Callum Williamson, a member of Communist Students, writes about the perceived problem of youth
In today’s society there is a growing fear of the youth, one does not have to look too hard in the bourgeois press to find periodic waves of anti-youth hysteria. The bourgeoisie play on the fears of the elderly and middle England, promising to get tough on ‘anti-social behaviour’ and tough on the causes of ‘anti-social behaviour’.
As a result the government has passed legislation restricting the freedom of movement and allowing the police to break up large gatherings. However, rather than tackling the perceived problem of ‘anti-social behaviour’ this has only led to police harassment of local youths in public places. The establishment parties would like young people to have dull and uninteresting lives and grow up to be accountants, soldiers, policemen, or other such ‘respectable’ professions. For them the youth are a threat to the status-quo which has served the political and economic elite so well. In a need of someone to blame for a society that is falling apart and void of solidarity, the youth have made a handy scapegoat and with large sections of the youth having no way of defending themselves from the demonization they suffer in the media – let alone represent themselves as an important part of society – it is not hard to see why so many people are taken in by the hysteria
In Ornstien’s book ‘Urban education: Student unrest, teacher behaviours, and black power’, he writes ‘the common adult dislike and fear of youth is compounded by the teacher’s fear – fear of losing control in the classroom, fear of losing one’s authority’. It is true that the ruling classes would be right to think that the youth are capable of instigating change, which might not be advantageous to the bourgeoisie.
Communists cannot merely pretend that there aren’t youths committing crimes and that there aren’t youths involved in gangs and violence. However, what must be understood is that it is society as a whole that is the cause of crime and gangs. Human beings thrive on a sense of solidarity and belonging and if that is not offered by society then people will look elsewhere. For the youth this has increasingly been found in gangs and ‘gang culture’. This need to belong is one that cannot be served by the competitive, ‘every man for himself’ culture of capitalism. This is not an argument for the youth to be enlisted in state organisations which encourage nationalism, Christianity and obedience to the state. Instead solidarity in the common struggle of mankind against capitalist oppression can alone begin to draw young people away from gangs.
Not only will the youth benefit from communism materially and in terms of representation, but young people will also be essential to any revolution. What the media chooses to ignore is the fact that young people are crucial for the future of humanity and are not simply a nuisance. Society’s shortcomings cannot be pinned on one social group and if the newspapers wish to report on anti-social behaviour they must only look at the police, their ‘boys in blue’. Issues like social exclusion and social mobility must be tackled if a serious attempt to reduce crime is to be made.
Many of today’s youth want change, an end to the system that is destroying the planet they will inherit, an end to the system which exploits them and which will leave them without a job or a place to live. Under capitalism the youth as a whole is destined to become the next generation of exploitable and low-paid office dolts. In order to change this the youth need take up a significant role in society and participate in revolution alongside the rest of humanity.