Capitalism

Young Americans Prefer Socialism Because They Are Ignorant of the Past: Camille Paglia

The controversial cultural critic rightly praises capitalism for its subversion of the status quo and its ability to make us fat.

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What explains the rise in warm feelings toward "socialism," especially among younger Americans? Several things, including a basic misunderstanding of what socialism means, the memory of the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession, and a near-total lack of appreciation for how rapidly the material conditions of American life have improved. Given Karl Marx's emphasis on historical understanding as a vital pre-condition to political change, that last part is deeply ironic.

A poll earlier this year found that respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 had a more favorable response to the term socialism than to capitalism (61 percent to 58 percent). For folks between 25 and 34, capitalism won, but by a relatively slim margin (58 percent to 51 percent). Overall, respondents overwhelmingly preferred capitalism to socialism, 61 percent to 39 percent, but other polls find that socialism is viewed much more positively than in the past. For instance, Gallup notes that in 1942, only 25 percent of Americans agreed that a socialist economy would be a "good thing." In 2019, that number had increased to 43 percent.

What gives? Part of the trend, especially among younger people, is surely based in confusion. Back in 2014, a Reason poll of millennials found that that cohort liked socialism but couldn't really define the term with any precision. Forty-two percent told us that they liked socialism even though only 16 percent could define it correctly as state ownership of the means of production and 64 percent wanted an economy managed by the free market (only 32 percent wanted the government to be in charge). Part of the pro-socialism trend is likely a response to the 2008 financial crisis, which cratered economic growth for years and solidified a sense that capitalism has in some profound way run out of steam. Even as we are in the midst of the longest uninterrupted period of growth in a century and record-low unemployment in 50 years, the economy feels sluggish and precarious and we're constantly being told that a recession (or worse) is just around the corner.

And then there's the lack of interest in or knowledge of history, both recent and ancient. The Marxist theorist Fredric Jameson, who helped popularize the term "late capitalism," has long insisted that the first rule of serious critical analysis is "Always historicize!" Drawing not just on Marx but on figures such as Walter Benjamin, whose hugely influential essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" talks about the need to recover the specific economic, cultural, and geographical conditions and class relations that produced masterpieces we now view independently of time and place, Jameson rightly emphasizes that we tend to take the status quo as a given or a fact of nature, rather than a moment that can be radically altered and changed.

I think Jameson is right to stress that any given moment in time is contingent and open to radical change and that our understanding of our time benefits from deep understanding of history. But he's wrong to think that historical knowledge will lead to change in a socialist direction. As the firebrand cultural critic Camille Paglia puts it in a new interview with The Wall Street Journal's Tunku Varadarajan, Americans take our unprecedented freedom of choice and wealth of consumer goods for granted. They are desperately in need of a richer, deeper context for the very era they are denouncing.

"Everything is so easy now," Ms. Paglia continues. "The stores are so plentifully supplied. You just go in and buy fruits and vegetables from all over the world." Undergrads, who've studied neither economics nor history, "have a sense that this is the way life has always been. Because they've never been exposed to history, they have no idea that these are recent attainments that come from a very specific economic system."

Capitalism, she continues, has "produced this cornucopia around us. But the young seem to believe in having the government run everything, and that the private companies that are doing things for profit around them, and supplying them with goods, will somehow exist forever."

In the interview, Paglia sounds reminiscent of the Austrian-born economist Joseph Schumpeter, who coined the term "creative destruction" and praised capitalism's inherent tendency to subvert established social and economic hierarchies. In this, Schumpeter explicitly invoked The Communist Manifesto, especially the passages that praised the ways in which "the bourgeois epoch" and the Industrial Revolution shook things up:

Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

Paglia argues—convincingly, to my mind—that we've forgotten even the relatively recent past.

"Our parents were the World War II generation," Ms. Paglia says, "so they had a sense of reality about life." Children now "are raised in a far more affluent period. Even people without much money have cellphones, televisions, access to cars. They're raised in an air-conditioned environment. I can still remember when there was no air-conditioning." She shudders as she sips her cold beer, adding that she suffered horribly in the heat….Ms. Paglia asks me to note that it was "because of capitalism" that her forebears "escaped the crushing poverty of rural Italy," emigrating to Endicott, N.Y., to "work in the Endicott-Johnson shoe factories, whose vast buildings, tanning pools and smokestacks dominated my childhood."

Schumpeter similarly worried that wealthy people take their fortune for granted and set the stage for their demise. When Marx argued that capitalism would destroy itself because a smaller and smaller number of super-wealthy people would arrogate all wealth to themselves and literally starve the working poor who produced all goods and services, Schumpeter rightly observed in the 1940s that this was empirically wrong. "The capitalist achievement," he wrote, "does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within reach of factory girls." Yet he feared that capitalism destroys itself by creating a class of intellectuals that denigrate material progress and individualism in the name of a common good (that the intellectuals would define and organize) and workers who take for granted those supermarket shelves groaning with fresh produce (as Paglia mentions). Essentially, we grow fat and lazy, Schumpeter and Paglia contend, and become obsessed with the distribution of wealth rather than the grounds upon which its creation is predicated.

That seems to me like a pretty good read of contemporary America, especially a country with relatively anemic economic growth (for most of the 21st century, annual growth has averaged below 2 percent, compared to 3 percent or more for the period from the late 1940s through 2000). But Paglia isn't an uncritical booster of capitalism and she lays out a challenge to libertarians and what some folks abjure as "market fundamentalists":

"While I believe that boom-and-bust capitalism is inherently Darwinian and requires moderate regulation for the long-term greater good," she says, "I insist that capitalism has produced the glorious emancipation of women." They can now "support themselves and live on their own, and no longer must humiliatingly depend on father or husband."

What sort of "moderate regulation" would the modal Reason reader stand for? That's an interesting question, and probably one that will create as much controversy among the laissez-faire crowd as Paglia's defense of capitalism does among democratic socialists and academic feminists.

Still, the lessons of history and economics—and the experiences of our parents, grandparents, and older ancestors—have a lot to teach us not just about the past but about our possible futures, too. We'd all do well to read our Paglia and Schumpeter (along with Marx) more carefully than we have been.

