Precarity Without Borders

The ISL Global Youth Forum on job precarity and education was a success. With a broad representation of countries and processes of struggle. A 100% internationalist event.

By Mariano Rosa

With an initial welcome greeting of the ISL Coordination by Alejandro Bodart, the youth event began. In the previous weeks, the activity of promoting the event on social media, but also in the streets, “face-to-face,” included various flyers, posters and spots, digital graphics and a “multinational” production of all kinds of resources to mobilize. And the call lived up to all that previous journey. Hundreds of young people from 5 continents built a new international meeting with great diversity and rich debates. From the initial reports from Argentina, Pakistan and Turkey, to the testimony of each of the countries that went through the meeting. There were high points with reports with the numbers and data on job precarity and education decay, but experiences of struggle and organization were also shared. Natalia, precarious worker from the US, recounted the experience of the sector, but locating the process in the new situation of that country opened by the the struggle against racism after the murder of George Floyd. From Australia, Nick presented the characteristics of the student movement and Ali from Lebanon, moved everyone with a strong testimony from that revolutionary country with the youth as the protagonist. Reports from Brazil, Chile and Colombia followed. The later comes from a powerful action that achieved a partial advance in its “Zero Tuition” campaign. The following speakers brought particular realities from Ecuador, Spain, France and Mexico. Central America was represented by Nicaragua, plus interventions from Paraguay, the youth from Peru and the struggle of the Saharawi people by Chaia of the Polisario Front of Western Sahara. Finally, a Ukrainian representative from Eastern Europe completed the round of speakers. As in the International Meeting in June, 5 continents were present at an event of the International Socialist League.

Click on the image to watch the complete Forum.

It is not an accident or an exception, it is the rule.

In this stage, capitalism makes millions of young people live completely precarious lives. Job precarity and education as a privilege are not “accidents” of the system or situations caused by COVID, they are characteristics of capitalism at this stage. And in its recurring crises, it puts into operation mechanisms that reinforce its worst face, it’s only face. To overcome the crisis, to make sure that the 1% have their expected economic return, it uses the millions of unemployed people that the crisis generates as a pressure factor, to impose worse conditions of exploitation. In this context, their agenda is job precarity as a rule. In education, the system pushes towards privatizacion on an international scale. This serves two objectives, both economic: doing business with a new and profitable “niche,” and using state money for other purposes, such as subsidizing companies or paying debts to the IMF. With COVID, and forced online studying, the situation of education has a new facet: digital inequality; working from home actually makes working conditions more precarious for teachers, and it opens a window of opportunity for the capitalists of education, which is the business of online schooling. Zuckerberg (the owner of Facebook and Instagram), Bill Gates and Google, are investing in this branch of the digital industry, betting on making education a “virtual”, “distance” process, without teachers, pedagogically impoverished, standardized for students and very profitable. At the ISL Forum, a conclusion was made very clear to the hundreds of young workers and students who participated: capitalism is precariousness and turns education into a privilege.

On the front lines

There are two trenches in the war that capitalism has declared against the youth: in one, there are the capitalists, the traditional parties and the union bureaucrats. In the other, the precarious workers and students. Therefore, we have to make our own politics and have our organizations. The Forum left a general consensus: the ISL must be at the forefront of intervention to support the struggles of the student movement and working class youth. And at the same time, to propose to the best activists of those movements, the need to organize politically with our parties and groups in each country. We raise worker-student unity as a banner towards a socialist perspective. And more than ever in the world that is emerging, where youth protests tend to internationalize.

The following tasks follow up:

1) To strengthen our support for all the struggles of the student movement as a true banner that identifies us in the world. The fight for no one to be left out, for education as a right, for budget increases and democracy with a student majority to decide everything, as an axis of the youth of the ISL. As we have supported the student movement in Colombia these last weeks, or the protests in Lebanon these last few days.

2) The movement of the precarious young working class grows. Simultaneously with the Forum, delivery workers in Brazil were staging a new strike with protests. It was huge. It is a tendency. Therefore, participating in that process and building the organizations of the ISL among the most active members of that struggle is essential. We proposed to evaluate new initiatives by the ISL for reference in this dynamic sector of the working class.

3) We have a great material in the International Manifesto “Young lives matter,” to spread our world view from the socialist youth and with proposals for a solution, for a program and for organization.

Not only in terms of work or education, but about young people’s needs in general. We have to spread this Manifesto in places of work and study, among friends and acquaintances, because it is a powerful message of awareness and organization. This was also raised as a task.

4) And of course, commit ourselves to the ISL´s agenda starting on August 22, with the international rally of homage on the 80h anniversary of the murder of that enormous revolutionary who was Leon Trotsky. Not to comply with a formality, but to be able to debate on the full validity of his ideas for the revolution and socialism, just at this moment of capitalism’s systemic crisis.

In short, it was a great event. A meeting of fighters, of activists with a purpose: to turn everything over.