Friends of the Youth League: Theory and Practice

2012-08-25 12:10

To create a movement of whatever nature it is relatively simple. The key qualities that are needed is persistence, simple adjustments and adapting. The term movement is used to refer to the actions of moving people together into one unit whole. The movement of people together is based on the people's interests, dreams and aspirations that we have innately but frustrated in how to realize them. Human beings are not just simply animals - beyond the need for survival there is a higher good and aim that each one of us has and strive towards to. In essence the essence of human activity - daily activity is about improving and adjusting ourselves better. A political movement moves people together by appealing to these higher aims. The movement is a reasonable attempt to raise people to noble life. A political movement may appeal for quality of life and better living and so on. On a similar vein a cultural movement can appeal to the people's love of their origins and beginnings.

Consider the civil rights movements in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States of America as guided by Martin Luther King Jr. Also you can consider how African political movements of independence how they were formed. Their appeal was freedom and self rule. The essence of a movement is a radical call. Movements start simple and take on force gradually.

Let us look at the German Worker's movement in early 1900. The German Worker's movement provided a platform for Adolf Hitler? How did it began. First it started out by simple 6 men who met weekly in a beer hall sitting on a broken wooden bench sharing beer. These men as they drink beer discussed social and political issues as people often does in those social gatherings. Out of the discussion emanating from those simple meetings came the concern of patriotism. The men discussed the plight of German people and how the Jews are taking over their country - influencing life and dominating everything. Out of that came the idea of a dream of a German Nation that is purely German.

Adolf Hitler frustrated by civic life after he returned from First World War stumbled over these simple people, these simple discussions and began to join this group. To Adolf Hitler this weekly meetings provided him with patriotism that he so desired - an assurance that he is fully German. Remember that Adolf Hitler's mother was of Czech origin and therefore he often found himself lacking as a full blooded German. So these discussion filled him with completion. One day in these meetings someone gave Hitler a pamphlet called My Awakening. In this pamphlet the author was describing how he finally found truth in his life by discovering his great German heritage.  The moment of his awakening was the restoration of the German people and German life. Adolf Hitler was fired up by this awakening and begin to invite people to these beer hall meetings to discuss these issues of a pure German nation. This mission was that propelled the formation of the German Worker's Party which is the first original name of Nazi Party. The name has nothing to do with labour union, the name was picked as it will appeal to the hearts and minds of workers and calling them to this awakening of the fact that they are Germans and therefore they should rise up and build a purely German nation where only full blooded Germans will be citizens. If you were no German by blood then you were not a citizen.

And so out of those simple beer hall meetings of 6 to 7 men emerged one of the greatest movements of the 20th century however good or bad.

The key issue in this article is not about discussing the merits or demerits (good or bad) of the Nazi Party or Adol Hitler but to show forth simple principles that play on in the formation of great movements. The Civil Rights movement in the USA that I have spoken about was very much inspired by a single woman - Rosa Parks. Rosa Parks was a black woman and in those times the 1950s and 1960s black people in a bus were requested by law to give away their seats for white people. But Rosa Parks traveling in the bus that was full of seated passengers refused to give away his seat when a white person climbed in the bus. That incidence broke-out and inspired other black people and Martin Luther King also got inspired and through simple meetings and gatherings of a religious nature came out the civil rights movement. Barack Obama, the current United States president attributes his political success to the great struggles that were waged by the civil rights movements that got great inspiration from one simple woman.

Today in our politics - South African politics - we are seeing the emergence of a youth political movement or formation that goes by the name of Friends of the Youth League. The aspirations and appeals for the movement are the result of the frustration with the way things are in the country where more that 50% of the black youth are unemployed and living in poverty and frustration. The Friends of the Youth League promulgates "economic freedom in our life time". We have already seen how the movement made interventions in Marikana and how they organized the memorial service for the dead miners - throwing their weight behind the miners and feeling their pain. Friends of the Youth League advocate not piecemeal reforms but radical economic freedom in "our lifetime" meaning they grapple with ideas and ideals that they can implement now not 30 years to come.

There are two levels on which political ideas and political movements operate: theory and practice. Theory involves an ideal - a noble ideal and practice entails carrying that ideal and making it part of society by forming of government around that idea. The struggle to reach or maintain power involves a political movement in hedging, compromise, back-pedaling, and all the complications which follow when theory has to be connected with practice.

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