CHICAGO – Young Communist League (YCL) National Coordinator Libero Della Piana and I found time to talk on a busy Monday morning this past week. He is here meeting with area YCL clubs, friends and members in preparation for the organization’s 7th National Convention, which will take place here November 22-24.

Della Piana joined the YCL in 1989 while at Brown University. At the time, he was attracted to the YCL not only because of its radical and progressive track record, but also because it was deeply involved in both local and international issues, such as the South African Divestment Campaign. His club also fought for a “need-blind admissions policy,” which would allow students from all economic backgrounds to have access to the highest levels of the academic system.

Beyond the practical, Libero was also drawn to the idea of working to develop unity within the various arms of the youth and student movement. He believes that it is the YCL’s primary function to build that unity through coalition work, showing youth and students that their concerns, though diverse, are deeply connected.

Speaking of how the youth and student movement is active, alive and widely progressive, he said, “there are 2,600 colleges and universities in the U.S.” and that at every one of those institutions youth and students are making a real impact on a variety of issues. “Young people have a distaste for inconsistency and hypocrisy, meaning that they are often more ready and willing to make changes.” This is why, he says, throughout history young people have been such a vital part of all social movements. Currently the YCL is working hard to help the youth and student movements become linked with labor – because today’s youth is tomorrow’s workers.

But he warns that youth are also the most susceptible to negative propaganda, which fills our airwaves, print media and the hippest trends. Youth is vulnerable, he says, their ideas and loyalty are still forming. “Getting youth active politically is important,” he said. “The earlier we reach the youth the better, youth have a lot of power, but they also have a lot to learn.”

Education, he maintains, is the only way to train and develop young communist. He calls the YCL a “schoolhouse of struggle.” By working for issues that speak to youth, youth activists develop into full-fledged powerhouses. The YCL educates and encourages youth to read theory and to practice techniques, thereby improving the quality of practice and testing the validity of theory.

Libero’s vision for the YCL is a dynamic organization that works within broad coalitions and educates its allies to the national unity of their diverse struggles. Reminding youth that the problems of economic dislocation and oppression, pop culture, gangs and the like are systemic. These problems can not be solved by mere reforms, the system itself is failing, he says. The YCL educates youth to the real depth of the system’s corruption.

Youth are fighting battles on every level – internationally, nationally and locally. What they need to see, he said, and what the YCL brings to the table, is the realization that the problems of our capitalist society are not temporary or incidental but permanently necessary to the beast.

According to Libero the YCL will is accomplishing its goal. Every club is working with partners, increasing membership and starting new clubs. He sites the new clubs in New York as one example.

But he knows that there is still a lot of work to be done. Libero and other YCL leaders will travel before the Convention to nearly every YCL club to hear from the membership what direction and what battles the YCL will take on next.

For more information on the YCL’s convention, visit or call (212) 741-2016.

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