Starting with Occupy Wall St. five years ago, and moving through the Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter, and Bernie Sanders, social movements are changing the scope of American politics. And at every turn, young people are at the forefront.
If you’re 20 years old like me, you were 12 when the Great Recession of 2008 happened. The worst economic recession since the Great Depression 85 years ago, the Great Recession rocked working and middle class families. My generation, in our formative political years, watched our parents get laid off, and we watched our friends’ parents get laid off. Families lost their homes and couldn’t pay back debt and mortgage.
We are called “the generation of the overeducated barista” because the amount of good-paying jobs plummeted after the 2008 recession and many of us are stuck in low-wage jobs with no way out in sight.
Many of us placed hope in Obama in 2008 only to see him campaign on the same promise of “hope and change” in 2012 after not delivering much of either in his first four years. If we were old enough many of us even voted for him in 2012 despite being disappointed because we sure as hell didn’t want Mitt Romney the Republican.
Not much has changed under the first Black president. Racism still runs rampant, we still have troops in the Middle East, catastrophic climate change is underway, and more and more wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a few rich capitalists, while the rest of us are figuring out how to pay off our student loans.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that in many places the Black Lives Matter movement has been led by young Black women, or that the Fight for $15 was led mainly by young fast food workers, or that more young people, ages 18-29, voted for Bernie Sanders and his call for “a political revolution against the billionaire class” in the primaries than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined!
Nor should it be a surprise that recent polls have consistently showed that young people are more favorable to a socialist society than a capitalist one.
From campaigns for fossil fuel divestment, to campaigns against sexual assault on campus, to the #MillionStudentMarch for free college last year, to Black Lives Matter on campuses, the student movement is growing stronger every day and student members of Socialist Alternative have been there every step of the way.
Last school year, student members of Socialist Alternative initiated and led the organizing of the two massive #MillionStudentMarch national days of action against student debt and racism. We demanded tuition-free public college, cancellation of all student debt, a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers, and the divestment from private prisons by all colleges and universities. Last November, we had over 15,000 students in the streets at 110 college campuses across the country.
It is time for all students and young people who want to fight for serious reforms – yet see that economic and social justice cannot be achieved without fundamental system change , and that the connection all forms of oppression have to each other is capitalism – to come together.
Therefore, student members of Socialist Alternative are officially launching Socialist Students, a nationwide initiative to help build the socialist movement in schools and on campuses across the country.
What Will Socialist Students Do?
Socialist Students will hold regular meetings on campuses across the country (SocialistStudents.net to find the group nearest you). We will have political discussions on all sorts of topics ranging from current events, to socialist history and theory, to Black and LGBTQ liberation, the limits of reform under capitalism, and most importantly how to put these into practice building the socialist movement on our campuses.
We intend to hold debates on campuses across the country with chapters of College Democrats and College Republicans as well as Libertarians on who to support this Presidential election. Socialist Students will argue the case for students and progressives to support Jill Stein in order to continue the political revolution against the billionaire class that Bernie Sanders started. We want to explain to our fellow students why we do not see the corporate-controlled Democratic Party as a vehicle for left-wing change, and why we think that continuing to support the “lesser evil” year after year is a dead end.
We will also help organize anti-Trump protests and demonstrations but put forward to our fellow students that, despite what the corporate media may tell us, supporting Hillary Clinton and the Democrats is not the way to stop the right populist threat!
Join Socialist Alternative! Build Socialist Students!
The American Dream is supposed to guarantee that, as long as you work hard, each generation will have a higher standard of living than our parents. But our experience is telling us otherwise.
If you think that what we need instead is a democratic socialist society, where the economy is democratically planned by the majority, where resources should be used to meet human need, not to satisfy the greed of a tiny minority, then join Socialist Alternative. If you want to help spread these ideas to other students, join us as well in building Socialist Students on campuses across the country. The socialist movement isn’t going to build itself. Get involved today!