FW: Tasks for a youth programme

Owen Jones owen.jones at SPAMultramail.co.uk
Mon Jan 31 15:33:30 MST 2000


         I am involved in drawing up a youth programme for the revolutionary
Left within the Labour party. Though this is in the context of Britain, the
situation of youth is very similar in all capitalist societies. Here I've
begun by outlining briefly some of the aspects of the situation of working
class youth today in Britain on which a programme can be based on; perhaps
comrades could aid by adding to or altering information here; or suggesting
ideas for a youth programme for the workers' movement.



From: "Owen Jones" <owen.jones at ultramail.co.uk>
To: younglabor-left at onelist.com
Subject: Re: Tasks for a youth programme
Date: Mon, Jan 31, 2000, 21:34

> What about?
> Our american comrade writes about young people & the unions.
> Owen does something on the minimum wage
> & anyone else does students.

 There are lots of issues confronting youth today; though obviously our
programme should be mainly in the context of working class youth, and youth
intellectuals, especially students. I believe we should begin with an
analysis of the situation of youth today on which to build our programme
upon. As part of a rough outline, off the top of my head admittedly:

 * 1 in 3 children in Britain live in poverty;
 * 1 in 10 children in Britain are frequently malnourished due to a lack of
 * Around a quarter of all youth smoke, being subjected to the pressure
created by giant tobacco multinationals;
 * Youth culture has been annexed by big business because they are seen as
a captive consumer market, and despite the low wages working class families
receive, youth are still forced to pursue materialism through the
commercialised peer pressure corporations force on them, to the extent
where they feel as failures if they do not meet the materialist demands
forced on them; though "minority" cultures to rebel against such pressure
and gain youth freedom are frequently created, they are constantly adopted
by big business and repackaged and so independent youth culture remains
 * Drugs are a big problem amongst the young, mainly arising out of the
desperation of poor youth at their situation;
 * Middle class children get a much better education that the working
class, not only those who have the privilege of private education, but in
the sense that the segregation of classes by which areas are confined to
middle class or proletarian occupants means a school in a wealthier area
provides a better education than those in poor areas - both factors ensure
bourgeois youth have more chance of getting better qualifications and
therefore keep down the working class academically and ensure they always
receive the poor jobs;
 * The social situation of working class youth handicaps them
educationally, and they overwhelmingly cannot afford to go to university;
 * Those youth in poverty are forced to turn to crime and drugs;
 * Marriage breakdowns and other such family crises are very widespread in
impoverished communities;
 * Some young teenagers turn to prostitution as a result of their
desperation at their circumstances;
 * Impoverished youth are more likely to turn to racism in order to find a
scapegoat for their situation - instead of turning to the more abstract
idea of capitalism they identify a group with distinguishable
characteristics which may have foreign roots and blame them, e.g.
"foreigners taking all the jobs";
 * British youth is multiethnic but racism is a big problem;
 * Child abuse in desperate social conditions is widespread;
 * Many working class youth live on decaying housing estates where poverty
 * State education for youth is presently inadequate, being poorly funded,
and now the New Labour regime wishes to introduce private businesses into
the education system in the form of "Education Action Zones" - including
multinationals such as Shell;
 * Many working class youths cannot afford the increasingly expensive
transport fares being raised by the privatised companies, for example to
get to school and back (in total 10 times a week);
 * Many poor children have poor health because of the fact the NHS is
inadequate, with medical treatment differing in quality based on the area,
whilst the middle class has access to private education;
 * Poor literacy is a common problem amongst working class youth;
 * The minimum wage discriminates against youth, with an appallingly low
rate for 18-21 at £3.00/hour and nothing set for under 18, meaning youth
are a cheap labour market to be exploited;
 * Homelessness is steadily on the increase and overwhelmingly affects
youth, many of whom are addicted to drugs;
 * There is a total lack of facilities for youth, leading to complete
boredom and lack of enthusiasm for life in an increasingly stressful and
oppressive environment, making many turn to crime and drugs as a way out;
 * Housing is extremely expensive and often unaffordable, particularly in
areas such as London, and naturally this discriminates against proletarian
 * Job opportunities for youth are poor and are exploitative;
 * Environmental degeneration causes disease amongst the young such as

 However, in this epoch of reaction, the political level of youth is
extremely low, and this allows the bourgeoisie to very effectively exploit
proletarian youth. There is no mass youth organisation to represent the
interests of working class youth. These factors ensure that there is no
challenge to the injustices they suffer. What we need to do is fuse the
interests of youth with the interests of the working class movement, and
the struggle against capitalism. We need to effectively convey the link
between the injustice youth face and the capitalist system.

 Also, the future of any movement depends on its attracting support amongst
youth. Nothing can be more true with the workers' movement in its present
degenerate state. What is important is that this is a youth programme
created by the youth; what we create at first must be a basic structure
than can be updated with the democratic participation of as many youth as

 Owen Jones

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