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Fourth International Youth camp

Tremendous success of the 32nd International Youth Camp in Belgium!

Saturday 8 August 2015, by Neal Michiels

The 32nd International Youth Camp of the Fourth International took place in Belgium between July 26th and August 1st. The Socialistische Arbeiderspartij – Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (SAP-LCR), Belgian section of the Fourth International, took the initiative to organize this year’s youth camp. The camp was held in the natural park Hoge Rielen, a lovely location for a week of political exchanges between revolutionaries from Europe and worldwide. Participants came from Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Spanish State, Switzerland, United States and Western Sahara. All political aspects of the camp were self-organized by the youth participants who themselves established the programme. From the balance sheet that was made within each delegation and brought in common at the last meeting of the political coordination of the camp, we have tried to give an overview of the most remarkable highlights.

A first highlight of the camp concerns the work that was done on ecological struggles and the need for an ecosocialist political project. During the second thematic day that was dedicated to ecology, the Belgian Daniel Tanuro, member of the leadership of the SAP/LCR and author of the book “Green capitalism:why it can’t work”, opened the camp work on ecology with an introduction on “what project for society, programme and strategy to face the ecological emergency”. [1] During the rest of the week, a working group on the COP21 met with the aim of building common initiatives to strengthen and radicalize the climate mobilizations around the COP21 in Paris at the end of the year. This camp activity resulted in a common appeal for mobilization from the delegations: « 99% stand for Climate: Our Planet, not your Business ! ». [2]

The strategic debates about the political situation in Greece can be considered as a second big success of the good course of the program. A delegation of youth of OKDE-Spartakos, the Greek section of the Fourth International and forming part of the radical-left coalition Antarsya, was present at the youth camp to open the debate about the situation in Greece. The position defended by the Greek section was that of the need of an independent coalition of revolutionaries with a programme that breaks with European and Greek capitalism and opens the way to socialism. However, this political line did not convince all the participants who in many cases, in their own country, form part of broader political projects in common front with “reformists” such as the Danish Red-Green Alliance or Podemos in the Spanish State. The most important issue that was brought forward by the critical voices was that of the need to organize the 62% “No”-voters in the referendum into a political alternative; an alternative to the turn to austerity politics by the leadership of Syriza, who had just signed an austerity memorandum with the EU institutions and with the IMF. Noticing with great concern that the shift to the right of the Tsipras government goes with a repression against the radical left, the participating delegations adopted a solidarity declaration with the condemned anti-memorandum protesters of July 15th. [3]

A third highlight of the camp was situated at the end of the day on LGBTQ struggles. After a strong rally with powerful speeches the LGBTQ party started. Already a tradition of the international youth camps, the party aims to provide LGBTQ persons and all participants who are open for new, other than heterosexual, experiences with a space where they can express freely. The tolerant and free environment contrasts with the dominant heteronormativity and homophobia in most party places and in everyday life in society in general. No revolution without sexual liberation!

Fourth, the “interdelegation meetings” were a great success. They provided an excellent opportunity to exchange experiences in struggles with delegations from different countries. Some subjects of presentations and discussions between delegations were the evolution of Podemos in the Spanish State; the earthquakes within the British left (with the collapse of the Socialist Workers Party, the creation of Left Unity, the growth of the Scottish National Party and the campaign for a left leadership within Labour with the candidature of Jeremy Corbyn); the struggle against the third austerity memorandum in Greece; the struggles against big and for society useless infrastructure projects in Italy such as the HST-line Lyon-Turin and the World Exhibition in Milan; the strike movement in Belgium with the action plan of the labor unions against the right-wing government; etc.

It is precisely for these “interdelegations”, as well as for the internationalist meeting, the many workshops and the informal contacts in the course of the camp week, that the presence of extra-European delegations is highly appreciated. This year, the camp was able to welcome a delegation from the Western Sahara, a territory that is occupied by Morocco – with the support of France in the Security Council of the UN – for the theft of its natural resources. The comrades form part of the left-wing of the Polisario Front that struggles for the national anticolonial liberation of the Western Sahara. The participation of an Egyptian delegation was also foreseen, but the restrictive European border policies impeded that they could obtain a visa.

The outstanding internationalist dynamics of the youth camp, this year with 318 participants, will continue next year with the 33th International Youth Camp of the Fourth International in... the Spanish State! The camp will be organized by Anticapitalistas, organisation that co-founded Podemos and became meanwhile the most important referent for the anticapitalist left within the broader political project. If the political enthusiasm – and creative atmosphere! - of this year’s delegation of the Spanish State can find a translation into an equally engaged and cheerful camp organization, next year’s international youth camp will become a not-to-be-missed rendezvous, and a priority for the youth organizations of the Fourth International!

Footnotes

[1] The written version of Daniel Tanuro’s introduction (in French):Face à l’urgence écologique : projet de société, programme, stratégie. International Viewpoint will publish an English translation shortly.

[2] The call for mobilization: “99% stand for Climate: Our Planet, not your Business!”.

[3] Solidarity declaration with the anti-memorandum protesters of July 15th in Greece.