YCL: “Our history and our future cannot be banned – against the Tory government’s state attack on anti-capitalism in schools!”

The Young Communist League has issued a statement condemning recent attempts by the Tory government and Department for Education to outlaw anti-capitalism in schools.

The Young Communist League condemns in the strongest terms the pathetic attempt by the Boris Johnson’s Tory Cabinet and the Department for Education (DfE) to ban anti-capitalist materials in schools in England.

The policy announced by the DfE at the end of last month is a direct attack on freedom of thought and conscience for students and teachers and in our schools. It has dangerous implications for democracy in Britain as a whole.

The Nazi Party burned books in the 1930s. Today the British Government is using legal means to ban the mention of working class history and ideas, which are part and parcel of the history of our nation, and stop young people from learning about them.

The guidance states that “Schools should not under any circumstances use resources produced by organisations that take extreme political stances on matters … [including] a publicly stated desire to abolish or overthrow […] capitalism.”

This guidance not only attempts to conflate democracy and free elections with capitalism itself and present it as the only natural and legitimate form of society, which is false on a number of fronts, it also brands anti-capitalism as an ‘extreme political stance’ akin to fascism or religious fundamentalism.

This sets a clear and dangerous precedent in education, media and society in general, which should alarm anyone who believes in the causes and ideas of Britain’s working class and progressive movement, whether in the past or present. Whether an activist, a member of a trade union, a socialist, a Communist, or simply a person who believes in social justice and equality as opposed to the rule of the rich, exploitation and oppression, this is a direct attempt to muzzle our worldview and banish our history.

These moves are part of a longstanding ideological offensive by the right wing governments and the European Union, solidified in the 2008 so-called Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism. Anti-communism has been strengthened as a state ideology in Britain and across Europe, with attempts to conflate Soviet Socialism and Communism in general with Nazi-fascism.

Time and time again, history has shown that anti-Communism is anti-democratic and only leads to broader attacks on civil and political rights for the mass of the people. Anti-Communism is an excuse for attacking the labour and progressive movement that stands up for workers’ interests. The real threat to civil and political rights comes from those in power and the far right – from capitalism itself.

This attack launched by Tory ministers and the DfE is a broad assault on all left and labour movement forces here in Britain. It is an attempt to demonise our use of our democratic rights and the ability to fight for progressive gains. This move in schools is the thin end of the wedge which, if allowed to pass, will lead to bigger and bolder attempts to outlaw the struggle for Socialism and for social and economic progress.

There should be no illusions about the ‘neutrality’ and the clear class bias of the British state and the political parties in power. The central purpose of the state, in all its functions – the civil service, the army, the police, the education system – is to maintain the power of the ruling class, to maintain capitalism. This is achieved by subtle ideological moves such as this as well as by outright force.

In reality, anti-capitalist views have never been openly allowed in Britain’s schools. This is well known to all students and teachers. The curriculum is heavily weighted towards the ideology and politics of Britain’s ruling class, to justify the history of empire and the current political set-up. The arguments for Socialism and the history of our working class have rarely been taught other than with a clear bias for the purposes of attacking the left.

Britain’s young Communists are undaunted by this cynical move by the Tories and the ruling class to indoctrinate the youth to submit to this exploitative and oppressive system. Anti-Communism and other attacks on the left make the real class and anti-worker nature of our society clearer to increasing numbers of young people.

If Communism is a dead and bankrupt ideology, why take such measures to oppose it? The real fears of Britain’s ruling class are clear, as is their willingness to use anti-democratic measures and indoctrination to protect their corrupt system.

Britain’s young Communists will fight this anti-democratic measure across the country. We will continue to grow and to work, bringing Communist politics to increasing numbers of young people and to revive a militant and class-conscious culture among students in schools, colleges and universities across the country.

In the words of Assata Shakur:

No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.”

No to anti-Communism and state propaganda!

For democratic rights and the struggle for Socialism!

Executive Committee
Young Communist League

7 October 2020
London, Britain