Description, Goals, and Values
Young Pioneers organizations involve young schoolchildren who are enrolled to participate in a communism-oriented program operated by their respective countries' communist parties. These children are usually enrolled into the organization as early as the elementary school period, and leave it as adolescents. Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Young Pioneer movement was hugely popular and practiced in around 30 countries. The movement was coordinated by the International Committee of Children's and Adolescents' Movements, which was established in 1958 and headquartered in Budapest Hungary. The Young Pioneer movement was modeled on the Scouts Movement, but with considerable differences. Though both of these movements encouraged an overall development of the child by encouraging the child’s physical development and preparedness for handling adverse situations, the Pioneer Movement also inculcated the values of communism into these schoolchildren. Communist principles were taught to the children, and they were groomed to be representatives of atheism and political change.
The all-Russian Congresses of the 'Russian Union of the Communist Youth', held between 1918 and 1920, decided to eradicate the Scouts Movement and replace it with a more communist-centric youth movement, wherein children would be taught Communist Party principles. The Komonsols, Lenin’s wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and the remaining scoutmasters themselves favored and nurtured the development of the Pioneers. On May 13th, 1922, the scoutmasters loyal to the Communists suggested the formation of a new communist organization of children known as the “Young Pioneers”, and the Scout motto of "Be prepared!” was slightly tweaked to the Pioneer motto of "Always prepared!” The second All-Russian Komsomol Conference, held on May 19th, 1922, decided to adhere to the suggestions of the scoutmasters and soon the scoutmasters, now known as the Pioneer leaders, started establishing Pioneer groups. The Spartak Young Pioneers Organization was formed in October of 1922, and was later renamed as the Vladimir Lenin Spartak Young Pioneers Organization in 1924. The participants of the Young Pioneer movement kept increasing by the day and, by 1974, there were 25 million members in the group. Thousands of summer and winter camps were held, and community centers were built where the young children went to be trained in outdoor skills and Communist ideologies, with all of these costs being borne by the Soviet government. Many of the children who joined the Pioneer organizations grew up to serve the Communist regime, including participating in the Great Patriotic War and the World Wars, and earned numerous awards, badges, and medals for their military bravery and their service to the Communist government.
The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the ban of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1991 forced the Young Pioneer organization to disband in that region. However, many states of the modern world with communist parties still continue to encourage the Young Pioneers or related movements. For example, the Young Pioneers of China involves an organization of children between the ages of 6 and 14 years old who are led by the members of the Communist Youth League affiliated to the Communist Party of China. Belarus, Belgium, Cuba, North Korea, Russia, the Ukraine, and many other countries of the world have pioneer organizations existing to this date.
WFDY and Young Communist Leagues
The WFDY, or The World Federation of Democratic Youth, alongside the Young Communist Leagues of various countries, represent the older youth organizations with a left-wing orientation. The WFDY is an "anti-imperialist, left-wing” organization recognized by the United Nations. It was established in London in 1945 with an aim to utilize youth power, and to spread the message of peace and friendship in the world after the end of the World War II. The Young Communist Leagues of a country represent the communist youth wing of their country, and these are affiliated to Communist International. Many developed countries across the world, including Canada, the USA, Australia, Russia, Germany, and France, have their own Young Communist Leagues. The corresponding youth organization in China is known as the Communist Youth League.
Criticisms and Disputes
The promotion of atheism among the young children of Young Pioneer organizations has often been heavily resisted by the general public, especially those in rural areas around the world. For the same reason, many students also refused to join the organization. The fact that young, immature minds were being influenced to believe in political ideologies from a very young age was also heavily frowned upon by the many critics of Pioneer organizations.