University and school students are returning to classes amid a massive crisis of world capitalism. Many are recognising that this is a system that offers nothing but environmental destruction, war, fascism, social crisis and mass illness.
We have reached a turning point in history. It is increasingly clear that if young people want a future, they must fight for it.
All over the world, there is growing opposition and anger. However, to go forward, these sentiments require a perspective and a program based on a scientific understanding of society and the lessons of history. The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) insists that what is needed is nothing less than a fight for the socialist transformation of society on a global scale to establish a world of peace and equality.
The urgency of this struggle is summed up by the mass slaughter in Gaza. The IYSSE warns bluntly: this is not just a Middle Eastern question. The barbarism being inflicted on the Palestinians is what imperialism has in store for the world's population.
In the last four months, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has murdered 30,000 Palestinians, over 90 percent civilians, and most of them women and children.
More than half of Gaza’s infrastructure has been destroyed, and 1.9 million people (85 percent of the population) have been internally displaced. Israel has cut off power, food and water, leaving Palestinians to starve and succumb to deadly diseases. In targeted attacks, the IDF has damaged all of Gaza’s hospitals and slaughtered healthcare workers in their hundreds, leaving no means for the sick to be treated.
By every definition of the word, Israel is carrying out a genocide. Its targeted attempt to ethnically cleanse the Gaza Strip by murdering the Palestinian population is a war crime that recalls the horrors of the Holocaust. The direct involvement of advanced industrial states to exterminate a people has been unprecedented since World War Two.
Israel’s assault would not be possible without the political and military support, funding and involvement of the imperialist powers, led by the United States, who unwaveringly defend Israel’s supposed “right to defend itself.”
US president “Genocide Joe” Biden admitted in December that his administration is consciously aiding and abetting what it knows to be war crimes. He blurted out that Israel is carrying out “indiscriminate bombing” and seeking “retribution” against “all Palestinians.”
In Australia, the Labor government of Anthony Albanese has been among the most vocal in supporting Israel’s bombardment. The country is exporting weapons components used in the Israeli military machine and providing intelligence used to target Palestinians via the Pine Gap spy base.
All this is occurring despite mass opposition among ordinary workers and youth to the genocide.
Young people internationally are horrified by and opposed to Israel’s imperialist-backed assault, but despite 17 weeks of sustained worldwide protests, Israel’s slaughter escalates daily. Even after the UN overwhelmingly resolved in favour of a ceasefire and the International Court of Justice’s interim ruling that Israel is engaged in genocide, the murder of Palestinians continues.
The critical question, therefore, is how to fight war.
The fact that genocide has been adopted as policy by all the major capitalist powers is a warning. Gaza is the test case. The imperialist powers are making clear that there are no “red lines” they will not cross in their struggle to sustain their hegemonic rule.
The bombardment is part of Washington’s attempts to fully subordinate the resource-rich Middle East—something which more than three decades and more than a million deaths due to US-led wars in the region have failed to accomplish.
The Zionist state is an outpost of US imperialism in the Middle East, forged by the imperialist powers in an ethno-nationalist project that cynically exploited the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust to justify the creation of a nation by expelling the Palestinians who lived there. The Israeli regime’s long-held perspective, headed by fascist Benjamin Netanyahu, is to drive the Palestinians out of Gaza entirely, whether by displacement or death.
Support for genocide is intended to bring about an end to the “Palestinian question” in the interests of imperialism. The imperialist powers are setting out to embolden Israel as its attack dog in the Middle East so that it can serve as a launching pad for US wars throughout the region, with Iran as the main target.
From the beginning, Washington has seized on Israel’s assault to surge troops, warships and aircraft into the Middle East. Already, the bombardment against Gaza has spread into neighbouring Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. The US and UK, with the aid of Australia and New Zealand, have launched strikes against the people of Yemen, and have begun bombing Syria and Iraq.
The US sees the conflict in the Middle East as crucial to its existential struggle with Russia and China. It must subjugate and dismember what it sees as its rivals as the only means of maintaining its economic and military hegemony.
What is being witnessed are the first stages of a third world war, with military fronts in Ukraine against Russia, in the Middle East increasingly targeting Iran and military preparations apace against what is identified as the main enemy, China. There is an increasingly open discussion about the use of nuclear weapons.
