Jovencidio – Capitalism’s War on Youth is War on Society
“Jovencidio” – Mexico’s term for genocidal state attacks on youth – also describes what is happening today in the U.S. Jovencidio is an entry point for capitalism to attack society at large.
On both sides of the border, the State is merged with the corporations to create profit-making, privatized, corporate prisons, a huge security industry funded by the military budget, corporate arms trafficking, and “Drug Wars” that justify these steps. Integral with this growing fascist environment in both countries, the corporate education industry is seizing and privatizing public education, both to loot the national budgets and indoctrinate a new generation.
To coordinate their struggles against the international privatizers of education, leaders from Canada, México, the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been organizing across national lines, and will gather this May in Vancouver to develop a broader approach.
Last September, the chief of Chicago schools, Forrest Claypool announced that more schools and up to 5,000 jobs could be eliminated in 2016. That same month, the LA Times exposed a secret plan to start handing over half of the district’s almost 900 schools to charter school companies in 2016. These are not isolated incidents, or just local battles in an intensifying war that capitalist leaders have launched to restructure society. Across the globe, their control of hi-technology means that billions of young workers will get only underpaid, insecure jobs or no jobs at all, as they are preyed upon by for-profit education companies, the military, and brutal police.
Students should be learning that the wealth created with new technology can be used to improve education, reduce poverty worldwide, and heal the planet. Why should humanity’s wealth just enrich bankers and corporations? Instead, students are told that America just can’t afford quality public education, so schools must be closed and their funding cut, along with the pay and pensions of teachers and staff. They’re told that many college students have no choice but to pile up lifelong debt. They’re told that life, like school, has become a never-ending series of tests they might fail.
The avalanche of school testing isn’t aimed at helping students learn. It provides a justification for denying thousands of them access to higher education and professional careers. Then they face an even harsher test of life or death, as laborless production drives capitalism’s war on youth and denies them jobs. This forces some into the military, to face killing or being killed by youth from other countries. Or they get pushed into America’s street wars, where economically desperate youth face killing or being killed by youth just like themselves. If they survive all that, they still may become innocent victims of the murderous war against the poor, launched by the army of police, which has murdered at least 1000 a year since 2013.
The past two years have seen national mass movements in response to killings by police in both Mexico and the US. In the U.S., the movement against State-sanctioned police murder, as in Ferguson, Baltimore, New York and Chicago, is paralleled by even more violent repression and murders by state and federal troops in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Michoacán and Chiapas in Mexico. Most of these killings are “justified” by the criminalization of youth in both countries.
In the U.S., Black youth especially have been targeted by politicians and the corporate media, producing a hysteria that has led school districts to turn discipline over to the police. Witness the recent news of the brutal attack by a sheriff on a young girl in South Carolina for not surrendering her cell phone, the disciplinary handcuffing of elementary school students,and the unannounced searches by drug-sniffing dogs in Los Angeles classrooms. Both Black and white college students have been shot by campus police in recent years, from San Antonio, Texas to the University of South Alabama and this past November, at Spartanburg Methodist College in South Carolina.
The school-to-prison pipeline continues in full swing in America, and the schools-to-cemetery numbers are growing. A database of total U.S. police murders in 2015 provided by The Guardian shows that there is a concentrated attack on Black youth. It also shows that these attacks are part of a growing overall program of police violence against Americans of all colors and all ages.
Although the percent of all Blacks killed by police is higher than the percent of Euro-Americans, the actual amount of whites killed is higher, since whites are such a bigger population. Police murder is not confined to one age group. But the State stirs up propaganda about Black youth. Yes, Blacks are getting the brunt; nothing will change in the U.S. until Black lives matter. But State-sanctioned police murder extends to all ages and nationalities. Of 1,134 Americans killed by police in 2015 whose ages were known, nearly half of them – 524 police murders – were under 35 years, and those older than 35 totaled 546.
