Congratulations on applying to join the Young Communist League of Canada. Perhaps you are just looking to learn more about the YCL. There’s no rush – we’re happy to get to know you.
But if you want to join the YCL now, get in touch with local activists and start building, the rest of this pamphlet is written for you.
After all, we think you've made a good decision. You've made a statement. You've linked up with young activists across the country, and with the causes they are fighting for. You've strengthened your involvement in youth and people's movements fighting for democracy, social progress and socialism across Canada and around the world. And you've take a first step towards more collective action.
You’re now in touch with an organization that has a socialist outlook, and important experience in fighting from the creative, dynamic and revolutionary view point of Marxism, together with the Communist Party. You may not be a Communist yourself, but you've become part of the historic Canadian movement for socialism and a better future -- and we think that's something to be proud of!
You've probably got lots of questions also -- and that’s a good thing. In this leaflet we want to explain how you can make a contribution in the YCL and what we are all about.
What is this organization? What is Rebel Youth Magazine? The first thing you should know about the purpose of the YCL can be summed-up in one word: learn. We place special emphasis on learning about Marxism because, more than any other perspective, it helps us understand the root causes of social problems and the way forward to socialism and communism.
But we don't just mean read books. Although without theory action is blind, without action theory is just a lot of words. We see the two are closely connected. We say "struggle to learn -- and learn to struggle."
The YCL is not afraid of discussion or debate about ideology, or making mistakes -- and learning from them! We work to be really involved in young people's struggles – like fighting rising tuition fees, or against low wages, bad jobs and unemployment, and the war in Afghanistan. We want to make a contribution, and have fun.
Being a YCLer means checking out and learning what it means to be a person who wants to transform the world – a revolutionary – by educating ourselves through action, education and culture. That brings us to the subject of the most fundamental unit of the YCL: the club.
YCL clubs are more than just meetings. They bring together socializing with political discussion, and action. Led by an elected organizer, and operating on democratic principles within the central organization of the League, clubs are groups of between three to twenty young people that meet regularly for collective group discussion and planning. A club meeting deals with all the local problems of the League – from social events to fundraising. It is an ideological home for YCLers, the best place to talk politics, ask questions, present opinions and ideas, and report and discuss on what is happening in our communities, schools and campuses, and work-places.
It is also the basis for the distribution of Rebel Youth magazine, a project connecting YCLers across the country with other youth.
Because we respect and value each other in struggle, and because our cause is with the working class world-wide, YCLers often address each other by the title used by revolutionaries, socialists and communists across Canada and internationally: comrade.
The club is much more than a social group, and being a YCLer is not simply about hanging out with a fellow young Communists, although that's not a bad start.
But we have a contribution to the resistance of the people, based on what we see as an urgent, necessary and possible struggle for unity and militancy. That's the additional "plus" the YCL trys to give to any fight where young people are involved, and the youth movement -- part of the broader class struggle in Canada.
What is the class struggle? The fight against the tiny ruling capitalist class by the overwhelming majority of the people, the largest group of whom today are workers. We didn't invent it! But as Marxists we claim to understand the root causes of social ills people face -- like the high cost of housing, layoffs, homelessness, racism and sexism. We say it is the capitalist system which puts profits before people. As a way out of this madness, we propose an alternative agenda placing peoples needs first.
We see Marxism-Leninism not as a closed, dogmatic system but as a guide to action. Real life, and real struggle, is very complex, more complex than we could ever imagine. While we're not afraid to debate our ideas, our experience has shown that unity and militancy necessary for socialism won't come about through abstract debates about principles with other groups on the left. Unity and militancy happen in real, concrete struggles.
That’s why main contribution of the YCL and the Communist Party is to win people to our policies of unity and militancy through action and example -- not simply preaching or handing out another flyer at the back of the room at a public event.
This means that YCLers get involved and try to help with political work like campaigns. Start looking for people’s struggles. Put them on your radar.
As a YCLer, if you're not already involved in campaigns, get involved. Talk about what you can do with your club. Join in campaigns working with other youth who are not communists. Get your friends involved with the campaigns too – its also a good way to open a discussion about the League.
There are so many causes and campaigns that youth across Canada, including YCLers, are involved in -- from fightbacks against military recruitment, skyrocketing student debt, and low minimum wages to immigrant rights campaigns and solidarity with Palestine. Many of these issues are reflected in the pages of Rebel Youth magazine.
