Founding Meeting in Paris of the International Youth Alliance for Socialism


(1) Founding Meeting in Paris of the International Youth Alliance for Socialism

(2) Appeal by the International Meeting of Revolutionary Youth

(3) Report from a Young Comrade from Palestine

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(1) Founding Meeting in Paris of the International Youth Alliance for Socialism


The International Meeting of Young Revolutionaries brought together 63 participants from 12 countries for discussion, debate, and education. The meeting was hosted outside Paris from August 29 to September 1 by the French section of the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International (OCRFI).

Participants came from Algeria, Azania, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Palestine, Russia, and the United States. Others from Algeria, Azania, (South Africa,) Burkina Faso, and Morocco were denied visas by the French government.

Activists, students and workers brought experiences to the topics of capitalism, discrimination, immigration, imperialism, and building an internationalist movement led by the working class. This culminated in the formation of the International Youth Alliance for Socialism (IYAS).These questions reflected the wide range of countries and political experience of the attendees:

  • What should be the socialist position on a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine? And, until a single secular state is achieved, what can be done to stop the oppression of Palestinians?
  • How can we reconcile protecting the environment with the necessity of resource-dependent industrial development, particularly in countries of the “Global South”?
  • How can we address the forms of discrimination, fostered by capitalism, often prevalent within the working class, itself?
  • What are the best ways to promote socialism, after decades of propaganda and distortions?
  • What are the Transitional Demands for our time, and our countries?
  • How can we unite workers and youth movements where a divide exists?
  • Can we truly envisage a post-capitalist future?

The presenters addressed these questions, but instead of providing simple answers, over the next spent four days, they were discussed and debated. The day would begin with a group meeting to set the agenda, followed by small group panel discussions. These included topics like the West African CRA Franc in Burkina Faso and Côte D’Ivoire, Bolsonaro and the crisis in the Amazon in Brazil, NAFTA and USMCA, immigration, the struggle for the Azanian Republic, and discrimination and imperialism. Afterwards, we would reconvene as a group for featured presentations, which included the Algerian Hirak (Uprising) Movement, the modern history of Palestine, and Leon Trotsky’s Transitional Program.

Given the diversity of participants, we were all interested in the differences of our circumstances. Even after a full day of activities, we spent many hours comparing our experiences. In broad terms, youth from industrialized countries saw hard-won victories of previous generations being rolled back. They viewed the immediate challenges ahead as defensive, fighting retrenchment and neoliberal policies. This wasn’t a defense of reformism; a common feeling was that they needed to defend their welfare states in order to grow a movement, and maintain class cohesion.

For countries riven by imperialism, the immediate concern remained political and economic self-determination. Whether that was the fight to organize labor in Mexico, reclaim unused farmland in Azania, protect the Amazon, LGBTQ and indigenous rights in Brazil, form a Constituent Assembly in Algeria, or simply be freed from occupation, embargo and violence in Palestine, these goals were much more fundamental.

In the countries that vied for dominance in the Cold War, there were stark contrasts, but also similarities. A Russian comrade described the devastation wrought by the Loans for Shares privatization. A wave of foreigners extracted resources once publicly owned. This inevitably led to xenophobia and nationalism, and the tacit acceptance of a new breed of oligarch, provided they were Russian. He said there is now a great struggle over the collective memory of the Russian people, as the government tries to use Soviet achievements to foster national pride, while suppressing its political history.

And in the United States, we’ve seen many of the remnants of the New Deal diluted, privatized, or neglected to the extent that politicians who call for its revival are called “socialists.” While many European attendees had heard of how expensive U.S. healthcare and tuition has become, it was a source of amazement that the U.S. has no labor court, no limit on work hours, and a minimum hourly wage of $7.25.

The Hirak (Uprising) in Algeria

3 Youth Solidarity with AlgeriaThe first panel of the meeting was on the Algerian Hirak Movement, sometimes called the “Revolution of Smiles.” The mass movement to remove longtime President Bouteflika and the old regime — “le pouvoir” — includes people of all ages, but though their goals are the same, their motives varied. One speaker, representing the young generation, spoke of the feeling that his generation grew up with limited horizons, no promise of a better life or even stable employment.

Another speaker, who began her activism in the Black Decade of the 90’s, said many in the generation who lived through the Algerian War of Independence felt their revolution was incomplete. And many of the people who 20 years ago welcomed Bouteflika’s return in hopes of peace, had since become disillusioned with the lack of political and social reform. She was heartened to see many former activists renew their political activity, and join the young protesters.

The experience of the older protesters is perhaps why the movement has maintained momentum even after the resignation of Bouteflika, and the promise of elections. They understand that elections overseen by the military will never allow real change. And with 70% of the population under 30, and nearly 30% youth unemployment, the demands for jobs and education are paramount. These demands will only be met by a freely and popularly elected government established by a sovereign Constituent Assembly.

