The role of the youth in “the Competition State” and the ideological offensive against the youth


By Dorte Grenaa

APK – Communist Workers’ Party of Denmark
Unity & Struggle #29

‘What about our Future?’

Unity&Struggle #29, 2015

Magazine of The International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations – pdf

The future belongs to the youth: So the saying goes. Yes – if not the youth, who else would it be? The question is which youth will hold the future in its hands? Shall it be the youth of the bourgeoisie, of the rich exploiters and speculators, the youth of the imperialist, of the power elite, of fascism, who are all brought up and educated to continue and intensify repression and exploitation? Or will it be the working class youth, the youth of the exploited and oppressed, who shall shape the future?

There is a world of difference.  And these are the two prospects for the working youth today.

The bourgeois and imperialist media pay homage to and worship ‘Youth’ as an entity, defined only by age, but at the same time they curse those groups of young people that do not fit into their glamorous images. The youth is portrayed as devoid of class and history.

Of course it is by far not all young people who grow up or are brought up with a clear understanding and conscious of their class. Children and the very young are defined by the class belonging of their parent. Young people are in a transition phase in their lives and often define themselves according to the class or social strata, where they expect to be placed according to their education, or they may define themselves as a counter culture expelled from the established society.

The program of the Workers’ Communist Party – The Manifesto for A Socialist Denmark – adopted by the founding Congress in April 2000 gives the youth a clear-cut class analysis to understand its situation and conditions, and to realize that all these things are not a question of individual failure or success. Not least it offers the working class youth an instrument to understand their own role in shaping af better future and a better society with socialism.


The role of the youth and the working class youth  today

The bourgeois have in spite of their deafening ‘glam messages’ a fixed strategy. The great majority of the young generation must be obedient soldiers in the production of the neoliberal ‘competition state’ of imperialism and its terror wars for resources, markets and power.

To avoid having their future abused in such a manner, it is the role of the youth of today to throw all its energy and its strong force into the creation of another society, a socialist Denmark, to prevent the scenario of the bourgeoisie and imperialism from becoming their future.

Every new generation must live their own experiences and use other forms and methods according to the concrete conditions of their generation. The decisive thing is what class interests and policies they serve. Will they make the youth join the class struggle on the side of the working class, or will they lead them away from the working class and through illusions to inevitable defeat?

The different struggles of the youth – from the struggle in defense of the SU (Educational Support of the State) to the struggle for youth housing – can neither be seen in isolation or be fought alone. For the struggle against the hostility towards fugitives and immigrants, racism and fascism it is decisive, that it is seen and conducted in relation to the broad struggles for change, against cutbacks, wage cuts  and social dumping. Are these two issues separated it means the advance of reaction.

Reformism with its present government lead by the social democrats tries to pose as champions against racism and the chauvinism of the right populist Danish Peoples’ Party. But it is their own anti-social and neoliberal politics that creates the background for and incites racism and chauvinism. And in practice they adopt the reactionary positions and policies of this party, that became the largest in votes at the elections for the EU Parliament in May 2014.

The struggles of the youth must link to the decisive questions of the class struggle and be an innovative part of the creation of a broad anti-racist, anti-fascist and anti-imperialist united front and popular front to defend the rights of the working class and the popular majority and to combat the offensive of neoliberal cutbacks and imperialist wars. The struggles of the youth must link to and unite with the struggle of the entire working class for change, for at socialist society.

The youth has always been characterized by revolutionary energy, courage, their dreams and hopes for a better life and a better future, and they have a  great fund of previous experiences to consult front the youth struggles through generations.

Some features of the Danish youth today

Denmark is a small imperialist country, deeply integrated in the imperialist and monopolist alliances NATO and the European Union. Since 2001 it has been in the front lines of the successive aggressive wars, launched by the US.

Today’s youth has been born and grown up under the pressure of the European Union of the monopolies that is more and more demonstrating its true reactionary face constructing the neoliberal union state.

