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Fourth International 1990: The end of the Soviet Union

Resolution Five: Youth and the Struggle for Socialism

This resolution was adopted at the World Conference of Workers against Imperialist War and Colonialism, held in Berlin on November 16-17, 1991 under the auspices of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

The Young Socialists calls on all young workers, oppressed youth and students to fight to unite the international working class under the banner of the Fourth International as the World Party of Socialist Revolution.

Under the capitalist profit system, the only right afforded to the young generation of the proletariat is the opportunity to die on the battlefield of a new imperialist war.

During the Persian Gulf war, working class youth, many of whom only joined the armed forces because they could not find a job or afford an education, were sent to kill their class brothers in Iraq in order to boost the profits of the oil companies and Wall Street bankers. Virtually the entire population of young Iraqi males was murdered in the massive bombing raids or buried alive in the trenches. Tens of thousands of children continue to die from starvation and disease due to the imperialist blockade.

The twentieth century has demonstrated through two bloody world wars that in the struggle to control markets and profits, the ruling classes of each country will use working class youth as cannon fodder to defend the interests of the bankers and corporate bosses.

As the war in the gulf demonstrated, imperialist wars cannot be stopped through pacifist appeals to the capitalist warmongers. Only the international working class can put an end to war through the overthrow of capitalism and the nation-state system. This is the program of the Fourth International, the only way forward for working class youth.

The growth of vast multinational companies, scouring the globe for the cheapest sources of labor, has created common conditions of war, poverty and oppression for youth on every continent.

In the United States, young workers are being evicted from their homes and thrown into the streets due to budget cuts, unemployment and low wages, while those lucky enough to still have work are subjected to the most brutal conditions of exploitation. Poverty levels in American cities, not seen since the Great Depression, have produced a social catastrophe with homelessness, disease, drug addiction, teenage suicide and illiteracy becoming rampant.

In Western Europe, Canada and Australia, millions of young workers are without jobs as basic industry, education and apprenticeship programs are wiped out by the capitalists and social democratic governments.

In Eastern Europe, the USSR and China, the policies of capitalist restoration pursued by the Stalinist bureaucracies have condemned working class youth to formerly unheard of conditions of poverty and homelessness.

In the oppressed and former colonial countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, working class and oppressed youth have suffered from the imperialist-dictated austerity policies of the native bourgeoisie. Each day 40,000 children die because they cannot get a clean glass of water, while starvation and diseases like cholera and AIDS claim their daily toll. Seeking to attract foreign investment, the bourgeois national regimes in these countries have set up free trade zones to brutally exploit young workers. Death squads are used in an attempt to crush the resistance of working class and peasant youth.

The changes in the world economy have created the best conditions to unite the struggles of working class youth in every country. To prevent a common struggle by the working class against these conditions, the ruling classes in every country are seeking to divert youth by whipping up national chauvinism, racism and religious bigotry to divide the working class.

In this pursuit, the ruling class has been aided by the Stalinist, social democratic, bourgeois nationalist and trade union organizations. Functioning as servants of their own imperialist masters, these traitors are thoroughly hostile to the international unity of the working class.

During the gulf war, the labor bureaucracies all endorsed the genocidal war against Iraq and enthusiastically supported the sending of working class youth of the imperialist countries against their class brothers and sisters in Iraq.

In Yugoslavia, the ex-Stalinist bureaucrats have stoked up ethnic rivalries, provoking a bloody civil war, in which brothers are killing brothers, in order to block a common response to the catastrophic impact of the restoration of capitalism.

These treacherous leaderships have deservedly earned the hatred of growing sections of working class youth who identify these bureaucracies as part of the whole political structure aligned against them. The collapse of the British Labour Party’s youth movement and the Stalinist Komsomol youth movement expresses the growing disgust of working class youth towards these bureaucratically-led organizations.

The only organization capable of uniting the working class throughout the world is the Fourth International, led by the International Committee. The Young Socialists movements of the Fourth International unite all youth, no matter what nationality, race, language or religion, in a common struggle against the capitalist oppressors.

In the building of the Young Socialists around the world, we base ourselves on the great traditions of Lenin, Trotsky, Liebknecht and Luxemburg, who appealed to the international solidarity of youth against the barbarism of World War I and against the treachery of the leaders of the Second International who supported the imperialist war.

The training of youth as revolutionary fighters in the working class means arming young cadres with a historical understanding and implacable hatred towards all forms of opportunism in the workers movement, which subordinates the working class of each country to its own bourgeois oppressors. To prepare the youth to fight in the working class, they must learn the lessons of the long struggle waged by the Trotskyist movement against Stalinism and its Pabloite supporters.

The orientation of the Fourth International to the youth is firmly established in its founding document in 1938. Trotsky says: “When a program or organization wears out, the generation which carried it on its shoulders wears out with it. The movement is revitalized by the youth, who are free from the responsibility for the past. The Fourth International pays particular attention to the young generation of the proletariat. All of its policies strive to inspire the youth with belief in its own strength and in the future.”

The fate of this generation is inseparably bound up with the socialist revolution. Working class youth must carry a new perspective and program—socialist internationalism—into the coming revolutionary struggles of the working class. The task of the cadres of the Fourth International is to boldly turn to young workers, unemployed youth and the best elements of the students and win them to this perspective.

This past year has seen an important development of the youth work of every section of the International Committee, with the international campaign against the Persian Gulf war, the holding of successful Young Socialists conferences in Australia, the United States and Sri Lanka, the reissuing of YS newspapers in Britain, Germany and Sri Lanka and the powerful support won from working class youth throughout the world for the Berlin conference. To coordinate the international work of its youth movements, the Fourth International will establish an international youth committee this coming year.

The program of socialist internationalism is a powerful pole of attraction for the young generation. In the next year, the Fourth International must win to its banner the most self-sacrificing representatives of the youth and train them to lead the coming revolutionary struggles of the working class