategic gains for the working class? How do we build a class consciousness among young people, students or workers? Where do we aim and target our political argument not only to inflict the greatest damage upon capitalism but also to best advance the cause of workers?
Firstly, the CYM must be consistently vigilant when addressing these issues. Class conflict is perpetual, it does not stop when one gain is made, it merely continues to take on a different form. It’s important that young communists are aware of this so as not to over-estimate the achievements they make but also incorporate their political struggles into an effective long-term strategy.
Secondly and most importantly. The struggle of a Communist is ultimately for the emancipation of the working class. In order to struggle ‘for’ the working class, not only must one understand the issues the working class is presented with on a daily basis but also be integrated in the activities of the working class on a day to day basis. One of the most obvious ways of doing this is to be a member of a trade union, an active participating member. Another way is to be politically active in your workplace, wherever it may be and agitate for the organization of your workforce. A Communist is only as strong as the workers they stand with.
Thirdly, we, as young communists must penetrate the ivory towers that are third level institutions. These social centres which produce academics and workers are overwhelmingly subject to bourgeois and capitalist rhetoric and propaganda. The political societies which exist there function as little than talk-shops that neither create nor develop any political action. The other societies merely discuss among themselves which way better to destroy the trade unions and the last semblances of working class power. It is of unequivocal importance that a young communist movement can establish a firm challenge to not just the historiography of capitalism but also ideology. We must present the counter-argument and the alternative and ensure that the contradictions of capitalism and liberalism are exposed. We must, like the unsheathed sword of the revolution attack the lackeys of capitalism relentlessly. We must break the norms of social convention on campuses and alienate the youth movements of social fascists. Why they must operate freely and with respect while their respective parties orchestrate systematic murder of the working class?
Fourthly. On the point of separating demands and actions we must be innovative. We are not a large political movement and therefore must adjust our political objectives and work to our political reality. What can we do and how can we do it? Let us examine the role of bad employers and what we can do in this respect? With a strong theoretical basis we will be able to make short strategic interventions in favour of young people where necessary, but given the conditions which the movement is in and the conditions of Ireland, these interventions will have to be highly specific and targeted at the weakest link in capitalism.
Fifthly, the CYM must resolutely continue be committed to working towards the overthrow, not modification or change of capitalism. We must never yield to compromise on this matter and maintain our objective in sight. Our capitulation will be our undoing.
RESOLUTIONS OF THE CONNOLLY YOUTH MOVEMENT
We will not commit ourselves to a thousand resolutions and objectives which we cannot achieve. We will not deceive those who stand with us and work with us that we have an immediate solution to the crisis of capitalism. What we will do is lay out our political objectives for the immediate future.
Ireland today is a junior partner in the imperialist world-system. It is beholden to western monopoly-capital in a threefold manner. First, through its relation to Britain, both north and south of the border. Second, through its membership in the EU and Third, through its role in supporting US capital, finance and otherwise.
While Ireland may be peripheral to the core imperialist nations, it too reaps the rewards from the relation of exploitation towards the global south. Two pillars of the Irish economy, its agricultural industry and its financial-capital centre are built upon this relationship. The former through European agricultural subsidies that immediate non-European peasantries and the latter through a corrupt tax-regime that allows the proceeds of imperialism to be laundered through our nation.
Our subordinate nature to the forces of imperialism was most starkly revealed in the wake of the financial crisis as the European Union transferred private banking debt onto the shoulders of the Irish people with the connivance of our own subservient ruling class.
Ireland as a state is an exploiter but also an exploited nation. It is, like many other post-colonial countries still under the immediate yoke of its former colonial master: the British State. Six counties of Ireland are under immediate British military occupation and serve as a pretext to manufacture disunity among the working class. Ireland’s status as a low-tax country for corporations and pro-employer legislation also makes it the perfect hub for massive multinational companies. Not only are they able to successfully evade the payment of any sort of taxation but they can also utilize the labour force of Europe/Ireland interchangeably. The State, through its political representatives in Labour, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Green Party have ensured that trade union power and workers interests have been undermined regularly enough so that workers can no longer pose a credible challenge to poor working conditions.
Finally, Ireland is also subjugated to the power of finance capital of the European banking system. The transfer of ownership of the European banking debt from private to public hands was a masterful ploy in shackling the working class in Ireland to permanent austerity and assisting the ruling class to avoid repayment of any kind.
RESOLUTION ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Through imperialism, the forces of capital and the capitalists seek to further enrich themselves off the backs off the working class. Another capitalist crisis has permeated European countries and laid the banking debt on the shoulders of the working class in Ireland. The sweatshops, factories etc. in low wage economies produce the goods that companies then resell at enormous super profits in the Western world. Venezuela and other countries continue to face the brunt of pressure for regime change.
In the long running tradition spirit of anti-imperialism the CYM will continue to work towards the following:
- The development of a working class conscious among young people, north and south of the border with the eventual outcome of mobilizing them against capitalism on the basis of their class.
