Julius Jacobson Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Julius Falk

Youth Notes ...

(9 December 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 49, 9 December 1946, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

There is a marked recession in the “youth consciousness” of the American people. In daily conversations, in the press, even in labor organizations, and strangely enough even on the campus, we no longer hear the “student and working class youth” discussed to any significant degree as a category with unique problems.

Primarily responsible for this apathy is the unquestionable improvement in the status of young people today. Whereas 15 years ago there were 5,000,000 unemployed youth, today the total number of unemployed workers is barely half that figure. Also the wage differential between young and adult workers has been pared down considerably.

When a high school grad did get a job during the depression he made 10 or 12 dollars a week. Today it is a commonplace for a 19 or 20-year-old, in terms of real wages, to get twice that. The result is that the young workers who feel that they have found a relatively safe and permanent niche for themselves identify their problems with those of the older workers in the shop.

In the high schools and colleges it is pretty much the same story. Students are lulled by a sense of security. They have jobs, careers and professions mapped out for themselves never doubting that their ambitions will be realized. The fact that the Stalinist American Youth For Democracy with its superficially progressive program has been unable to become a real force on the campus is indicative not only of the bad politics of that organization but reflects also an unhealthy lethargy among students.

Purpose of Column

The purpose of the subsequent articles in this column will be many fold:

  1. To show that whatever validity there is to this sense of security, it is only a temporary phenomenon. That the depression is inevitable and that the first and hardest hit category will be the youth.
  2. That despite the “prosperity” young workers and students are still living under considerable handicaps. Segregation in the school system, racial quotas in schools and industry, child labor, inadequate educational and trade facilities are still some of the chief characteristics of life for American youth; conscription will be another problem shortly.
  3. That youth in foreign lands face even greater obstacles, giving us a telescopic view of what is in store for American youth under capitalism.

The overall purpose of these articles is to reawaken consciousness of the special needs of young people and they will be addressed, above all, to the young readers of Labor Action, so that they may become acquainted with the program and activities of the Socialist Youth League, Youth Section of the Workers Party. The readers are encouraged to participate in this column through questions and discussion articles.

Julius Jacobson Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 20 July 2020