Youth Against Facism
Delivered: September 25, 1935
HTML Markup: Brian Basgen
Speech at the Opening of the Sixth Congress of the Young Communist International
COMRADES, I am bringing you
warm greetings from the Executive Committee of the Communist International.
No dangers that beset your long and arduous road, no fascist or
police cordons were able to prevent you from gathering in the Red proletarian
capital for the purpose of discussing, in a friendly and amicable way,
like the international family that you are, the tasks of uniting the forces
of the young generation of toilers.
You are a congress of the revolutionary youth, a congress of strength
and courage. How many of the best and most exemplary fighters in the cause
of the working youth have assembled at your congress!
It is with pride and affection that I welcome, through you, in
the name of the older revolutionary generation, the glorious young guard
of the working people of the whole world.
Comrades, a month ago the Seventh World Congress of the Communist
International completed its work in this hall where you are assembled today.
The Congress, led by the brilliant teaching of Marx, Engels, and Lenin,
thoroughly discussed all the main problems of the international labor movement
and mapped out the road that must be taken to overcome the split in this
movement, and to weld together the forces of the toilers in the struggle
against exploiters and oppressors, against fascism and war. The Congress
of the Communist International paid particular attention to the youth movement
as one of the principal problems of the international revolutionary movement,
understanding full well that the victory of the class struggle of the working
people depends upon the correct and successful development of the youth
movement, upon its assuming a sweeping mass character.
Fascism has wreaked bestial vengeance upon the best fighters of
the revolutionary youth. At the same time it is making every effort to
adapt its putrid demagogy to the moods of the wide mass of the youth, and
to take advantage of the growing militant activity of the youth for its
own reactionary ends, in order to convert it into a prop of dying capitalism.
Depriving the young generation of working people of all rights,
the fascist governments militarize the entire youth, and try to train from
their ranks obedient slaves of finance capital in civil as well as imperialist
What can we place in opposition to fascism and the threat of imperialist
war, which has become particularly acute in view of the preparations being
made by Italian fascism to attack Ethiopia and the growing aggression of
We can and must place in opposition to it the union of all anti-fascist
forces and, first and foremost, the union of all the forces of the young
generation of working people, at the same time enhancing a thousandfold
the role and activity of the youth in the struggle of the working class
for its own interests, for its own cause.
Let the entire activity of the Congress of the Young Communist
International be devoted to the attainment of this immediate and principal
On the basis of the experience you already have gained, and the
decisions of the Seventh Congress of the Communist International, we expect
you to be able to find the proper ways and means of accomplishing the most
important task of your movement, the task of uniting the forces of the
entire non-fascist youth, and, first and foremost, of the working class
youth, the task of achieving unity with the socialist youth.
This, however, cannot be achieved if the Young Communist Leagues
keep on trying, as they have done hitherto, to construct their organizations
as if they were Communist Parties of the youth; nor will this be
possible if they are content, as heretofore, to lead the secluded life
of sectarians isolated from the masses.
The whole anti-fascist youth is interested in uniting and organizing
its forces. Therefore you, comrades, must find such ways, forms and methods
of work as will assure the formation, in the capitalist countries, of a
new type of mass youth organizations, to which no vital interest
of the working youth will be alien, organizations which, without copying
the Party, will fight for all the interests of the youth and will
bring up the youth in the spirit of the class struggle and proletarian
internationalism, in the spirit of Marxism-Leninism.
This requires that the Congress should very seriously check
up and reappraise the work of the Young Communist Leagues, for
the purpose of actually achieving their reorganization and the fearless
removal of everything that obstructs the development of mass work and establishment
of the united front and unity of the youth.
We expect the Young Communist International to build up its activity
in such a manner as to weld and unite all trade union, cultural, educational
and sports organizations of the working youth, all revolutionary, national-revolutionary,
national-liberation and anti-fascist youth organizations, for the struggle
against fascism and war, for the rights of the young generation.
We note with great pleasure that our young comrades in France
and the United States have actively joined the mass movement for a united
front of the youth which is so successfully developing, and have already
achieved in this sphere successes which hold out great promises. All sections
of the Young Communist International should profit by this experience of
the French and American comrades.
In many countries the Communist and Socialist youth are coming
closer and closer together. A striking example of this is the presence,
at this Congress of the Young Communist International, of representatives
of not only the Communist but also the Socialist youth of Spain.
Therefore, comrades, follow boldly the course of uniting with
the Socialist youth and of forming joint and united organizations with
it. Follow boldly the course of uniting all forces of the anti-fascist
The Executive Committee of the Communist International will encourage
and support in every way your initiative and activity in the fight for
unity and for all the vital interests of the working youth.
The millions of young men and women for whom capitalist society
has created impossible conditions of existence, who are either outside
any organization at all or are in organizations led by the class enemy,
are your brothers and sisters, whom you can and must win over to
the side of socialism by your persistent work.
Don't wait until unity between the Communist and Social-Democratic
Parties and other organizations of the working class has been reached.
Be bold, independent and full of initiative!
You are the Congress of the most active, the most self-sacrificing
section of the young generation of today. You cannot stand aside from the
movement in favor of unity which is growing and strengthening in the ranks
of the working class. You do not have to wait like the Socialist Youth
International for permission "from above" before you can support the united
front movement and the union of the toiling youth in one organization.
In the name of the Executive Committee of the Communist International
I declare that the youth united in the ranks of the Young Communist International
enjoys and will continue to enjoy every opportunity of independently
developing its revolutionary movement and solving the problems of this
Communists in youth organizations must be able to work in such
a way as to influence the decisions of these organizations by convincing
their members, and not by issuing orders in the name of the Party.
I call to mind the words of the great Lenin which form the basis
for the relations between the Communist International and the youth and
Frequently the middle-aged and the aged do not know how to approach
the youth in the proper way, for, necessarily, the youth must come to socialism
in a different way, by other paths, in other forms, in other circumstances
than their fathers. Incidentally, this is why we must be decidedly in favor
of the organizational independence of the Youth League, not only
because the opportunists fear this independence, but because of the very
nature of the case; for unless they have complete independence, the youth
will be unable either to train good Socialists from their midst
or prepare themselves to lead socialism forward.
[V. I. Lenin, Collected Works Volume 23, page 164]
Comrades, you must study, study, while you fight.
Combine your day-to-day practical activities with a profound study
of the original sources of Marxism-Leninism, for without revolutionary
theory there can be no revolutionary practice.
Be exemplary, staunch and valiant fighters against fascism,
Hold aloft the banner of the liberation of humanity from capitalist
slavery, the banner of the Communist International.
Rally the young generation of working people of the whole world
around this banner. This banner of the greatest victories already waves
over one-sixth of the globe and it will triumph all over the world!
[Cheers! Audience breaks into songs.]