Being young – anyone below 40 is young for me – is not a qualification, disqualification, disadvantage or advantage, in itself. It simply means you have not been on this Earth for so long! It is a statistical fact, it is a piece of data about your age, that is all. It tells us very little about where you come from, who you really are, what is going on in your head, how you survive, and where you might end up!
Not all young people of the same age, gender and even physical built are the same! Nor for that matter, are such young people with similar data “equal” simply because they are all young and have the same age and gender. Funny, not even three identical twins are actually the same, nor are they “equal”!
Each human being is unique, and is like no other. Each one of us have our own unique biosocial code which distinguishes us from everyone else. And then of course, the egg and sperm from whence we sprung, where we were born, the social circumstances of our birth and how we grow up, the schools, colleges and universities we go or don’t go to, the friends and enemies we make and all such similar facts about us, and how we as individuals, have related and reacted to all this shapes who we are, and either increases or diminishes our life chances.
Most important to everything else, however, is how food, clothes, shelter and all social needs are secured for us. You see, if to survive and obtain the needs of life, one depends, like the majority of human beings on Earth, on work – selling your ability to work to someone else – then you are a member of what is called “the working class”. This means your life depends on finding work, or depending on someone who has work.
Here is how it all happens: someone has some money and he or she wants to make more money out of this money, say they have k10,000,000. They can admire this amount of money all they want, it will not “grow”! So, to “grow” it, they decide to make and sell houses. They buy some piece of land. They decide what kind of houses and therefore how many they want to build, and how much each will cost to build, and therefore how much they should sell each house to be able to “grow” their money, or shall we say, to make a “profit”.
They can admire their piece of land, building plans and materials and all the other things, nothing will happen until they look for “labourers” to build the houses. In fact, if they wait for too long, and do not hire labourers to build the houses, they risk losing the portion of the money they have used to buy land and building materials as “the housing market” changes and destroys their original plans!
So, off they go looking for labourers/workers who are willing to work at a wage such that when the houses are built, they can be sold at a profit. Should they make a mistake and hire labourers who ask for more, they will not be able to make any “profits” from their houses. In fact, their houses may turn out to be too expensive, and very few or none of them may sell. If they find labourers who are willing to work at the selling price of each house, after selling the houses, they will find that they are back to square one, and have not “grown” their money. This is not good, they want to grow their K10,000,000!
To grow their money, they must find desperate labourers who are willing to work hard and build the houses, but be paid less than the actual work done. Our society is over supplied with such desperate workers, including many who may be willing to be paid only after the houses are actually sold, for a profit. Work is so scarce that labourers are willing to work now, and be paid later, from profits! It is only then that the K10,000,000 can start to grow!
It is clear that without desperate labourers/workers who are willing to sell their labour cheap, the K10,000,000 cannot grow. It follows from all this that the “growth” of the K10,000,000 is from the stolen unpaid value of the work of the labourers! Without this theft no business person can grow their money, nor will they be interested to “invest” their money!
We see that millions of young Zambians must compete among themselves to sell their labour for cheap to someone who wants to make a profit, if they must have money for food, clothes, shelter and all the other needs of life. Understanding all this and what it involves is absolutely important to understand the many differences among young people in Zambia today. These millions of young people who can only survive and obtain their life needs because they sell their labour are called “the working class”. They are “the working class” whether for the moment they are just dependent on someone else who sells their labour and they themselves are unemployed, or whether they are in school, college or university.
We grow up going to school, struggle with college or university and work on our manners and habits so that we can get that good paying job we think will pay us the money we need for the kind of life we want to live. We do everything we can to improve our chances of competing at selling ourselves cheap, to someone who wants to make money.
Of course, there are people who work the land and produce their own food, and have a little left to sell, for the other things they need in life. There are also those who work for government, and government is not a profit-making organisation, by definition.
The key point to hold in our mind is that we live in a world where for the majority, to survive and get the things they ned in life, they must work for someone who wants to grow their money. This person is called a “capitalist” – because they have and live on “capital” – that economic value which is used to buy labour for cheap in order to make more “capital”!
Those who subsist on the land are called peasants. Very few peasants are rich and employ others on their land.
And so it comes to pass that it does not matter much what different data any set of young people may have, if they come from “the working class” their ambitions, ideas, cultures and behaviours and their life chances will tend to be the same.
Similarly, young people who grow up in rich homes where their parents live off profits – the extra labour value they steal from the working class – tend to have similar ideas, ambitions, hopes, cultures and behaviours – they belong to the “capitalist class” – the tiny class of those human beings who live off the unpaid part of other people’s work or labour.
And so Zambia is, more than anything else, “a young working class country” because the majority of the citizens of Zambia are young people who depend on work to survive! Zambia is also a capitalist country because life is controlled by those who have and command capital.
If you are meeting all this for the first time it may come across as confusing mumble jumble. It is not: your fate depends on you acquiring this kind of knowledge!
I grew up in a working-class family.
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