- Continued support for anti-imperialist struggles around the world. From the Republic of Cuba to Venezuela, East Ukraine, Syria, Kurdistan, Yemen and a myriad of other countries under the hegemonic pressure of overwhelming imperialism. The role of NATO, the EU and the Western Axis is to ensure the ruling classes of the various states comprising continue to enrich themselves. There are no humanitarian or altruistic undertones to Western intervention and we must act as agitators and educators in Ireland on this matter.
- The continued usage of Shannon Airport by the US Military and intelligence services for purposes unknown must come to an end. The CYM will take measures to work on supporting the existing bodies (Shannon Watch) but also launch its own initiatives to stop the transit of warplanes and warships through Irish territories.
- A struggle for the re-unification and independence of Ireland must come on firm anti-imperialist lines rather than the replacing of one flag for another. This comes with agitating for a Marxist political position on imperialism and the road to re-unification.
RESOLUTION ON HOUSING
The Connolly Youth Movement affirms that capitalism and the right to shelter are incompatible and the sole objective must not be the simple reform of how we perceive housing, but the complete overthrow of capitalism and the parasitic landlord class.
- The CYM has observed how for the last seven years, landlords with assistance from the establishment parties have continued to pillage the working population. We note that the housing crisis is by design, the number of empty homes exceeds the number of homeless people. The State, an arm of the capitalist class is not willing and not interested in tackling the housing crisis.
- The solution to the housing crisis is the formation of public housing authorities as well as the construction of public housing. Neither of these things will happen while society is subjugated to the interests of private capital and private landlords.
- The CYM will support initiatives to occupy, take over and hold derelict and abandoned buildings in the name of practical causes. This will include fully supporting initiatives such as Apollo House//Home Sweet Home as well as housing young people with nowhere to go.
- Housing is a human right and the CYM must reinforce this across the broad spectrum of its presence in University campuses as well as outside them. Young people, studying or working have felt the brunt of insincere housing policy. An immediate rent cap is required to curtail the increases in rent, not just in pressure zones but all across the board.
- The only way to resolve the housing crisis and end property speculation is to consider access to shelter a human right. This can never happen in a commodity driven society and the CYM will struggle to highlight this. The CYM has joined a campaign for public housing to highlight the necessity of constructing universally accessible income based public housing. We believe that the right to housing should be incorporated into the constitution by referendum.
RESOLUTION ON CIVIL RIGHTS
The Connolly Youth Movement recognizes that the very nature of societal oppressions is interwoven into the oppression capitalism inflicts on the working class. In order to liberate those who are oppressed we must seek to mobilize them into a final, revolutionary triumph over the forces of capitalism.
- The oppression of women in Ireland continues unabated. The structures of capitalism only reinforce inequality. All workers are exploited under capitalism, whilst women also suffer the reproduction of working class oppression in the home. Despite significant gains made, the restriction to bodily autonomy, failure to provide free childcare and much more remain huge obstacles to the emancipation of women. The CYM supports removing all financial and social barriers to a pregnant person’s access to abortion.
- The LGBTQ+ communities continue to be looked down upon as the traditional concepts behind relationships and normality are reinforced by the clergy and the establishment parties. The CYM also recognise the unique challenges faced by the trans and non-binary community. We support all comrades in expressing their respective gender identities. To this end, we support a more accessible transitioning process. In order to achieve respect and equality for the LGTBQ+ community we strive to make the CYM an inclusive organisation and to actively campaign on issues that relate to the LGBTQ+ community.
- The CYM will strive to not only be inclusive, but to be politically conscious and aware of the oppressions faced by several demographics in society and to adapt political action and work to be relevant.
- The CYM recognizes that without the participation of all oppressed groups there can be no legitimate struggle for Socialism. We aim to unite them into the class struggle, integrating their experiences into the movement for Socialism.
- The CYM supports those affected by sexual violence and strives for a society without it. Until then, we will support victims of sexual violence in their recovery and, should they wish, their reporting. We understand that recovery can be a long process and the current reporting system is intimidating. We will amplify the voices of victims and support their search for justice.
- The practice of Direct Provision carried out by the Irish government is grossly indecent. Too many people have been forced into what are meant to be temporary living spaces for more than five years in these squalid conditions. As Marxists, we are opposed to the idea of helpless and desperate people being carted around like cattle for the interests of subcontractors and direct provision centre owners. Direct Provision needs to be abolished, applications for residency processed and working rights given.
- The CYM recognises the right to freedom of religion and worship for all the people of Ireland. We believe however that the State within capitalist society uses and is aided by organised religion to ensure that workers remain disunited and antagonistic towards one another. Therefore we feel strongly that in our pursuit of a secular workers republic we must take a stand for secularism. We desire an end to all state funding to religious institutions and organisations as a starting point. We believe that the private sector and voluntary organisations should not be in a position of formative power over young people’s lives and that formal education should solely be the domain of the people of Ireland through public bodies. We do not believe Papal visits should receive millions instead of catering to the impoverished people of Ireland.
