No University, No Job: No Future
By Howard Vilakazi
"Show everybody then that no power will succeed in depriving the workers of class consciousness! Without knowledge the workers are defenseless, with knowledge they are a force!" (Lenin)."
The Young Communist League has as a primary aim the education of working class youth in the classics of Marxism Leninism. The lies and slanders that surround our most glorious achievements are a deliberate attempt on the part of the capitalist ruling class to demoralize workers and keep them ignorant and enslaved. The ruling classes and their governments are terrified of workers acquiring this knowledge, for they fear it will lead to mass revolutionary action, the only weapon capable of bringing an end to their tiny clique's tyrannical orgy of destruction and self-enrichment.
Why aren't there any decent jobs? Why is it getting so expensive to go to college or university? Why is the future looking so bleak for young people? It's natural to start asking these kind of questions and to start getting angry with the usual answers.
Unemployment and poverty appear to be the future for the poor, while the children of the rich get to live a life of luxury. Sandton in Gauteng is small area here in our country, so why it is that only a small section of the population has all the money, all the good jobs, all the advantages.
Our society is a capitalist society. A tiny number of people own all the wealth, while the rest of us have to work for them to make ends meet. In capitalist society, it's okay for the rich to rob the poor - to give us bad wages and poor housing, to take away our education and benefits - but it's illegal for the poor to take from the rich.
Working class youth have to rely on their labour power in order to sustain their lives. If we don't get into the education system or join the labour force we don't have a future. We don't own property that we can rent to other people, we don't own factories or mines, and we can't invest our millions on the stock exchange in London like the wealthy sons and daughters of the rich.
Our ‘choice' is more likely to be between a life of poverty and a life of crime. But there is an alternative to this system; there is a change we can make. The change we need to make is called socialism, and YCL wants to organise working-class youth to make it happen.
Not only is the capitalist system inherently unfair, it has a catastrophic flaw built into it: economic crisis. Capitalism runs on profits - essentially, nothing gets made or done unless someone can make a profit out of it. So here's the problem: the only way to keep making profits is to sell more and more goods to the masses, but the best way to keep production costs down is to employ fewer people on lower wages.
It doesn't take a genius to see that if people's wages are reduced and the numbers employed go down, there will be fewer people who are actually able to buy the stuff that the capitalists are trying to sell. And since capitalism went global, we now have a global economy, so the crisis isn't just here, it's everywhere. Vast masses of people are being pushed out of work because they can't afford to buy all the stuff they made and the capitalists are trying to sell back to them!
This leads to a vicious downward spiral, where people aren't buying enough goods, so capitalists go out of business, leading to more job losses and fewer people able to buy - which leads to more job losses, and so on. In this crazy situation, food and essential goods of all kinds sit uselessly in warehouses or are destroyed, while the people who need them starve and go without.
Young people are the worst hit section of unemployment; it's getting hard to even get a job in the Cleaning Industry. The entire experience makes thousands of young people ill and depressed every year.
Education offers the only way to a better future. But education doesn't come cheap. Thousands of secondary school students got their results in the beginning of the month, again it was another record-breaking year for South African students who improved on the previous year's results, but even pupils who have achieved top grades are forced to compete for the miniscule amount of university places that are on offer. This, and the fact that there no enough Universities in the country, leaves tens of thousands of young people in the South Africa without any access to education or a decent job.
This year's figures show there was roughly 85,000 applicants to the University of Johannesburg, but only 11,000 first-year slots were available. University applicants are left dejected having missed out on their preferred course or, in a lot of cases, unable to attend university at all.
A major overhaul is needed in our education system. Massive investment is needed to provide a better learning environment for students with the best learning equipment. Major recruitment is needed to ease the burden on teachers and fight rising unemployment.
The ruling class believes that propping up a dying system is far more important than giving hundreds of thousands of working-class youth the chance to continue their education.
Not content with denying us the right to further education at FET College, the ruling class has now decided to shut the doors to higher education too by the increament of the tuition fees every year - and that's on top of living expenses! The result is that even if you manage to stay in a university, and even if you manage to get good grades, the chances of affording a university education are extremely slim.
It's clear that the ruling class is cutting off our access to work and education - we're being trapped in a cycle of endless poverty, desperation and degradation. No wonder that in these circumstances so many young people are driven to join the Police force.
Tuition fees must be scrapped to allow everyone who wishes to go to university.
Specialized cheap student accommodation must also be provided. Students should not be forced to pay exorbitant rent to private landlords for substandard accommodation.
Divide and rule
It's obvious that this system isn't in the interests of the vast majority of people, so how has it survived for so long?
On top of having a huge state machinery of coercion - police, courts, prisons etc - to keep people in line, the capitalists also control the media. From school textbooks to E-TV News and SABC news to the City Press and the Mail and Guardian, their ideas are pushed onto us every day: a way of looking at the world that teaches us that this system is inevitable and logical, and that cuts and wars are necessary to defend ‘our way of life', as opposed to protecting their profit margins.
An understanding of society (theory) and a way of uniting to change it (organisation) are the two things that we need to make a socialist revolution.
Young people have everything to gain by getting involved in this process sooner rather than later. This world isn't working for us and we deserve better!
Not only do we need to campaign against the bad conditions and lack of prospects for the youth in the world today, but we need to work for a completely different type of society - one where people's needs decide everything.
So many problems face this world: environmental catastrophe, poverty, disease, racism and war. They'll never be solved while capitalism remains, but they could all be sorted if society was set up for the benefit of the majority rather than the private gain of a few billionaires.
Studying Marxism, organising the young people in your area and learning about how we fight for socialism is the only way we can defeat the ruling class.
Howard Vilakazi is the Deputy Chairperson of the YCL in Mpumalanga
I agree with many of the statements that Norman made. I don't agree with the heading: No university, no job.
Education is important, but a degree will not ensure you a job. A degree is not an answer to the high employment rate in South Africa.
We have high and low skilled jobs in SA. There are people who are not able to complete a degree or even diploma successfully, but they can still succeed in getting a job or even better, create their own jobs.
Someone from Europe recently said to me, "In Europe there is a big middle class - but here in South Africa there is just very rich and very poor - nothing in between."
While I firmly agree with the fundamental principles of socialism (though not communist propaganda), neither capitalism nor socialism/communism have succeeded for the vast majority of people.
What we need is a new model - one that does not create the environment where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It will take a revolution, but not the kind you propose. We need a social revolution, not a socialist revolution.