Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 3 October 2018

Is this generation socialist?

Ideas to change the world

School students marching against Trump, 13.7.18, London, photo S Wrack

School students marching against Trump, 13.7.18, London, photo S Wrack   (Click to enlarge)

Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary

"We can't expect young people to be automatically sympathetic to capitalism" when they can't afford to buy a house, declared leading Tory Boris Johnson recently.

He could have added when going to university means being crippled by debt, and there is little chance of well-paid, secure work.

Boris Johnson is not unique. His comments reflect the growing fears of the capitalist elite that young people are looking for an alternative to their system.

Last year, young people queued around the block to vote for Jeremy Corbyn in the snap general election.

This year, hundreds of thousands of them took part in the massive weekday anti-Trump protest.


Despite the capitalist media largely refusing to mention socialism - unless it is to attack it in frenzied terms - growing numbers of young people are starting to investigate socialist ideas.

After Novara Media editor Ash Sarkar, under attack from right-wing presenter Piers Morgan, hit back by saying, "I'm literally a communist you idiot", the clip was viewed over 800,000 times on YouTube alone.

It is the crisis of capitalism, and its increased inability to offer young people a fulfilling future, that is driving the search for an alternative.

To have grown up in the last ten years is to have grown up during the longest squeeze on wages in a century.

Your only experience of public services is to have watched them being closed or cut to the bone in the name of austerity. Affordable secure housing seems a utopian dream.

Meanwhile a tiny minority at the top of society have seen their wealth increase astronomically. Of the global wealth generated in 2017, 82% went to the wealthiest 1%. And the majority of that went to the 'elite of the elite' - the 0.1%.

To give one example, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos saw his wealth rise by 4.3 billion in the first ten days of 2018.

These 'masters of the universe' own unimaginable wealth for presiding over a system that is no longer capable of taking society forward.

In the course of its existence, capitalism has transformed the planet. Driven by the blind need to increase profits rather than production for social need, it has always been based on the exploitation of the working class along with a careless disregard for the damage it has done to our environment.

Nonetheless, in its heyday the capitalist class ploughed a considerable section of its profits back into developing the means of production: science, technique, industry and the organisation of labour.

Therefore socialists recognised that it was relatively progressive because, despite its horrors, it was creating the basis for socialism.

In addition the working class majority, by creating powerful mass organisations, was able to win a few crumbs from the rich table of capitalism.

Those crumbs - including a comprehensive NHS free at the point of use - are now under threat as the increasingly parasitic capitalist class increases its profits via the relentless driving down of the wages and conditions of working class people and the destruction of public services.

This does not mean we are powerless to fight back. On the contrary, the working class is potentially a very powerful force - a majority in a country like Britain - that, if it acts collectively, can defeat the attacks it faces and win concessions. Twenty-first century capitalism, however, means we are under constant attack.

At the same time, the capitalists' levels of investment are at historic lows, as their lack of confidence in their own system leads them to sit on their piles of cash rather than use them to develop industry.

None of the factors which led to the 2008 Great Recession has been overcome. On the contrary, a new phase of economic crisis is being prepared.

No wonder young people faced with such a diseased system are starting to look for an alternative. For decades, politics in Westminster has been completely dominated by pro-capitalist parties.

The result is that, for many, Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader has been a revelation.

For the first time in their lives a major party is led by a politician who puts forward policies for the many, not the few.

Instead of supporting privatisation, austerity and war, he is arguing for free education, rent controls, mass council housebuilding and some nationalisation of privatised utilities.

For putting forward this modest programme, Corbyn has been under relentless attack from the right-wing press, the Tory party, the Confederation of British Industry, and the pro-capitalist wing of his own party. Yet this is nothing compared to what a Jeremy Corbyn-led government would face.

It is absolutely clear that the capitalist elite would not sit back and passively allow Jeremy Corbyn to implement a policy which redistributed wealth from them to the majority! On the contrary, they would do all they could to sabotage his government and prevent it implementing a radical programme.

That is raising the questions in the minds of young people who are looking to socialist ideas. How is it possible to create a society that offers us a decent future? How can we harness the enormous wealth created by capitalism to meet the needs of all?

Discussion on university campuses about concepts like "fully automated luxury communism" reflects the huge contradiction between the enormous wealth, science and technology created by capitalism and its inability to meet people's needs.

Robotics is used not to cut working hours for all, with no loss of pay, but to throw workers onto the scrap heap.

