The Young Communist League’s General Secretary, Johnnie Hunter, has released a New Year’s address to mark the beginning of 2022:

The Young Communist League sends warm greetings and solidarity to the youth and working people everywhere as we begin 2022. This will be a year of difficult struggles on many fronts and we wish you a year of victories.

Working people are confronted with intensifying exploitation and oppression under capitalism, increasingly vicious attacks on our rights and living standards by the ruling class and the destruction of our planet by this same system. 2021 also continued to be a year in which we faced a global pandemic affecting every aspect of life and the conditions of struggle themselves.

The Pandemic in Britain and the Ruling Class Offensive

Across the world millions have died from COVID19, in Britain alone the figure is well over 160,000. The vast majority of these deaths were entirely preventable. Millions more have been thrown into poverty and precarity or and have had their lives and futures thrown into doubt.

In Britain these deaths, the poverty and the uncertainty are a direct result of ruling class incompetence and the choice, enforced by their political representatives in the Tory party, to prioritise private profit and the value of shares in the City of London over human life.

While working people and the youth have suffered and died, the ruling class has sought to use the pandemic as a weapon and the biggest opportunity in years to increase the rate of profit, consolidate wealth and power and undermine any resistance. Even by conservative estimates, the wealth of billionaires has increased by well over 50% globally. Much of this wealth has been directly gained by pandemic profiteering. While the Earth burns, billions live without food and sanitation and a pandemic ravages, Bezos and Musk compete to squander vast sums on vanity projects in space.

In Britain, shameless and corrupt profiteering has been the priority for the ruling class and their Tory Party. Supplying defective PPE at inflated prices, billions spent on a test and trace system that doesn’t work and sky high prices for starvation rations to school children have been just a few of the better known examples. The culprits? Friends of Tory Cabinet members and Dominic Cummings, Serco and the Compass Group. What do they all have in common? They’re all Tory Party donors.

The ruling class have also tried to use the pandemic as a smokescreen for a broad and pervasive attack on civil liberties in Britain. Initially health restrictions were used as a justification to harass and in practise ban all forms of collective protest. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill now making its was through its final stages in Parliament is a massive attack on the right to protest and empowers the police and security services to target campaigners and demonstrators. Similar attacks have been seen on the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Tory MPs are currently shamelessly attempting forced through an Elections Bill, which includes a new voter identification requirement, the same tactic used in the USA to deter working class and ethnic minority voters from their right to vote.

A World in Peril

Internationally, imperialist aggression and war have continued to ravage the planet with humanitarian tragedies unfolding across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, resulting in so-called ‘migrant crises’ in the same western countries responsible for provoking and supporting the conflict. The main imperialist powers – the USA, the UK, the European Union and NATO – are the central threat to peace and national sovereignty globally. In recent months the British state and monopoly media, and the massive arms manufacturers who stand to profit, have been desperate to stoke tensions and support for a confrontation with Putin’s Russia.

Even while the world is gripped by pandemic, economic and climate crisis, hundreds of billions are squandered on armaments and support for oppressive regimes. Nuclear weapons continue to pose an existential threat to the future of humanity. The nuclear armed so-called AUKUS alliance announced in 2021 is the latest effort in the drive by the USA, UK and EU for a New Cold War against China. This New Cold War has become the new central priority of the imperialist powers and they have sought to use the pandemic, misinformation campaigns and racist propaganda to cultivate support for it.

These same imperialist powers have weaponised the pandemic itself, using the spread of disease and access to medical supplies to attack and undermine popular and democratically elected governments in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and elsewhere.

All the while the world faces a climate crisis, decades in the making, which the ruling class is unable and unwilling to resolve. The COP26 Summit in Glasgow last year saw many warm words and fine speeches but no commitment to the concrete action needed to save the planet. Concrete action which is in fact, impossible under a system which prioritises private profit and greed and gives control of the Earth’s resources to a handful of billionaires.

Hope is Found in the Struggle

But even in these difficult times for the youth, for our class and for humanity there is always hope, wherever and whenever working people are prepared to fight. 2021 has also been a year of struggles and victories.

It was working people and the labour movement that waged the struggle for and won public health measures and economic support during the pandemic, in the face of government incompetence and ruling class apathy.

In the past year, trade unions have taken on and beaten some of Britain’s most exploitative employers. Trade union membership is on the rise for the first time in decades.

Student across the country took on landlords, universities and the government in some of biggest rent strikes seen in decades and won historic payouts and concessions.

During 2021, millions of young people across the world took to the streets in school strikes and other protests to protect our planet, culminating in the massive COP26 demonstrations in Glasgow and other cities.

Young people the length and breadth of Britain and across Europe and North America have been at the forefront of the continuing fight against racism and prejudice in our society.

Women across Britain faced down police violence and harassment to oppose epidemic levels of violence against women and girls and femicide.