US imperialism, with its NATO allies, is engaged in a proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. Having goaded the Putin regime into its reactionary invasion, NATO is attempting to carve Russia up among the imperialist powers for its resources and geostrategic position.
Since 2010, the US has been systematically surrounding Beijing economically and militarily in a foreign strategy called the “pivot to Asia.”
Australian imperialism plays a major role in the “pivot.” In a process that began in 2011, it has been transformed into a frontline state for war against China. The current Labor government serves as Washington's chief attack dog in the region and is overseeing a massive military build-up for war.
Australia is a key member of several US-led military pacts, including the Quadrilateral, Five Eyes and AUKUS, which saw the Albanese government pledge $368 billion dollars in March 2023 to purchase nuclear-powered submarines as part of its role in a war with China.
The Australian population was never allowed a vote on the massive increase in military funding or the fact it would be paid for by slashing government expenditure on health, education and welfare. All the decisions are being made behind the backs of ordinary people in a conspiracy against the working class.
Yet, the fake left organisations—like Socialist Alternative, Socialist Alliance and Solidarity in Australia—peddle the illusion that protest alone will pressure governments to support a ceasefire in Gaza.
No capitalist government, including that of Labor in Australia, cares that their policies are opposed. They didn’t in 2003 prior to the invasion of Iraq which led to one million dead and the destruction of Iraqi society and they don’t now.
To insist there is a hope of changing their minds is to chloroform workers and tie them to the capitalist state and its appendages in the corporatised, anti-worker trade union bureaucracies.
That is because the pseudo-left is oriented to privileged sections of the upper middle class who have gained personal wealth through the capitalist system.
Their aim is not to fundamentally restructure social and economic life, but to redistribute wealth among those at the top. That is why they promote various types of racial and gender politics to compete for positions of power and privilege in corporate boardrooms, academia, the media, and the trade union apparatus and state.
What the pseudo-left wants to avoid is a generation of youth drawing the link between genocide, war and capitalism.
War emerges out of the inherent contradictions of capitalism: between the world economy and its division into competing nation-states and between the private ownership of the means of production and their socialised character, operated by a billions-strong international working class.
To end war requires ending capitalism. Students and youth must turn to the only social force capable of overthrowing the profit system: the international working class.
Workers produce all the wealth in society, but that wealth is concentrated in the hands of the tiny capitalist oligarchy. Meanwhile, the capitalist elite siphon billions of dollars out of healthcare, education and social welfare to fund machines of death.
This gutting of social infrastructure was highlighted in capitalism’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Governments in every country have scrapped all scientifically based public health measures in the interests of profit and militarism. As a result, at least 27 million have died globally from the preventable illness while tens of millions more are suffering the debilitating effects of Long-COVID.
Meanwhile, the ultra-rich have gorged on death. Oxfam’s report last month revealed that the richest five individuals doubled their wealth since the pandemic began. In the same period, five billion people became poorer.
This growing social polarisation is leading many millions of workers into open confrontation with capitalism.
To suppress this growing social opposition to the program of war and austerity, the ruling elite internationally are turning to the far right and dictatorial forms of rule. The threat of authoritarianism is embodied in the 2024 presidential elections in the US, the centre of world imperialism. The elections are likely to be contested by Joe Biden, who wants world war, and would-be fascist dictator, Donald Trump.
As the World Socialist Web Site Editorial Board wrote in Part Four of its New Year’s statement, “The working class, the fight against capitalist barbarism, and the building of the World Party of Socialist Revolution”:
Taken as a whole, the normalization of different forms of social barbarism signify that the capitalist class has arrived at a dead end. A class whose policies consist of different forms of sociocide has clearly exhausted its historical, economic, social and political legitimacy.
The response of young people and workers to the capitalist crisis must be the normalisation of socialist revolutionary politics around the world.
World war, climate catastrophe, dictatorship, pandemics and mass poverty are international problems borne out of capitalism. They require a global socialist solution.
We call on young people to join the IYSSE and go to factories and workplaces to advance a socialist and internationalist perspective among workers.
Emerging struggles of the working class and youth against capitalist barbarism must be imbued with socialist consciousness based on the historical experiences of the working class. Only then can an egalitarian, peaceful world based on scientific and rational planning based on social need, not private profit, be built.
Take up the fight for world socialism today! Join the IYSSE! Build the global mass anti-war movement!