The militarization of our schools and our streets mirrors the militarization of society on both sides of the border. Who can forget the photo of the corpse of the Ayotzinapa student in Guerrero with his face ripped off and his eyes gouged out, while his 43 classmates remain missing to this day, after being arrested by police? As extreme as it is in Mexico, with the army in the streets, the ruling class in this country is moving in that direction. After all, both countries are linked directly to global capitalism. The drug lords and government are so intertwined that the Mexican people now refer to the government as the “Narco-state”.
In Oaxaca, Chiapas, Michoacan and Guerrero, a war has been unleashed on teachers who refuse to comply with the government’s “education reform.” In August of last year, 17,000 federal troops with heavy military equipment were deployed to Oaxaca, where 4 union leaders were sent to federal prison. 10,000 police and federal troops were sent to Chiapas in January, where 6 teachers were brutally beaten and one killed, and 52 normalista students were arrested in Michoacan. While the 22 women were released after two weeks, the men were incarcerated until January 27th. These students are from the poorest, rural, indigenous communities, especially in the southern states of Mexico. Not coincidently, these are the states with a long history of fighting centuries of violent repression and hit hard by the trade agreements of global capitalism. Hundreds of thousands of teachers, students and their communities have been marching in protest and continue to be attacked, while solidarity protests spring up throughout the country.
By criminalizing youth, particularly in the most impoverished communities, government at all levels is ratcheting up the suppression of any popular uprising against the impossible living conditions that hi-tech global capitalism is forcing on the people. California, for example, spends more on a yearly basis criminalizing young people than they do educating them.
Laborless production means that human beings increasingly cannot work in order to survive. The extreme polarization of wealth and poverty and dispossession is increasing everywhere. If workers are less and less needed to produce goods and services, then the education that used to be part of the cost of production of a worker is no longer necessary. Therefore the labor of teachers is increasingly eliminated. Young workers are no longer needed either. So, public education policy is increasingly structured to educate the elite to run society, while most students get little education that would otherwise empower them with the tools to determine society’s future.
The State requires schools to become a tool for the social control of the unneeded mass of youth. Money is already flowing into school police departments, metal detectors and surveillance systems, and harsher punishment for student truancy. In pre-K-12 education, the trend is to militarize schools and impose education reforms that train students to accept social control, instead of educating them to analyze and question existing conditions. Teachers increasingly come under attack, especially those that empower students to understand the economic revolution that is underway, and to envision collectively the possibilities of using the new technologies to create sharing, caring societies. In higher education, student debt has become a form of social control as well.
Public education crises have been mostly taking state and local forms, which the austerity agenda allows corporations to exploit and privatize. Yet the important battlegrounds are increasingly federal. To gain public control over education means nationalizing it so that the government will guarantee everyone a lifelong, free, quality public education.
So far, humanity is losing the war against youth, because only the ruling class recognizes the goal of the political offensive. Many believe that the attacks are part of efforts by rich, mainly white conservatives to roll America back to the way it used to be. But there are no more reforms left when a police State is in the streets.
Responses to “fight back” against racism and corporate attacks will develop, but they are always followed by new attacks. The new class of workers, who are shut out by laborless technology, can and must move beyond fighting never-ending, scattered defensive struggles, to unified political action.
The economic revolution that is disrupting the world demands that humanity take the offensive in order to transform our world. The disruption of public education stems from the technological revolution that makes the old society obsolete. Today’s underlying struggle is about what kind of new societies will be built on the basis of new technologies. Either the corporations will continue to destroy society and the environment, or we will create a world where the needs of all can be met – one in which we live in balance with the environment. This is primarily a political struggle for power. Strategically, this means fighting forward for a new cooperative society that guarantees everyone everything they need to thrive, contribute and develop.
A truly cooperative society would insure that emerging generations have all the skills and resources to participate in the revolutionary transformation to a society for all. The new proletarian class will decide what kinds of education are necessary to develop such a wonderful future, once it exerts its united political power.
March/April 2016 Vol26.Ed2
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011