People around the world are questioning and challenging capitalism and the set-up of our society, and nobody is more critical of the status quo than the youth. Does this come as a surprise to anybody given the world we live in today?
Few economic opportunities, constant economic instability and declining living standards affect more and more of the population, with young workers and university graduates at the bottom of the pile. A tiny handful in each society live lavishly with such obscene wealth that the kings and pharaohs of past are put to shame.
Xenophobia, nationalism and anti-immigrant hate crimes are on the rise across the advanced capitalist countries. Sexism, denigration and violence against women continue despite all the advances in science, education and technology. Police carry out executions of black people in North America, reminiscent of the Jim Crow segregation era. New wars are constantly erupting around the globe.
Images of the refugee crisis fill our screens, with those fleeing the wars caused by western intervention finding themselves in detention centers in North America and “Fortress Europe”, or suffering tragedy as they desperately cross the Mediterranean. Private industry continues to destroy our planet on a daily basis with the reliability of a ticking clock.
Young people are thinking to themselves; how can society be like this? This isn’t rational. Has society gone mad? This must all be a sick joke.
More and more people are coming to the conclusion that something has gone terribly wrong with our society. A critical mood grows with each passing month, and the result has been the development of a widespread mistrust and rejection of capitalism and capitalist institutions.
Youth Distrust Capitalism and Capitalist Institutions
A 2016 Harvard Study carried out a survey among Americans between the ages of 18-29 and found that 51% did not support capitalism, while only 42% supported it. When asked about where the United States was going, only 15% said that it “was on the right track”, while 47% believed it “was on the wrong track”.
During the American election primaries, the only candidate that the majority of millennials trusted was the left wing and self-described “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders. The Harvard Study also found that millennials were distrustful of institutions in general, including Wall Street, Congress, the Presidency and most of the media.
Only a minority of millennials expressed “confidence that the criminal justice system was fair and without bias”. In 2016, Gallup reported that 61% of Americans believed that racism against Blacks is widespread, an increase of 10 points from 2009.
According to a different poll carried out by Gallup, distrust of American institutions is not limited to just the youth. In 1986, 41% of Americans had a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress. In 2004 that figure had dropped to 30%. As of June 2016, the confidence in Congress had dropped to 9%! Similar drops were shown in confidence for the “Newspapers” and “Big Business”.
While similar polling data isn’t available for Canadian millennials, Statistics Canada examined public confidence (of all age groups) in Canadian institutions in 2015. They found that only 40% had confidence in the media, 38% in the Federal Parliament, and a mere 30% had confidence in major corporations.
This phenomenon is not just present in North America but also in Europe. According to a 2014 poll by the European Commission, distrust in government stands at 89% in Spain, 85% in Portugal, 84% in Greece, 78% in France and 74% in Italy. What is clear from all these polls is the massive backlash against the foundational institutions of capitalist society. This kind of mood is unprecedented since the Second World War.
Those who want to fight injustice and change the world are not alone
Can anybody be surprised that young people in particular are rejecting the status quo? Living standards are dropping everywhere, especially for the youth. Low-wage and contract jobs, high student debts, and the absence of benefits and pensions, make it very hard to make ends meet. With rising housing costs, an entire generation is forced to live with their parents or live paycheck to paycheck.
Traditionally well-paid jobs in industry and the public sector have introduced two- tiered contracts that abandon younger workers, with the trade union leaders passively accepting these concessions. The sharp contrast and inequality between the living conditions and opportunities for a handful at the top (the “1%”) and those of young workers and students, is naturally enraging and there is a deep feeling that society is unjust.
Young people tend to also be the least close-minded and the most integrated demographic in society. Youth are horrified at the continued prevalence of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia.
For many years, youth who feel that something must be done about all this injustice and inequality have felt isolated and paralyzed. What can I do to change things as an individual? The truth is that there are no individual solutions to the problems caused by capitalism.
Capitalism in decline results in misery, violence, bigotry, greed, poverty and social degradation. But that is only one side of the coin. On the other side – there is optimism, collective action, solidarity, a desire to learn, and youthful confidence in the future. This revolutionary trend represents all that is healthy. It reflects the spirit and outlook of the working class and the youth, and especially its most thinking and combative layers.
We are seeing the inspiring rise of youth resistance and mass collective action on a world scale. This process started with the Arab revolutions, the mass youth movements in Southern Europe, the #OccupyWallstreet movement in North America and the heroic Quebec student strikes. It is not an accident that these mass events have occurred only a few years after the 2008 financial crisis. These movements, and those that have erupted since then, represent a new spirit of collective action and show that something can be done about the situation we find ourselves in.
Mass struggle is a vital part of the struggle to fight capitalism and transform society. But we need to do more than protest, strike, and occupy. We need to be conscious of what we are fighting for. We need to study the lessons of all these movements, and struggles of the past. We need to understand how the present society functions so that we can overthrow it.
Not least of all, we need to be organized. We should remember that the ruling class is well organized (and financed!), and they have been able to undermine many of the mass movements precisely because we haven’t been organized enough and sufficiently politically-conscious.
Fightback and the Socialist Fightback campus clubs across Canada and Quebec are vital tools in preparing and organizing the revolutionary struggle. We believe and advocate for mass struggle, but more than that, we believe that mass struggle of workers and youth should be directed at the root cause of all of our problems: capitalism, the ruling corporate elite, and the undemocratic and repressive capitalist state.
Where to begin? Build a Socialist Fightback Student Club at your campus!
Fightback is appealing to those who are sick of the status-quo to get organized. In appealing to get organized, we specifically have the youth in mind. We are launching a concerted campaign to build socialist organizations on university, college and high school campuses across Canada.
If you are interested in fighting capitalism and inequality, sign-on to build a Socialist Fightback Student club. If there is an existing club at your campus, get involved during the first weeks of the school year. If there isn’t a club at your campus, build it!
Get in touch with us and we’ll walk you through the steps and connect you with fellow student activists who will be able to help you. We currently have vibrant clubs at UVic, UofT, Ryerson, York, McMaster, Waterloo, UdeM, Concordia, and McGill, with many other clubs in the process of formation. Building the socialist movement takes hard work, a willingness to learn, and a whole lot of enthusiasm. There is no shortage of this among the young activists getting involved today. We have had excellent results in the past few years. In fact, the past school year has been our best yet.
The interest in socialism has only been growing and our activists have never been so energized. When young people hear that they don’t have to just fight alone on their campus, but can build direct links with revolutionary students, youth and workers across Canada, as well as the United States, Mexico and across the world, there is a sense of our collective strength.
What we are building is something unique on the campuses. We provide a space to discuss ideas, theory, and history in a manner that is concrete and that can be applied to the struggles today and to come. However, we are not building another academic discussion circle. We refuse to be inwards looking, passive and abstract. We discuss political ideas with a purpose, with a commitment to being active and participating in real struggle.
We want to reach the broader youth and workers to provide the best ideas in the fight against inequality, oppression, poverty, capitalist austerity and war. We participate in struggles in the workplaces and communities. We organize picket-line solidarity. We support every fight of the oppressed. We raise funds for revolutionary movements and to support local actions. Our goal is to take the ideas of socialism to the youth, the oppressed, to the workers, in order to unite the struggles and help them to win.
If you have made the decision to get organized, and want to help others fight the system, link up with us. We commit to help you get active. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at our office at 416-461-0304.
Get involved and build the socialist student club at your campus!
Let’s build a revolutionary and anti-capitalist student movement in Canada!