Communist Party USA

  Organizing students and the youth overall is a “waste of time.” At least that’s what I’ve been hearing recently in some of the leftist organizing circles I belong to. When I push back on this narrative, those who initially took this position modify their stance: “Well, let’s focus on organizing young workers. They can be radicalized and tend to be more reliable than students.” Now, I was a college student at one time. I worked three jobs, two at Asian restaurants and one in a retail store, to pay rent and tuition. I hardly had time to study, but, somehow, I managed to get good enough grades to get through college and even get accepted at graduate school. But never once had I not considered myself a worker. Had someone asked me at the time, “are you a worker or a student?,” my logical and obvious answer would have been, “both.” Come to think of it, my more precise answer would have been, “I work full time and study full time.” According to a survey from December 2020 (in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic), almost 70% of college students also worked. So there is no need to differentiate students from workers, since they are often one and the same. And students who do not work while in college eventually go on to join our workforce after graduating, often doing so in a field of work which has nothing to do with what their college degree focused on: 41% of college graduates, in fact, end up working in a field different from the one they studied. So writing off students as “not able to be organized” is to dismiss a significant portion of our working class. Now, to the next claim that “students are not reliable.” The same could be said for workers without a college degree. People are people. In the Communist Party and Young Communist League, it’s often like pulling teeth to get certain members to attend meetings, whether they are 20 or 60 years old. It’s true that a 20-year-old may have more commitments due to family, school, work, etc. But that’s not to say that a 60-year-old comrade does not have those same commitments to their children, grandchildren, work, and so on.   Youth take the lead As many as 60% of millennials (ages 24–39) agree with some form of socialism as an alternative to capitalism. While this generation has begun to “age out” of the youth category, their sentiment is one we should build on, not ignore. And let’s remember that it was the student movement which led the Civil Rights marches, bus boycotts, and lunch-counter sit-ins. Let’s not forget how the youth led the Black Lives Matter and Abolish ICE movements during the height of the far-right Trump administration in the middle of a global pandemic. Indeed, it was the youth that V. I. Lenin called on to organize independent communist youth leagues and “learn communism” to prepare the future generations for revolutionary tasks needed to further the struggle for democracy and worker power. (To this end, the Party recently organized a successful Marxist school for young people.) I think of how the Communist youth led the way for the Party in this last period, from organizing mutual aid drives for the unemployed and impoverished during the pandemic to rising up in defense of the 2020 vote after Trump claimed the election results were a fraud. These young comrades organized rallies in defense of Cuba and were invited to lead BLM marches. Many of these youth cadre are students, while others are unemployed workers…

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The outlook of today’s radicalized youth