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January, 2007

The Future is Up to Us!

How important are the youth to revolution?

Editor's note: This column is based on excerpts from the book, "The Future is Up To Us: A Revolutionary Talking Politics with the American People ," by Nelson Peery. We encourage our readers to join the discussion. Send your thoughts to info@peoplestribune.org. Order the book by sending $12 to Speakers for a New America Books, c/o People's Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.

Nelson Peery

First, who are the youth today? Today, 10- and 12-year-olds have to make decisions about drugs and sex and their place in society. The youth are becoming younger and we must learn to approach them.

The youth have played very, very important roles in every revolution. If you go back to the American Revolution, for example, to the key battle at Brooklyn Heights, George Washington wrote in his diary that over half his army was 15 or under. Now, does that give you an idea about how important the youth were to the American Revolution? Nobody ever tells you this.

Wherever we look in any revolution we find the youth playing a very special role.They play that role because they are youth. Many don't have a family to feed and often they don't have a job to go to everyday. They can spend time passing out leaflets and participating in street demonstrations. They can spend hours in chat rooms and building web sites.

Moreover, since they are youth they aren't settled into any specific economic class. They don't have the political outlook of the workers. They are not old enough; they haven't been there long enough. What they do have is morality.

We keep hearing about how terrible young people are. Yet, the most moral group in a society is its youth. They have ideals, they are looking for something that's better than what they have. The youth are in an objective position to play an important role in the revolutionary process.

The left has always wanted to organize the youth, but have never been able to find the openings. Now, it's just beginning to open up. As the maxim goes, "Whoever gets the youth is going to win this revolution." I add that whoever gets the youth are the ones who appealed to their morality, not to their material well being.

We have a very, very big youth movement in the United States. It is pretty unmanageable, but it is a movement. The youth know what's happening. What they see is that there isn't any future for them. They know they can't make it under this system. Their rebelliousness sometimes takes on an anti-social character. That's not their fault; that's our fault. We are the ones responsible to see to it that the youth are pulled in the proper direction. The objective reality is that they do not have a future in this system.

The youth are going to be pulled in either to the fascist skinheads or to the revolutionary movement -- to something that says,"Look, let's change this thing." Again, they're not saying,"Let's change it so we can make some money."They are saying,"This is wrong, this is no good, this thing sucks, let's change it." The people who say this, too, are the ones pulling the youth towards them.

There has never been the potential, the revolutionary potential, amongst the youth that we see today. The objective situation is ripening. We had better be sure we have something to say.

Order "The Future is Up to Us" for $12 from Speakers for a New America c/o People's Tribune, P.O. Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654.

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