The World Federation of Democratic Youth fights on

President of the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), Aritz Rodríguez, heralds the approaching 75th anniversary of this unique internationalist movement that now rallies in support of Lebanon.

Aritz Rodríguez, President of the World Federation of Democratic Youth

28th of July 1914: the tensions between the imperialist forces and the emerging capitalist forces caused the outbreak of the First World War. Even though the motivation was a struggle between the ruling classes, this war generated more conflicts inside the Second International. Indeed, the situation within the Second International was not the best for a long time, but it is undeniable that the First World War caused a crisis that dynamited the already existing tensions.

The international workers’ movement had to stand up to those sectors that decided that the working class had something at stake in that cruel imperialist war in which the only thing to be decided was the division of the world among the ruling classes. The certainty that peace among the peoples of the world was something that did not admit of debate, and that the only struggle should be for the emancipation from this exploitative system, led to a rupture within the Second International.

This is how the workers’ movement got rid of the elements that collaborated with Imperialism in the First World War, the social-chauvinist sectors; and took the way towards a worker and internationalist union: towards the Third International, and its youth wing, the Communist Youth International.

Later, although with some notable differences, the Second World War also meant some historical events for the international workers’ movement. In the Second World War, besides the struggle between the imperialist forces, we cannot ignore the emerging threat on the one hand from the Nazi-fascist forces that threatened to oppress the peoples of the world; and on the other hand, the anti-communist threat that aimed to put an end to any project that wanted to stop the worldwide domination of Imperialism. The end of Second World War culminated in the glorious victory over Nazi-fascism. Although, unfortunately, the system of exploitation remained.

The 10th of November of 1945, after the end of the Second World War, another fundamental meeting, in this case for the youth movement, took place in London. Thousands of young people met at the “World Youth Conference”, which was called by the World Youth Council, bringing together for the first time in the history of the international youth movement representatives of more than 30 million young people of different political persuasions and religious beliefs, of 63 nations. The World Youth Conference agreed on the pledge:

“We pledge that we shall remember this unity, forged in this month, November 1945. Not only today, not only this week, this year, but always. Until we have built the world we have dreamed of and fought for. We pledge ourselves to build the unity of youth of the world. All races, all colours, all nationalities, all beliefs. To eliminate all traces of fascism from the earth. To build a deep and sincere international friendship among the peoples of the world. To keep a just lasting peace. To eliminate want, frustration, and enforced idleness. We have come to confirm the unity of all youth salute our comrades who have died-and pledge our word that skilful hands, keen brains and young enthusiasm shall never more be wasted in war. FORWARD FOR OUR FUTURE!”

This pledge led to the creation of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, “an organisation of youth united in their determination to work for peace, freedom, democracy, independence and equality everywhere in the world.” The rise of Nazi-fascism, the devastation generated by the imperialist wars, the exploitation and oppression in which the system plunged the youth and people. Many were the concerns that united those young people who, on that day of November 75 years ago, decided to join their forces to struggle for “the world they had dreamed of and fought for“.

This great event was a historical milestone in the history of the youth movement. That meeting in the British capital was followed by some of the biggest events that the anti-imperialist youth have experienced in their history.

The World Federation of Democratic Youth was responsible for the creation of one of the most important international cultural, political, popular and anti-imperialist events, the World Festival of Youth and Students. Its first edition was in 1947 in Slovakia but has subsequently been held on 18 other occasions in Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, Romania, Poland, the Soviet Union, Austria, Finland, Bulgaria, Cuba, DPR of Korea, Algeria, Venezuela, South Africa, Ecuador and, the last one which took place in the Russian city of Sochi in 2017, in remembrance of 100th anniversary of the Soviet revolution.

Moreover, the World Federation of Democratic Youth has been a crucial organisation both for international solidarity and for the political and ideological advancement of the anti-imperialist youth. It has carried out international solidarity campaigns in support of the oppressed peoples of the world, it has denounced the occupation of countries such as Palestine, Western Sahara and Cyprus, it has repudiated wars, interferences, blockades and other imperialist offensives. It is impossible to enumerate the praiseworthy work that the comrades before us have developed and for which the World Federation of Democratic Youth has played a fundamental leading role.

In just a few days, the 10th of November, we will celebrate what will be the 75th anniversary of the founding of this historic and heroic organisation. A historic anniversary that coincides with one of the hardest moments that the youth and the people of the world have experienced in recent years. Only a decade ago this system had suffered one of its big economic crisis, in which the youth and the working class took on their shoulders all the consequences while the ruling classes took the opportunity to continue enriching themselves. When young and working people were still immersed in the consequences of that crisis, a global pandemic broke out, accelerating a new economic recession. The sum of a new crisis of the system with the ruling classes that have clear that between their benefits and our lives they will always choose their enrichment is having fatal consequences.

Just days before the existence of the COVID-19 virus became known and began to spread around the world, in Nicosia (Cyprus), hundreds of young people met at the 20th General Assembly of the World Federation of Democratic Youth. Anyone would think that the global pandemic would have ruined the analyses carried out before we knew the devastation that the virus would cause. Sadly, no.

During the pandemic, we have seen every one of our analyses reaffirmed. We analysed how the privatization of basic public services such as health could have serious consequences among the youth and the working class, and this pandemic has shown the consequences of having a privatized health system and a deteriorated public health system. We analysed that the employment situation, both in the youth and in the working class as a whole, was precarious and the conditions were miserable: the pandemic has further aggravated what we discussed in this analysis. We said that Imperialism was the number one enemy of the peoples, and during the pandemic, it has shown us how the only concern of the imperialist forces has been to increase their power, for which they have maintained their imperialist interferences, illegal blockades and sanctions, and endless more offensives against the peoples.

Today, over 150 youth organisations from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, and North America and Europe are fighting for the same goals that united those young people in London 75 years ago. We continue to stand up to the offensives of Imperialism; we continue to build international solidarity among the youth of the world; we continue to struggle for lasting peace; we continue to struggle for the world they dreamed of and fought for.

That is why today, as in the past, we are still on the side of the people. This is why a few months ago, after the tragedy of the 4th of August in the port of Beirut, we started an international campaign of solidarity with the youth and the Lebanese people, especially with our comrades of the Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth. Because, after a long time facing a big crisis and almost collapse in the country, after the struggle against the anti-popular policies of the government, after facing the offensives also of Zionism, the pandemic and the tragedy of the port multiplied the pain suffered by Lebanon.

A campaign that our good comrades of the Young Communist League of Britain joined without hesitation, showing once again their great commitment to international solidarity and comradeship, and raising about $3,000 USD. A campaign that has not only been joined by this commitment to raise funds, but also by assuming the relevance of doing political work on the situation, and for which next 31st of October, Saturday (watch the full event here!), different comrades have been summoned to make a big online event in which we can talk about all this. A fundamental online event in which I will have the honour of participating together with very good comrades and to which I hope that many young people can join to share concerns, analysis and, above all, the desire to fight to overcome this unjust system in which we live, until we build the world that we have dreamed of and fought for.

Aritz Rodriguez

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