Cherish the Struggle to Assert the Rights of the Youth!

January 7, 2020

In the last issue of The Worker (Vol 33, #3), we released an article called “Oppose the Criminalization of the Youth” which took up the job of analyzing the intensifying problem. It called on everyone to mobilize themselves to take the future into their own hands by developing a pro-active program which asserts the rights of the youth.

The stubborn fact that there are two sides to this conflict is, of course, a class question. The root of the problem is that the political process and political system in the U.S. is nothing but the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. One task the bourgeois state regularly works to fulfill is the consolidation of the capitalist order. It directly participates in the reproduction of capitalism’s economic and social relations. Through the bipartisan political program of criminalization and attacks on the rights of the youth, the bourgeoisie is attempting to prevent the emergence of organized struggles against capital.

How did this grave situation come about?

In the first place, the capitalist system refuses to recognize and guarantee the rights which belong to the youth – their right to a modern education, their right to recreation and culture, their right to economic security, their right to seek and express the truth, their right to participate in the political affairs of society and to shape their social environment.

But this politics of the ruling class in the U.S. comes after its economic basis.

Every social system is based upon the antagonism between classes. All government is class government – all states are class instruments, organs of oppression and coercion of the lower class by the ruling class. Naturally they differ depending on the contemporary social system. Whereas, the slave state was the naked dictatorship of the slave owner and the feudal state the undisputed dictatorship of the feudal lord, bourgeois democracy speaks in the name of the people and veils its deeds of violence and oppression under diverse honeyed and sham catch-words – suffrage, republicanism, equality of opportunity, liberty, etc., etc.

Early on, in order to free itself from the economic fetters of feudalism – from its social, political and judicial superstructures which bound it tightly and kept it from exploiting its newly gained advantages and control over the social forces of economic production – the bourgeoisie began first to organize campaigns to weaken and undermine the theoretical and ideological counterparts of the feudal regime. It brought science and enlightenment in its battle against medieval theology. The bourgeoisie thus brought forth a revolution just as far-reaching and tremendous in its consequences as the revolution proper which followed, namely, the destruction and uprooting by force of the feudal state and its political and social institutions.

However, the working class itself was already emerging as a force from very early on during the rise of capitalism. The bourgeoisie, realizing the revolutionary nature of the sciences and culture in general set out from the earliest days to capture them from the proletariat and has from then on made learning and specialization a set of tools serving its own narrow class interests. For example, as owners of all the publishing houses, they twisted and distorted the study of history and all social sciences beyond all recognition.

As computerized learning began to take a central place in the 21st century, the bourgeoisie consolidated this position even more by using this situation to standardize education further. Now more than ever the platform created in classes and schools is dominated by a dogmatic curriculum.  

The methods used to suppress the revolutionary spark of the youth fall into two main types. Some school authorities antagonize openly all progressive and socialist doctrines and pour a flood of invectives upon students upholding them, stopping dissensions of revolutionary-minded students by refusing them the privilege of defending themselves. The other type of method is from the camp of so-called “also-Socialists.” These see the futility of preventing the spread of revolutionary ideas among the thinking and intelligent youth by bullying them openly and so try to capture these ideas from the proletariat, dilute them, twist all their revolutionary fire and meaning out of them, and thereby make those ideas the helpers and property of the liberal bourgeoisie.

The big education publishers and other “educational entrepreneurs” that are buying up and dismantling the schools left and right thus swindle and try to suppress the working class youth by muddling up their youthful energy and zeal.

So too, the bourgeoisie, through both political parties, is on the offensive against the partial guarantees of the rights of the youth they have been forced to recognize as a result of the struggles of the working classes. For instance, elimination at all levels of government of monies for day care and public schooling aims at denying our sons and daughters the right to free and equal education at all levels. This includes the situation in which investments in so-called “extraneous” curricula such as art, music and sports, as well as special education classes for schoolchildren, bilingual curriculums, grants and aid for college students and further programs have been drastically cut.

In sum, the growing criminalization of the youth and the U.S. monopoly capitalist system’s general refusal to recognize and guarantee the rights which belong to the youth are both things which arise from the bourgeoisie’s fear of the revolutionary nature of the youth.

The very essence of capitalist government in the U.S. is that while on paper the state proclaims various rights and freedoms, in practice it denies the rights of the working masses at every turn. Today’s events in which the bourgeoisie are snatching back the minor reforms which served the youth expose the fraud of so-called American democracy. It shows that what characterizes the necessity for change is not how many civil rights and protections from the oppression of the state are written down as paper promises, but rather the relentless drive to dispel the existing conditions in which we are denied the experience of democratic rights and liberties in practice.

The growing attacks on the rights of the youth will only produce new struggles to wring concessions from the capitalist class. And while many of these partial victories will be positive, full success requires mobilizing the people on the basis of the most fundamental problems which are demanding solution.  To give this movement scope, to carry it through so the inalienable rights of the youth are not merely promised, but implemented, and to ensure that what is won is not just snatched away, we must target the capitalist state. In the final analysis, individual and group rights can only be guaranteed when the collective right of the people to sovereignty, to determine their economic and political system, is guaranteed. The immediate goal of mobilizing ourselves is to challenge the power of the capitalist state, to enforce the political will and demands of the working people against the power and will of the monopoly capitalist class. This can be done if we build up the independent political movement of the working class. The first step is building up the independent political party of the working class and people in the course of our many struggles to realize the rights of the youth in practice.