They were born in a country without  self-determination, but simply has turned into one of the lands of the European Union, existing under its dictate, and they have grown up in a nation, that is on a permanent war footing as a part of the aggressive imperialist ‘war of terror’ alliance of NATO and US around the world.

Young people grow up in a society, where they are told, that you have the right to bomb and kill the populations of other countries, claiming that it is done in the name of ‘democracy’ and ‘progress’.

But this is the same ‘democracy’,  that incarcerates anti-racists and opponents of the wars and secure police protection for Nazis. The same ‘democracy’ that uses elite soldiers to destroy the youth house in Copenhagen, criminalizes the struggle of the youth and leave the youth without jobs, housing, education and the possibility of providing for itself. They even claim that this is ‘free choice’.

The youth is growing up under the weight of a society, where the dominance of the monopolies stretches into every corner of life, and experience a carefully planned militarization of all aspects of society and social life today. War is presented af the normal state of affairs, a chance to make a career, a part of everyday life.

The Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complex has with military news censorship taken control of the media streaming  and poses daily as so called scientific objective experts and researchers.

The new global world order of imperialism in the beginning of this century, that meant wars affecting all continents, has also unleashed a new cold war among the imperialist world powers and increased the danger of a third world war.

The youth today grows up with the consequences of the series of neo-liberal  ‘reforms’ that has changed the Danish (capitalist) welfare society into the ‘competition state’ of neo-liberalism.

In addition to the effects of the economic and financial world crises of capitalism this has meant that for the first time in many decades there is  a generation of youth that has worse living conditions than their parents’ generation.

This is the reality framing the lives and consciousness, and where they must conduct their struggles and gain their experiences.

The growing fascisation in Denmark and around the countries of the EU is an expression of the fact that the monopoly bourgeoisie of the European Union has a keen awareness that their ‘generous offer’ to the youth of its present and future is not embraced voluntarily. They are keenly aware that extended struggles take place among the youth in the countries of the EU against the consequences of their policies and ‘reforms’, and that the confidence in them is vanishing. They do not any longer believe that they can hold on to their power without brutal violence, without a police state, and if necessary, without fascism in government.

Today’s fascists appear in both neckties and high heels, but also with swastikas, arsons and racist campaigns against immigrants. In many countries of the EU they have been welcomed to the parliamentary circus both by the bourgeois, liberal and reformist parties, in our country and in our neighboring countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Poland) in a housebroken variant, that will make them  a part of ‘normal’ policies, while the police state/ the undisguised terrorist dictatorship is prepared.

The class contradictions have been acutely sharpened among the youth.

The massive and still growing youth unemployment is the largest of many decades and excludes many from a given youth cohort to enter the ordinary labor market.  Tens of thousands have been placed in various workfare- and forced labor arrangements where they as state authorized social dumping and cheap labor in order to sustain the social benefit. In small Denmark of five million people all told around 40.000 youths are even outside the labor reserve as ‘not ready for the labor market’.

Large groups of children and youth are excluded and discriminated  in relation to wok, housing, leisure and amusements because of their class or ethnic background, their name, where they live or how they look. The continuous cutbacks in education and leisure facilities has increased the ghettoisation, where the youth, and foremost the boys, are left to the parking lots and criminal gangs.  These groups of excluded youths are not only deprived of the same possibilities as most of the youth has, they also lose more and more democratic and social rights. The sanctions and the punishments from the state increase steadily.

Even having a boyfriend or a girlfriend can be punishable, if you are poor and unemployed. This is due to the new law of mutual dependency, where people who live together are obliged to take financially responsibility for each other instead of social rights.
t a time, when the educational institutions are centralized in a few cities in Denmark, the class and geographic distortion of Denmark leave the youth in rural and coastal areas in an increasing isolation in many fields.

Housing, work and education in imperialist neo-liberalism

The youth has been used to spearhead the implementation of many of the anti-social neo-liberal reforms. In order to weaken the general resistance to a given reform they have been calculated to hit different age groups at different times.

But whether it is about the increase of pension age or reduction or elimination of social benefits as the so-called cash assistance it is the young generation that is hit the hardest.