Reason has interviewed Paglia many times over the years. Here's a 2016 Q&A in which she discusses the decline of the university system.

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  1. What sort of “moderate regulation” would the modal Reason reader stand for?

    Very little.

    2008 (just after the Bushpigs killed the Net Capital Rule) proved that banks should have some reasonable reserve requirement to protect against financial panics.

    Also, as Hayek said, dumping poison into public waters should be prohibited.

    Very little, iow.

    1. “banks should have some reasonable reserve requirement to protect against financial panics.”

      FIFY

      Of course. So should people, businesses, etc, but the amount should be of their own choosing, and no one should be forced to bail them out when they fail. It’s called personal responsibility. A concept with which you are apparently not familiar.

  2. Straight to comment.

    DUH.

    1. +100

    2. Yeah, the headline writer is ignorant for having put the three superfluous words after “ignorant”. Young people believe all kinds of nonsense because they’re ignorant. They’re ignorant because they’re young people. Their foremost ignorance is the ignorance of their ignorance; gaining an appreciation for the depth and breadth of one’s ignorance is the beginning of wisdom and few young people can credibly be accused of being wise.

      1. No. They are ignorant because the Progressive Left captured the educational system early, and have downplayed the viciousness of the Socialist/Communist system. The Despicable Austrian is held to be a Rightwing aberration instead of a lesser Socialist monster, less murderous than Stalin or Mao.

  3. Women can now live on th heir own, lonely with their cats or with a gaggle of kids with a succession of sperm donors. Fantastic.

    1. Unfortunately, these types are also at the forefront of jawboning society into legislating towards their specific neuroses and pathologies.

    2. See: toxoplasmosis

      1. Toxoplasmosis is fake news pushed by the dog lobby to discredit cat ownership. I’ve lived in houses with cats for about 20 years and probably managed to ingest at least a few particles of cat poop in that time. No toxo here nor have my cats ever been diagnosed with it.

        1. Clearly cats have control of your brain.

        2. That’s just what a felid-parasitic, single-celled pathogen might say….

    3. Precisely!

      Which is why we need to get rid of Food Stamps and Aid to Families with Dependent Children, etc.

      Perhaps if irresponsible women knew that they and their children would starve, they’d behave more responsibly.

      We have to stop supporting irresponsible moochers!

      Which is why we need to get rid of social security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schools, etc.
      If you can’t make it on your own in the Land of the Free, do us all a favor and …

  4. I would love a society where the only law was “don’t hurt people or steal their stuff” and victims filed charges against their crooks, and society shunned convicts.

    But what’s relevant here is the possibility for people to contract with each other to get their own governments — enforced only by contracts. The socialists could all band together, pool their income and wealth, let the central planers decide who would work where doing what. You’d have a zillion associations, all bound contractually. The hard core would be few and live in relative poverty, but they’d be pure. The Bernies and Lizzies would live in welfare states, call it socialism, and be happy with their association choosing which brand of deodorant to hand out.

    Yes, there’d be some hardcore nuts wanting global central planning. But most socialists would settle for contractually bound welfare associations, because that really is all they want. And most such socialists would see how restricted their life was, how most innovation was developed by others and only trickled into their socialist-lite lives by trading with the uber-capitalists, and switch associations after a few years of relative deprivation.

    The point being that all these associations would provide all the daily reminders most people needed to know what socialism and welfare do to people.

    The problem as usual is one central monopolistic coercive government. A free market of governments, where you can switch every year like employer health plans, would shrink the pool of socialists dramatically.

    1. Define hurt. As weve seen, hurt can be defined very loosely to get ones preferences. Liberals are very good on that point.

      1. That has nothing to do with having a market in governments, where real world comparisons would be apparent every day to everybody.

      2. “Define hurt.”

        Proggie definition: Anything I don’t like at this particular moment with no particular reasoning and therefore must be destroyed.

    2. Wouldn’t solve the problem. The socialists who banded together in your hypothetical society to contractually set up their centrally-planned economy would predictably fail for the same reasons that all other centrally-planned economies have failed. However, when failing they will be equally predictable in not accepting responsibility for the failure. Their failure will be blamed on the “unfairness” of all the other associations who didn’t choose their particular form of self-government. They will then push to get the power necessary to force compliance, all in the name of “the greater good”.

      The fact is that your hypothetical has already been tried, just at a different scale. If you rename your associations as “countries” and think of switching associations as emigration, we’ve already done everything you suggest. The one association with the strongest commitment to free-market ideals is under incredible pressure to bow to the will of those who think it’s “unfair”.

    3. “where you can switch every year like employer health plans”

      If we only spent all our time poring over zillions of contracts and switching our health plans every year, we wouldn’t have time to worry about socialism or much of anything else.

    4. There would be a government that couldn’t be avoided to enforce this– a society where the only law was “don’t hurt people or steal their stuff”

      And to make sure that these guys–hardcore nuts wanting global central planning stayed in the cages they built for themselves.

      The problem isn’t “one central monopolistic coercive government”– it’s what’s being coerced.

      If your central monopolistic coercive government is set up to ‘coerce’ people who want to hurt others and steal from others into not doing such things–while being bound to do nothing else by written constitution…well…do you see where I’m going?

      As you maintain this a culture will grow that sees it as normal and the ‘government structures’ will ‘wither away’.

      But you have to REALLY build that culture.

  5. Yesterday, I was watching the special on the history of college football that ESPN put together, and it mentioned how the ways of coaching had changed from these programs being run by very stern taskmasters to more touchy-feely types of player-coach interaction. Urban Meyer acknowledged that while the hard-ass ways worked back then because that’s just how things were, they couldn’t talk that way to the players anymore because they’d just tune you out.

    While the social changes were acknowledged, what was overlooked was the general background of these coaches in particular and the players they had back then. All of those coaches in the 40s, 50s, and 60s had experienced the Great Depression, and a significant number of them had even fought in World War II. They’d grown up in hard times, and had to become hard men in order to survive. Their players up through the mid-60s had gone through similar experiences growing up, but by the late 60s, the Boomer kids were starting to enter college, the first generation in the country’s history born into prosperity.