This was reiterated on a live phone call from Algerian activists whose visas were denied. They explained the reason the State was beginning to use more force; it was because the protestors were demanding fundamental change. The solidarity between the Algerian working class, students, and unemployed seemed remarkable, and yet it seemed perfectly natural to them. Workers protest in solidarity with the unemployed. Students protest in solidarity with the workers. It was a lesson in the power of mass movements, and the importance of promoting and uniting around the transitional demands of the working class.

Panel on Palestine

For many of the conference participants,  the panel by Palestinians changed their understanding of the conflict. With the Holocaust within living memory, some Europeans instinctively resist an analysis of Israel as a colonial-settler State. They hesitate to call for a single, democratic and secular state over all the territory of historic Palestine.

In a presentation on the history of the conflict, the Palestinians detailed their systematic displacement, perpetrated with the consent of European powers. For attendees just beginning their political development, this was new information. They came to understand that the creation of Israel was not simply compensation for the Holocaust, but a decades-long imperialist project.

But it was the stories of the Palestinian people that made the biggest impact. Hearing what the Nakba meant to the families of our comrades: choosing whether to become a refugee or risk death to remain at home, or return to your family’s house to work as a cleaner for the new occupants. A young comrade explained the constant checkpoints and searches, and the psychological toll of living with the knowledge that a powerful military could inflict violence at will, while any resistance is equated with terrorism. Imagining a lifetime under these conditions, and understanding that Israel has no intention of allowing an independent Palestine, simplified an issue that is too often obscured.

[Also, see accompanying report by Alexandre on the presentation from a Palestinian comrade.]

Mexico, the United States, and NAFTA

A comrade from Mexico delivered a moving lesson on the economic circumstances that led to he current immigration “crisis.” He described the consequences of NAFTA: the mass destruction of family farms, femicide, the dislocation of whole communities, and choosing between low-wage, brutal work in maquiladoras, or immigrating, or joining a cartel. Mexican laborers must accept horrifying conditions for a chance to survive. He explained how the Mexican government relies on the support and power of the U.S. government, but also on the oligarchs and cartels. He illustrated the utter futility of the “Wall of Shame,” as desperate people will always take any risks necessary to help their loved ones.

Some attendees drew comparisons of U.S.-Mexico relations to those of France-Algeria, recognizing that the form of imperialism transcends regions, even if its characteristics change.

In partnership with our Mexican comrade, I explained the U.S. side of undocumented immigration.   An underclass of laborers, unable to organize in their defense, lowers the cost of labor as a whole. Many U.S. workers know that they can be replaced cheaply, whether by machine or migrant labor, and so it instills a legitimate fear of workplace organizing. This undergirds the modern U.S. economy: While American capital was born of the labor of slaves, it‘s been nourished by the labor of undocumented workers.

I also explained the reality of ICE, its raids, family separation, and for-profit detention centers. I hadn’t realized the extent to which I’d accepted these horrors until I saw the reactions of the audience. Without realizing it, I’d learned to accept them as normal, even as I worked to end these practices. While the attendees were familiar with the persecution of refugees,  the conditions in the detention centers, abuse and sexual assault, lack of sanitation and the unknown number of dead detainees shocked even seasoned activists.

However, there is hope in the mobilization around immigrant rights. I described the protests over the past year in which workers, union members, and students demonstrated against ICE and detention, and created networks to alert immigrant communities of raids.

Many members from Western Europe were rightfully concerned about different forms of discrimination within the working class, but as one of the presenters said, the current UAW strike demonstrates that when workers realize their common struggles, as well as their common enemies, they begin to move past personal prejudices, in a more complete way than any public shaming could achieve.

Founding of IYAS and Liaison Committee

Lastly, there were debates over the necessity to have a clear picture of a socialist future, and the nature of the revolution itself. Many participants echoed the famous Fredic Jameson quote, “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” To this, the counterposition was that the results of a socialist movement will change over time, with each successive victory. As a result, it’s impossible to define, except in the broadest terms, what our final goal should be. Similarly, regarding revolution, one of the veteran presenters put it best when he said, “Revolutions happen all the time. The question for us is how do we create the conditions for its success, and what do we do when it arrives.”

To help advance all the goals discussed at the meeting, participants wrote an appeal declaring the founding of the International Youth Alliance for Socialism (IYAS), and created a liaison committee to foster international relationships. The IYAS published its first bulletin in mid-September. In the weeks since, through social media, we have been able to witness, discuss and support events in Algeria, Azania, Morocco, the United States, and Russia, interview comrades in depth, and continue to learn about the struggles of working class and youth movements from around the world.

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1 Youth and Flags

(2) Appeal by the International Meeting of Revolutionary Youth

Contact address:

We, 63 young people, participated in the International Meeting of Revolutionary Youth on August 29 to September 1 at the initiative of the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International (OCRFI). We come from countries where the situations are very different, but the problems we all face unite us.

We hereby affirm that the cause of all the problems we are all facing has a name: the capitalist system, based on the exploitation of humans by humans and on private ownership of the means of production.