With the privatization of social policies in the EU, where social benefits are made dependent of how many years you have been on the labor market, exclusion and discrimination have serious economic and social consequences for the rest of the life. They are left in economic, social and cultural poverty.

Imperialist neo-liberalism has in advance excluded one fifth of the youth from work  and education.

The youth has become much more dependent on economic and other assistance from their families than the generations before them.

The neo-liberal reforms have not only cut down and reduced the period, where you can obtain social assistance. Many such benefits have been completely abandoned as are many formerly public care tasks. They have been placed as family responsibilities. As a consequence the image of the ‘happy core family’ is cracking up. The contradictory fact is that you are expected to provide for yourself from you are 18 years old, but in order to get state support for education you are judged by your parents’ income until you are 20.

An increasing number of young people today are dependent on their parents and have to continue living with them, not being able to afford their own homes. In Denmark this in a few years as grown to apply to 25 percent between 18 and 30 years, exactly the age where you in the foregoing decades would move to create an independent life.

With the centralization of education in a few towns this means that many young people have to leave their parents’ homes and settle in another part of the country. But there is no work, income or cheap housing for the majority of the young people, who cannot get an apartment, bought by mum and dad. Tens thousands of young people in Copenhagen are listed for just a room. The number of homeless youth in the streets from 18-24 has been doubled during the last four years – that is youth whose families have not been able to provide for them.

The labor market confronting the youth today is run by the neo-liberal principles of the EU, where wages, workers’ rights and a healthy and safe work environment are considered to be distortionary and anti-competitive. The youth is labor force of the European Union, that shall be moved around across the borders according to the needs of the employers.

Many young people are unaware of the former workers’ rights and they are not met with and included in a strong labor unity in the work place, so they may learn about the collective struggle for these rights. To them atypical employments are the typical and normal conditions of the EU labor market – temporary, part time, short time, paid by the hour, day laborer, or internship or contract employee.

In attractive jobs young people often have to work without any pay for a long time to ‘deserve’ a vacancy job.  Many municipalities terminate the education of trainees, if they get pregnant. 14.000 young people, who have gone through a part of their education in vocational schools cannot complete due to lack of internships. Entire industries such as the grocery sector employ only part time youth, preferably under18.

Exactly in these areas many struggles have been fought during some years, making the youth more aware of their situation and the conditions of their struggle.

The entire educational system has been one of the main targets of the bourgeoisie and the European Union –  and we have not seen the end of the neoliberal  educational reforms – from the learning objectives of nurseries to the PhD’s of the universities and lifelong learning and everything in between.

The readjustment of the educational system to entirely serve the needs of Capital has had other effects: Where earlier generations in the labor market all the time were better educated than those who retired, this has now stopped. More young people do get a higher education, but one in every six adults who leave the educational system have not even the same educational level as their parents. One fifth of the young generation, and the coming ones, must according to the EU designs not have any education at all, they are excluded and are left as actual illiterates.

The ideological struggle is a political battleground

Ideological control and aggression consists in organizing the ideas of people and controlling their thoughts and actions. Concepts and ideas are not ‘neutral’, and they are not eternal or unchangeable. They represent definite classes and definite class interests.

The ideology of the imperialist bourgeoisie, in control of the US, the EU, NATO and every imperialist state, is reactionary, it serves to retain and strengthen their rule as a class, to prepare aggression and enslave other peoples.

Marxism-Leninism, the ideology of the working class, is revolutionary, and aims at ending the power of the bourgeoisie and imperialism and in its place build a new socialist society where there is no room for oppression and exploitation.

The ideological struggle about which road and what future the youth will choose is a decisive one to both the reactionary forces and the progressive and revolutionary forces. It is a question of life and death.

Different currents and tendencies especially directed towards  the youth and among the youth can be observed – from anarchistic and populist socialist ideas to more limited ideologies covering some aspects.

