World’s youth come together in South Africa

The seventeenth World Festival of Youth and Students took place in Pretoria at the close of last year.Mandela

Last December, 65,000 young people and students gathered from all over the world to share ideas and information under the slogan ‘Let’s defeat imperialism, for a world of peace, solidarity and social transformation!’ The CPGB-ML and its youth section Red Youth sent comrades to participate in these important discussions.

A lively and varied programme of events had been arranged, with each day’s seminars, workshops and forums devoted to a particular continent. Britain, as the world’s oldest imperialist power, was in one way or another represented on each day! Indeed, not a day passed where Britain’s role in oppressing, humiliating, exploiting or colonising various parts of the world was not discussed.

Indeed, whether it is Britain’s interference in Zimbabwe, its maintenance of military bases in South America (most notably the Falklands), its colonial legacy throughout Asia, or its support for the loyal ‘jewish Ulster’ in the Middle East; everywhere one struggles against imperialism, it seems as though one has to deal with British imperialism!

And the entire period spent in South Africa was, of course, a reminder of British imperialism’s continuing insidious involvement in that continent too, as well as of its support for the Apartheid regime and the legacy of racism and brutality.

Even today, the dead hand of British social democracy seems able to stretch across the oceans and continents; according to the CPB’s Robert Griffiths, writing in the Morning Star on 20 November, the new programme of the South African Communist Party (SACP) is entitled The South African Road to Socialism! If the text is modelled on its British counterpart, the South African masses may not have too much truck with the programme’s contents!

Opening of the festival

Our comrades arrived on the morning of the opening day of the festival, 13 December. The programme for the day included an address by Tiago Viera the President of WFDY (World Federation of Youth and Students) and Julius Malema of the ANC Youth League. Later that day, President of South Africa Jacob Zuma delivered a speech of welcome that was widely reported in the South African media that evening and in the newspapers the following day.

With a huge number of events taking place over a short space of time, the CPGB-ML delegates were careful to pick out those forums where the presence of an anti-imperialist delegation from Britain would be most welcomed, and where we could demonstrate our solidarity with existing struggles and exchange information with good comrades from all over the world.

Time was spent with comrades from Europe, especially with members of the Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain, the Communist Party of Sweden, the Workers’ Party of Belgium and the Socialist Party of Latvia. Our comrades also spent time with friends from the Workers Party of Korea, the Communist Party of Syria and with many comrades from Turkey, India, Laos and even the USA.

Our delegates were somewhat taken aback upon arrival to find that a few ‘comrades’ from America were passing themselves off as the British delegation! These rascals emphatically declared that the Young Communist League in Britain (YCL – the youth wing of the CPB) had facilitated their attendance; but as these comrades were from the ultra-Trotskyist newspaper The Militant, their story seemed somewhat unlikely! Apparently, since their return, these ‘delegates’ have been reporting not only upon the festival but also on the “lines of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants” forced to find work in South Africa “because of the much more desperate situation in their own country”!

Judging by the Militant clique’s online reports of the festival, it seems that their representatives busied themselves speaking up and interjecting on the wrong side of all manner of debates, recording their support for, among others, the Kurdish quislings in northern Iraq! Apparently “the right of nations to self-determination is a pillar in the fight against imperialism”, regardless of the context! Proletarian would suggest that when a reactionary bunch of toe-rags, led by the likes of Jalal Talabani, welcome in the Anglo-American imperialist occupation forces and are happy to assist them in their maraudering, this is nothing more or less than collusion with imperialism and participation in some of the most heinous war crimes committed in recent history!

It seemed to us bizarre indeed that an outfit like The Militant could gain access to a festival of progressive youth, occupy the British stand and spout this kind of tripe, while Red Youth and the CPGB-ML had to do things the hard way, having had little or no response from the British Preparatory Committee organisers of the CPB/YCL. Comrades, whatever our political differences may be, please heed our advice and cease communication with all these Icelandic and American rascals operating out of London!

Zimbabwe solidarity

Since Zimbabwe and Zanu-PF have regularly to repel repeated attacks from imperialists, social democrats and Trotskyists alike, we were pleased that our party had sent some real anti-imperialists to the festival who were ready to counter the lies presented as facts by these renegades and outright enemies of the people.

In numerous meetings and discussions, the counter-arguments were put by our comrades, and Zim TV reported on our solidarity work. At a meeting of some 400 delegates discussing Zimbabwe’s land redistribution programme on the second day of the festival, our comrades delivered a short message of solidarity to the Zimbabwean masses, and to their revolutionary leadership in Zanu-PF. Our delegate told the meeting:

“Thank you, comrades. I bring greetings to the festival and to Zanu-PF from Britain as a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). I can assure the meeting that we continue our solidarity work through our party and the Zimbabwe Solidarity Front in Britain, and we stand with you still.

“Comrades, Britain’s role in Zimbabwe has been thoroughly disgraceful, stretching right back to the days of Cecil Rhodes and the Victorian colonisers of the 19th century. When these thieves took the land from the Zimbabwean people, they didn’t take just any old land; no, they took the very best land, the most fertile land in Zimbabwe! [Applause and loud agreement!]