Digital technology is used to send us back to the Victorian era with zero-hour workers waiting for their app to tell them if they have a few hours' work - no different to their great-grandparents queuing on the docks in the hope of being picked for a few hours' work.

This is no surprise. Capitalism, as Marx explained over 150 years ago, is based on exploitation, with profits stemming from the unpaid labour of the working class.

New technology will never result in it evolving into a fair system. Only by taking the major corporations and banks which dominate the economy into democratic public ownership would it be possible to harness the new technology capitalism has created to meet peoples' needs.

On that basis, however, it would be possible to begin to develop a democratic, socialist planned economy by immediately massively expanding public services, and provide high-quality, well-paid work for all with a maximum working week of 35 hours, or even less.

A Jeremy Corbyn-led government would be under huge pressure to capitulate to the demands of the capitalist class, as the left-led Syriza government in Greece did. However, this does not mean it would be powerless.

On the contrary, if it mobilised the working class in support of a socialist programme which took power from the tiny capitalist elite, it would really be able to begin to build a society for the many, not the few.

The socialism we are fighting for bears no resemblance to the old dictatorial regimes of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, which were dominated by a privileged caste of bureaucrats.

However, the nationalised planned economy they presided over did play a progressive role until it was strangled by their bureaucratic mismanagement.

We stand for international socialism, based on a huge expansion of democracy, with mass participation in the control and running of industry and society.

Any government carrying out such a policy would need to have an international perspective, collaborating with the workers' movement in other countries to develop socialist planning at an international level.

In a globalised world, the enormous similarities between the struggles facing the working class in different countries mean that such a government would have a very immediate and widespread resonance.

A socialist government in any country of Europe that acted to break with capitalism would immediately receive enormous support from workers across the continent, above all in those hardest hit by austerity.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 3 October 2018:

Labour Party conference

Labour conference shows: Blairites must be ousted

Socialist Party campaigns against the Blairites at Labour conference

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

'Tories must go' demonstration in Birmingham

Anti-fracking protesters jailed

Save Wirral NHS walk-in centres

More party than protest, but great response to socialist ideas at Leicester Pride

Socialist Party news and analysis

Zombie Tory government: general election now

Blood transfusion scandal

Shocking new data on declining life expectancy

NHS pay discrimination - militant union action can achieve fair pay for all

Maximus profitus: disabillity profiteering scandal

Tory Brexit Blues festival

Workplace news and analysis

Catering and courier workers strike together

Coordinated catering and courier strikes

York NHS workers strike against privatisation

Tube workers walk out

1,000 head teachers march on parliament

Camden - Unison members in pay fight

Socialist Party feature

Is this generation socialist?

International socialist news and analysis

USA: crisis follows Supreme Court justice nomination

Indonesia tsunami - a disaster compounded by capitalism

Socialist Students

Enthusiasm for Socialist ideas at the freshers fairs


The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists: one-man show's new take on lively socialist classic

The Socialist Inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 3 October 2018   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:

Young people:

triangleStand firm for socialist policies to stop Tory attacks

triangleFight for your future - join the socialists

triangleGreen Party offers no alternative for young people and climate change chaos

triangleClimate protests: which way forward after 20 September?

triangleKnife and gun crime a product of poverty and austerity


triangleBradford Socialist Party: Election analysis - the fight against Tory austerity continues

triangleWakefield Socialist Party: Election analysis - the fight against Tory austerity continues

triangleYork Socialist Party: Election analysis - the fight against Tory austerity continues

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: Election analysis - the fight against Tory austerity continues


triangleTV: Crime and Punishment - this brutal watch is a damning indictment of cuts and capitalism

triangleTV: The Accident - Will capitalism be exposed in upsetting, true-to-life drama?

triangleBlack Liberation... Only possible through socialist struggle


triangleOpinion: China's Orwellian 'social credit system' is a product of capitalism, not 'communism'

triangleDerby Socialist Party: Scrap universal credit

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



Stand firm for socialist policies to stop Tory attacks



End profiteering from health - nationalise big pharma



Prepare now for the struggles after 12 December


The Socialist

Keep up to date with our election coverage



News in brief



Hillsborough justice eluded



Unite against terrorism, racism, war and austerity


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland: strike action by NHS workers



Resist attacks against free speech on campus



End council cuts now, to end Tory austerity!



Tories launch 'non manifesto'



Labour's manifesto: fight to transform hope into a socialist society



Prince Andrew outrage exposes establishment



Tory election campaign's dirty tricks and lies



Wages flatline, while shareholders profit

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019