The ideological oppression of the youth is intense, massive and pervasive in all corners and developments of life and society. According to the neoliberal view of man everything is reduced to a commodity to gain a profit, and can be valued quantitatively for its market value. Your friends become ‘social capital’ to be sold on facebook. You ‘invest’ in your job, your health, your family and so on. Young people are termed as ‘enterprises that must brand themselves in order to optimize their CV and job capital’.

All means are applied to prevent the working class youth from understanding their real situation and true revolutionary role. They must be prevented from perceiving their collective situation and the experience that it can only be altered by collective joint fight and class struggle. The various popular youth segments must be split and each other’s opponents.

Imperialism is trying to privatize everything and present it as individualism and even as individual and unique solutions, that are meant to hide the still stronger uniformity, standardization and disciplining.

The more contradictory and confusing and twisted by demagogy the world appears, the more the message is sold that your survival and success depends on getting control of everything, that can be measured and weighed – your body, your motion, the number of your friends, your grades etc.  Insecurity is traded, and profits are made from selling individual security solutions.  A self-help culture where everything starts and ends with yourself, and your family is flowering as never seen before,  and consumes big amounts of time, money and energy.

The growing demands of neo-liberalism in all fields has made stress become almost a normal state, and the entire ‘feel good’ culture become small breaks offered to curb the feeling that this cannot be the purpose of life.

‘Nature’ must become trendy , with hunting license, the right gear, equipment and apps, so you can flash yourself and do a selfie on the social media, showing how many animals or kilometers you have done.
Through the live streaming media culture are young people constantly introduced as the great ideal  to the false and unattainable image of the happy bourgeois core family where all family members have all their needs fulfilled. It is transformed into a question of a demand on each person to obtain personal success.
The ideological repression  of the monopolies in addition to the economic, social and environmental oppression, is steadily negatively affecting  the mental health of young people, already before their personal future finds its shape.

A new wave of radical feminism can be observed under such circumstances. In Sweden a feminist party has been founded, that won a seat in the EU-parliament with the slogan ‘Racists Out – Feminists In’. During the recent Swedish parliamentary elections on September 2014 every other party declared themselves to be ‘non-socialist’ feminists.

This is an expression of the objectively worsened situation for the majority of the population in Sweden, Denmark as in other EU countries. The economic and social cutbacks affect the women and their continued double responsibility severely – and roles both as full time workers (as they are today) and as the main responsible for the family and its care.

The capitalist contradictions between  the real  conditions and what the young girls learn and are brought up to  – that is to believe that they have acquired complete equality – has not only become more visible, but also more intolerable.

The neoliberal reforms roll formerly won advances of the women back to a time, when many women lived  as housewives , restricted to their homes. Today the old patterns of gender roles right from pink and light blue babies are forcefully reintroduced – but to an everyday life where it makes no sense, or is in accord with the demands and conditions of neo-liberalism either.

This forces both girls and boys into both stereotype and ambiguous roles, where they  cannot succeed.  ‘The Little Princesses’ grow up as ‘Miss Perfect’ and spend years of their childhood and youth on finding out that they are not self induced failures. More and more young people, especially girls,  lead a virtually parallel existence in  the social media – a life that is perfect, happy and without problems and crisis – and paralyses them in the face of the facts of reality. The dependence on ‘likes’  is systematized by the marketing of neo-liberalism and the hope of a job as a virtual trend-setter.

The macho Iron man and the elite soldier are equally impossible role models for the boys.

At the same time as a growing gender fright is promoted, even younger children are introduced to pornography as being the same as love and sexual life. Sexual harassment in the social media is a growing problem. One third of the girls of 9th grade (15-16 years old) have been victims of this from strangers. Also the crude violence towards girls and women –physical, mental, sexual, material and economic violence – is a growing social issue, that is treated as a question of private guilt and responsibility.

The insecurity is also used to promote very old reactionary morals and values. Going all the way back to the Christian Old testament is preached the classless concept of ‘the struggle of evil against good’  – turning it into a strategic idea of war against ‘the axis of evil’ or doomsday terrorism.