Internationally, we have seen historic victories too: from the farmer’s strike in India to the defeat of neoliberalism and the legacy of Pinochet in Chile.

The Socialist countries have demonstrated, in the face of the pandemic, the strength of a system which prioritises human life and uses the resources of society in the interest of working people. China has shown, that with working people united and mobilised it is possible to quickly overcome the virus, saving millions of lives and livelihoods in the process. Vietnam’s ability to halt the virus completely put to shame our Tory government here in Britain and capitalist regimes across the world. Socialist Cuba, even in the face of the US blockade, was able to halt the pandemic on its own shores and send thousands of doctors abroad, including to Europe, to fight the pandemic as well as developing its own vaccine.

As we begin 2022, militancy and class consciousness are on the rise in Britain. Communist and progressive forces are on the march across the world.

A Century of Struggle

Last year was also a historic, exciting and important one for the Young Communist League.

2021 was our centenary year, marking 100 years since young Communists from across Britain met in Birmingham to found a youth organisation of a new type.

Those young workers and students didn’t just agree to condemn the ills and excesses of capitalism. They shared the realisation that a different world is possible, a new, superior form of society. They were united by a common determination to give the best years of their lives, their hope, their energy and their enthusiasm to do everything in their power to advance our world historic struggle.

100 years on, this is the same pact – the same commitment to live life with a purpose – that unites the growing number of hundreds of young Communists around Britain today.

Despite the pandemic, 2021 featured a lively and exciting calendar of centenary events across Britain reclaiming, rediscovering and celebrating a century of struggle by the YCL. Our celebrations will carry until April 2022 as we go confidently into the next 100 years.

2021: a year of struggle and successes

Britain’s establishment and monopoly media rabidly proclaim that Communism an outdated and dead ideology – but Britain’s young Communists aren’t merely the custodians of an exciting but bygone past.

Our centenary coincided with the highest levels of activity and militancy for young Communists across Britain in living memory. YCLers have been active on every front, in our communities, schools, campuses and workplaces.

This activity has been accompanied by the fastest growth for the YCL across Britain in decades, with young workers and students joining the YCL up and down the country. New branches are being formed and throwing themselves into the struggle in different towns and cities each and every month.

Young Communists played a leading role as candidates and campaigners in Communist Party’s biggest electoral contest since the 1980s across England, Wales and Scotland last spring. Millions of people received Communist politics and had the opportunity to vote Communist, most for the first time in their lives. Thousands did just that. Hundreds applied to join the Party and the YCL during and since the election.

Last summer, YCLers from across Britain came together in Edale in the Peak District for our biggest Summer Camp in living memory. Carrying forward the traditions of the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass, young Communists uphold the culture of political education and the right of working people to enjoy and socialise in our natural heritage.

In August, over one hundred delegates representing hundreds of YCLers and branches from the length and breadth of Britain met in London for our historic 50th Congress, the biggest and most important for generations. The Congress itself was the culmination of over nine months of the widest and most comprehensive democratic debate and discussion across the whole of the YCL.

Young Communists can be proud of the work we have done and what we have achieved and look to the next year, which is sure to be harder and more challenging than the last, with confidence and determination.

Our genuinely youth led organisation enters 2022 with a clear strategy to build the fight for peace, democracy and Socialism among Britain’s youth and is defined by a will to win. And we have big plans for the year ahead.

2022: a year to intensify the struggle for the youth, working people and humanity

Our 50th Congress set itself the task of analysing and responding to the fundamental questions of the hour – how to combat the deep systemic crisis confronting Britain’s youth, how to stop capitalism destroying the Earth and how to build a militant and disciplined communist movement in our country.

Young Communists will hit the ground running in 2022, building the fight against this Tory government in our communities and as part of broad labour, student, tenants, peace and anti-imperialist movements.

We’re determined to continue and accelerate the exciting growth that we have worked to build in 2021 and win more and more young people to the struggle for Socialism. Our strategy is based on education, organisation, militancy and confidence in the struggle.

Our message to Britain’s young workers and students is simple: another world is possible, a world free from the exploitation of human by human – Socialism.

The beginning of a new year is always a time for reflection and for hope. The struggles of working people represent the future and the very best of humanity and what it is that makes us human. That is what we celebrate at this time of year and every day, in the struggle for Socialism.

In 2022 the challenge for Britain’s youth and working people is to build the struggle to defeat the pandemic once and for all, to remove this corrupt Tory government and to save the planet.

Even with all the challenges and difficulties that we face – if you’re in the fight, you’re already winning.

If you want to play your part, make sure your New Year’s Resolution is to take your place in the ranks of the YCL and the Communist Party.

Long live the youth and the international working class!

For peace, democracy and Socialism in our lifetimes!

Forever, yours in comradeship

Johnnie Hunter
General Secretary

Young Communist League
1 January 2022