Why aren’t there any decent jobs? Why is it getting so expensive to go to college or university? Why is the future looking so bleak for young people? It’s natural to start asking these kinds of questions and to start getting angry with the usual answers.
Whatever part of the country you live in, the problems are the same. Unemployment and poverty appear to be the future for the poor, while the children of the rich get to live a life of luxury. Britain is the sixth wealthiest country in the world, so why is it that only a small section of the population has all the money, all the good jobs, all the advantages?
Our society is a capitalist society. A tiny number of people own all the wealth, while the rest of us have to work for them to make ends meet. In capitalist society, it’s okay for the rich to rob the poor – to give us bad wages and poor housing, to take away our education and benefits – but it’s illegal for the poor to take from the rich.
There are two main classes in capitalist society: the working class and the ruling class. Working-class youth have to find a job in order to have a life. If we don’t get into education or work we don’t have a future. We don’t have houses we can rent to other people, we don’t own factories or shops, and we can’t invest our millions on the stock exchange in London like the wealthy sons and daughters of the rich.
It doesn’t matter what Alan Sugar says on The Apprentice, it’s not possible for us to become multimillionaires – we just don’t have those opportunities. Our ‘choice’ is more likely to be between a life of poverty and a life of crime. But there is an alternative to this system; there is a change we can make. The change we need to make is called socialism, and Red Youth wants to organise working-class youth to make it happen.
Not only is the capitalist system inherently unfair, it has a catastrophic flaw built into it: economic crisis. Capitalism runs on profits – essentially, nothing gets made or done unless someone can make a profit out of it. So here’s the problem: the only way to keep making profits is to sell more and more goods to the masses, but the best way to keep production costs down is to employ fewer people on lower wages.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that if people’s wages are reduced and the numbers employed go down, there will be fewer people who are actually able to buy the stuff that the capitalists are trying to sell. And since capitalism went global, we now have a global economy, so the crisis isn’t just here, it’s everywhere. Vast masses of people are being pushed out of work because they can’t afford to buy all the stuff they made and the capitalists are trying to sell back to them!
This leads to a vicious downward spiral, where people aren’t buying enough goods, so capitalists go out of business, leading to more job losses and fewer people able to buy – which leads to more job losses, and so on. In this crazy situation, food and essential goods of all kinds sit uselessly in warehouses or are destroyed, while the people who need them starve and go without.
There are well over 2 million unemployed in Britain today, even by official counting methods. Young people are the worst-hit section, accounting for nearly half of all those on Jobseekers Allowance. And that’s not counting the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young people who don’t sign on the dole for various reasons.
Any day down at the job centre it’s the usual rubbish; it’s even getting hard to get a job in Asda or Tesco. The entire experience makes thousands of young people ill and depressed every year. How often have you applied for a job but not even been given an interview? It’s not because you’re not good enough, or your application was bad; it’s because there were probably hundreds of other applicants, and yours, at the bottom of the pile, got put in the bin.
Don’t get depressed about it, get angry!
For millions of us, education offers the only way to a better future. But education doesn’t come cheap. Just as the government was scrapping the £30 a week EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) they decided to give the banks £850bn! The ruling class believes that propping up a dying system is far more important than giving hundreds of thousands of working-class youth the chance to continue their education.
Not content with denying us the right to further education at college, the ruling class has now decided to shut the doors to higher education too. New degree students in England and Wales will need to find £9,000 every year for fees – and that’s on top of living expenses! The result is that even if you manage to stay in college, and even if you manage to get good grades, the chances of affording a university education are extremely slim.
It’s clear that the ruling class is cutting off our access to work and education – we’re being trapped in a cycle of endless poverty, desperation and degradation. No wonder that in these circumstances so many young people are driven to join the British army.
It seems that the ruling class gets all the benefits from war, while workers get nothing but injury or death. Films, TV and games glorify war and make it seem exciting, but the reality is different.
When you join the army you don’t get to learn a skill or do any of the really exciting stuff like fly a helicopter – that’s too important for the likes of us. All those cushy jobs go to the rich kids like Prince William, who are automatically put in charge. They’re the ‘officers’ whilst we (the ‘squaddies’) are expected just to take orders and do all the fighting – and dying.
They make us fight our foreign working-class brothers and sisters so that they and their ruling circles can plunder and steal all the wealth and natural resources (like oil) of the countries we attack. But why should we do their dirty work for them? Why should we steal and plunder other people’s wealth? If the rich want to steal the oil, let the prime minister and the bankers send their children to get killed while we stay here and look after our own interests.
In fact, if you think about it, we have more in common with the working-class youth of foreign countries than we do with the rich youth in Britain. When our foreign brothers resist our ruling class they are teaching us by example. We need to unite with our class brothers in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere in order to defeat our common enemy – the British ruling class – and build a happy, prosperous and cultured existence, free from endless poverty and war.
Divide and rule
It’s obvious that this system isn’t in the interests of the vast majority of people, so how has it survived for so long?
On top of having a huge state machinery of coercion – police, courts, prisons etc – to keep people in line, the capitalists also control the media. From school textbooks to BBC and Sky news to the Sun and the Guardian, their ideas are pushed onto us every day: a way of looking at the world that teaches us that this system is inevitable and logical, and that cuts and wars are necessary to defend ‘our way of life’, as opposed to protecting their profit margins.
One of the biggest lies we are told is that the problems we face – lack of jobs, cuts in public services, no access to education or housing and so on – are caused by immigrants putting a ‘strain’ on Britain’s resources. But long before there were large numbers of immigrants in Britain there was mass unemployment and capitalist crisis!
Groups like EDL and the BNP pretend to be addressing workers’ problems, but by reinforcing the lies about immigration being the root cause of those problems, what they actually do is help the capitalists stay in power and keep the working class divided and weak.
What is to be done?
The fact is that the ruling class stays in power by encouraging those it rules over to fight each other – instead of getting together to fight the capitalists! The one thing that would really threaten our rulers’ grip on power is if the workers of Britain united and got organised. The police and the army combined couldn’t do much in the face of the masses of people once we decided to stop obeying their orders and believing their lies!
An understanding of society (theory) and a way of uniting to change it (organisation) are the two things that we need to make a socialist revolution. Young people have everything to gain by getting involved in this process sooner rather than later. This world isn’t working for us and we deserve better!
Not only do we need to campaign against the bad conditions and lack of prospects for the youth in Britain today, but we need to work for a completely different type of society – one where people’s needs decide everything.
So many problems face this world: environmental catastrophe, poverty, disease, racism and war. They’ll never be solved while capitalism remains, but they could all be sorted if society was set up for the benefit of the majority rather than the private gain of a few billionaires.
Studying Marxism, organising the young people in your area and learning about how we fight for socialism is the only way we can defeat the ruling class.
Get involved with Red Youth to find out more!