“… And comrades, there is a myth being perpetrated by the imperialists. Indeed, it is much worse than a myth, for it is a giant lie. The lie which these thieves are spreading is that the economic problems Zimbabwe has suffered have been as a result of the mismanagement of their land! But we know that the economic problems that Zimbabwe has suffered have been the direct result of imperialism! [Loud applause and cheering]

“To stand in solidarity with Zimbabwe and Zanu is not an easy task in Britain, but we will continue to stand on the side of justice, on the side of Zimbabwe, on the side of Zanu. [Applause] The work you are doing is helping us in our struggle back home against our common enemy, the British ruling class. The conditions of the British workers deteriorate day by day, and we are aided in our struggle by movements such as yours, which rain down blows upon the British ruling class which exploits us both. Comrades, we thank you for helping us in our task by kicking British imperialism out of your country once and for all! [Stormy applause]

“I would like to end with our common slogans: Down with imperialism! Viva Chimurenga! Viva Comrade Mugabe! Viva Zanu!”

As a small but growing party, the CPGB-ML’s resources are limited, as is our ability to communicate with the masses of British workers and anti-imperialists. We recognise these shortcomings and we aim to overcome them.

To contribute in this work, our party has produced a number of interviews, presentations and educational materials, which are available on the internet, specifically through our YouTube page. While in South Africa, our delegates took the opportunity to interview various comrades from around the world, and an excellent interview with Zimbabwe’s youngest Member of Parliament, Anastancia Ndhlovu, is now available to watch at

Looking ahead

Our party’s internationalist work, which started in Gaza in January, was rounded off nicely by the WFDY festival at the close of 2010. The challenges for 2011 are greater than ever, as are our ambitions.

We take heart from the shared struggle that we are engaged in, and also from the ranks of new and dedicated youngsters who have joined Red Youth and the party. We hope that by the time of the next festival we will be better prepared to make a still greater contribution, and are determined that our political intervention shall be as solid as ever, based as it is on the principals of scientific socialism, Marxism Leninism.

Excerpts from the final declaration of the festival

We, the delegates to the 17th Festival of Youth and Students, gathered from 126 countries, more than 15,000 in numbers, have met under the theme ‘Let’s defeat imperialism for a world of peace, solidarity and social transformation’ on the shore of the majestic, dynamic and vibrant South Africa. Here we have fought for decades, side by side, from all walks of life to bring down the tyranny of the Apartheid system, fostered to increase the hold of imperialism on our people.

We fought with the people of South Africa and today we meet here to further our struggle against all injustices and discriminations. We meet in South Africa on the eve of the centenary of the liberation movement the ANC, in 2012 …

The crisis of the capitalist system is inherent to the deepening of its inner contradictions, unveiling its historical incapacity to achieve progress for mankind. This crisis provides the ground for emerging imperialist forces that in the past have either clashed with the USA or EU, or have been their allies, to use the different timing in the manifestation of the crisis to increase their influence in the imperialist pyramid, to hold a bigger piece in the capitalist struggle for markets and exploitation.

It is not a result of the administration models of the economy or the corruption of the system; it is now expressed all around the capitalist world in both neo-liberal and social-democrat led countries. We are in a phase of deepening of the crisis; the recuperation in the following years will be minuscule: the rights of the youth will continue to be attacked at social, economical and cultural level every day.

It demonstrates the historical limits and the failure of the capitalist system to answer to the peoples’ needs and aspirations; it highlights the need for the creation of a society and a mode of development that will strive to fulfil the youth’s and the peoples’ needs and rights …

The ‘external debts and deficits’ that have become a reality for many countries are results of the policies followed by the capitalist forces in all countries, independently of their position in the correlation of forces. They reflect the unequal development and the division of work in the capitalist system. They are utilised so that the dominant class in both loaner and loaning countries becomes more potent while the people suffer from the load of the crisis on their backs.

In the international imperialist system there is no place for equal and respectful relationships between the states and the peoples; it is another proof of the need for revolutionary social transformation of the system that bears inequality and misery.

Imperialist warmongering policies produce such crises as refugees, millions of people who are compelled to leave their homes, lands, jobs and families. We strongly condemn the imperialist economic policies, interventions and occupations that have produced millions of immigrants, we uptake the struggle in the defence of the rights of the immigrants in work, education, social services. No human being can be illegal.

We, the youth and students of the world gathered in this historical festival, raised our voices against all the illnesses generated by imperialism, which is undergoing its greatest global crisis. The imperialist world order is driving humanity to the verge of a global confrontation, with the ever-present danger of a nuclear war, through its hegemonic policy that will determine the present and the future of mankind.

It is time to continue the struggle for youth development and our economic, social and cultural values and not those of a decadent system they are trying to impose on us. We shall build a future of justice, equality, peace, hope and joy for humanity. The future of a new stage of history is in our hands and it depends on the peoples, working masses and world youth and their power of transformation, to build a world of peace and solidarity, where the power and the produced wealth will belong to the peoples and the youth of the world.

We thank the people of South Africa for welcoming us to their country and celebrating with us the opportunity to see South Africa change. We commit to you that we, the youth of the world, will never let our guard down in pursuance of a world free of imperialism. Let us start getting ready for the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students! (, 7 January 2011)