Youth and the liberal way of living

Delegates met this morning, Saturday, 5.11.23, during the first workshop session, to discuss the question at the core of any sociology:

“How do we live?”

Liberalism is one of the main ideologies that influences youth and society today. The workshop was led by Senar, a member of the Union of Students of Kurdistan (YXK) and Marta Sanchez, from the Colombian communist party’s organization, Comunes. Comunes is an organisation that formed out of a guerrilla struggle for land redistribution.

“How does liberalism affect society and especially the youth?”

To answer this question, Marta spoke about the connection between liberalism and the globalized capitalist economy. This particularly affects the way women and young people live in Colombia, their ability to work and create a living. However, far from being just material conditions, liberalism is the system which is philosophical and ideological at the basis of the global politics and economy.

Hence, the solution needs to be a different kind of education, one that helps young people to act and live differently, with a mentality that is free from patriarchy and any dominating attitude.

Comunes fights to change the school system, a cause, that needs particular attention in Colombia. There are very few people that can access higher education; only 30% of the population finishes secondary school.

We need free and higher-quality education, one that belongs to us and not to the state!

Marta, Comunes

As Senar pointed out, as long as the education system will receive funding and support from the state, the education will always be subjugated to the nationalist and liberalist ideology of the nation-state. This is not only a slogan-it’s what student movements of Colombia have been fighting for. Recent examples of this struggle are the big student demonstrations that took place in 2011 and 2018.

While speaking about the Comunes’ struggle against compulsory military service, Marta points out the ways in which the nation-state tries to colonize the youth’s identity through military recruitment. A strategy that has long stolen the life and spirit of young people all over the world, destroying the youth’s ability to see itself as a revolutionary force and find real answers for themselves and their communities. In the military and in the school, the nation-state’s attempt to annihilate the personality of the youth, reaches some of its most brutal forms.

The discussion then focused on Europe where the influence of capitalist values is particularly strong. The youth is trained to work hard for a higher salary, have a family, buy expensive cars and the latest model of whatever item is trending at the time. All of this is based on an educational system that makes us think in an individualistic way – an attack on our personalities, that we can feel from the first moment we’re born and that take a particularly strong form in school when young people start to develop autonomy and design their lives.

“It’s difficult for the youth to have a real impact on the current social crisis because we’re not aware of our individual aims. We’re detached from our own body and mind”

Marta, Comunes

Senar highlighted the importance of centering politics in our everyday lives, as a form of self-defense from the attacks of liberalism. This means developing a political life, a political consciousness, that enables us to live in the struggle and for the struggle in every moment. We have to strengthen neighborhood solidarity, a way of living communally through shared principles that truly benefit our collective life.

Furthermore, he pointed out the need to organize ourselves autonomously, build cooperatives and social structures that can help us to eradicate patriarchal values. In order to achieve this, as became very clear during the workshop, we need to educate ourselves and re-appropriate the sciences. Only then can we learn how to live outside the state, outside its control and dependency.

“We can’t create a society if we don’t find humanity in ourselves, if we don’t see ourselves as part of nature and not see our strength to solve our problems. As youth, we need to rediscover the energy that comes from sharing and thinking, doing and existing collectively.”

How can we defend ourselves from liberal and capitalist attacks? The solution and the energy to fuel it must come from women, young people and minorities – the first step towards a free life is identifying the problem and the impact it has on society and on our mentality. The second one is shaping our own political life. To achieve this we, as young people, need to relate with our communities and cultural identities and resist the attacks of liberalism!

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