|40 Years After the Linz Council|
By Andy N. Predicala
1975 marked a significant milestone in the history of the world, but also in the history of the International Young Christian Workers (IYCW). 40 years later, leaders and members of YCW Austria during the 1970s and 1980s gathered together to look back at the past, analyze the present and take action for the future, not for themselves but for the generation of today’s young workers.
More than 50 former YCWers from different parts of Austria attended the gathering in Linz last April 25, 2015. A reception had been organized to recall memories of the past, share the experiences they had in the YCW and explain where they are now. It was followed by an input by Gerard Steger, the resource speaker coming from Austria’s Federation of Trade Unions.
The speaker noted that 1975 was characterized by many essential world events, for instance, the end of the Vietnam war, the ban on the use of chemical weapons by the General Assembly of the UN, the independence of a number of states in Europe and Latin America, the foundation of Microsoft by Bill Gates, the death of the Spanish dictator Franco, the first meeting of the EU Council, and in Austria, the holding of parliamentary elections.
As for the IYCW, the IV International Council was held in Linz in which the movement adopted a series of documents defining its identity and orientation. These documents are the Declaration of Principles (DOP), the Task of Education (TOE), and the Review of Life and Worker Action (ROLWA).
Aiming at a Classless Society through Unity and Solidarity
The movement started to analyze the class warfare and exploitation at that time, as well as the deepest meaning of life and dignity of young workers and of the world. It was the moment when the movement stood for the liberty of the people, with basic concepts and different dynamics. In the 1975 declaration, the YCW aimed to achieve a classless society through unity and solidarity, and coordination with different people’s organizations.
In its analysis in 1975, the IYCW predicted the manipulation and authoritarianism of the economy, migration of people, consumerism and individualism, high pressure, and lack of solidarity, all too visible today. In the development of its mission, it proposed to use the methodology of the movement using the See-Judge-Act process to analyze the situation, see the contradiction between the maximization of profit and production and the relationship of people and nature.
The IYCW assumed the task to fight against this unjust world, motivated by “Faith and Life in Unity”, aiming for structural and individual change, a new human being in solidarity.
Looking at the world today, we see a lot of political and war refugees coming from Syria and Nigeria entering Europe, forced migration to find work abroad, higher levels of unemployment especially among young people, the ongoing war in Ukraine, and the concentration of money and resources in the hands of a few people.
From Today’s Perspective, What Does It Mean?
Facts in 2015:
The ILO says that more than 200 million people around the world are unemployed, in which 74 million are young people. In Europe the youth unemployment rate is 23%, 59% in Greece and 53% in Spain.
According to the survey carried out by a German trade union in 2014, workers under 35 are more often under precarious work, meaning they have insufficient working hours, bad working conditions and low salaries. Migrants to Europe have difficulty finding jobs too.
Since 1975, there has been a negative continuity in the field of work and in society. The proportion of income is not balanced. For instance Bill Gates wealth totals US$79 billion, which is equivalent to the annual budget of Austria.
Proposal to Change as a Movement
1. Think Global, Act Local. What happens in one country is connected to what happens in another country. Problems have international dimensions. There is urgency to act at the local level but it should be linked to the international perspective.
2. Move people into solidarity. Motivate people and go against the mainstream society which has been greatly affected by the media. Identify the common interests, recognize the ecological needs and have a social analysis through scientific method.
3. Reinforce the solidarity among people. Find additional sources of solidarity from the philosophical point of view or religious attitude, putting human dignity at the center.
4. Show solidarity in emergencies. There are cases like the war in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Ukraine etc. that need urgent action and support.
5. Seek fair and just structures. Many events today make us blind, putting the blame directly on catastrophes and disasters, but not looking deeply at the structural causes.
6. Send the core message of solidarity. Every period has its own language. We must meet people at the grassroots and convey our message of solidarity in modern language.
7. Include people and make alliance. Involve people of different sectors, trade unions, associations, informal workers, farmers, etc. Commitment to bring about change with these sectors are also important.
Commitment of Former YCW Members: Sharing Experience
As former YCW leaders and members, they have gained a lot of knowledge and experience, especially in different social and political issues. Some are getting old and some are about to retire, but the world hasn’t changed for the better. The Linz meeting today has rekindled the fire in their hearts and in their blood. They have committed to using the experience they have to (1) bear witness that another world is possible; (2) tell young people about their experience and pass it on; and (3) accompany and assist young entrepreneurs.
And as the meeting was ending, everybody was sure that the fire was burning in them and that from the ashes will rise a new classless society.
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