    This probably ties in quite a bit to the overall drop in testosterone in males from the Silent Generation to the Milennials that’s taken place, which was probably the inevitable result of a society that hasn’t experienced real hardship and struggle since the end of World War II. Soft times produce a soft society.

    1. I learned a lot by being yelled at. Being yelled at all the time might lead to tuning out but sprinkling in “adda boy” here and there and a surprise chewing out can work wonders.

      Young guys seem scared of women and people outside their bubble, which is bad. Women should not be scared of men either, but women are tougher than they led on.

      The tragedy will be another war against Socialism or some other tyranny and American young men will not be ready because they are mostly pussies. During WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War, America was not always ready to fight but American men were tough to beat on the battlefield.

      1. “…American young men will not be ready because they are mostly pussies.”

        Or maybe they will be smart enough to realize that most wars are stupid wastes of time and resources.

        1. Unfortunately, much like the way criminals choose who to steal from based on looking for people who have something, aggressor nations in wars often look for people they want to take something from.

          Often, the only choice for the non-aggressor nation is to fight, or surrender all your stuff and your freedom.

          Faced with that choice I do not consider fighting a war a waste of time and resources.

    2. “which was probably the inevitable result of a society that hasn’t experienced real hardship and struggle since the end of World War II. Soft times produce a soft society.”

      Isn’t playing or coaching college football pretty much the definition of soft times?

      1. I guess I shouldn’t expect someone who didn’t even realize he was parroting a long-used historical thesis to understand the broader point.

        1. You should always strive for clarity. Leave the obscurantism to the professionals.

          1. Your lack of reading comprehension is not my fault.

            1. I’m glad we managed to clear that up.

              1. Same here.

    3. “Soft times produce a soft society.’

      I remember when Michael Crabtree, a rookie wide receiver cried when his coach, Mike Singletary, screamed at him. This was about twelve years ago.
      That isn’t being soft.
      That’s being a pussy.

      1. “That’s being a pussy.”

        It’s a pussy sport for our athletic snowflakes. In Australian rules football, every player knows how to kick the ball and how to tackle an opponent. So what happens when an Australian player is signed on to an American football team as a field goal kicker? Sooner or later he tackles an opponent. And then is shouted at by an angry coach, humiliated before millions of slack jawed TV fans.

        1. So what happens when an Australian player is signed on to an American football team as a field goal kicker? Sooner or later he tackles an opponent. And then is shouted at by an angry coach, humiliated before millions of slack jawed TV fans.

          No, 5’10” kickers who haven’t delivered a textbook tackle since high school who try that get yelled at by their coaches. That doesn’t apply to Aussie kickers who matriculate in the NFL.

        2. So what happens when an Australian player is signed on to an American football team as a field goal kicker? Sooner or later he tackles an opponent. And then is shouted at by an angry coach, humiliated before millions of slack jawed TV fans.

          No, 5’10” kickers who haven’t delivered a textbook tackle since high school who try that get yelled at by their coaches. That doesn’t apply to Aussie kickers who matriculate in the NFL.

  6. There is an unfortunate affinity for the idea of equality of outcome as opposed to equality of opportunity. Fortunately that affinity dries up somewhat when real world examples are put on display.

    Also, free market is a much better term than capitalism.

    1. Free market capitalism is the best, but not the only, kind of capitalism, right? Capitalism does not assume free markets, but free markets do assume capitalism.

    2. Capitalism is what you have when the market is regulated.

  7. Camille Pagia is regurgitated Nietzsche.

  8. Articles like this are so dumb. Even acknowledging that people’s ideas of socialism aren’t akin to actual socialism (due to the right decrying ANY govt action as socialism) they still argue against actual socialism in the rest of the article.

    “Why aren’t people happier with our great system?” Probably because their govt is inhabited by populist crooks who don’t give a damn what happens to the country’s long term future and because they have the internet and can look across the pond and see that universal healthcare, limits on prescription costs, absence of private prisons, proper social safety nets, etc. etc. etc. doesn’t turn your country into a third world hellhole.

    Writers like this with this absolute drivel will only further encourage young people to turn to “socialism” because they continue to ignore the actual real reasons people are pissed off.

    1. “Tsarism is terrible, comrade, support the socialists instead!”

      Yup, those are the only options.

    2. the actual real reasons people are pissed off.

      Life isn’t fair?

      1. Life may not be fair, but at least it’s hard.

    3. “Why aren’t people happier with our great system?” Probably because their govt is inhabited by populist crooks who don’t give a damn what happens to the country’s long term future and because they have the internet and can look across the pond and see that universal healthcare, limits on prescription costs, absence of private prisons, proper social safety nets, etc. etc. etc. doesn’t turn your country into a third world hellhole.

      Yeah, importing millions of third-world trash is what accomplished that.

    4. Provided you don’t actually look into the healthcare provided for “free”.

      Or think about why all new medical drugs and procedures seem to originate HERE and never, ever THERE.

      Or have any knowledge of prison internationally or the joys of having rights that can — and routinely — are trampled on for convenience.

      “Writers like this with this absolute drivel will only further encourage young people to turn to “socialism” because they continue to ignore the actual real reasons people are pissed off.”

      Kids don’t actually believe in Socialism. They believe in “Give me free stuff”.

      Don’t believe me? How many of these college students (and, yeah, it’s basically all college students driving this) would give up their spot for somebody else who needed it “more”? The number is zero. You don’t see Harvard grads saying “Well, please, take this spot. You need it more than I do.”

    5. EVERYTHING IS SO TERRIBLE AND UNFAIR!!!!!

      Haha

  9. I see. Now a token feminist professor at a McUniversity is an expert on history and economics. What’s next, Larry the Cable Guy as a Reason Foundation fellow for nuclear physics?

    1. She’s certainly no random Internet commenter, that’s for sure.

    2. I love when you show just how much of a misogynist you are.

      1. The people who refer to gang rape as “spontaneity” are now concerned about misogyny. That’s cute.

        1. So you’re upset about the rapefugees in Sweden, too?

          1. I am very concerned. I am also not a Swedish lawmaker or citizen and therefore can’t influence anything over there from over here.

