Capitalism in Crisis
Capitalism in Crisis
Love Music Hate Racism demonstration 2008, International Socialist Resistance and Youth Against Racism contingent , photo Paul Mattsson
Britain has been booming for sixteen years, albeit in an unbalanced way. Young people have never experienced anything else. They are now going to receive a profound shock to their system. Half a million, one in five, young people were unemployed even before economic crisis hit. As it develops they will be disproportionately affected, along with women and migrant workers. More likely to be employed in insecure jobs, they are more likely to be thrown on the scrapheap of unemployment.
Most students have relied on low paid service sector jobs to pay their way through university - these will now be much harder to come by.
In 2007, 22.4% of students dropped out of university in their first year - many for financial reasons.
Their numbers will now grow. More likely not to have an established 'credit record' or, if they have been to university to have already accumulated mountainous debts, they are far more likely to be refused credit by the post-credit crunch banks.
Those a few years older may have managed to grab hold of the bottom rung of the property ladder because they were able to take out what can only be described as sub-prime mortgages (and so could now face losing their homes).
The younger generation will often not be able to get a mortgage at all. Some young people will look to the trade unions and labour movement as a means to fight back. Others will initially feel powerless in the face of this onslaught on their living conditions. No wonder that the bookmakers, Paddy Power, are taking bets on which will be the first city to experience 'credit crisis riots'.
Rioting, while an understandable reaction of rage to the crisis of capitalism, does not offer a way forward.
On the basis of experience increasing numbers of young people will look to get organised in order to fight back around a socialist programme.
A socialist programme for young people would start with the right to high quality training, and a job and/or college place for every school leaver.
It would also include the abolition of tuition fees and the immediate introduction of a living grant.
To do this for all students would cost a maximum of £15 billion per year. It would also mean introducing a living minimum wage of at least £8 an hour, with no exemptions on the grounds of age, or any other basis.