Life During Capitalism- one history student's perspective on life during capitalism

"To omit or to minimize these voices of resistance is to create the idea that power only rests with those who have the guns, who possess the wealth, who own the newspapers and the television stations. I want to point out that people who seem to have no power, whether working people, people of colour, or women-once they organize and protest and create movements-have a voice no government can suppress." Howard Zinn

Friday, October 27, 2006

The TXT generation, Young workers and anti-capitalist struggle

The TXT generation, Young workers and anti-capitalist struggle
The title for this article was going to be “THE NEXT GENERATION: Young workers come into the struggle” but it seemed a bit disingenuous as its for the most part not true.

Sure, there have been massive successes in organising young people both here and overseas. Unite Union and Radical Youth are organising and mobilising low paid youth workers who have been leading strikes and pickets, as well as organising two big rallies down Queen Street and a one thousand student strong walkout. In France as I write the struggle is continuing against the CPE’s replacement law after mass mobilisations of students and the unemployed defeated the probationary employment law. In the US there has been mass mobilisations against a proposed immigration law, which has seen organisation and mobilisation unheralded of before in the Latino communities these demonstrators are coming from.

This is all fantastic action and a huge step for young people, but I can’t lie. Young people are still the TXT generation; they still spend more time sending text messages on their mobile phones than they do thinking let alone acting on political issues. Everything that’s been happening with youth over recent weeks is really inspiring especially in Latin America, the Philippines, Thailand and Nepal, but is it enough?

Young people, youth workers and students must come into the anti-capitalist struggle if we are to be effective in the long term. I look around my university and its easy to get depressed, corporations have put down roots in the student union buildings and its easy to think that rather than in the quad your actually in a mall. That’s because the student union lets businesses come in and set up stalls in the middle of the student area, turning a human space into the realm of capitalism. The social science departments are floundering as the business school grows and grows. Indoctrination is nearly complete, for example a student in my sociology class said, “I can’t imagine a world organised without hierarchy.”

Anti-capitalist activists need to reaffirm our commitment to promoting the self-organization of youth and students, this can be done through sharing with younger activists the skills and analysis that older activists take for granted, by providing resources for young activists and incorporating a diverse approach to incorporating young people into the struggle. I don’t think they were organizing union rallies by text message ten years ago and I certainly don’t think that many of the older generation of anti-capitalist activists grew up communicating via email either. However we as youth and students organize, one thing is for sure: the need to organize. Michael Albert wrote on the anti-capitalist struggle and I’d like to offer it here as a vision for the next generation of activists,

“If movements for social change unswervingly seek diversity, solidarity, equity, and self-management--peace and justice--and if they do it in a manner and with a tone and with tactics all of which seek to empower the weak and to meet the needs of the poor, they/we can win this struggle--and the struggle I have in mind to win, the one I think we are all in, is not just over a reform here or there--and it is not just over peace now and then--it is a struggle over who will decide the future and who the future will serve. Showdown indeed."

Published in Unity#2 Strikes: the Workers Weapon. Top photo of a masked activist at the annual Weapons conference, Te Papa, 17/10/06 by Juan Mon. Second photo of students at radical Youth walk out 21/03/06



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