International Union of Socialist Youth


At this stage, we did not just work through the different youth organizations in Europe but also in the international organization of the social democratic youth, the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY). We came up against a youthful but extremely hardened group of careerists who had been groomed as future leaders of the mass social democratic parties. Their main aim was to occupy the plush offices and limousines of ministers in future social democratic governments. We represented a mortal threat to them. Compared to the Labour bureaucracy in Britain, these creatures were a much more vicious breed. Nevertheless, our young comrades attended every meeting, no matter how daunting or boring the task in confronting these young careerists, in the hope of turning up useful potential socialist and revolutionary fighters.

This paid off in 1972 when two of our comrades, Peter Doyle and Andy Bevan, were sent to the conference of the Social Democratic Youth in Sweden. There they met Arne Johansson and Anders Hjelm who were immediately recognized as kindred spirits of the British young socialists. Arne comments:

“The visit of the two representatives of the British Militant came just at the right time. There was a radicalization amongst the social democratic youth in Sweden, with growing opposition towards the bureaucracy. At this stage we were part of a left faction within the Social Democratic Youth. We were well known, so much so that a social democratic bureaucrat even pointed out the British young socialists to us and said that our ideas were similar to theirs and that we should “discuss with them”. This we did on the evening of the congress and found that we had a lot in common.

“We were concentrated in the city of Umeå in the north of Sweden, in a loose left/Marxist discussion group. Without a doubt, unless we would have met Militant at this time, this organization would have completely disintegrated. We were not politically homogenous. Nor was it preordained that we would automatically join Militant or what became the CWI. In fact, the representatives of the USFI, in the form of Pierre Frank, made determined efforts to win us. He traveled to Umeå to address a meeting of our student group. I asked him if he knew of the British Militant. His riposte was short and brutal: “They are completely impotent.”

“Roger Silverman, on behalf of the British Militant visited Sweden, engaged in very thorough discussions with us and helped to consolidate us on the political positions of the British comrades. We took steps to organize a serious Marxist force but one that was very, very small at that stage. On the other hand, the Swedish Social Democratic Youth was a large organization and the bureaucracy had learned from the experience of Britain. They, therefore, very quickly moved to expel us from the SSU but this did not mean we were completely debarred from the party – you could be expelled from the SSU while still retaining membership of the social democracy. Nevertheless, the “loose left” in Umeå and elsewhere disintegrated, although we won some very good comrades to our organization.

“Undoubtedly, the 1970s was a difficult time for the Swedish Marxists and only by digging in and establishing firm roots, along with serious international contact, was it possible for us to survive this period. In effect, we could not pursue effective entry work as most of our forces were outside the SSU and, subsequently, outside the Social Democratic Party. In the creation of our organization, we had to combat not just the ideas of reformism but the false ideas of the Mandelites in Sweden. Their attitude was that the revolutionary students were the new vanguard of the working class and they adopted an extremely sectarian attitude to anyone who did not agree with them. Only by correctly analyzing the situation were we able to survive and to make serious progress in the course of the 1980s.”