Even before the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed Britain, from any perspective the outlook for young people under capitalism was grim.
We face a looming economic crisis, ten years in the making, accelerated and made more acute by the economic shock resulting from the pandemic. A climate crisis is unfolding before our eyes that threatens to destroy the world during our lifetimes and leave it unable to sustain human society as we know it.
The lives of young people in Britain are characterised by insecurity, uncertainty and poverty, regardless of the path we choose or are forced into. A decade of austerity has left our public services, the education system and our NHS stripped to the bone. There is no longer even a pretence of providing access to quality public education and cultural and leisure facilities for working class youth.
The options for most of those in work are low-paid, precarious and unfulfilling jobs with little chance of progression, poverty-pay apprenticeships or complete uncertainty in the gig economy. College and university students are forced to place additional financial pressure on their already strained families and jeopardise their studies by working long hours to support themselves. Education has been reduced to a product to be bought and sold for a questionable financial gain.
We are living through an epidemic in mental health problems among young people. Violent crime and anti-social behaviour are escalating across our society, with a disproportionate impact on the youth.
Capitalism in Britain has presented us with two options: accept the system as it is and a life without dignity, or to fight back and live life with a purpose. Britain’s young communists are clear on our choice. Where working people are prepared to struggle there is always hope and the youth have always led from the front.
The YCL’s Youth Charter is a set of policies to combat the immediate crisis faced by Britain’s youth and to offer some relief. The Charter isn’t a recipe for socialism. These policies can’t cure the underlying problems of capitalism but these demands and the struggle to achieve them ask the fundamental questions about economic ownership and democratic control in our country. They would make a massive difference to the lives of the millions of young people in Britain today.
These aren’t just policies for the YCL, these are demands for the broad working class and student movements which can be translated into the thousands of struggles taking place every day in our schools, campuses, communities and workplaces.
Ed. December 2020