Being poor is not a rite of passage for young people. It is a systemic part of capitalism that economically enslaves us at an early age and deprives us of the means to enjoy and better our lives. We are charged absurd amounts of money just to barely get by for the rest of our lives. This is no wild phenomenon. It is a very basic structure of our society.
Capitalism constantly tells us that there is no work to be done when in fact there are countless problems in the world that need to be fixed. Whether it be poverty, malnutrition, or pollution, there are plenty of things that require work, but because the capitalists have not found ways to properly profit from such endeavors, they refuse to acknowledge them and instead distract us with movies, pundits, and endless entertainment. The working-class youth gobble it up in a fight against boredom. Do we ever stop to think why we are bored? Why in a world of such vast resources and millions of places to discover and explore are we bored? We talk about how there is nothing to do when in reality there are a million things to do, and not only that, but things that need to be done. So, what stops us? Well, we are poor! And more precisely, we are artificially poor. It is our economic system that alienates us economically and socially.
Think about it. Would we be bored if we had the money and means to follow our dreams? Would there be “something to do” if we had the money, resources, and organization to fight pollution, build sustainable alternatives to our lifestyles, to research new things, or partake in the highly esteemed human culture of art and literature? You bet there would be! But what is stopping us? It is our economic status. We can barely afford rent and food, and most of us are on loans for school. We don’t have the means to sustain ourselves so that we can unleash our full potential.
Being at this age nearly everyone will tell you that we have so much energy and so much hope for the future, yet it is all constantly being drained, exploited, and wasted by this system. The capitalists drain our best years by overworking some of us and treating us like second-class citizens by only granting us low wage jobs. They exploit us not only by taking our surplus-value and buying yachts with it, but they also take the poor and the angsty and offer them uniforms and a stable paycheck in order to serve the foreign interests of the capitalist class. So many young people’s lives all across the globe are ruined by war and occupation, and no one wins except the capitalists who buy out foreign resources after the young are shipped off to destroy everything. This exploitation leads to vast profits for the rich, but it leaves us with many psychological problems and puts immense strain on young married couples. And such a massive waste of human potential is a tragedy to all the world, not just to Americans.
When we have ideas about how we want to see a positive change in this world, we feel helpless in achieving them. If we take our voices to the streets, we are shot at with tear gas and given heavy fines, or worse yet, arrested and sent to one of the many secret private prisons that use our government to enact class warfare on the poor and struggling. If we have enough money and means, then often we can only achieve our personal goals, and rarely does that mean helping others, but instead stepping on others in the form of interpersonal competition for resources and opportunities. This system says, “Sorry, we can’t use everyone, only the most gullible or the hardest worker because that’s how much our profit margins allow us.” If we are unfortunate like the rest of the masses and care barely afford to live, paycheck to paycheck (presupposing you are lucky enough to even have income), then you certainly can’t afford that radical sustainable living project that you and your community want to start up, nor can you afford to travel the world and become a cultured person.
Our actions are not bound by what our thoughts are capable of, nor by the actions that we choose, but by the material condition in which we have to operate. It is only when we understand this that we can understand where the chains are and how to break them. We will never be able to achieve our potential, to fix all the problems in society, and to lead sustainable and healthy lives until the chains of oppression are broken forever. What this means is that we must, for our own survival and our own dignity, overthrow capitalism and build a new society of solidarity, full social equality, and socialism.
Why socialism? Socialism, the social ownership over the means of production, distribution, and direction of society, is the only answer to this problem, and many other problems society faces. How will socialism solve this? We eliminate the unnecessary production of wasteful materials and overproduction. With a planned economy and centralized distribution we can stop the waste of countless consumer commodities, and industrial waste. With the planned economy we can produce how much we need and in ways that won’t destroy the environment. Since there is no profit motive to cause corners to be cut, and safety regulations to be slashed, then the people as a collective, as producers and consumers, can set standards that are environmentally sustainable and less wasteful. For instance the cheap disposable culture sold to us by corporate America can be replaced by a responsible, educated, and intelligent public.
Perhaps one of the most crucial concerns is that of our planet. The amount of pollution capitalism has produced has driven our world to unacceptable conditions and is leading the planet to ecological collapse. Just this year we passed 400ppm in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, leading most experts to suggest that this is irreversible damage that will have almost immediate effects. Most certainly these strong climate disturbances caused by an extremely wasteful and inefficient economic system will be seen within our lifetimes, and sooner than we would hope. Since the early 1990’s we have seen a heat record nearly every single year. That means for those of you reading this in your early 20’s we have had a heat record almost every year we have been alive. Think about that next time the elections are up and both parties are using buzzword politics to rile the public against itself using hot topic issues like gun control to disorient and misinform the public instead. What they are really doing is working within their class interest to protect the capitalists as a whole by keeping the public misinformed and so aggravated that they vent their frustrations on their peers, instead of in collective action and demonstration against the real sources of the issues we face.
We see, our boredom, our empty wallet, and the extreme weather all parts of a systemic problem, and to that size problem, we need radical solutions. Our current system has failed us. It has failed us and the rest of the adult population miserably. It is now parasitical and scared to lose its grip on the world, give it something to be afraid of.