            You know, I can take that tack too. I can say that your concerns over, for example, school taxes is an indication that you tacitly approve of North Korea. After all, having to pay taxes isn’t as bad as having three generations of your family hauled away for sneezing at the wrong time so why are you complaining?

            But that’s just stupid. It’s an issue that you may have some influence and while it may well be trivial on the grand scheme of things it impacts you greatly. So that’s what you focus on.

            1. You know, I can take that tack too. I can say that your concerns over, for example, school taxes is an indication that you tacitly approve of North Korea.

              Well, sure, except gang rape and Swedish rapefugees are explicitly linked, and school taxes and North Korea are not.

              But that’s just stupid.

              That’s what happens when you try to construct a failed analogy.

              1. I can only work with what I have, you know. If you want to chip in a “gotcha” that is, in fact, a non sequitur there’s only so much to add to that.

                1. I can only work with what I have, you know.

                  At least you can admit that you don’t have much.

        2. I have done no such thing.
          Kindly fuck off.

    3. Hmmm, based on the articles I have been reading here over the last few years, Larry the Cable Guy is overqualified.

  10. “…capitalism destroys itself by creating a class of intellectuals that denigrate material progress and individualism in the name of a common good (that the intellectuals would define and organize) and workers who take for granted those supermarket shelves groaning with fresh produce (as Paglia mentions). Essentially, we grow fat and lazy, Schumpeter and Paglia contend, and become obsessed with the distribution of wealth rather than the grounds upon which its creation is predicated.”

    Has anyone seen it said better than this?

    1. Paul Johnson said something very similar in “Modern Times.”

      1. Hmm. I wondered what he was doing since his retirement from coaching college football.

    2. I hate the word ‘capitalism’ as it’s a Marxist word. That asshole shouldn’t have a say in anything anymore. I think prosperity is what makes everyone fat and lazy, whether it’s Imperial slave running Rome or Spanish Empire plunderers or Free market countries.
      Hard times makes hard people.

  11. I would like to offer another root cause for fans of “socialism”: childhood.

    If socialism has any moral validation, it is in the context of families. In families, parents and other mature members will contribute more, and have obligations to the younger members, i.e. children. These children will naturally assume that having there needs fulfilled and their lives managed is the proper order of things.

    Add to this the consistent trend of extending childhood in at least the western world, abetted by helicopter parents reinforcing the dysfunction of their offspring well into their 20s.

    We should not be surprised that this cohort feels like socialism is great, since they have not experienced anything else. And will not until those first few paychecks (and first few tax withholding numbers).

    A better test for pro-socialist high school and college students: tell them that test scores and grades will be collectivized, and that every student will then get the group mean. See how they like socialism then.

    1. “A better test for pro-socialist high school and college students: tell them that test scores and grades will be collectivized, and that every student will then get the group mean. See how they like socialism then.”

      It might help to explain in what sense your example is “socialism”.

      1. Yes, let’s get hung up on terminology. Would you feel better if we called it democratic socialism or social democracy?

        And now you tell me how any of these are substantially different, and not just arbitrary points on a sliding scale of government confiscation and redistribution.

        1. It’s worth attending to terminology when “socialism” becomes an all-purpose opprobrium for anything you don’t like. I am unaware of any conception of “socialism” that would apply to the bizarre test score/grade example you used. If you cannot clarify how you use the term “socialism” you should avoid using it.

    2. “A better test for pro-socialist high school and college students: tell them that test scores and grades will be collectivized, and that every student will then get the group mean. See how they like socialism then.”

      This works best if students can work together and collectively produce one test paper to be handed in and graded. There is no advantage in your proposal as it stands and no surprise in the students’ lack of enthusiasm.

      1. No, the goal must still be 30 essays or exams–the amount of work for the group and each individual does not change. But the reward is redistributed according to socialist ethics.

        And even if we did it your way (as often happens in school group projects), those that have more skill and put out more effort get pissed at the free-loaders. THAT is the point.

        1. “No, the goal must still be 30 essays or exams–the amount of work for the group and each individual does not change. ”

          What your proposing is impractical. Why would a teacher propose to check 30 tests if only one grade is to be delivered? The students can be encouraged to do the test on their own and when finished, get together with classmates and decide on a final version to be delivered to the teacher. Perhaps a second test can be delivered if there is dissent among the students on some issue.

          “those that have more skill and put out more effort get pissed at the free-loaders”

          Learning how to successfully free-load is an essential skill in any society. Those with skills and effort also have to learn not to share them with others. Difficult and painful lessons, to be sure, but all round, it’s an excellent educational opportunity which doesn’t call upon our hard-pressed teachers to waste time in tedious paperwork.

          1. Communism in a nutshell–

            Learning how to successfully free-load is an essential skill in any society. Those with skills and effort also have to learn not to share them with others. Difficult and painful lessons, to be sure, but all round, it’s an excellent educational opportunity which doesn’t call upon our hard-pressed teachers to waste time in tedious paperwork.

    3. Actually, in real world socialism, not everyone would get the mean; the favored few would get top marks, and the deplorables would fail. A great many would get the mean, but not everyone equally.

      1. The Castros are/were billionaires, after all, something rarely decried by the left.

    4. ” And will not until those first few paychecks (and first few tax withholding numbers).”

      If they experienced the taxes to which they would be subjected if they lived in the socialistic “utopias” of Europe, the virtues of which they loudly extol, they would be far more upset. Middle income earners’ taxes are paltry compared to those across the pond.

  12. Gets causality backwards: Young Americans are ignorant of the past in order that they will prefer socialism.

    It was a purposefully engineered ignorance, we let the socialists take control of the education system.

    1. +10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

      1. Actually, not that many have been murdered by socialists, most likely less than half that number.

        1. On Earth.

    2. Came here to say same. Young Americans are ignorant of socialism because we literally don’t teach them about it’s evils and while the good of socialism may not be part of the curriculum either, they get a heaping dose of positive commentary on the side.

