The International Committee Youth Leadership Committee (ICYLC) has made connections with many different groups abroad in the past few years. Supporters of Resolution 26 argue that we should stay the course with the current structure of the committee.
As active members of the ICYLC over the past two years, we’ve seen YDSA’s international work excel in certain areas while facing obstacles in others. Here we hope to provide some commentary on three of these proposals informed by our experiences as active members of the ICYLC. Afterwards, we hope to provide a positive vision towards organizing YDSA internationalism beyond these resolutions specifically about internationalism.
The first resolution related to internationalism listed on the bulletin is “Resolution 7: Building a Youth International Through Chapter-to-Chapter Partnerships.” While we both disagree with the politics put forth in the resolution, we appreciate the clarity and thoroughness of the resolution. R7 excels in laying out the current issues with the committee (namely, that the committee can be distant from many chapters), and then proposing a solution that the authors believe will best strengthen the committee: having the ICYLC facilitate sister chapter relationships with international parties.
Politically, we disagree with the resolution as we believe that YDSA’s internationalism should be focused on helping chapters support efforts combating US imperialism rather than facilitating the relationships for a few large chapters. We are also hesitant to see youth-based organizations as the starting point for the construction of a new international and feel that this is a task that DSA would be better equipped to do. Nonetheless, the resolution proposes an implementable vision that potentially could solve a current organizational problem within YDSA.
“Resolution 23: Class Struggle Internationalism,” like R7, addresses a problem that the authors recognize with YDSA’s international work. The writers identify the ICYLC’s status as a subcommittee of DSA’s International Committee (IC) as “limiting the ability of YDSA to make direct connections with student movements and party youth wings around the world” and an obstacle to efficiently integrating international work into YDSA. Their solution is to create a new committee that will replace the current one in order to address this perceived disconnect between the ICYLC and the whole of YDSA.
However, as current members of the committee, we do not see the formation of a new committee as a solution to either of the problems the authors identify. YDSA has made our strongest connections with international partners through our work in the DSA IC because of the relationships between our parent parties. Rather than allowing YDSA to gain more connections, this resolution would directly inhibit our ability to build relationships with student movements abroad, especially organizations with mass bases and political power. This past year our connections with the IC allowed us to start relationships with the Swaziland National Union of Students, the Kenyan Youth Communist League, and ROOD: Socialist Youth to name a few.
We do agree that YDSA international work needs to be better integrated into the whole organization. However, the solution is not the bureaucratic reshuffling that R23 proposes. Rather, we have to engage in the hard political work of building national unity and cohesion among all YDSA committees, and building long-term relationships between chapters and national. We strongly encourage delegates to vote “No” on R23 and its amendment.
The final resolution, “Resolution 26: Recommitting to the ICYLC” continues the democratic mandate we placed on the ICYLC at last year’s convention and all the work that came out of it. The resolution calls for YDSA to reaffirm its support of the committee and the work it does. It also adds that the ICYLC will continue to prioritize the execution of resolutions passed at YDSA Convention that concern international work. The ICYLC has many flaws, but this year our international work has been more consistent and widespread than ever before in our time in YDSA. We strongly encourage delegates to vote “Yes” on “Resolution 26: Recommitting to the ICYLC.”
Towards a National YDSA
The challenges that the ICYLC faces are shared across other committees and result from our organizational underdevelopment. Our national work is composed of a collection of mostly autonomous committees that run varying projects with sporadic attendance and uneven follow up. They rarely work together, and most committees are unaware of what other committees are doing.
For the last seven years, various efforts have been made to build national leadership and capacity through proposals like the Regional Organizing Committees (ROCs) and the National Organizing Committee (NOC), but none of these have lasted. As a result, there is no coordinated and expanded middle layer of leadership able to make the NCC’s decisions meaningful and national work known at the chapter level. We believe the path forward to a stronger internationalist YDSA will require the development of a strong national organization.
This convention there are many resolutions that, if passed, will strengthen the national organization of YDSA. To increase our national capacity we need to build stronger relationships between national and chapters. “Resolution 14: Establishing a Chapter Grant System” offers one key mechanism for establishing more unity by allowing national YDSA to monetarily support local campaigns. To receive this support, chapters must also involve the NCC in the first stages of their campaign planning, and the NCC will be able to incentivize campaigns that align with goals set at convention. Regarding internationalism, as this proposal prioritizes campaigns that “increase engagement with BIPOC communities and incorporate racial justice into campaign actions and priorities,” YDSA work that targets the imperial police state through combatting ROTC and other recruitment efforts, classes that promote military logic, and other manifestations of imperialism on campus, would be prioritized for grants.
Further, “Resolution 5: Recommitting to the Campaign Organizing Committee (COC)” serves to integrate and support chapter-level campaigns by meeting chapters where they are organizing and encouraging analysis of their local conditions. We can envision COC as an incredibly important entity to support internationalist campaigns where often the early stages of research and campaign-planning can be more obscure than other issues. The COC can aid with the general contours of the campaign while the ICYLC helps with the specifics. Finally, “Resolution 3: Building YDSA for the Future: Establishing the YDSA Growth and Development Committee (GDC)” creates the YDSA GDC. By consistently engaging in support, trainings, and outreach to YDSA chapter leaders, the GDC will be developing the base of chapter leaders that both chapters and our national committees need. These three resolutions, R14, R5, and R3, will help to build a national organization able to act as a national organization.
Similarly, we need to build cohesion between our committees at the national level. “Resolution 2: Building a Strong National Administration” will have our committee leaders meeting quarterly with the NCC, so that all parties involved are aware of the other work being done. This will open up possibilities for joint projects between committees that will make all of our national work more efficient. Similarly, as we revive national strategy calls for chapter leaders, we could think about bringing in youth leaders from around the world to build relationships with chapter leaders and inform our strategy discussions. In building political education resources and developing more members, “Resolution 4: Reestablishing the Youth Political Education Committee (YPEC)” sets coordination between national bodies as one of the mandates to achieve its goals. Both of these resolutions will bring the ICYLC closer to the other committees by creating new opportunities for collaboration on projects.
“Resolution 20: Recommitting to our Digital Platforms” proposes a Digital Organizing Committee (DOC) composed of representatives of existing committees. The DOC will act as another layer of communication between national leaders engaged in different areas of our work and streamline external communication. Finally, “Resolution 15: Semesterly ‘State of YDSA’ Calls for Committee Check-in and Direction” provides the simplest solution to make sure our committees are accessible and accountable to all YDSA members. Together, these resolutions will build a more effective and cohesive national organization, which as we have argued, strengthens the ICYLC as well.
The strongest way to advance YDSA’s international work is to stay the course within the DSA IC and focus on the necessary transformation of our national organization. The path towards a YDSA that has chapters running local anti-imperialist campaigns with national support and international relationships deeply felt at every level of the organization lies in building an effective and cohesive national organization. Rather than creating a new committee, as R23 proposes, or debating amendments that do little if anything to shift our organizing, like “Amendment R23-1,” we should take seriously the task of building a more functional, participatory, democratic, and united YDSA.