Challenge: voice of Britain’s youth – yesterday, today and tomorrow

Dear Comrades, Challenge has a proud history as the official organ of Britain’s Young Communists, but also a unique and politically imperative aspiration – to be the voice of the youth of this country. 

The essential purpose and the central task of Challenge in this regard is not an easy one. Our magazine, like our organisation, is addressed with nothing less than winning mass support among young workers and students for revolutionary socialism, the Communist Party and our programme, Britain’s Road to Socialism.

To succeed in this task Challenge must be clear and militant in its analysis and in its call to Britain’s youth. To do this we must represent and speak to the full spectrum of Britain’s youth in all its vibrancy, but always and everywhere identifying our common interest and our common purpose: ending the corrupt, decrepit and dehumanising capitalist system and ushering in socialism.

Challenge is and always has been a key forum of debate and discussion for the YCL, where the creative application of Marxism Leninism can be developed in the conditions of our day and in all of the many struggles facing young people in Britain today. 

This year, our Centenary, is an important time to reflect on the legacy and the continuing importance of Challenge.

Our magazine was launched more than eight decades ago, between the wars, at a time of great struggle for working people and the youth in Britain. Much has changed in the decades since, for the world, for our class and for the YCL but for all that time and for all the key struggles in between, Challenge has been there. 

Virtually all YCL veterans will remember fondly competing in all-Britain competitions for the most branch or individual Challenge sales. From local sales and reading groups to organising social dances, Challenge played a key role introducing thousands of young people to communist politics and recruiting generations of Young Communist cadres.

Our generation of Young Communists have always recognised the essential role that Challenge continues to play for our organisation and for the struggle for socialism in our country. I remember (fondly!) the passing around copies of Challenge in my high school common room – ultimately helping to recruit friends and classmates who are YCL comrades to this day. 

The advent of the internet and all the changes that social media have brought to our society and our lives have not rendered the need for a dedicated journal for the Britain’s Young Communists obsolete – far from it. 

These technologies don’t just offer us the opportunity to reach far more young people than ever before with our politics and our ideology – they demand that we do so with greater effort and vigour than ever before. 

I have been extremely grateful to play my very small part in the history of Challenge. My period as editor has been defined by enthusiasm rather than natural ability or qualification but I hope that I have contributed to the proud legacy of our magazine and helped to continue its strengthening and modernisation. 

Tribute must go to all the eminently qualified and dedicated comrades who have gone before me as Editor of Challenge and whose hard work and legacy I have tried to carry on.

Particular thanks must go to Comrade James Rodie, the previous Editor of Challenge. Despite my limited skill and difficulties in acquiring more, he helped me to muddle through and has taught me everything I know, which is the tiny fraction I actually grasped of everything he aspired to teach …

I would also like to thank each and comrade who has contributed to the success of Challenge over the past six years. Challenge is not and never has been the responsibility or the product of one comrade. As with all work of the YCL, it is a result of collective struggle and collective work and would be impossible without the effort and dedication of YCL cadres up and down this country. 

In the last few years in particular, more and more excellent and talented YCLers have taken the lead in producing Challenge and building it as the central organ of the YCL and a resource for young workers and students across Britain who are grappling with the fundamental questions of our time. We can be immensely proud of the calibre of our magazine and the comrades who carry it forward – it is a reflection on our organisation as a whole.

The test for us now is not just to maintain these improvements over the coming period, but to solidify and accelerate the progress we have seen. The quality, breadth and regularity of Challenge content must continue to improve. More and more we must represent all of Britain’s youth, their hopes and their aspirations. We must make ourselves relevant to the thousands of struggles they are engaged in each and every day. 

I wish the very best of luck to Comrade Nathan Czapnik, the new Editor of Challenge for a new period – for Challenge, for the YCL and for Britain’s youth. He is an inspiringly dedicated and disciplined young communist, well placed to develop the voice of Britain’s youth with a new dynamism. 

In rebuilding the YCL and the Party in our country, there is a clear benchmark of progress and success which all comrades can look to. Whether or not you have replaced yourself with comrades and structures more capable and better placed to carry forward and accelerate the task of building our organisation than you were. 

I sign off as editor in full confidence that this is the case. 

Long live Challenge – voice of Britain’s youth and Young Communists!

Johnnie Hunter, Challenge Editor 2015 – 2021
Young Communist League

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