  13. I’m reminded of a Rick Steves’ tv show where he is in Slovenia and talking with his guide, who lived under Titoism. Rick sums up the difference: “Socialism is good for the bad worker. Capitalism is good for the good worker.” Most of our youngsters must think they are, or will be, bad workers.

  14. “we let the socialists take control of the education system.”

    Public education — educational socialism — started in the 19th century in the U.S. My impression is that the “engineered ignorance” at stake here is recent, and therefore not attributable to a system of education that is about 150 years old.

    1. What is recent is the removal of local control over local education. It’s all been nationalized at the Federal level, and the unions have taken over. While public schooling is 150 years old, it’s only recently that schools have been political arms of the Federal government.

      I come from a line of teachers. My grandmother went to Berkeley back when it was just a Normal School where they taught teachers how to teach. She was taught how to teach reading, writing, and math. And she taught in a one room schoolhouse with six grades in it. I have friends today who teach and have told me about the indoctrination they received in education classes.

      1. My grandmother went to Berkeley back when it was just a Normal School where they taught teachers how to teach.

        Not to be pedantic and picky, but Berkeley was never a Normal School that taught teachers how to teach. The CSU system started out as that, but never the UCs.

        I have friends today who teach and have told me about the indoctrination they received in education classes.

        I’ve been through teacher training and can confirm this. The indoctrination is so deep that they don’t see the phrase “Social Justice” as having any partisan political implications at all.

      2. Distinction without a difference? “local control” of education is still government control, just a different level of government. If you think that public education has been “nationalized” you haven’t followed public education in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, etc.

        Your strange belief that Berkeley was once a “Normal School” pretty much exempts you from being taken seriously.

    2. Nope, it was baked into public education from the start, and has progressed if anything more slowly than intended. Study up a bit on the founders of the public school movement in the USA.

    3. The issue is not the system per se, but the matter of who controls the system, which is exactly the point of the quote you reproduced. I don’t think you’re nearly as smart as you think you are.

  15. I blame Bernie for the confusion on terms, but they are just terms. Nobody really believes in literal socialism. Everyone supports a mix of capitalism, regulation on capitalism, and a public sector.

    When you start calling people who disagree with you on the proper mix evil, you hinder your ability to see the most rational option with clear eyes. Don’t be a moron. Defend your policy priorities on their merits and stop getting bogged down in semantics and tribal nonsense. Even libertarians want some socialism. They love outsourcing certain industries, like policing and human capital (immigration) restrictions, to the collective.

    1. I’m pretty sure Bernie knows the difference and really wants exactly what he says he wants: literal socialism.

      You’re right that most libertarians want to socialize certain industries, but only those industries that involve stopping the use of force. That’s a distinct line and not mere semantics.

      1. I’m glad we agree that we should spare no public expense to mitigate pollution by private-sector actors.

        1. Pollution by public sector actors, however, is A-OK.

    2. “Everyone supports a mix of capitalism, regulation on capitalism, and a public sector.”

      Correct. If you get rid of capitalism and the wealth that it creates, the socialists won’t have anyone to rob.

    3. When you start calling people who disagree with you on the proper mix evil,

      It’s a strange position for someone who claims those who disagree with him are racist. It’s almost like he has different standards for those who agree with him and those who don’t.

    4. Nobody really believes in literal socialism.

      That’s not true. I would agree that most people don’t, but trust me, there are people that believe in true socialism.

      When you start calling people who disagree with you on the proper mix evil, you hinder your ability to see the most rational option with clear eyes.

      You first.

    5. You are correct and most young people are not looking for a text book definition of socialism and any more than most people are looking for a text book definition of capitalism. What young people see in socialism is the health care, educational opportunities and living wages that most first world nations provide their citizens. It is worth noting that this country did have socialist politicians and still retained capitalism. Milwaukee WI had a socialist mayor for 12 years and still was a major manufacturing center. So socialism and capitalism can coexist. They can complement one another to make a better society.

      1. “They can complement one another to make a better society.”

        The way parasites “compliment” a host.

        1. No the way symbiotic animals live together for mutual benefit.

          1. That happens through co-evolution, not government mandate.

      2. What young people see in socialism is the health care, educational opportunities and living wages that most first world nations provide their citizens.

        Which one of these can’t you get in a capitalist society?

        1. Then providing these is not socialism.

          1. Then providing these is not socialism.

            Insisting that the government must provide these things is socialism. Pointing out that these things are available without the government having to provide these things is not socialism.

      3. health care

        At the convenience of government. If you have money you’ll almost certainly be seeking your healthcare from someone you can pay.

        educational opportunities

        You seem unclear on how the higher education system works in Europe. Hint: “college for all” is very much an American concept.

        living wages

        Unless you can’t find a job, in which case welfare.

        So I would add to your “What young people see in socialism is the health care, educational opportunities and living wages that most first world nations provide their citizens” would be “and what they don’t see are the costs.”

        1. S=C Hello Again,

          Most people in this country don’t pay for their own healthcare. The government pays for much of the healthcare (government workers, military, VA, Medicare and Medicaid) its is just a matter of time before it pays for all.

          I agree “free college for all” is fallacy, but we need to make post secondary education more affordable. We can’t have kids going into huge debt for a job that will not make back the money. Kids also need to know that college is for learning. Learn and get out.

          Job are going to be a big problem. Automation is making many jobs obsolete. I believe that a job is the best social program out there, but we have to have jobs for people and they have to be able to make end meet from that job.

          1. What you said:

            What young people see in socialism is the health care, educational opportunities and living wages that most first world nations provide their citizens.

            What I pointed out is that you are mistaken about the extent to which these things are actually provided without serious accompanying trade-offs.

            I understand that we’re on a trajectory to have the government pay all health care expenses in this country. Pointing that out is not in-and-of-itself evidence that that’s a good thing. It’s demonstrably driving up the cost of healthcare and making access more difficult for everyone.

            Maybe someday the government (read “taxpayers”) will cover all the unnecessary expenses for all the healthcare we’re not getting, but that’s beside the point of whether or not that improves healthcare.

            You spend the rest of your post throwing around that “we” again. How does your post read if you change that “we” to an “I,” which is what it really is?

