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Newsletter (in English)


Another important question in the conflict between Revo and the LFI was whether independents, i.e. non-LFI-members, could or should make up a majority in the leading bodies of Revo. In the 1930s, Leon Trotsky advised the American Socialist Workers Party to place great emphasis on having only a minority of party members in the leadership of the youth organization. Sam C wrote…

To adopt a Leninist position towards the youth movement means arguing for the independence of the youth organisation. The youth must have organisational independence to come to the path of socialism through their own mistakes and debates. They must have their own elected decision-making bodies, their own publications and their own programme and constitution. If there is a revolutionary party, the youth organisation should stand politically subordinate to it, but this political subordination must of course be won, not imposed from above.

On the issue of the leadership of the youth organisation, in adopting a Trotskyist position, an independent youth organisation must have an independent majority on its leading bodies. This is clearly outlined in Trotsky’s published debate with a leading SWP member, Gould, about the make up of the national committee (NC) of the youth organisation built by the American Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the late 1930’s. Here Trotsky argues for a clear minority of party members, proposing that ideally, out of 19 members on the national committee, 5 should be party members and 14 independent members (a majority of nearly 2/3rds). However, he argues that he will compromise with a maximum of 7 party members to 12 independent members:

‘The national committee is the highest university of the organisation. If seven are good teachers and from the party, then the seven will be the best and the twelve (non party NC members) will be good people. They will be accessible to good arguments….I would propose only 5 party members and 14 rank and file of the youth organisation, and I assure you it would be excellent. But I can make a concession and repeat my proposition, seven and twelve.” 1

The leadership of a party majority is not an ideal leadership, this may be easily agreed on. However, how and when to implement such a theoretically ideal leadership is still a matter of debate.

Gould argues: “Now on the question of the national committee composed of not more than seven comrades who are members of the party. Theoretically, that is as it should be, but institute that method today, that procedure tomorrow, and you will have no leadership, because all the advanced cadres are members of the party. You ask any comrade here from any section who the leaders of the youth are; they are members of the party. That is because the youth organisation is not ideal, but the most advanced members are members of the party. Likewise there is a provision in the resolution that all members of the youth organisation past the age of 21 shall be sent out of the youth organisation and into the party. Ideologically that is correct and eventually it will be carried out. Put it into practice tomorrow and I don’t think it will be fruitful to the organisation. It must be done gradually, and the same is true about the national committee.”

Trotsky replies to this: “If there are 12 (non party NC members), the majority, you (Gould) are sure that they represent better the spirit of youth than the principles of Marxism, but if you (the party) are not capable of winning them (the 12 independents) for your decision, then the decision is bad, or the decision comes too early for this organisation and then you must postpone it. It is better to postpone than rule by bureaucratic decision.’”

Thus, Trotsky’s very clear in arguing against the complaints that the Youth would not be able to lead itself and against Gould’s argument that at the moment an independent majority would not be fruitful for the organisation. How can independent members develop the confidence and knowledge to become cadre without sharing the responsibility to lead the organisation? So not allowing the raw youth to have majority on the leadership actually prevents the development of youth into independent youth cadre, capable of leading the youth independently. Obviously this needs to be in conjunction with education around how to participate democratically on a leading body and in conjunction with political education around a revolutionary constitution.

We would do well to heed Trotsky’s advice in his argument: “How can you educate the youth without a certain amount of confusion, errors and internal fights which have not been infiltrated by the old gentlemen (of the adult party) but arise from the natural development of the youth themselves. I now have the impression that well-educated party members inside the youth organisation, think, speak, discuss and decide in the name of the youth. The party cadres naturally make a high level of discussion in the conventions and the National committee but this high level is an expression of the negative side of the situation……The worst thing that could happen to us would be to establish a division of labour within the youth organisation: the young rank and file play with colours and trumpets and the selected cadres attend to the politics.” 2



1. “Toward a Revolutionary Youth Organisation”, November 18, 1938, The Writings of Leon Trotsky
(1938-39), Pathfinder Press, 1974, pp. 123-128.
2. “A Revolutionary Name for a Revolutionary Youth Group”, December 10, 1938, ebenda, p. 152


Motivation for a motion to the leadership of REVO/UK, by independent Revos on September 2, 2006

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