RESOLUTION ON THE WORKPLACE AND TRADE UNIONS
The Connolly Youth Movement affirms that the Unions by and large have failed to mobilize people in Ireland. It is the role of any Marxist movement and most primarily a youth one to help bring young working people and young people who set out to work back into the ranks of organized Labour. Trade Unions are the primary vehicle of working class power and where a significant part of our engagement ought to be.
- The CYM is making a conscious effort to highlight the importance of trade unions to young people, studying or working and ultimately helping them organize and unionize. The CYM must organize a consistent fight back in unionising young people, but also assert the basis of why we are unionising them. The CYM is a Marxist organization, our task is to inject Socialist analysis and objectives into the wider working class movement.
- The CYM will take on the responsibility of challenging exploitative employers through direct action. Labour legislation in Ireland is prohibitive to strikes and picketing. The CYM will mobilize as a youth movement, not as a trade union, to highlight the gross inequality in the workplace through propaganda or through direct protests aimed at bad employment habits. Simultaneously we will develop the theoretical basis for alternative economic management i.e. worker co-operatives.
- We will support trade unions across a broad spectrum. The working class and the trade union movement are not homogenous entities that encompass one another. The CYM will operate in the material conditions we exist in and through direct action, attempt to elevate the class consciousness of the young people of Ireland. . In doing so, we must utilize all resources available to us in the pursuit of revolutionizing and developing class consciousness.
- We support the right of sex workers as all other workers to organise themselves in a manner and in a union of their choice. We support sex workers to be in the leading role in the legal and political decisions settled around their work. We note however the reasons people engage in sex work and sell their sex and aim to end the socio-economic conditions which often drive the growth of sex work.
RESOLUTION ON THE ENVIRONMENT
The CYM recognizes that an environmentally sustainable society and capitalism are inherently incompatible. The expansion of capital demands the exploitation of limited natural resources. The consequences of this exploitation is visible in the form of climate change and frequent natural disasters. It is often the low wage economies of in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa however who bear the brunt of the devastation capitalism is causing to the environment.
- The CYM recognizes that Socialism is an absolute necessity for beginning to slow down the course of climate change caused by constant and unabated exploitation and over-production. All analysis and action therefore revolving around the environment must be interwoven into a struggle of necessity for Socialism.
- The CYM recognises the importance of communal action against the capitalist destruction of the environment, and strives to end it through direct action.
- The CYM underlines that the mainstream political parties who present faux interest or care for the environment are in fact simply posturing to obtain votes. These parties put forward moderate resolutions within the framework of capitalism while facilitating capitalism and the power of capital. They are not and cannot be allies in the struggle for a structural change in society until they issue a complete break with capitalism.
RESOLUTION ON MENTAL HEALTH
As a youth organization the Connolly Youth recognizes the abandonment of young people by the State. It is the responsibility of the collective society and state to look after its population. What we have seen under Leinster, Stormont and Westminster administrations is that they are willing to permit young people to struggle and die.
- Our communities all over Ireland have felt the economic crisis and the misery it has caused. The response of the State, North and South of the border, has been to cut mental health services. It is clear that a capitalist state and society does not care for the working class. Ireland has the fourth highest suicide rate among teens in the EU. In 2009, Ireland faced the most amount of suicides in one year ever, 552, at the beginning of the crisis.
- The CYM believes that the resolution to mental health issues is first and foremost about facilitating immediate help, support and aid to those who need it. We cannot leave our people in the darkness and must stand by them in their time of need. Comprehensive State funded assistance must not be cut any further and we will form resistance to this ruthless austerity.
- The CYM believes that comprehensive State-run health plans are the way to resolve part of the crisis. We see the increase in suicide and mental health issues as connected to the conditions people are facing in their material reality. Therefore we fundamentally believe improving people’s socio-economic conditions is key to addressing the mental health and subsequently the suicide crisis. Economic support structures in housing, employment and childcare need to be integrated with social support structures in community activities and mutual aid. Long-term community treatment practices need to be emphasized in addition to emergency services to ensure that individuals do not become isolated and that emergency treatment is used for its intended purpose. Doctors and therapists should receive free state-subsidised educations on the understanding that they will practice locally as community doctors after graduation. These permanent local services should be built up to relieve an acute and emergency response service which is stretched too thin and free up beds to help those who do need institutionalisation. The role of the state has to be at the forefront of mental health service delivery, replacing private voluntary organisations with publicly funded mixed professional/community groups.
The Connolly Youth Movement has begun to develop all over our Island. From East to West and North to South, interest in Socialist, Republican and Communist ideas has swelled. The oppressive nature of the capitalist state in Ireland and the tired old approaches to the resolution of issues has left the young people of Ireland disillusioned, disinterested and apathetic. It is the time to change that and mobilize our young people to struggle for a better, freer and more democratic Ireland. It is the time to revive the ideas of the 1916 Rising and the 1917 October Revolution. It is the time to put the people of Ireland before the interests of the ruling class which continues to rob and despoil us of everything we are worth. It is time to reclaim our dignity and noble history and rise up for ourselves and future generations to come.
It is our time.
CONNOLLY YOUTH MOVEMENT