“He who has the youth has the future.” – Lenin
“From school to the inequalities and disadvantages I am facing, it all roots back to politics and the government. It has been made so clear that we have a government that only functions well for the few, not the majority.” – Mark Lehman, 16, school student from South Shields.
The youth are rising up everywhere, challenging the old order. They are the ones on the front line all over the world – whether it is in Colombia or Israel-Palestine – in the fight against oppression.
Young people have bravely faced tear gas, rubber bullets, and even live ammunition. They have lost their fear and are drawing radical – even revolutionary – conclusions.
Youth in revolt
In every revolution in history, it is the youth that has taken the lead. Today is no different.
Capitalism is bearing down on young people, women, and all the most oppressed layers in society. They are facing the brunt of the crisis.
This generation is less well off than the previous one. They are not prepared to accept this state of affairs. Revolt is in the air against this bankrupt capitalist system.
Not weighed down by the defeats of the past, young people today are prepared to stand up and be counted. If they won’t do it, nobody else will. The older generation are being inspired by the determination of the youth. It is a breath of fresh air.
Anger and frustration
When the Guardian recently asked Europeans in their late teens and early 20s how the pandemic has made them feel, you might have expected an outpouring of frustration: over jobs lost; friendships forcibly attenuated; dates cancelled. “What arrived,” however, the newspaper article explained, “was a critique of capitalism.”
“Like their predecessors in the uprisings that followed the 2008 crisis, this generation of young people is ready to draw systemic conclusions from the way political elites have handled the pandemic,” writes Paul Mason, presenting a view that we can finally agree upon. “They know they will be...facing more uncertainty than any generation since the second world war.”
But Paul Mason is simply stating what should be obvious to anyone who is prepared to see. The anger and frustration amongst the youth is clear, in Britain and internationally.
Some have spoken of a ‘midlife crisis’ at the age of 23. “This, as we are likely to see as summer arrives, is an explosive mixture,” Mason writes.
The young people – Generation Z – interviewed in the Guardian all told a similar story. “My life is turned upside down,” says one. “My life sometimes feels bleak, with no prospects.”
“So our biggest challenge is being able to rise in the world again and to overcome this crisis,” says another. “I believe we will be more conscious about everything in the future.”
A third explains: “I am far more aware now of how we, as young people, are constantly pushed to the back of the queue.”
Cameron Dorling, 22, a laundry worker in York, gave his view of working life, which will chime with millions of other young workers:
“The past year has seen the complete destruction of my personal finances...Universal credit helped but it wasn’t even enough to cover my rent…
“Having a zero-hour contract feels like you’re held at the end of a leash. Having to remain ‘flexible’ and ready to drop all plans if the ‘business demands it’ is a horrible way to live. I don’t want to have to wait until my parents die before I can afford to own somewhere of my own to live.
“With more jobs being automated, the opportunity for work has tumbled in the UK. The few jobs remaining are often dangerous, monotonous or exploitative. This only grows the divide between the richest and poorest. I see it more and more each day.”
Crisis of capitalism
Capitalism has become a blind alley. Despite the prospect of a brief, temporary ‘recovery’, the system is reeling from crisis to crisis. The reforms of the past are being undermined on a daily basis.
The capitalist system can no longer afford lasting reforms. In fact, counter-reforms are on the order of the day. The working class, especially the youth, are being ground down.
The future for young people under this rotten system is bleak. It is destroying our planet in its pursuit of profit, and to hell with the consequences. But all this is preparing a mighty backlash, the likes of which have never previously been seen or experienced.
Young people have never been more aware. They are learning very fast from their own experience. Establishment politicians have nothing to offer but the status quo. And yet resistance is rearing its head everywhere.
The Black Lives Matter protests were an international inspiration. The struggles of the youth in Colombia, Israel-Palestine, Myanmar, and elsewhere are a beacon of hope. They must reach out to the working class – the only force that has the potential to change society.
Capitalism cannot be reformed. It will need to be overthrown. The ruling class has never given up its power and privileges without a struggle. That is the real lesson of history.
Only Marxism clearly draws these conclusions, arising from a scientific understanding of society.
With the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a socialist economy, we could plan the resources of the planet for the benefit of everyone, in a sustainable way.
As Cameron Dorling, the young worker interviewed in the Guardian, explained: “There are plenty of resources to go around on this Earth. If shared responsibly, all eight billion of us could live full happy lives, without destroying our connection to the natural world.”
But that can only happen when the power of capital is broken, on the basis of a harmonious socialist planned economy. We therefore appeal to workers and youth to join us in this fight – the fight for our future.