As we come together in our international meeting, the Amazon is burning. But who is responsible? The big private landowners who are lighting the fires, serving the demands of the large multinational corporations that are pillaging the rainforest in their quest to make profits, with the blessing of Bolsonaro and Trump.

As for those who – like Macron – have voiced protests, we are not fooled, because the French multinational corporations are taking part in that pillage. It is indeed the capitalist system that is destroying humankind and its environment!

War is ravaging entire continents, destroying whole nations, forcing hundreds of millions of people to flee their homes; it is causing the death of thousands of others who have embarked on the road to exile. Those wars and those imperialist interventions are the consequence of the policies of pillaging the peoples and of the growth of the arms economy, which has become one of the major sectors of the global capitalist economy. More than US$1.8 trillion were devoted to it by States in 2018!

In every country, whatever the particular forms it takes, young people are facing unemployment, insecure work, informal work, and the threat to the right to a free, high-quality public education, where it exists. All the “reforms” that are affecting both young people and workers are being carried out in the name of the demands by the capitalist institutions: the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Union, and others.

All over the globe, racism, the oppression of women and every form of discrimination are growing and getting worse. But what is the point of this, if not to serve the interests of the capitalists, who have every incentive to divide the youth and the working class?

Throughout the world, young people are facing violence and every form of repression. But what is the aim of that repression? Where do its roots lie? It is especially targeting all those who are fighting for their rights, who are taking strike action, who are holding protests, who want to form trade unions or to organize. There again, it is the capitalist system, its governments and its institutions that are the root cause.

We hereby affirm that when a system reaches such a degree of barbarism, when it causes 3 million children to die from hunger while it pays more than US$500 billion in dividends to shareholders in a single quarter, capitalism has served its time. Other systems have come before it, and others will come after it.

This system must be swept away, overthrown and replaced with a new system based on satisfying the needs of humankind — a system that has been rid of the rule of profit and exploitation, and therefore rid of war, oppression, discrimination, and injustice.

This is why we are fighting for socialism.

Young people are not indifferent to the demands of the workers – quite the opposite, and all the more so because they themselves are the workers of the future. This is why we are fighting for unity between the youth and the working class.

Socialism has nothing to do with Stalinism, its acts of repression and its prisons. (As pointed out by a Russian comrade, this does not mean, however, that there were no social gains in the Soviet Union.)

Socialism has nothing to do with those big “left-wing” leaders who participate in capitalist governments because they have declared that capitalism is an “impassable horizon,”

Socialism is not a utopia; it is quite simply the only possible way to protect humankind and its environment, and to once again open up the path to progress.

Socialism is democracy in all arenas — both in terms of equal rights and individual and collective rights, as well as in the social and economic arena, through the production of wealth in the service of the vast majority of humanity and under the control of the vast majority.

This is why we, young revolutionaries from all over the world, hereby affirm that there will be no future for young people that is separate from the workers’ fight against exploitation.

As young revolutionaries, we – like all young people – are appalled by any form of injustice and oppression. We cannot tolerate them and we fight back against them wherever they exist. But we refuse ,to separate this or that particular fight from, or counterpose it to, the central fight against capitalist exploitation, which is their root cause.

In each of our countries, we are involved in the mobilizations of the youth and the workers around their demands.

In all circumstances, we are in favor of young people taking their affairs into their own hands, themselves defining their demands, themselves choosing who represents them, and themselves choosing how to organize. We seek to help them in that process and to achieve unity with the workers.

Our struggle has no borders; there is only one youth, and it is international.

We call on young people around the world who, like us, wish to build a new world that has been freed from the chains of exploitation and from all injustice, to join us and organize together, by forming the International Youth Alliance for Socialism.

Its first task will be to circulate throughout the world information about the struggles of young people against war, exploitation and oppression.

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4 Youth Raised Fists

(3) Report from a Young Comrade from Palestine

We listened to a presentation by our Palestinian comrades. One of them explained how the Israeli army organizes terror in her village by plundering and destruction, by unending brutality, in order to scare families away and take possession of the houses, which can thus be declared “vacated.”

She explained how the Palestinian people organize their life — or rather their survival. She depicted the harrowing task of the most ordinary things, such as going to school, working (when you have a job), waiting for hours on end before you can go through the multitude of check-points on your way to work, or crowding by the hundreds with the hope that an Israeli boss will select you to work for one day.

She explained what Palestinians want: an end to the slaughter of the Palestinian people, to recover the people’s basic rights to decide their own fate, to obtain the right to return for all those who were turned out of their homes, and the creation of a single, secular and democratic State over the whole territory of Palestine. Many people are speaking of the war in Palestine, she said, as if there were two sides warring with each other. This is not the case: For seven decades, the Palestinian people have been massacred by a colonial-settler State. This presentation left a deep impression on our minds.

by Alexandre (excerpted from the conference report-back bulletin)

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