the youth are in the streets!
Across the world young people are in the forefront of mass movements for democracy and human rights and against the exploitation and oppression of a system which enriches the 1% at the expense of the 99%.
From the teenage women stitching Nike shoes for poverty wages in China to the radical school students in Chile fighting the cops, demanding free education, young people are in the vanguard of struggle. The Arab Spring has been a movement of young people. This disproves the lie that ours is an apathetic ‘ipod generation’. But the fate of the revolutions in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia also proves young people can’t rely established parties to look after our interests.
When we fight and even die for freedom the result all too often is that the fruits of our struggle are picked up by old established parties. Revolution gives way to counterrevolution; our networks that mobilised hundreds of thousands are unable to seize the power to really change the world. Repeated mobilisations without fundamental change in our daily lives eventually lead to despondency and disillusion.
We need to organise ourselves to make change permanent. We don’t need to reject politics – we need to reject every attempt to patronise and manipulate us. We need to find our own way political strategy and way of organising, which can bring about a radically liberating, equal and revolutionary society.
It was young people who first stood up to the millionaire Tory rulers. We smashed up Tory HQ – a symbolic statement of intent: if you wreck our future, we’ll wreck your system.
Nine days later more than one hundred thousand young people walked out of schools and colleges against the Tories’ attempts to make young people pay for the capitalist crisis.
But fast forward to 2013. Many of those young people are among the one million 16-24 year olds without work, education or training. Many are working in compulsory workfare schemes. The minimum wage has been frozen for the youngest workers.
In Britain young people can be exploited fulltime at 16 but can’t vote till two years later, aren’t allowed to create their own democratic organisations at school. And at work bosses pay us lower wages and we have little or no union representation. In the classrooms, the factories and the home, young people are bullied and exploited.
But despite – and because – of this, young people are often the first to say enough is enough and fight to change things for the better.
It’s this relative independence from the dead hand of capitalist socialisation which is our greatest strength. Defending and extending this independence to our forms of political organisation is the key to making sure that we can campaign in joint struggles without being manipulated as a stage army.
Young people have to be part of the struggle for a world where things are produced according to what people need and not to make profit for the millionaires – this is the struggle for socialism. We can bring our own methods, which take the best of the old and new; we can develop our own organisations which defend our right to think through politics for ourselves, develop our own tactics and strategies but fighting every step of the way with our older brothers and sisters and our parents in the working class.
We can have solidarity without subordination. We can build a movement based in the schools and colleges, in the workplaces and amongst the unemployed young families across the world.
We can campaign for a world without racism, war and exploitation, without sexism, inequality, cultural deprivation and the destruction of our environment.
To do this today we will be most effective if we build our own organisations, prepared to work alongside every progressive ally, but reserving to ourselves alone the right to decide for ourselves, by ourselves how we can win socialist liberation for our generation and those to come.
We can do this by building an organisation with revolutionary politics that is created and run by the young people in the schools, colleges and workplaces.
This will transform our radical actions from spontaneous uprisings that all too often miss their target and see others reap all the rewards, into a conscious struggle for the power to change the world – alongside a revolutionary party which spearheads the working class’s struggle for self-emancipation.
By KD Tait, Leeds Revsoc