Youth energize revolutionary socialist conference

Only three days after the U.S. presidential elections, hundreds of activists, organizers and revolutionaries gathered in New York City at the historic Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Center, located in Washington Heights’ Dominican community, to discuss movement building and revolutionary socialism.

This year’s Workers World Party National Conference, which took place Nov. 11-13, was the largest and youngest since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist camp 25 years ago. The conference followed a horrendous election season, in which workers and oppressed people were forced to choose between an open ly racist and misogynist pig and a warmongering neoliberal.

But what was clear, based on the strong showing of revolutionaries from Los Angeles to Detroit, Charlotte to Boston, Salt Lake City to Philadelphia to Florida, Baltimore to Durham, N.C., was that the people’s movement for revolutionary socialism is forging ahead!

While millions of people are terrified and/or disheartened by the election results — and rightfully so — the revolutionary spirit of the weekend, along with the resistance of the tens of thousands who have taken to the streets since Nov. 8, showed that we must seize the time to fight back, not mourn!

Conference attendees represented many different communities and issues. One of the most dynamic components was the strong showing of young people — many of whom are youth of color, LGBTQ and working class, and who are on the frontlines of the Black Lives Matter movement, Fight for $15, migrant justice movement and more.

These are the same young people who have taken up the righteous battle against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, ableism, all rooted in capitalism: the global oppressive economic system that dictates our social relations and unites us all as the worldwide multinational class. Young people are on the frontlines of struggle, experiencing the decay of capitalism at each moment that it happens — whether it be in Detroit, where global austerity is concentrated among the Black masses who have become expendable to ruling-class bosses, or in Palestine where the Zionist occupation by Israel is displacing and murdering people daily.

Young people are more and more becoming disillusioned by the capitalist system, primarily out of their own experience with a system that denies them basic income, housing and access to education while demanding their full participation in the system. Both bourgeois presidential candidates, Trump and Clinton, vied for the youth vote, when it is obvious that neither capitalist candidate can provide a promising future for youth.

The conference provided a space for young people to not only participate in conversation with each other and the broader movement about what is needed in the next period, but involved many in meaningful roles.

Throughout the weekend, young comrades and their allies were involved in the creation of the program, chairing sessions, facilitating important discussions, reading solidarity statements and, most importantly, carrying forward a necessary revolutionary energy through art, song, spoken word performances and chants.

The success of the conference and the involvement of young people, more than ever before, reflects a tremendous turning point and a hopeful period ahead for political struggle. It is a reflection of young people’s growing desire to be a part of a mass movement for justice and liberation and also our recognition of the need to have a political home and organization that can be relied on in times of crisis to sharpen our analysis, to prepare for combat and to strengthen our militancy.

Historically young people have been on the frontlines of the movement — from the Black Panther Party to the Brown Berets to the American Indian Movement to the anti-war movement to the Stonewall Rebellion to the women’s movement — and more. This historic fact remains true today as high school students walk out in protest of a pending Trump presidency; as young people occupy the streets demanding justice for Keith Lamont Scott, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and countless other victims of police terror; as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth take up militant action to reject anti-worker and anti-trans bills, like HB2 in North Carolina; and as students on college campuses show solidarity with workers’ struggles.

Now more than ever, we must bring young people in, fortify youth leadership and recognize that the deepening capitalist crisis is forging a new layer of leadership of those who study the lessons of the Black Liberation movement, the Vietnam war, the victory in Angola, the MOVE 9 bombing, the fall of the USSR, the Attica 45th anniversary prison strike and who demand the freedom of political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Rasmea Odeh, Leonard Peltier and more. This vital history of revolutionary struggle against oppression inspires and enriches youths’ everyday life in new, unique and meaningful ways.

The conference this year played a role in connecting where we’ve come from, where we are and where we are going in true Marxist-Leninist fashion. It demonstrated not only that history is on our side, but that young people are the vanguard of realizing a socialist revolution and that we have a duty to build a party that is capable of nurturing and supporting this vanguard.

(WW photo: Brenda Ryan)

(WW photo: Brenda Ryan)

(WW photo: Greg Butterfield)

(WW photo: Greg Butterfield)

(WW photo: Brenda Ryan)