An offshoot of this is the notion that if you have not anything to hide, you cannot be against the permanent surveillance by the police state.

The glorification of power communities of heroes, arms and violence recruits youth from excluded and marginalized groups to criminal, fascist and religious warriors, mercenaries and gangs.

The ideological offensive of the bourgeoisie continues at a furious speed. A flow of new ideas, phenomena  and alternatives replaces those of yesterday.
It Is a comprehensive and necessary task for the progressive and revolutionary youth movement to tell the truth to the youth about all this in a way that can liberate its energy, initiative and vitality.

Weaknesses in  the organization of the youth

In  our country today we don’t have a strong communist youth league, that might be the authoritative political center and organizational glue to unleash the initiatives and the anger and create a new youth mass movement and give it the necessary perspectives. A political radicalization is taking place and many young people are searching for ideas of another society, the ideas of revolution and of communism. Very often the young organize where they find other young people, they know, and where things are happening, rather than according to the political programs of the various organizations. Or they organize in various counter cultures without formal membership.

The Communist Youth League of Denmark (Danmarks Kommunistiske UngdomsforbundDKU) is the youth organization of our Marxist-Leninist Workers’ Communist Party.

But there exist also  two other youth groups naming themselves communist.  ‘ The Young Communists’ (Ungkommunisterne) of the two old soviet revisionist parties DKP and KPiD, and ‘ Communist Youth’ (Kommunistisk Ungdom) of the new revisionist party Kommunistisk Parti , an amalgamation of a part of KPiD and the now defunct, formerly marxist-leninist DKP/ML. These two organizations are tied up with the revisionist politics of their parties and express the present revisionist splits.

There are also two somewhat larger youth organizations, linked to  the two reformist ‘left’ parties in the Danish parliament besides the old social democratic party of present prime minister Helle Thorning Schmidt. They are SFU of the Socialist People’s Party, that was part of the present government, and SUF, the youth organisation of Enhedslisten (Red and Green Alliance) that also supports the social democratic government. The possibilities of a future  as ‘politicians’ cause these organizations  to be ‘stepping stones’ for  carreer seekers

The mass organizations of the youth – such as  the student organizations or the organizations of the apprentices – are not playing the same progressive role earlier, with a few exception. The leadership has to al large extent been taken over by reformists, claiming that the struggle of the youth is not political, and instead of developing the protests put brakes on them, narrows them and directs them towards the parliamentary mechanisms, to defeat.  The real struggle and experiences of these mass organizations have been excluded from their official history and their present identity, so that new young people should not draw lessons from them.

On the role of APK and the communist youth

The Party must assume its leading role in the development of the presently weak communist youth work. Together with other progressive forces it must strengthen and rebuild the mass organizations of the youth. Most importantly it must expand its roots among the working class youth and play its part in giving the various struggles direction and perspective.

The Party must work to find the ways and shapes to give the repressed and progressive youth the tools to address the class struggle by promoting Marxist-Leninist theory and practice, and through participation in and collaboration with the different strata of the youth, developing their solidarity, and not least the international solidarity.

Some might say this is out of reach for a small party like APK. But if the communist party – no matter of what size – should not fight concretely to develop the communist youth work, who should? And if this should not be done now, then when should it?

APK must direct its work towards the working class youth, both in its propaganda, agitation and its practice in the class struggle, and further develop the forms and methods, that we presently apply.

The youth has always travelled and sought around the world for new experiences and ideas. This can be used for both reactionary and revolutionary purposes. It is used and abused in a criminal manner by the imperialist war machine, the EU system and the global business elite. It is our task to show and strengthen the true international solidarity between the oppressed and exploited youth and peoples of the world.

The development of international solidarity is of great importance in the struggle of the youth. It is also of great importance to the struggle of the Danish youth, and especially the young communists, that the knowledge of the struggles and experiences, defeats as well as victories, of the International Marxist-Leninist Communist Movement of today is widened and becomes an integral part of their outlook.

This paper is a part of the material for the discussions for the 6th Congress of APK that will take place in the spring of 2015.

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