Declaration of principles
Our five main principles for action
For students: good and free education
Education is a right, not a commodity. Education is necessary for all youth and society, so it should be freely accessible. However, capitalism does not want a developed and critically thinking working class; it wants workers who are skilled enough to do their jobs, but not smart enough to question their exploitation. Due to cuts and privatisations, an increasing number of young people find it impossible to study, while the quality of education is declining. Many young people in the Netherlands have to work in order to be able to afford their studies, or they decline to study at all with the prospect of high debts and a competitive labour market. Already during their studies, students are increasingly used as a free labour force during their traineeships, without being guided sufficiently. Even graduates still often find themselves forced into unpaid or underpaid internships and “work experience placements”. Employers thus deliberately use students and graduates to push wages down. In this way, young people are exploited even more, weakening the position of the working people in general.
All this is part of the Bologna declaration, the capitalist agenda of the EU for higher education. It states that Europe must become “the most competitive knowledge economy in the world”. This means education must be profitable for, and subordinated to, the interests of business. The value of studies is expressed in monetary terms alone. Studies and subjects are turned from social services into a commodity sold by educational institutions and “consumed” by the youth. Small studies and studies of no economic importance are cut because institutions, increasingly dependent on corporate investment, only think about profitability. At the same time, studies are becoming less accessible due to increasing demands for entry. There are even experiments with higher tuition fees for “excellent” studies. It cannot be right that your wealth determines what you can study, or if you can study at all. If we want education to stay accessible for all, we need to get organised. As communists, we want education to be attuned to the individual and collective needs of the people, not to the profitability for business. Students and teachers should have a say in their educational institutions, not shareholders or administrators in The Hague and Brussels.
The CJB fights for these demands together with the student and labour movements.
For working youth: a good pay and fair conditions
Working and unemployed youth should unite and organise. Young people are more likely to face bad positions in the workplace, like temporary or flexible work, with low wages and poor conditions. By standing up for our rights together, we can be stronger. To achieve regular work and better pay for youths, we need to work within the labour movement, which organises the majority of the working class.
The CJB aims to organise militant youth groups around specific themes, like unemployment, abusive traineeships, and flexible work. We want to create a situation where young workers do not consider each other as colleague-competitors, but fighting together against the interests of the profits of the bosses, directors, and shareholders. We fight against false contradictions between young and old, and we fight for the abolition of youth minimum wage, improving the minimum wage in general, and maintaining and improving pension rights. We fight against unpaid work in the form of unemployment benefits (“workfare”) or unpaid or underpaid traineeships after graduation. We condemn the flexibilisation that causes the replacement of regular work by those on welfare, part-time workers with no rights, “self-employed” workers (precarious day labourers, in fact), and trainnees.
The CJB demands:
- Equal pay for equal work.
- Real jobs. We want to put and end to flexibilisation, the abolition of regular contracts, avoidance of collective bargaining agreements and pensions, and the demolition of the social safety net for young people.
- Because of the increased productivity due to technological process, we call for working time reduction in combination with increased wages. This in opposition to the current practice of higher rates of profit for capital, more redundancies, and higher workplace stress for a decreasing amount of jobs.
- All of the above serves the interest of the eventual abolition of wage labour and the exploitation of man by man.
The position of young people in the workplace has weakened over the past decades, and the labour movement is unable to turn the tide. The decades-long strategy of consensus between unions, employers and the government (“poldermodel”) instead of collective action by the labour movement have not yielded enough results. As in education, the EU also has an active policy of limiting workers’ rights in order to improve its “international competitiveness”. EU member states are forced to abolish “capital-unfriendly measures” (social legislation). Our “democratic” government is using international treaties, which they have partly negotiated themselves, as an excuse for implementing anti-people and anti-worker measures. These treaties include EU agreements like the Treaty of Lisbon, but also TTIP/CETA/TISA and the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. In this process, fundamental questions concerning social security, social justice and class interests are systematically kept out of the public debate. Margaret Thatcher, the symbol of European neoliberalism, said: “There is no alternative”. Contrary to this, we repeat Rosa Luxemburg’s rallying cry, “Socialism or barbarism”.