            Why do you think you are capable of achieving the things you declare you “need” to do?

            1. I use we because I alone cannot change things. I can only be a part of the change and do my part to support change. I grew up in a time when we were challenged, we thought big and beyond ourselves. President Kennedy did not say I choose to go to the moon. He said “we” choose. I was taught to think like that.

              1. I like your analogy. What did going to the moon do to further healthcare or education or to reduce poverty?

                As a massive and ultimately rather pointless government expense any impact in those areas can only have been negative, no?

                Which is so much as to say, what if “we” don’t agree on goals and/or methods while thinking “big and beyond ourselves?”

                Do I get to say “we don’t feel we can afford to provide everyone with free healthcare” and have that “we” count as much as your “we” does?

                I alone cannot change things

                In your own life with the actual humans you come in contact with absolutely you can.

        2. Indeed, take a look at France with massive structural unemployment, universal access to poor healthcare, subsidies for every sort of failing industrial venture, and educational opportunities to Universities that even the French have no respect for. The few Universities considered “good” are selective as all heck and notice how often the children of the ruling elite show up there.

          Gotta love it Comrade

    6. “Everyone supports a mix of capitalism, regulation on capitalism, and a public sector.”

      No, Tony. What your side wants is the “free stuff” of Socialism with the productivity and improvements that only capitalism provide.

      By why would anybody take risks if they won’t get to keep the rewards of said risk?

      1. Why would anyone take risks if failing means you could starve to death or die of gangrene in the streets?

        People of the liberal persuasion like capitalism and want it to work at a higher level than mere peasant bargaining.

        1. “People of the liberal persuasion like capitalism and want it to work at a higher level than mere peasant bargaining.”

          Shitbag here has no idea what his posting means. He wants mommy to make sure he has what he wants, and assumes, as a lefty fucking ignoramus, that other mommies can do the same for everybody.
          He *is* an ignoramus…

      2. Exactly. It can all be traced to the ugly resentment of people who want the bloated government to take more of other people’s money. I don’t even think the details of “free stuff” matter to these people as much as seeing others brought down. Your “fair share” is what they decide it is.

        Ugly stuff.

  16. All most Socialism supporters think it means is paying their bills so they can choose stressless quasi-employment (as say an adjunct professor or a part time campus administrator) and still live comfortably.

    1. Like joining a commune and doing little to no work?

      1. Hey, Bernie was very busy FEELING solidarity.

    2. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, no one becomes a socialist thinking they’re the ones who are going to work harder and get less.

  17. Do not fret comrades, Dear Leader Trump will lead us all on this arduous march to victory.

    1. Of all the valid critiques of Trump, this is not one of them.

  18. “Marx argued that capitalism would destroy itself because a smaller and smaller number of super-wealthy people would arrogate all wealth to themselves and literally starve the working poor who produced all goods and services”

    Except that the super-wealth become super wealthy by selling stuff to the poor. That means that the poor must have access to these goods and services that they produce in order for the super-wealthy to become super wealthy. So in order for the super-wealthy to become super wealthy, the poor must become wealthy themselves.

    The problem is that many see the economy as a zero-sum game. In order for someone to become wealthier, someone else must become poorer. But the reality is that for someone to become wealthier, someone else must also become wealthier.

  19. Trump is getting more and more popular with more and more Americans. The media lies so it is not fully known if this popularity also applies to Generation Zers. History shows us that Millennials will tend to get more conservative with age.

    Trump is a lot of things but he is not pro-Socialism as an American national policy. Unlike all the Democrat Presidential losers.

    1. Trump is a statist.

      1. As compared to?

  20. the reality is that for someone to become wealthier, someone else must also become wealthier.

    As this happens though millions of other people watch these two become better off and conclude it’s not fair others are getting wealthier while they are deprived of their fair share.

    1. If the wealthy are getting wealthier faster than the poor are getting wealthier, then the poor are actually getting poorer. Because fairness or something.

      1. Yes, much better that the average American family had the same absolute wealth and standard of living they they did in 1950 (or pick your favorite “more equality” time).

  21. I’m not sure the problem is that younger people don’t know much about the past, per se. It may just be that they don’t appreciate the universal laws of economics and politics–and I’m using the word “universal” in a very specific sense.

    The things I’m talking about are universal in the sense that they behave the same way cross culturally and throughout history. Relativity may have put a wrinkle in our understanding of how things work in the cosmos, but here at sea level, force = mass * acceleration much as it always has. That was the equation 2,000 years before Newton formulated it, and that’s still the equation today, and it wouldn’t matter whether the Sumerians tested the formula in 3000 BCE or Panamanians tested the equation in 2020 CE, the results would always be more or less the same.

    Violating people’s rights also has consistent consequences cross culturally and throughout history. It’s relatively easy to show this with capitalism and markets and violating people’s property rights–because financial transactions make things easier to quantify–but the same consistent consequences can be demonstrated when other rights are violated. I don’t care whether it’s the Romans giving Jews a pass on bowing to idols, for fear of the consequences, the Thirty Years War, which was fought in no small part because the religion of the emperor determined whether his subjects could practice their own religion, or ISIS circa 2016, where the governed fought them like hell because they’d rather die fighting than convert. Violating people’s religious rights to varying degrees results in the same consequences that only vary in intensity.

    There are plenty of things that we used to think were universal but aren’t. Sexuality and gender roles vary across times and across cultures. Our understanding of race varies that way, too. While every society has a prohibition on murder, our understanding of what constitutes a murder varies across time and across cultures. Isn’t it telling, however, that violating someone’s rights in such a profound way as murder is universally wrong? Should it be surprising to find that societies that fail to protect the rights of victims tend to suffer the same kinds of consequences?

    Who here are genuinely surprised by what’s happening to the people of Venezuela?

    Paglia is right about the problem being that younger generations don’t know about history and economics, but the larger question to ask may be why they don’t know about history and economics–and I think the answer is clear. They don’t know much about economics and history because they don’t believe economics and history have anything valuable to teach them. You need to believe that economics and history have something universal to teach you before you go looking for it, and that belief has been completely defeated by postmodernism. Isn’t the statement that, “Universal laws are bullshit” pretty much the essence of postmodernism?

