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Ernest Erber

Erber Surveys YPSL Progress
in Five Years of Development

(September 1937)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 1 No. 5, 11 September 1937, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Our Ninth National Convention brought us victory in our long battle to convert our organization into a revolutionary youth movement. The decisiveness of the victory is attested to by the pitifully small number of right wing and centrist delegates who walked out of the convention.

The left wing began the struggle in 1932. The Socialist Youth learned much under the terrific impact of the events in Germany, Austria, and Spain, as well as the growing class struggles in which they themselves participated on the industrial front in America. The program of the left wing continually moved in the direction of greater clarity and became ever more firmly based upon the principles of Marx and Lenin.

The personnel of the group changed in conformity with political development. Only a small core of the leading comrades of 1932 remain at the head of the left wing today. People like Altman, Larks, Smerken, Levenstein, and Gomberg have long-since passed over to Stalinism, either during its “third period” insanity or its “fourth period” degeneration, or have found their berth in the American Labor Party or the job of a trade union bureaucrat. Others like Fischer, Fish, Friedman, and others have ended up in the camp of Clarity-Altman.

But as some members of the left wing became stultified in their development and dropped into the various opportunist and centrist channels, new blood was being added from several sources. In 1936, several hundred young revolutionists of the Spartacus Youth League joined the ranks of the left wing. To them goes a great deal of credit for the final stages in the training and development of the young Socialists fighting for a revolutionary program. Other hundreds came to the left wing directly from the struggles led by left wing members of the YPSL, on the industrial and student fields.

The thereotical clarity and organizational experience achieved by the membership during this struggle for a revolutionary organization was seen in the delegates who attended the convention and the high political level upon which discussion took place. Those who had attended several conventions and national conferences of the Y.P.S.L. could not help commenting again and again, as they scanned the assembled delegates, that this easily marked the most competent and best trained group of young Socialists who had ever gathered in a national meeting. This not only speaks well of work done to develop the membership but, of much greater importance, it indicates the work which such a membership can accomplish in the coming period of mass work.

As one of the group whose record includes participation in every national convention since 1932 and service in various capacities and upon various bodies, I cannot help repeating to the membership of the League what I said to the convention upon accepting re-nomination for National Chairman. I have never yet accepted a post in the movement with such confidence in those who go to make up the leading cadres and membership of the organization. We have come together through a severe struggle that has steeled us and taught us to work together. We now face confidently the task of building and guiding a movement that must establish its place at the head of the working and student youth of this country, to rally them around the banner of the revolutionary movement we are building, to struggle for workers’ power and Socialism.

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Last updated: 23 November 2014