The level of workplace unionisation, especially amongst young workers, has declined dramatically in the past 20 years. Therefore, young people are not sufficiently aware of their rights and it is difficult for them to organise together, let alone defend themselves forcefully against capitalist attacks on their rights. We believe the unions should be rebuilt on their strongest foundations, the power of mass mobilisation of workers. The only way to raise the pressure is through organised struggle at the base: in the workplaces, in the neighbourhoods and out on the streets. This struggle cannot only be waged for small improvements or for ameliorating the consequences of anti-social policies within capitalism. We do not just want to improve our conditions as wage slaves, we also want freedom and social justice. We therefore want to win the labour movement for the perspective of socialism.
The CJB therefore tries to organise its members and sympathisers in the trade union movement, in their workplaces, that is, in their everyday practice. Our goal is to make people aware of their true interests, to break the illusion of class collaboration, to organise employed and unemployed workers in the struggle for their interests, and to connect every small struggle to the need for socialism.
Als CJB proberen wij dan ook al onze leden en sympathisanten actief te maken met de vakbeweging op hun werkplek – in hun dagelijkse praktijk. Daarbij is het ons doel om mensen bewust te maken van hun werkelijke belangen en zo de illusie van klassensamenwerking tussen arbeiders en bazen te onthullen, werkers en werklozen te organiseren, in strijd te brengen voor hun belang en voortdurend de verbinding te zoeken tussen de kleine stukken strijd en de noodzaak van het socialisme.
For peace and international solidarity; against imperialism
Capitalism is an international system. Its need to increase its profitability knows no borders. Powerful businesses and governments use all means available to them, including economic blockades, wars of aggression, and the encouragement of civil wars, in order to ensure their access to markets and resources. Along with Lenin, we consider imperialism “the highest stage of capitalism”.
Imperialist wars are often waged under the guise of “humanitarian interventions”, “security” or “regime change”. Governments that do not comply with the economic interests of the most powerful capitalists are overthrown by any means necessary, replaced by obedient puppets, or destabilised so badly that they can no longer pose a threat. The Dutch capitalists and government consistently side with the dominent American or European interests in defence of the priorities of big business and multinationals. It is the youth of the working class who are shipped abroad to sacrifice their lives for capitalist profit. Not only does this cause great misery for the victims of war, but other countries are subjugated and exploited. Millions of euros are spent on arms, while our social system is being cut and people in less developed countries starve, partly because of our governments.
Socialism is an internationalist ideology, but our internationalism is different than that of capitalism. We do not want to go to war against the working class of other countries, who are forced to fight for the interests of their capitalists. A nation which oppresses another nation cannot be free itself. The CJB sides with the oppressed people who are victimised by wars of robbery, in solidarity with socialist and progressive forces in resisting countries. Our present task is to fight imperialism here in the Netherlands.
- We demand that the Netherlands withdraws from NATO, the military organisation led by the US and the EU, which constantly drags our governments into criminal wars for imperialist and neo-colonial interests, as in past interventions in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.
- We condemn and fight against the clandestine political/military intervention and the media propaganda war for imperialist gains.
- We condemn the constant war drums against Russia, China, Iran, and others, and the rush towards a large-scale war.
- We demand an end to the support for right-wing extremist and religious fundamentalist forces in countries whose policies are not aligned with the imperialist ambitions of the US and EU. We also demand a stop to military and economic support to Apartheid regimes and fascistoid governments, as in Israel and Ukraine, just because they are supposedly “on the side of the West”.
- We stand in solidarity with our communist sister organisations abroad, particularly the ones suffering under harsh anticommunist repression.
- We stand in solidarity with socialist Cuba and we demand an end to the economic sanctions by the US and EU.
Against fascism and discrimination
Fascism is a dangerous ideology that rears its ugly head in times of capitalist crisis. Fasciscm is “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital”, and it depends on false contradictions, nationalist fury, and anticommunism. The fascists use lies and deceit to try to keep the working class from the class struggle, and they terrorise the people to enforce the interests of the bourgeoisie. Capitalism has historically used fascism in order to deal the death blow against the labour movement, led by the communists.
Fascism emerges as a reaction against the struggle of the working people, and it uses exaggerated, false contradictions within society to create divisions, while hiding the real contradiction between the rich and poor. We are therefore vigilant against fascism and we combat it in all its forms.