    This is why younger generations imagine they can emulate the mistakes of socialism and somehow escape all the same negative consequences every system that’s done the same things has always suffered before.

    1. They don’t know much about economics and history because they don’t believe economics and history have anything valuable to teach them.

      The adults changed, not the kids. In prior generations adults told kids to learn history and economics before they were allowed to speak in adult conversations. But as the radicals took over the universities it was to their advantage the kids remain ignorant so they discouraged learning reality in favor of grievances. So now we have kids who only repeat their lines lecturing the rest of us on why reality doesn’t matter.

    2. They don’t know much about economics and history because they don’t believe economics and history have anything valuable to teach them

      It’s because the education industrial complex doesn’t believe economics and history have any value in being taught.

    3. because they don’t believe economics and history have anything valuable to teach them.

      The textbook definition of “ignorance.”

      But the ignorance is based on the experience of the instruction of the subjects in their own schools. As someone said above, this isn’t by accident.

  22. I once ran across this college kid, working a booth (for university credit) at a political convention. He was denouncing everyone around him as capitalist. Trying to peacefully engage in conversation with him, I tried to explain how market prices worked.

    He then asserted that market forces and the invisible hand did not somehow direct produce to appear on grocery shelves, but rather each night the government directed delivery trucks to deliver groceries to various grocers. He literally believed that. A political science major, believed that essential government planning micro-directed the entire economy.

    Years later I am still gobsmacked at his ignorance of basic reality. I don’t expect people to understand economics, but I do sort of expect them to know where their food comes from.

    That this is the generation that will be running things when I retire is giving me an ulcer. Gawd shoot me now.

    1. when I retire

      You’ll be put to work to support the youth in their creative endeavors and free healthcare.

    2. “He then asserted that market forces and the invisible hand did not somehow direct produce to appear on grocery shelves, but rather each night the government directed delivery trucks to deliver groceries to various grocers. He literally believed that. A political science major, believed that essential government planning micro-directed the entire economy.”

      The proclivity for religious belief is hardwired into our neocortex. Evolutionary psychology has it that our brains are probably wired that way to increase social cohesion. People’s religious beliefs and their social context can be hard to separate. A Mormon kid on a missionary program and a social justice warrior working a booth have a whole lot in common. What they believe is an important part of how they see themselves, and suffering alienation for their cause reaffirms how they see themselves and gives their life both meaning and purpose.

  23. “What sort of “moderate regulation” would the modal Reason reader stand for?”

    Apparently incredibly heavy regulation of all commerce sounds fantastic to the loudest Reason readers, as long as it’s Trump’s idea and it helps us beat those Chinese!!!

  24. Run, don’t walk, buy, read and then gift Mary Grabar’s excellent new book “Debunking Howard Zinn” to all of those “students” who have been cheated out of an education.

    All three of my children were subjected to Zinn’s “history”. Most parents, in a very good school district, were oblivious because it was only mentioned as an aside as a “resource” supplement. There were no other counter-factual resource supplements provided. I complained to the Department head, a highly respected “educator”. He said he used Zinn’s book when he taught. He was shocked that anyone would question Zinn.

    Similarly, my sister-in-law was also shocked when I pointed out how awful Zinn’s false narrative is and how harmful it will be for her children. She has a graduate degree from Georgetown and thought the book the most influential she ever read.

    Grabar’s book will force you to understand why Zinn’ book is so very destructive, so intentionally destructive. “Debunking Howard Zinn”, in almost every single sentence, unwinds and exhaustively documents the depths of Zinn’s falsehoods and deceptive approach.

    I read the introduction and became gleeful. I started the first Chapter and promptly ordered five more copies as gifts for each of the aforementioned. I’m certain I will gift others this fantastic book.

    When I was accused of promoting book burning, by simply questioning the quality of Zinn’s work, I responded that there are better books, better histories that demonstrate balance. Unlike Zinn, Grabar’s exhaustive research and documentation does just that – heaps of sources and books that Zinn intentionally ignored. Willfully and intentionally ignored. And, unlike Zinn, she demonstrates how an author should source background material

    Ironically the mantra in the ’60’s from radicals like Zinn was to not trust anyone over thirty and to question authority. Grabar makes the case. Zinn’s work should never ever have been trusted and every word he wrote, and those of his sources should be questioned. It should be placed in the dust bin and ignored.

    But it’s more than the future. The use of Zinn’s “history” in a public school, really any school, borders on criminal. Our children deserve better. Grabar’s book provides the antidote to remove the scales from the eyes of a generation of children who have been subjected to Zinn’s “work”. Buy this book and gift it to those who have been cheated out of an education! Buy it now. They need to begin questioning what they’ve been taught!

  25. Youger millennials and the Z generation have mostly been raised by helicopter parents who have done everything for them-of course they will demand the same from their government.

  26. Do you think, just maybe, that the reason folks are warmer to “socialism” is because we’ve been told, endlessly, that that bailouts that saved the auto industry was a “socialist takeover”? That Obamacare was a “socialist takeover”? That Social Security, Medicare and so-on are “socialism”?

    Just maybe?

    Face it, if younger folks are “confused” on what socialism is, it’s not because they weren’t taught right in high school. It’s because every time they’ve heard it used after high school has conflated “socialism” with “anything conservatives don’t like”.

    1. Well, we scream “Naziism” with everything Trotsky doesn’t like.

    2. I mean, it partially is that they weren’t taught right in high school if they can’t tell the difference between the government paying for something and the the government actually owning the means of production (I know the actual definition is when the workers own the mop, but has this ever happened where they didn’t become a defacto government?).

      It would also help if Democrats would stop pointing at capitalist countries with generous safety nets as being “socialist”.

      1. The Left destroys the meaning of words and our ability to communicate on purpose.

    3. Did the bailouts to the auto industry save the auto industry? It appeared to me that it simply saved the United Auto Workers and many of their members from having to reapply for their jobs to the new owners of the plants.

