By Heather O’Callaghan
At the end of May, The Irish Times released a survey of young people between the ages of 16 and 21 conducted by Young Social Innovators. Sixty percent of those surveyed described their generation as stressed, anxious and depressed, while a mere 11% described it as motivated. With the housing crisis (which currently sees over 10,000 people in homelessness services), precarious work and the constant threat of climate change forever looming over them, it’s not surprising that the majority of young people are not exactly as hopeful about their future as they may once have been.
For teenagers there is a constant pressure to perform well in school as their entire college career hangs on one exam, which is nothing short of “tell me everything you’ve learnt in 5 years, go!” For young adults there’s the added stress of high college fees and high rent for very limited accommodation which forces many either to live with their parents all through university and for many years afterwards, or not attend the university they received a place in if it’s away from home. As well as this, there is the issue of precarious work, low wages and zero-hour contracts to contend with. Pretty bleak, right?
However there is a silver lining to this: in the past year we have seen mass movements surrounding housing and climate change that have either been organised in part or fully by young people. If we take the climate change protests for example, we’ve seen thousands of school students striking and calling for action on climate change not just in Ireland but all over the world. Many people in Ireland would have seen how the government caves when under pressure from the public; you can see this if you look at movements such as repeal, marriage equality and the water charges movement. This proves that there is potential for systemic change when young and working-class people get organised. If 88% of young people feel that they aren’t being listened to by the government now, this will only create the basis for resentment. Young people and the working class need to organise for change now. This means fighting to tear down the capitalist regime and replacing it with complete public ownership of natural resources, public service, businesses and healthcare, and implementing socialism in the place of capitalism.