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Youth and independence


This week’s Round Table is an extract from a 1975 paper, entitled “Independence and Youth.”

Mr Henry Williams of the UWI Extra Mural Centre had requested the study and it was reprinted by CHANGE publications and excerpted in the Canada based “Caribbean Dialogue”. Today, the subject of Youth and the Nation gets little sustained attention. This challenging point in this extract is that the way our young Vincentians can best build themselves and our nation is by a strategic commitment with the embattled but productive working people, rather than having an implicit alliance with imperialism.{{more}}

Youth as a section of society has a contribution to make to the Independence movement only when they become a force to strengthen the worker-peasant class in the struggle for socialism. Is it realistic to expect that our youth can achieve this commitment? The pre-war generation fought for the king and the British Empire. The new generation will not. They have grown up to see banks, insurances, stores, Geest … expanding daily. They know that the reason for metropolitan interest in our country is not fatherly care, but naked theft. They see, they know the effect of hunger, powerless-ness and the breakdown of community life. Divisions in politics, exploitation and the profit motive, moral emptiness in the ruling class. Today’ s young people have experienced the society, they have analyzed it and they have condemned it.

A sizeable portion of young people have to slave, to scrunt, to whore and to lick boots, just to survive. In one generation imperialism has become unmasked and reveals its ugliness. In the face of this criminal ugliness, this generation can never walk the ways of their parents.

There is no work. There is no national economy. Enterprises are opened up or closed down, according to private interests. One thousand youths leave school each year to fill one hundred vacancies. This makes wage labour cheap and profits high. Wageless, ingenuous, victims of imperialism and morally bankrupt leaders youth faces imperialism with no weapons, no power and no allies among the privileged sections.

Yet the imperialists and their agents do co-opt and entice the youth into their net. There is no room for young people in production or employment, but at least they can buy. So the consumption ethic is sold by the MNC’s and their agents.

“Buy this. Use that. Get the other. ” The youth subculture is a consuming subculture, spread by imperialism and its instruments and promoted by the shopkeeper ruling class.

With no role in production, with their consciousness distorted by a consumer mentality, our youth are caught in a reactionary movement against history.

Our youth cannot help being unsteady in the cruel tug-o-war of forces which beat upon them. Confused, cynical, idealist at one and the same time. The recent publication “Snap Soul” betrayed this unsteadiness; one editorial article announced in the first line “Snap Soul is not a political magazine and we hope will not become one.”

The closing lines of the same article told a different story of class analysis … “Some people show more concern over buying a $5,000 watch than (over) another human being.

“In town the other day, a woman tried to give away her baby!!! She can no longer support it.

“Children under eight years patrolling middle class areas looking for food!!!”

The article moves from a statement of non-politics to an assessment of political-class behaviour. The consciousness of our youth is a limited consciousness because for one thing, the leading section of our youth is in no position to confront and grasp the full reality of imperialism. Although the youth exists everywhere as a dependent group, we must admit that a 12-year-old who works on an estate is objectively in a different position from the youth who will not work until he comes back from university. Leadership is drawn from that sect which is normally more dependent on imperialism and therefore confusion and deceit are spread among the youth. The youth do not therefore represent a consistent progressive force for national liberation.

While we recognize that our youth are placed in an ambiguous position in relation to imperialism, we also recognize that youth posses a degree of moral conviction which will help them to overcome the barriers in the way of their commitment to national liberation. The existence of a class conscious liberation movement, the growing moral and material forces of socialism on the world scale, the atrocities and inhuman conditions spawned by imperialisms, the courageous and enthusiastic peoples who have fought to victory through 30 years of war in Vietnam, 12 years in Guinea Bissau, the clarity and power of working class ideology, the unstoppable history of struggle of our people – all these factors to inspire the idealism of our youth, so that they can break from the ideology of the ruling class, love and cling to the dear aspirations of the working class, accept the disciplines of class struggle and become truly one with the makers of history, and progress, the worker peasant class.

We have daily evidence of the moral resources of our youth. The revolt against white racism in the Caribbean was represented mainly among the youth. The return to “natural” styles of life rather than imperialist consumption is also represented mainly among the youth. The moral resources of our youth must now take them to their truly historical destiny – rejecting all ruling class temptations, they must become “reborn as revolutionary workers, completely identified with the deepest aspirations of the people to which they belong.”

This transformation, this moral revolution will enable our youth to see the world correctly, through the eye of the working class. All their skills and knowledge and abilities will then be developed to advance the class struggle against imperialism and against the local ruling class so that political power will pass into the hands of the working classes. The transformation of the productive forces, The renewal of a human culture, the cultivation of a socialist nation state, the abolition of all prejudices and discrimination, the constant and critical maintenance of freedom, all these are results to be won only through the defeat of imperialism exploitation, colonial plunder and white racism, the victory of national liberation under working class control.


Any independence which is granted to or imported by our political merchants is a false and fearful independence. National liberation will still have to be won. 1975 is the year to begin the final chapter of the struggle which afro-callingo ancestors waged in our name, the struggle for national liberation and socialism.

Long live the Revolutionary Youth!!