Socialist Party USA
In a society plagued with mass injustice, towards humanity as well as our environment, a society where the promise of opportunity and abundance for all has fallen far short of the mark for the majority of its citizens; in a world where more and more people struggle and cry out for true democracy; we recognize that the future hopes and aspirations for that society lie in the hands of its youth. The youth of today will decide whether or not the world of tomorrow will be free, just, and humane.
We, as democratic socialists, reject the materialism and short-sightedness of those in power who would rob us of our futures. We reject an economic system where the needs of the people are subjugated to the desire for sheer profit, and we call for the dismantling of all power structures which by their very nature support and uphold such a system through corruption, discrimination, and oppression. We call this system capitalism, and we actively seek to replace it.
Contrary to the propaganda of that capitalist system, socialism is not a grey, lifeless, and dictatorial system seeking to rob individuals of their creativity and worth. Nor is it an idea that has failed and is now dead. In the eyes of most socialists worldwide, the Soviet Union was not a socialist nation, and never developed a socialist society. This is because socialism and democracy are inseparable; there can be no socialism without democracy, and there can be no true democracy without socialism. In our view, socialism has not yet had a fair chance at life, even with the definite improvements made in education, employment, and overall social welfare by socialistic parties in Sweden, Austria, and the Netherlands, as well as many other nations in Western Europe.
As socialists, our goal is a radically democratic world, a world where decisions are made by those affected by them, a world where society cherishes the individual and the individual has both the reason and will to work for society. We believe that everyone should have a say in determining how our political, social, and economic structures are run, and we believe that the institutions of those structures must be directly accountable to the people who sustain them. Such a goal requires a fundamental change in our values and priorities as a society, and nowhere is the possibility for change so great as among youth.
On Human Rights and Individuality
There is no greater struggle than for the liberation of oppressed peoples from their oppressors. There can be no just and sustainable world until we eliminate the degradation of racism, attain full equality of rights and status for women, and affirm the basic dignity of human life. In any human interaction, the prevailing ethic must be the respect for and support of individuality and the individual's right to self-determination.
One of the greatest dangers that we as youth face is the denial of our own human rights by a power structure often indifferent to our concerns. The youngest among us are often the victims of social neglect, in an economy where our parents must work full time to make ends meet, while we are left with no access to day care or a steady, nourishing diet, and a diminished sense of family. Child abuse, physical, sexual, and psychological, is an ongoing social horror for many youths whose voices are either silenced or callously dismissed by adults and authorities. The growing institutionalization of youths in disfunctional situations who are deemed "problematic" is an outrage comparable to that of punishing a victim for a crime. We must find a better way, one which helps, not hinders the healing process for the abused.
Education is a fundamental right, and must be provided free of charge to all who are interested and able. Our educational system has fallen into a cycle of apathy and violence, with more and more of us carrying weapons rather than books to school. We demand much better. We demand the right to learn in a safe and respectful environment, dedicated to the free and open pursuit of knowledge. This requires making education a top economic priority, with full funding for facilities, materials, and support programs so that all young people may claim their right to a proper education, from kindergarten to college. Classes must be smaller and teachers better trained and compensated. Teaching is a critical skill in any society; let us return teaching to its proper place of honor and respect. Students must have serious input into curriculum formation and in the hiring and dismissal procedures of the institutions. School boards must represent those most affected by their decisions: the students. Therefore, students must have fair voting representation on school boards. The ultimate goal of any learning center must be the nurturing of thought and the free exchange of ideas between students and teachers.
Just as the schools must be free, they must be freed. In the interests of objectivity, we call for an end to corporate- and military-funded research. We also recognize that the military therefore has no place on campus. We say no to the presence of recruiters, Junior ROTC and ROTC in our schools.
