All the young dudes
A motion passed recently by my local SA reads: "Teesside Socialist Alliance notes the growing anti-capitalist sentiment amongst youth and calls upon the Socialist Alliance to organise this by way of creating a Socialist Alliance wing for youth and students." After something of a mini-ice age following the collapse of Stalinism and the seemingly invincible advance of the capitalist world order, a new generation, repelled by the priorities of international capitalism, finds itself rediscovering basic socialist and communist ideas through their internet search engines, through the pages of the Communist manifesto. How do we organise this sentiment and develop a new generation of self-activating cadre who do not end up as the Trot robot caricature of young activists? Young workers, not yet bogged down in the day-to-day struggles of raising a family, paying bills or dealing with the general grind of life, are often more open to new ideas and more ready to fight. However, they receive lower wages, while those not in work languish on dead-end schemes. Thousands drop out and end up living on the streets for a period at least. Increasingly, despite post-16 education becoming more and more a necessity, places are determined by a family's ability to pay. So how to organise amongst young people and why is it so important? Is it because workers' parties have always done so in the past? The youth wings of political parties are almost always to the left of their parent bodies, and they provide us with new energy and fresh ideas. The history of the Labour Party's various youth organisations is one of on-off civil war. The Labour League of Youth was wound up because of the influence of the Young Communist League. Later it was the Young Socialists who fell under the sway of the Socialist Labour League, forerunner of the Workers Revolutionary Party. After that the Labour Party Young Socialists - under the leadership of the Militant Tendency - was wound up as part of the drive for respectability by the forebears of New Labour. For many of these sects, however, youth organisations existed as safe ghettos. Guidance is a crucial aspect of revolutionary leadership. Smothering initiative and snuffing out awkward or uncomfortable actions are not. To harness the energies of youth and draw in the increasing numbers of young people involved in new political movements, uniting existing campaigns under the banner of the Socialist Alliance has to be a priority. Were our structures more engaging and adventurous, then we could recruit youth straight into local branches. Unfortunately, they are not alive with controversy and characterised by the enthusiastic search for strategies to change the world. Comrades who seriously support the fight for a renewed leftwing politics, an independent SA and for a working class party should therefore support moves to create a youth organisation in the SA and avoid the amateurism and sectism that is currently on offer from our fledgling and floundering Socialist Alliance movement.