Organise anti-war party youth wing

On Saturday's demonstrations against the war - in London and Glasgow - young people will in all likelihood again play a leading role. School students in particular have been the most active section in the anti-war party. "Lazy truants" was the dismissive reaction of large sections of the bourgeois media and many politicians, when thousands of school students walked out on March 20, the day the war started. Far from being "apolitical" and "apathetic" "“ a common insult to youth less than six months ago "“ they produced a wide range of colourful banners, argued with their parents about the necessity to demonstrate and persuaded other students to join them. Quite often they literally had to 'break out' of school, as teachers guarded the exit doors. Dozens of students have been suspended for their actions, many for several months. Aware of this problem, Stop the War Coalition has called for the next student action to be organised "after the end of the school day". On the evening of Thursday April 10, students are arranging 'Parties for Peace' all over the country. This is probably the correct thing to do tactically, although parties will undoubtedly be less effective than the recent school strikes. Those actions generated so much inspiration and publicity, because they were happening, well, during the school day. But school strikes by themselves cannot stop the war. And school students cannot substitute for the only section of society which can bring about the decisive change necessary to put an end to not only this squalid war, but the capitalist system which by its very nature engenders wars. When the working class finally moves in all its mass and might, then regime change goes from an abstract slogan and becomes a graspable reality. School students, however, can act as a barometer of the social climate, as they did most famously in 1968 or "“ less well known "“ in 1911 and in 1889, which saw the first nationwide school strikes. Thousands of school students walked out of their schools to demand "more time to play, less time at school". They rebelled against the cruel regime that often characterised schools at that time and they marched against corporal punishment. But most importantly, they often reflected the militancy of their working class parents. It is not surprising that the school strike of 1911 first started in Llanelli in South Wales. Rail workers and dockers there were fighting militantly for better working conditions. In August 1911, 600 soldiers were sent into Llanelli to 'keep the peace'. In the ensuing riot they killed many strikers. School students and young people experienced "“ often painfully close to home "“ the unbridled brutality of the so-called democratic system. Today's school students will also have learned some valuable lessons about our society. The dismissive and often brutal responses from police, school authorities and mass media will have hardened the political ideas of many young people. More than a few will have joined revolutionary organisations. Many more will have been influenced by leftwing papers and publications. It is important to generalise those lessons. Schools students can and must contribute to their own liberation. For that to happen they must build their own trade union-type organisations. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Schools Action Union and the National Union of School Students enjoyed a spectacular, if brief, existence. We would also argue as a matter of urgency that young people establish their own national organisation in the anti-war party. What is needed is not some front for one of the sects, but an organisationally independent anti-war youth network - with its own unrestricted democratic debates, elected and recallable officers, paper and finances. Tina Becker