On Military Registration and War
For too many generations, the strength and idealism of youth has been preyed upon by those who would eagerly send us to fight and die in their battles. As democratic socialists, we reject wars of aggression for corporate interests. As youth, we refuse to sacrifice our lives again for rich men's wars. Our responsibility to ourselves as well as future generations is to choose life, not death and its methods. We oppose the use of the military as an ultimatum for youth in search of higher education and a career. No sane democratic society allows its youth to sign over their lives because of no other economic alternative. Compulsory registration for military service is nothing more than paper conscription, and as such is just one step away from the draft.
On Political and Economic Democracy
We seek a political and economic system with freedom and equality for all, so that people may develop to their fullest potential in harmony with others. We are committed to full freedom of speech, assembly, press, and religion, and to a multi-party electoral system elected by proportional representation.
Our goal is a system where the people own and control the commanding areas of the economy through democratically controlled public agencies, cooperatives, or other collective groups. Meaningful, open democracy is vital to an economic democracy; public ownership becomes a fraud if decisions are made by distant bureaucrats or authoritarian managers. The primary goal of this new economy should be an equitable distribution of wealth in order to provide the necessities of life- including food, shelter, health care, education, child care, cultural opportunities, and social services-to all people.
We also must provide full employment for all people able to work. Under welfare capitalism, a reserve pool of people is kept undereducated, underskilled and unemployed – largely along lines of age, race, and gender – to put pressure on the employed and on labor unions. The employed pay for this knife that capitalism holds to their throats by being taxed to fund welfare programs to maintain the unemployed and their children. In this way the working class is divided against itself; those with jobs and those without are separated by resentment and fear.
As youth, we have a right to know the facts and responsibilities of human sexuality. We recognize that sexuality is an essential part of each person's being, and that matters of sexual activity and identity are to be decided by each of us as part of our own self-discovery. We accept the reality that young people, as free individuals, have been and will be sexually active, and we acknowledge our right to be. However, we wholeheartedly condemn child sexual abuse, incest, and date rape, along with any other form of non-consensual sex.
Sexual activity also brings with it the risks of disease and unwanted pregnancy. In an age where sexual education is a matter of life or death, we demand that honest and frank education be part of our curriculum, throughout all schools. It is essential that condoms and other birth control devices be readily and conveniently available. In addition, we oppose any attempt to abridge a young woman's right to choose abortion.
Whether it be illegal narcotics, prescriptions or alcohol and tobacco, drugs have claimed the minds and lives of far too many people for too long. Equally as devastating has been the so-called "War On Drugs," which has packed our nation's prisons past capacity with people who do not belong there, and eroded our civil liberties and rights in the process.
We call for an end to the confusing and destructive hypocrisy of the past. Neither the pusher on the street nor the one on T.V. should be allowed to continue to profit on the misery of others. We call for the de-criminalization of drug use, and increased funding and emphasis on medical treatment and social support for those who need it. Furthermore, we call for the strict regulation, including a ban on advertising and profit, of the alcohol and tobacco industries. And we call for an end to unnecessary emphasis on prescription drugs in a new, socialized health care system.
On the Environment
The health of our environment determines our overall health as a society. YPSL fully supports: a mandatory recycling program for industry, an end to toxic landfills and waste dumps, banning nuclear energy in favor of solar and other newer forms of energy, reforestation of rain forest areas, and public ownership of the energy industry. These among others we see as essential steps toward a healthy and sustainable biosphere. In addition we oppose the cruel and unnecessary practice of vivisection and laboratory experiments on animals.
On Internal Democracy
YPSL is democratically run, with its structure and practices visible and accessible to all members. We reject dogma and promote vigorous internal debate. YPSL is a "multi-tendency" organization. This means that we have common principles, but our members have various underlying philosophies and views of the world. Solidarity within YPSL comes from the ability of those with different views on some issues to engage in a cooperative struggle towards social revolution.
Our Affiliation and Membership
In 1989 YPSL became the youth affiliate of the Socialist Party USA, and we share a common vision of democratic socialism with the Socialist Party. Membership in YPSL is open to anyone under the age of 30.
|Young People's Socialist League c/o 339 Lafayette St. #303 New York, NY 10012