      The plants, distributions networks, engineering and design, in fact all of the assets of the companies were not going anywhere. The demand for automobiles was not going anywhere. So those assets would have been taken over by the bondholders and either put back into use, or sold to someone who would put them into use.

      The bailout primarily ripped off the taxpayers and the bondholders to save the UAW.

      1. And rewarded a Democratic constituency.

      2. This is due to the left’s ignorance of finance and law. They believe bankruptcy = going out of business. The reality is far too complicated for them to comprehend. The formula I stated above is much simpler to grasp, even if its wrong.

    4. Maybe, just maybe, when young people read the Atlantic’s City Lab, as of today, and this paragraph:
      “it is possible to eradicate the wealth gaps, by upending the racism baked into the capital and finance systems—basically a radical redistribution of land and wealth. This might mean some loss of material assets and resources for white families in the short run.”
      …young people can decide for themselves what socialism really means, and what the left is promoting. It becomes clear, why the left is recently advocating on open borders, all for votes, and the eventual radical redistribution and yes, Socialism, they so desire.

  27. Gallup notes that in 1942, only 25 percent of Americans agreed that a socialist economy would be a “good thing.”

    Remember that in 1942, Americans had just suffered through nine years of economic whiplash, experimentally twiddled at will by FDR and his new authoritarian New Deal, changing rules, setting up unelected Boards to make rules punishing business owners and demonizing their political opponents. He’d lost Congress after the 1936 elections, and the socialist trumpetings of his ‘brain trust’ had thoroughly disgusted a lot of Americans with the subject of central planning. Also the news of Soviet brutality had begun to leak through the media hosanna chorus.

    That 25 percent of socialist support must have been larger, earlier in the regime, but people were coming to their senses by 1942, and also had other events to worry about.

    1. “That 25 percent of socialist support must have been larger, earlier in the regime, but people were coming to their senses by 1942, and also had other events to worry about.”

      Well, it was in 1942 that Americans would have learned about the sneaky and unfair tactics the Soviets were employing against the Nazi aggressors. Thanks to special communist conditioning they had trained dogs to crawl under tanks with explosives strapped to their bodies! All under the merciless control of cat-loving commie commissars.

  28. First and foremost, it is about racial justice (African and chicano refugees included) and complete marxist redistribution, including land and housing. What could be better than living in a productive capitalist city, a nice hip lifestyle with high paying part-time sociology or local government jobs, gold plated healthcare and lifetime pensions.
    https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/09/racial-wealth-gap-history-slavery-black-white-family-income/597100/

  29. Young Americans like socialism because they’re naive and will believe any bullshit a college professor throws at them.
    Plus, they’ve never lived in a socialist paradise and take their freedoms for granted.

  30. Retards think that those are the only two choices and try to force everyone into one of the two, like hammering square pegs into round holes.

    1. You’re either controlled by the collective, or you ain’t.

      1. Which of the two doesn’t have laws to control your behaviour?

    2. “Retards think that those are the only two choices and try to force everyone into one of the two, like hammering square pegs into round holes.”

      Retards think the jooze are to blame for everything, retard scumbag.

  31. “For instance, Gallup notes that in 1942, only 25 percent of Americans agreed that a socialist economy would be a “good thing.” In 2019, that number had increased to 43 percent.”

    I assume the demographics of the US has also changed tremendously from 1942 to 2019.

    1. It’s so racist to imply a connection between political views and demographic change!

      1. The “non Hispanic white” component of the population fell from about 88% in 1940 to about 60% currently. It’s quite predictable American politics would move leftwards.
        The first sharp move to the left was when women were given the vote. The next move is more gradual and probably tied to demographic changes, probably exacerbated by public school indoctrination (note, the system is also run by women).

  32. The author needs to go back to university in order to learn that socialism is NOT the equivalent of communism. There are many thriving social democracies. A democracy’s embrace of socialism actually the hallmark of the modern democracy nation-state. The US has been socialist since the New Deal, just socialist-lite compared to other advanced democracies.

    1. “The author needs to go back to university”

      Yes, that’s the place to go to get really psyched up in support of socialism.

    2. Communism is under the umbrella of socialism, like fascism.

    3. Just what do you mean by “socialism”?

      The US has not been “socialist” in terms of “government ownership of the means of production” really ever.

      Do you simply mean a redistributionist welfare state?

      1. The US is a fascist country that allows capitalism to be practiced. The govn’t claims defacto ownership of the economy through income taxes, regulation, etc.

        In fact, you have to pay half your capital gains in taxes. It’s not your money/property/value, it’s the government’s. That’s a taste of socialism for ya.

  33. Maybe it’s only because I’m fairly young, yet I can’t help but think television and the internet are diminishing socialism’s chances of getting popular.

  34. ” Forty-two percent told us that they liked socialism even though only 16 percent could define it correctly as state ownership of the means of production ”

    “define it correctly”

    The definition of a term is it’s usage. If only 16 percent use the “correct” usage, maybe it’s not so correct.

    It actually would have been useful to know just what the “socialists” thought they meant by socialism, instead of chiding them for being “incorrect”.

    Maybe it’s less an economic term these days than a political term. A team label. The team used to want “government ownership of the means of production.” They don’t seem to want that anymore. I think they just want more of a welfare state. Or, more likely, “socialism is more free shit for me”.

    1. Any form of taxes is the govn’t claiming ownership of means of production.

      1. What an astoundingly stupid thing to say. Well done!

        1. Not at all, if you don’t pay taxes on your property then the govn’t will claim it. It’s called de facto ownership, numb nuts.

  35. The reason 18 to 24 year old’s like socialism, is because they are living off their parents, or living with them or both. The realities of life have not hit them yet. You know like a job, a career, taxes, bills, a family, purchasing food, the list goes on. One of the many reasons to return the voting age where 21. Better yet raise it to 25.

  36. I only wish for a society with the only law of “not hurting people” thats all.
    درمان اضطراب بدون دارو

  37. That’s still better than being a writer who’s ignorant as to the meanings words have.

  38. Why is it that so many articles here are basically written from a ‘get off my lawn you damn kids’ perspective? Or unfunny versions of the Four Yorkshiremen?

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