G. Zinoviev

The Youth Movement

The Tasks of the International Youth

(20 September 1923)

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 61 [39], 20 September 1923, pp. 681–682.
On-line Publication: Zinoviev Internet Archive, May 2023.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The present times are full of the deepest import for the International Youth. Further violent tempests are brewing. The German Party is entering upon great struggles. It is long since we felt their very breath so near as now. The German Party in action! Twenty million proletarians raise their voices – the main army of the International Proletariat, the bearers of the international proletarian revolution advance!

The new struggles of the proletariat in Germany can assume such proportions that they will be capable of bringing us the commencement of the socialist era in one of the most important parts of the World.

There is no power on Earth which could vanquish twenty million proletarians! Twenty million proletarians, every one of whom is able to read and write, who have passed through the severe school of social democratic treachery and have drunk to the dregs of the preparatory cup of defeat!

In perusing the chronicle of the revolutionary struggles of the working class of the various countries, one is often forced to the conclusion that the working class is unable to vanquish the bourgeoisie before the workers have endured defeat in one or another of its forms. Without the events of the years 1905 and 1906, the victory of the Russian proletariat in 1917 would have been scarcely possible, or this victory would have been much harder of attainment. The German proletariat has also passed through its testing time. In the year 1918/19, in the famous Spartacus revolts and in the beginning of 1921 in the March action, the German proletariat underwent its tempering process and received the lessons which now render it capable of not only rising in revolt but also of being victorious.

The events, which are now preparing in Germany may well lead us to the most important age in the history of the struggles of the international proletariat and of the destiny of the whole of mankind. The proletarian youth in particular turns to this page with trembling hands.

Let us be clear on the matter – the struggles which have already begun in Germany and which can wax fiercer every day, perhaps also mean the acceleration of that new series of wars against the socialist states, whose inevitability was predicted by Comrade Lenin some years ago. Powerful events are in course of preparation! We dare not for a moment shut our eyes to the dangers bound up with these events.

The young generation of the proletarian youth which has grown up in the period following the great victorious Russian revolution of 1917 and of the abortive first German revolution of 1918, will essentially decide the fate of the crisis which is now ripening.

An especially heavy, but nevertheless glorious task now lies with the German youth. The German Youth League which, we will not hide ourselves from the fact, during the last years has on many occasions remained behind events, must now strain every muscle in order to rise to the grandiose events now approaching. The German Youth League must be the must sound, the most active and the most self-sacrificing – in one world – the most illustrious troops of the German Communist Party in the battles of the future. The German Youth League must be the light cavalry of the proletarian army which is entering into new fierce struggles with capitalism.

An equally great task lies before the French Youth. Tomorrow, the French armies will be launched against the German workers. An attempt will be made to convert them into the hangmen of the German workers. The French Communist Party, and before all, the French Youth League must proclaim this aloud throughout the whole of France and set itself against it.

The Communist Youth of Russia, and with it the other sections of the Communist Youth International, must regard it as their greatest honour to aid their brother troops in the youth of Germany and through them the German revolution. The proletarian youth can be thoroughly convinced of the fact that in any event their generation will witness the decisive, battles of the world proletariat. The best cohorts of our youthful comrades will in any case have opportunity of engaging in combat with the bourgeoisie and their Fascist sons, not only in the streets of their native towns, but also in the streets of the chief cities of Europe. The oppressive atmosphere of bourgeois reaction of the last days is beginning to get lighter. The era of the retreat of the workers' army is drawing to a close. The unbearable torturing epoch of contempt and scorn of the workers on the part of international capital is approaching its end. The thunder clouds are lowering. Not today perhaps – but tomorrow the purifying storm can burst forth. Let us be ready! May the proletarian youth which has been wont to receive the first blows of reaction be the undaunted herald of the coming battles.

We declare right out: The Comintern is proud of the fact that in its years of severest work and struggle, never once has there been any serious differences of opinion between the Comintern as a whole and its International Communist Youth troops. While in all other international organizations, disputes between “Father and Son" are a quite usual phenomenon, it is not so in the Comintern, not even m thought, and will not be so. One exception does not count. Only in an outlying corner of Europe (in Sweden) we witness a case where some “old” comrades who have become prematurely aged (we mean, of course, politically), mutter their peevish senile criticisms against the communist youth which call to mind the good “Papas” of the 2. and 2½ International. This is an exceptional case. In all countries where the Comintern has come into conflict with the remnant of the opposition in our sections, we have had the good fortune of witnessing the communist youth on the side of the Comintern. This was the case recently in France. It is so in Italy at the present time, and that is how the matter also stands in Norway and Sweden.

Put forth your energies, young proletarians. Deep into the masses! With the full glow of youthful fervour, with the firm conviction of communists must we anchor ourselves in the masses! May there be no factory, no mine or workshop without its promising nucleus of the International Communist Youth. Let us go also into the villages. The village youth is the great reserve of the international working class in the international revolution. Tenfold, a hundredfold, a thousandfold more energy to the capturing of the youth in town and country!

Last updated on 3 May 2023