The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Florida Students Could Start a Wider Fight

Mar 10, 2018

After a gunman opened fire in their school, killing 17, students in Florida did not just mourn their lost friends and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They demanded something be done. And they took their demands to the streets and to the state capitol, sparking a nationwide debate on school shootings and gun violence.

Their demonstrations spurred young people across the country to march on state capitols and descend on Washington, D.C. A nationwide series of demonstrations is planned for March 24.

What these students are asking for is perfectly reasonable: to feel safe in their own schools! And specifically, they demanded that assault rifles be taken off the market and that systems be put in place to detect prospective school shooters before they kill. They have every right to demand these and other protections.

That didn’t stop the NRA from immediately jumping in to attack them. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is the primary lobbyist for the gun manufacturing industry, which has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. Selling guns to the general public is a very lucrative business, after all.

The Parkland students and those who join them are already finding that even very minor regulations are hard to pass in a country that prioritizes profit above all else. War in general is big business for the U.S., and it’s part of the fabric of American society.

We’re all flooded with a huge dose of militarism every single day – part of the propaganda aimed at drumming up support for the wars the U.S. carries on around the world.

Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, fascinated by guns and militarism, was created by this society. The fact that he could so easily find a gun was only the last step in that process.

At this moment, the students are focusing on gun violence and gun regulation. But guns are only the beginning of the equation if the students’ goal is to feel safe and secure.

Students across the country know that a great deal is wrong their schools. They can see that something is wrong in this country. Something is causing stress, confusion, demoralization and even suicide of other young people like themselves.

Schools in this country – even in middle class neighborhoods – have been deprived for decades of the funds needed to really provide an education. Books are lacking, computers are lacking, lab facilities, art departments, sports equipment for everyone to take part, and not just the few on teams, etc. etc. etc. Above all, teachers are lacking, social workers are lacking, school nurses are lacking. There is no support system for children under stress.

And, for many young people, there are no decent jobs when they get out of school, and no means to let them go on with their education. And those things weigh on the minds of many students, pushing some over the brink.

The students who have begun to protest may have started by demanding that something be done about guns. But they and others can push those other problems forward too. They can fight about their schools – about the fact they are deprived of the education every person needs. They can fight about the jobs they need when they get out.

These issues are all interconnected – all part of the web that American capitalism in its chase after profit has spun around all our lives. In one way or another, we are all deprived of what we need, because that small class of capitalists at the top lives off of all the rest of us. They make money on guns, on putting people out of work, on driving people too hard at work, on poisoning the environment. They scheme how to make money off the schools. They are the reason that children cannot go to school today, assured that when they get there, they will be safe.

The capitalist class can’t be controlled. They, and their system, need to be thrown out.