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Youth Against Neofascism: Strategies for Victory

This transcript is part of a collection of remarks presented by Hood Communist editors at the Second International Meeting of Theoretical Publications of Left Parties and Movements in Havana, Cuba. Click here to view the full collection

Presented by Erica Caines 

I would like to thank Cuba and the revolution for providing a framework and model for approaches to engaging the youth. The examples of Cuba’s youth-led literacy and medical campaigns are shining beacons which illustrate the capabilities of our youth.

I want to start by saying that we unite with the urgency to combat cultural imperialism—- much of which in the US is facilitated through the U.S. education system. As an African revolutionary publication our focus is on recapturing African Black youth to revolutionary ideologies that push us forward toward the end of the oppressive systems of capitalism and imperialism. 

The violence of the U.S. education system has operated for decades by upholding white settler colonial interests. This education system exploits the labor of African communities around the world, fuels student complacency by promoting capitalist individualism, and claims that assimilation into capitalism is the only way to help our people.

Public higher education in the U.S., including historically Black colleges and universities (also known as HBCUs), which proclaim to directly serve African (Black) youth, do not exist to teach Black youth to be “community leaders” or “change the world”, as they often claim in their recruitment materials. In fact, the tradition of youthful resistance has always emerged in spite of the capitalist university, not because of them. Oppressors do not teach the oppressed to free themselves; oppressors educate the oppressed to perpetuate oppression. Clearly oppressed people, and the private and public institutions of higher learning under capitalist domination have opposing reasons for educating the youth.

Historically there have always been students who commit themselves to change. This group learns by opposing the teachings of the capitalist dominated universities and aligning themselves with the needs and aspirations of the people. We must take the education of our youth into our own hands, especially on HBCU campuses. African/Black youth must establish control of our HBCUs. As All African People’s Revolutionary party cadre, HBCU alumnus, and great friend of Cuba, Kwame Ture, reminds us, universities, and HBCUs in particular, are a complete mess of contradictions, embodying the best and the absolute worst values of Africans in the U.S. —- a dialectical relationship. 

Our youth are facing an onslaught of propaganda, economic depression, and social alienation. This comes from the capitalist state and its educational institutions, but is also now heightened by the neo-fascist social movement. Social backwardness such as homophobia, racism, and xenophobia are becoming more and more popular, because the capitalist forces are using social and digital media to popularize these right-wing ideologies. The reactionary ideologies of Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and others have spread rapidly and widely on digital and social media, where they have particularly strong influence with the youth. In reality, they are exploiting the poor economic conditions and alienation of the youth to further neo-fascist ideals.

For African/Black People, the only solution remains to make capitalism and imperialism a chapter of humanity’s past. Our students and youth, in coordination with their communities, must take up the task of transforming universities into liberated zones that produce classes of individuals ready to make the revolution needed to solve our problems. 

We must also consider the reality that data shows youth are reading less than ever before. Studies show that the main way that youth are receiving their information and news is not through reading written content. Youth globally are now dependent on video content as the primary format of communication and information; as revolutionaries, we must take this into consideration and adapt to the technological landscape. While within our parties, organizations, and movements we champion reading, study, and political education, we must also create strategies to adapt and disseminate our left-wing ideas to the masses through video and audio in a variety of formats. In order to properly do this, we must have youth in the room with us, not in isolation, leading us and organizing alongside us, and helping us create propaganda that genuinely speaks to their peers. We must figure out how to use these platforms and tools to educate youth, without losing important context and depth.

We propose agitating the youth (and students) to critically organize themselves, and for us to survey youth to learn what is the best format and methods to reach them. Our struggle with youth is against capitalist values of individualism and greed. We utilize forms like poetry and art to promote socialist values, just as we utilize written material as tools at our disposal, and we must be open to exploring and using all tools available — just as our enemies are doing. We must strategize ways to bring Marxism-Leninism and revolutionary Pan-Africanism to the youth through contemporary technologies, in ways they can relate to them. Youth must become a united, politically-educated force, capable of a collective effort to serve the world’s oppressed and exploited people, which includes having a clarity and understanding of their material conditions, the mechanisms and long reach of U.S propaganda and counterinsurgency through identity reductionist politics. 

As Fidel himself said in 1964, “We want the youth to be well-educated, well-schooled, well-organized, well-trained, and well-informed. The Revolution has perhaps no more important task than this–the preparation of the new generations for a superior life, a better life, a different life.”

As the Guyanese revolutionary Marxist historian Walter Rodney said, “The revolution is made by ordinary people, not by angels, made by people from all walks of life, and more particularly by the working class and the youth who are in the majority.”

We want to end by saying we unconditionally support the national liberation struggle of the Palestinian people and we fight side by side with them for the defeat of Zionism as yet another white supremacist manifestation of racist settler-colonialism and brutal global imperialism. We know that the media, education systems, and the highest levels of office in the U.S. are propagating Zionist propaganda targeted at youth and workers, and have abandoned all journalistic integrity to do so, reprinting outright lies about the Palestinian youth who are struggling for liberation. The same way that youth are targeted with anti-Palestinian propaganda, they are also targeted by anti-Cuban propaganda. We must combat this media manipulation by Zionists and capitalists with force everywhere.

No Compromise No Retreat. Imperialism will find its grave in Africa and Zionism will die in Palestine. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free!

More from this Writer

“To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people.”
― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth