Workers’ Communist Party of Denmark (APK)

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

Dorte Grenaa

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 their hands? Shall it be the youth of the bourgeoisie, of the rich exploiters and speculators, the youth of the imperialists, of the power elite, of fascism, who are all brought up and educated to continue to 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 consciousness of their class. Children and the very young are defined by the class that their parents belong to. Young people are in a transition phase in their lives and often define themselves according to the class or social strata in which 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 their situation and conditions, and to realize that all these things are not a question of individual failure or success. Not the least, it offers the working class youth an instrument to understand their own role in shaping a better future and a better society under socialism.

The role of the youth and the working class youth today

The bourgeois have a fixed strategy in spite of their deafening “glam messages”. The great majority of the young generation must be obedient soldiers in the production of the neoliberal “competition state” of imperialism and its wars of terror 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 their energy and their 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 through 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 – cannot be seen in isolation nor be fought alone. For the struggle against the hostility towards refugees and immigrants, racism and fascism, it is decisive that it be seen and conducted in relation to the broad struggles for change, against cutbacks, wage cuts and social dumping. If these two issues are separated, it means the advance of reaction.

Reformism with its present government led by the social democrats is trying to pose as champions against the racism and chauvinism of the right-populist Danish Peoples” Party. But it is their own anti-social and neoliberal politics that create the background for and incite racism and chauvinism. And in practice they adopt the reactionary positions and policies of that party, which became the largest party in votes in the election for the EU Parliament in May 2014.

The struggles of the youth must be linked 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, in order 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 be linked to and united with the struggle of the entire working class for change, for a 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 storehouse of previous experiences to consult from the youth struggles over generations.

Some features of the Danish youth today

Denmark is a small imperialist country, deeply integrated into the imperialist and monopolist alliances of 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 have 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, which has simply turned into one of the countries of the European Union, existing under its dictate. They have grown up in a country that is on a permanent war footing as a part of the aggressive imperialist “war of terror” alliance of NATO and the US around the world.

Young people are growing up in a society where they are told that they 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 secures 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 leaves them without jobs, housing, education and the possibility of providing for themselves. 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 they experience a carefully planned militarization of all aspects of society and social life today. War is presented as the normal state of affairs, a chance to make a career, a part of everyday life.

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

In the beginning of this century, the new global world order of imperialism, 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 are growing up with the consequences of the series of neoliberal “reforms” that have changed the Danish (capitalist) welfare society into the “competition state” of neoliberalism. 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 their lives and consciousness, and where they must conduct their struggles and gain their experiences.

The growing fascisation in Denmark and about 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 their 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 confidence in them is vanishing. They no longer believe that they can hold onto 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, arson and racist campaigns against immigrants. In many countries of the EU they have been welcomed into the parliamentary circus 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 being prepared.

The class contradictions among the youth have been acutely sharpened. The massive and still growing youth unemployment is the largest in many decades and prevents many from a given youth cohort from entering the ordinary labor market. Tens of thousands have been placed in various workfare and forced labor arrangements where they are used as state authorized social dumping and cheap labor in order to maintain the social benefit. In small Denmark of five million people, altogether about 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 against in relation to work, 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 have 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 that most of the youth have, but they also lose more and more democratic and social rights. The sanctions and the punishments from the state are increasing 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 financial responsibility for each other instead of having social rights.

At 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 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 neoliberal 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 the increase in pension age or reduction or elimination of social benefits such 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 on how many years you have been in the labor market, exclusion and discrimination have serious economic and social consequences for the rest of one’s life. They are left in economic, social and cultural poverty. Imperialist neoliberalism has excluded in advance one fifth of the youth from work and education.

The youth have become much more dependent on economic and other assistance from their families than the generations before them. The neoliberal reforms have not only cut down and reduced the length of time in which one can obtain social assistance. Many such benefits have been completely abandoned that were formerly public care tasks. They have been made into family responsibilities. As a consequence, the image of the “happy nuclear family” is breaking down. The contradictory fact is that you are expected to provide for yourself from when 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 in a few years this has grown to 25 percent of those between 18 and 30 years, exactly the age where in the foregoing decades one would move out 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 young people, who cannot get an apartment bought by their mother and father. Tens thousands of young people in Copenhagen are listed just for a room. The number of homeless youth between 18 and 24 in the streets has doubled during the last four years – these are 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 the labor force of the European Union, which shall be moved across 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 workplace, where they might learn about the collective struggle for these rights. To them atypical employments are typical and normal conditions of the EU labor market – temporary, part time, short-time, paid by the hour, day laborers, or internship or contract employees.

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 part of their education in vocational schools, cannot complete due to lack of internships. Entire industries such as the grocery sector employ only youth part-time, preferably under 18.

Exactly in these areas many struggles have been fought during recent 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 PhDs 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 were better educated than those who retired, this has now come to an end. More young people do get a higher education, but one in every six adults who leave the educational system do not have even the same educational level as their parents. According to the EU designs one fifth of the young generation and the future ones must not have any education at all, they are excluded and 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 their place building 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 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 “enterprises that must brand themselves in order to optimize their resumes 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 fight and class struggle. The various popular youth sectors must be split and made into opponents of each other. Imperialism is trying to privatize everything and present it as individualism and even as individual and unique solutions, which are meant to hide the still stronger uniformity, standardization and disciplining.

The more contradictory, confusing and twisted by demagogy the world appears, the more the message is sold that your survival and success depend 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 before, and it consumes large amounts of time, money and energy. The growing demands of neoliberalism in all fields have made stress become almost a normal state, and the entire “feel good” culture becomes small breaks offered to curb the feeling that this cannot be the purpose of life.

“Nature” must become trendy, with a 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 young people are constantly introduced as the great ideal to the false and unattainable image of the happy bourgeois nuclear 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 affecting the mental health of young people in a negative way, even 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, which won a seat in the EU-parliament under the slogan “Racists Out – Feminists In”. During the recent Swedish parliamentary elections in 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 and other EU countries. The economic and social cutbacks severely affect women and their continued double responsibility- their roles both as full-time workers (as they are today) and as the main ones responsible for the family and its care.

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

The neoliberal reforms roll back the advances formerly won by women to a time when many women lived as housewives, restricted to their homes. Today the old patterns of gender roles 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.

This forces both girls and boys into both stereotypical and ambiguous roles, where they cannot succeed. “Little Princesses” grow up as “Miss Perfects” and spend years of their childhood and youth 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 crises – which paralyses them in the face of the facts of reality. The dependence on “likes” is systematized by the marketing of neoliberalism 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 9th grade girls (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, which is treated as a question of private guilt and responsibility.

Insecurity is also used to promote very old reactionary morals and values. Going all the way back to the Christian Old Testament, the classless concept of “the struggle of good against evil” is preached – 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 nothing 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 be criminal, fascist and religious warriors, mercenaries and members of 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 their energy, initiative and vitality.

Weaknesses in the organization of the youth

In our country today we do not have a strong communist youth league, which could be the authoritative political center and organizational glue needed to unleash the initiatives and anger and create a new mass youth 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-culture groups without formal membership.

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

But there are also two other youth groups calling themselves communist. The “Young Communists” (Ungkommunisterne) of the two old Soviet revisionist parties DKP and KPiD, and the “Communist Youth” (Kommunistisk Ungdom) of the new revisionist party Kommunistisk Parti, an amalgamation of a part of the 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 their 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 the SFU of the Socialist People’s Party, which was part of the present government, and the SUF, the youth organisation of Enhedslisten (Red and Green Alliance), which also supports the social-democratic government. The possibilities of futures as “politicians” cause these organizations to be “stepping stones” for career 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 as earlier, with a few exception. The leadership has to a large extent been taken over by reformists, claiming that the struggle of the youth is not political, and instead of developing the protests it puts brakes on them, narrows them and directs them towards 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 the APK and the communist youth

The Party must assume its leading role in the development of the communist youth work that is presently weak. 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 forms 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 international solidarity.

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

APK must direct its work towards the working class youth, both in its propaganda and 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 looked 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 the 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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