Britain: communism, the youth, and the fight for revolution

A new generation of communists is being forged by capitalism’s crises and catastrophes. “He who has the youth, has the future,” Lenin famously proclaimed. We call on radical young people to get organised and join us in the fight for revolution.

[Originally published at]

Every quarter, polling company YouGov surveys people’s views towards well-known figures, past and present. This includes Lenin, the leader of the October Revolution. The results are illuminating.

Amongst the older generation, those born between 1946-64, opinion is unenthusiastic. A mere 4% of Baby Boomers give Lenin the thumbs up.

Younger people, by contrast, hold a far more favourable view of the Russian revolutionary. The Bolshevik leader is popular amongst 40% of Millennials (those born between 1981-96).

Unfortunately data is not available for ‘Gen Zs’ (born 1996-2012). But no doubt support for Lenin would be even higher for younger generations.

This revolutionary outlook was confirmed by another poll published earlier this year by the Fraser Institute. This conservative think-tank was shocked to find out that nearly a third of young people in Britain (18-34 year-olds) believe that “communism is the ideal economic system”.

Again, this survey did not include school students, who are even more radical. Nevertheless, these findings equate to about 4.5 million youth in Britain who are open to communism.

Generation crisis

British capitalism crumblingSociety has been wracked by instability, austerity, and catastrophes over the past decade-and-a-half / Image: Socialist Appeal

The reason for this radicalisation is clear and understandable. This generation has grown up in the wake of the capitalist slump of 2008, the deepest since the Great Depression, where the system has lurched from one crisis to another.

Society has been wracked by instability, austerity, and catastrophes over the past decade-and-a-half. Young people today have never known anything but disaster and decline.

Older layers have been burnt out by past defeats and difficulties. They have grown sceptical towards the idea of radical change.

The youth, however, see their parents struggling on a daily basis: cutting back on essentials, skipping meals, and turning off the lights and radiators in order to scrape by.

Millions of children in Britain are in food poverty. Students’ school buildings are literally crumbling to bits. Upon graduation, they are faced with dead-end jobs, poor pay, and growing unemployment; with little hope or future.

Added to this is the climate crisis and the horrors of imperialism. Capitalist corporations plunder and pollute the world. Conflict and war tear countries apart. Millions die every year of starvation and disease. All the while, the super-rich sit idly and luxuriously upon an enormous pile of wealth.

No wonder young people today want a revolution. How can they not?!

Broken system

This is a global phenomenon. The crisis of capitalism is international. And in all countries, it is the youth who are bearing the brunt of this broken system.

In Italy, Spain, and Greece, for example, youth unemployment rates are at 32%, 34%, and 40%. In South Africa, the figure is 53%.

In China, although accurate figures are difficult to come by, all the evidence suggests that the youth are increasingly swelling the ranks of capitalism’s ‘reserve army of labour’.

Everywhere, young people have been on the frontlines of the struggle: from Sri Lanka to the United States; from Palestine to France.

Hammer blows

Older folk, with memories of a halcyon age, might yearn for a return to better times. But they are living under an illusion. Such conditions are never coming back, as the continual hammer blow of events will prove.

Special crisis of british capitalism cover.jpgEven the strategists of capitalism see no way out / Image: Socialist Appeal

Even the strategists of capitalism see no way out. Attendees of the recent meeting of central bankers and establishment officials at Jackson Hole, for example, talked about a “shock-prone, fragmented environment”, where global debt has become unsustainable.

The ruling class is terrified of another world slump, which is on the cards. They are unsure about whether the state can afford to bail out the capitalist system once again.

“I don’t think they [governments] can do it again,” stated IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas. “We don’t have an insurance policy anymore. We are at the edge.”

Absolutely. They are at the edge of an abyss.

Lenin or Labour?

The old reformist ‘left’ parties are blind to what is happening. They have no perspective of revolutionary change. Instead, they hope to patch up capitalism.

Starmer with Tory rosette CREDIT World Economic Forum Flickr.jpgStarmer’s Labour Party has become an obedient tool of the ruling class / Image: World Economic Forum, Flickr

These ‘lefts’ have completely bought into the system. But capitalism is in a blind alley, and can no longer offer reforms – only counter-reforms.

Starmer’s Labour Party has become an obedient tool of the ruling class. The Labour leaders are keen to do the dirty work for capitalism. In power, they will act little differently from the Tories.

No wonder young people feel betrayed. They are looking for fundamental change. They are looking for revolution: nothing more, nothing less. They are looking towards Lenin and communism.

The only way forward is the overthrow of this rotten system.

Road of revolution

It is the new generation that holds the key. Through their dynamism and militancy, they can revive the more passive and inert layers, break down their scepticism, and rejuvenate the movement.

“The movement is revitalised by the youth, who are free of responsibility for the past,” Trotsky explained in the late 1930s, in a period of revolution and counter-revolution.

“The Fourth International [the revolutionary international] pays particular attention to the young generation of the proletariat,” Trotsky continued. “All of its policies strive to inspire the youth with belief in its own strength and in the future.”

“Only the fresh enthusiasm and aggressive spirit of the youth can guarantee the preliminary successes in the struggle; only these successes can return the best elements of the older generation to the road of revolution. Thus it was, thus it will be.”

Join the communists!

It was not for nothing that Lenin asserted that “he who has the youth, has the future”. The Bolshevik Party was originally built upon the youth. It was they who provided the cadres for the success of the October Revolution in 1917.

Lenin standing in front of flames.jpgTo overthrow capitalism, we need to build a revolutionary party / Image: Socialist Appeal

To overthrow capitalism, we need to build a revolutionary party with the same perspective, energy, and determination as the Bolsheviks.

That means forging a genuinely communist force, in Britain and internationally: as Lenin attempted 100 years ago, and as we – the International Marxist Tendency – are doing today.

Join us to end the scourge of poverty, hunger, and war; to overthrow capitalism; to struggle for a communist future, based upon Marx’s principle: from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.

We are the real Marxists; the real Leninists; the real Communists. Join us, get organised, and fight for revolution!

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