History CP early 50s early 60s


By Monty Johnstone

World News & Views

January 1952

“The tasks of the youth in general, and of the Young Communist League . ….in particular, may be summed up in one word: learn.”

Thus Lenin told the Komsomol Congress in 1920. After a long period in which it failed to tackle the job of political education in the League, the YCL ` National Committee is now fighting to implement an ` Education Programme into which it seeks to draw all YCL, members and many young people still outside the League.

If we are going to win thousands of new members to the YCL and to consolidate our gains (putting an end to the fluctuation we have experienced), it is vital that we should get across to a far larger number of young people the fundamental ideas of Communism, not in a formal and abstract way, but linked with their lives and struggles.

The weakness of our general education has been that our branches have had all the appearance of Junior Communist Party branches, with lectures and separate education classes. Although these are essential for our cadres’ education, they do not appeal to the majority of ordinary young lads and girls in their `teens whom the League must cater for above all, but who, in many areas, have been receiving no regular education.

Comrade James Klugmann has put his finger on the problem when he writes:
“The education of the YCL. cannot be a dull reproduction of the educational work of the Party. A different approach and different material is needed of a type that will stimulate discussion and self-study by the youth, with special attention to those in the younger fifteen-eighteen age group.” (Communist Review, September 1952, p, 286.)

New Attractive Methods

The August meeting’ of the National Committee of he’ YCL., which discussed a report on education, decided to take positive steps to bring about a change. The most important decisions taken were:
1. To publish monthly material nationally on selected themes to be sent out to the branches to help them in the preparation of one really colourful Branch Night – To see in the Branch Nights the best opportunity for education in a way attractive to young people.
To make an effort to bring Labour League of Youth members and other young people along to all Branch Nights, which should be regarded as our most important field of recruitment.

2. To launch a YCL. Reading Programme catering for all sections of the YCL., with special attention to those between fifteen and twenty.
3. That there should be more regular schools and classes at a National, District and Area level under the guidance of the N4tional Committee, with a view to developing our cadres. Particular attention to week-end camp schools.
4. To take our socialist ideas out to an ever-wider section of youth in the factories, technical colleges, schools and youth clubs.

In his report to the YCL National Congress, Comrade John Moss said:
“We are, above all, out to win the sixteen to twenty-year olds for our League. These lads and girls are not only keen to get cracking on the political issues, they also want laughter. The Branch Night should not only be for the YCL. members-we want to make it attractive for young people for miles around.

The Branch Night of the old type, with its heavy and dull agenda and with its hundred and one organisational details and announcements, is something to be got rid of quickly. “We are in favour of well-prepared meetings which are held fortnightly or monthly, with every member in formed and popular methods used to get all our friends and contacts along.” (Free Britain’s Youth, p. 17.)

Monthly Branch Night material is already being regularly sent out to the branches. So far the themes have been: Cut the Call-Up; the Soviet Union; YCL. ‘ Congress. Material has already gone out for January’s Branch Night on the International Conference in Vienna in Defence of the Rights of Youth. In the following months, material will go out for Branch Nights on Colonial Youth Day; Communism; the Fourth World Festival of Youth and Students in Warsaw; the General Strike. In addition, material is being prepared to help in running a Branch Night for new members and sym pathisers, based on the new YCL. Rules; as well as a Guide for better and brighter Branch Nights.

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