Because there are many areas of struggle, the YCL has identified four priorities: peace, education, environment and jobs. We also consider democratic struggles important -- like fighting racism, sexism, ableism, transphobia and homophobia, as well as the attack on civil liberties in Canada -- and also international solidarity.
We work to figure out where assistance is needed in movements and try to do it -- collecting signatures for petitions, flyering and postering for events, brining our friends and roommates to events and protests. Sometimes we run our own campaigns. We also run in student elections, or get involved in union locals, and get known as sincere, hard workers. We earn respect, and this pays off, because people listen more to what we have to say. It helps over-come anti-Communism and a general prejudices against activists.
What brings all our political work together, as well as our advocacy for a socialism in Canada and around the world, is our “press” – our magazines. Rebel Youth magazine is published three times a year. It has a sister publication called Jeuness Militante in French. We see these magazine as very important – worth raising money to print and worth taking the time to make.
Reading the magazine is like having an entire political conversation with somebody. And that means the first person who should read it cover to cover is you! Once you’ve read it, you can tell people about good articles in the magazine and why they should check it out. You can order a bundle (will send you a package for no cost) and start distributing them to your friends. Selling RY can also raise money for your club.
And you can write for Rebel Youth. We don’t need perfect articles or complex theory – we’re looking for on the ground reports about youth issues. This is another important way to connect with people working on campaigns.
The basic rules of the YCL are layed-out in our constitution, a short set of guidelines democratically approved in convention. Becoming a member costs $2.00.
The basis of unity in the YCL is our “Declaration of Unity and Resistance.” All the ideas reflected in this document are based on that declaration. Check it out.
Membership dues are $10.00 for six months. We charge dues as a way of raising funds, but mainly because it demonstrates people's commitment.
Once you are a member you have certain rights, and duties within the framework of a voluntary organization.
We know that might sound like a lot to do – everything comes in steps, and it is worth it.
Get to know something about the proud history of the YCL, and the inspirational accomplishments that progressives and revolutionaries including Marxists have made to the history of Canada, the Americas, and the world. No one individual is obligated to defend all the history of the Communist movement, but you should learn something about the political struggles of youth in Canada, and about Marxism -- understanding key concepts like historical materialism, dialectics, political economy, class struggle and alliances, socialism, communism and the Communist Party.
Check your head. Everyone is influenced by capitalist ideas, including ideas promoted by systems of oppression like patriarchy, white supremacy and ableism – educating yourself is a part of building a stronger movement.
There is nothing more rewarding than the struggle for a better world. Our experience is that through working in the YCL collectively you can really grow as an individual. You can do so much more as part of a group rather than an individual can – like an ‘independent Marxist’ or ‘small c’ communist or somebody who just reads books and does Marxism ‘online’. And even if you are with an activist collective already, it is unlikely to have the scope of policies, perspective and programme that we fight for.
Being a YCL is about deepening your involvement in real, existing struggles, and building the fight-back against corporate power, imperialism, and ultimately capitalism itself – and winning socialism. It is about strengthening the call for liberation, freedom, justice and an end to exploitation and oppression.
These are lofty and noble causes. Literally millions of people have devoted their lives, been silenced, jailed, and even died for these causes since the beginning of humanity!
Socialism remains the necessary next step in our country's historical development. Only socialism makes the needs and aspirations of the people its highest priority. Only socialism can put people before profit. And only socialism can use the benefits of the scientific and technological revolution for the well-being of all Canadians, not for the enrichment of a few and for waging war.
The achievement of socialism, based on working class power in Canada and internationally will mark a real advance towards true democracy – the rule of the people, by the people and for the people.
As Marx said, Workers and oppressed peoples of all countries, unite! We have nothing to loose but our chains. We have a world to win!
Welcome to the YCL!
Join the 25th Che Brigade!
Since 1993, the Ernesto Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade has offered hundreds of Canadians the opportunity to join an exciting and informative 2-week tour of Cuba. Volunteers are afforded a first-hand view of the gains and victories of the Cuban Revolution through both a tour of significant historical and political locales of Cuba and by working alongside ordinary Cubans. The next Brigade leaves in Spring 2017.