The CJB supports the fundamental equality of humanity, regardless of skin colour, religion, gender, cultural background or sexuality. We fight for the emancipation of all of humanity in a classless society. We combat the social causes of discrimination from a class perspective, with socialism as a common goal.
Mistaken positions like racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination exist within the working class, as they do in everyday life. These views are stoked by politicians and the media, who use convenient scapegoats to hide the true cause of poverty and insecurity among working people, the capitalist system. All the fascists then have to do is to exploit these prejudices.
As communists, our task is to convince people of our shared class interest and our connectedness across apparent dividing lines like ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, and political preference. We cannot do this by making concessions to racism and discrimination. To deal with these prejudices on a social level, we should always be in contact with working people, to learn from them, and to offer alternative explanations where necessary. We do not condemn people with discriminatory views on an individual level, nor do we go along with those views out of opportunism. Instead, we consider it our task to patiently talk to people, to provide them with the necessary information, and to convince them. The CJB is a movement of working, job-seeking and studying youths of diverse social and ethnic backgrounds. This diversity is a form of strength, since it allows for the exchange of experience. E.g. young workers can learn theory from students, and students can learn everyday practice from them.
Capitalism is a destructive system for all of humanity and the environment, based on the unrelenting demand for maximal profit. It is characterised by cyclical crises that become more severe each time after the “solution” of the last crisis. The only solution to crisis within capitalism is to increase the rate of exploitation of the working people. But as capital is concentrated into the hands of an increasingly narrow group of the rich, the poverty increases on the other side. Thus the class contradictions intensify, but so do the crises, because people have less to spend on the products that make the capitalists rich. This structural misconfiguration of wealth and poverty means that capitalism is the author of its own demise.
All over the world, we can see instability, poverty, unemployment, despair, and increasing pressure to work. Despite the lack of a strong labour movement in many countries, we can see people trying to rediscover old forms of struggle, like trade-union power, but also the return of illusions of reform towards a social market economy. The harsh lesson learnt from this is that capitalism is not so democratic after all when you try to redistribute the wealth in society.
Capitalism in crisis is taking increasingly undemocratic and violent measures in order to safeguard its profits: war, the limitation of political rights, military coups, etc. In many European countries, openly fascist parties are even on the rise, combined with racism and hatred towards refugees. Capital can no longer be negotiated with, and history proves that every reform, no matter how small, was only the result of struggle, not bargaining.
Observing that fundamental changes are not possible within the capitalist society, we want a socialist society. A society that does not put capitalist profit – enforced by government policies – at the centre, but you, us, the people, nature, culture, and science. An internationalist society, based not on the exploitation of man by man, but on mutual assistance and equitable international relations. A society where the means of production are in the hands of all of society, not of a small group of capitalists. A society where democracy is not just a matter of choosing representatives who are hardly controlled by anyone except the bourgeoisie, but of people’s governance over the process of production, the distribution of wealth, and the implementation of decisions.
Young people should not fall victim to the chase for profit. They have a right to free education and healthcare, guaranteed housing, a decent job, a liveable wage, and enough leisure time for cultural development, liberated from commerce and the profit motive. Socialism is not only possible, it is a necessity.
For us, socialism is not utopian, but scientific. We must keep analysing history from a scientific (historical materialist) viewpoint. With the daily anticommunist indoctrination in the media and education, the easiest thing to do would be to conceal our history and try to reinvent the wheel. However, as Marxists, we must always make a scientific analysis of history and learn from it, especially our own history. There are many who want to dismiss the history of the communist movement, in our country and worldwide, as a “failed experiment” – a claim based on falsifications and twisted facts. It is up to us to record our own history, freed from the interpretations that serve the purpose of anticommunism.
We do not want to copy the past uncritically, but to actually learn from the mistakes and successes of our movement and to take over the best traditions. As we gain insight in our past and test it in the present, the best ideas survive. We are not a nostalgic group; we want to change society by learning how it is structured, how the working class is exploited, and how we can achieve a socialist society, where the working people are in power. We must stay realistic and know our strengths and weaknesses, neither falling for reformist illusions nor radicalism.