By Kevin Wilson
I’ve never really fit in with my generation. Technically, I fall into the millennial demographic, but we’ve never really had much in common.
While most of my classmates in elementary school were going on about Dragon Ball Z and Yu-Gi-Oh, I spent my evenings reading about the Apollo project and watching Nova. When most of them were off to college, learning the joys of binge drinking and finals, I was working a full time job and trying to raise a family. While they were Occupying Wall Street, I was occupying a tiny little OP on a mountaintop in the Sinai, trying to remember the difference between an Mi-8 and Mi-17.
Maybe that’s why I’ve never understood the collective infatuation with socialism, democratic or otherwise: when they were just struggling onto their feet in the real world and learning life was hard, I had been out there living it. Well, that and I’ve read a fucking history book.
Now, I’m not trying to say the path I took was superior to anyone else’s, when demonstrably it’s not. My knees are shot, my hearing is half gone, I’m going through a divorce while most of my peers are just getting used to the idea of marriage, and my idea of a fun Friday evening involves writing political rants for Unapologetically American, rather than going out to the bar or club. I’m just saying it’s lent a different perspective, is all.
So when this particular video from NowThis Politics began making the rounds on Facebook, I couldn’t help but scratch my head.
Here’s a summary, in case you don’t have the heart to click the link: Nancy Pelosi was the speaker at a CNN town hall, and got ambushed by a college kid going off script. This particular college kid, citing a Harvard study that said that a 51% of folks between 18-29 years of age no longer supported capitalism, wanted to know if the Democratic party would be moving any further to the left and embracing socialism.
Pelosi, for her part, proved that there is such a thing as too liberal, and flat out stated that while the system was flawed, capitalism was here to stay and that the Democratic Party wasn’t looking to change that any time soon. She hit the usual liberal talking points about income inequality and all that, but for the most part she stood firm.
“I don’t think we have to change from capitalism. We’re a capitalist system.”
The student in question, one Trevor Hill, started something of a social media firestorm. As a result, he was offered a free membership in an organization known as Democratic Socialists of America. Let us all ponder the irony inherent in that last sentence for a moment.
Done pondering? Cool. Moving on.
The problem here, as I see it, isn’t millennial dissatisfaction. If Bernie Sanders proved anything with his failed presidential campaign, it’s that there’s a strong undercurrent of resentment towards the current system among the younger generation, who feel that it’s failed them.
They’re not entirely wrong, either. You can find a ton of articles about how millennials are ruining this industry or that by not buying into it, but shit, you can’t really blame them for not buying into it when they can’t freaking afford to. The level of resentment thrown towards them by Generation X and baby boomers is pretty ridiculous, given that they’re the ones who made such a mess of things in the first place. It’s no wonder they’re looking elsewhere for solutions.
But damn, guys. Socialism. Really? Have you not read a history book? Capitalism has its problems, sure, especially this half-assed version we’ve got going on now, where regulations are as often as not the result of industries and corporations lobbying to keep their share of the pie. But for all its flaws, it still mostly works.
Socialism, hell, Marxism in general, doesn’t.
It’s not a matter of having the right people in charge. People are pretty shitty when handed any sort of real power, and that doesn’t change just because they have good intentions. Introducing democracy into the mix won’t do much to mitigate that, because socialism and democracy are sorta like oil and water. You can shake a jar of oil and water and make it intermingle for a bit, but it will split before too long. And then you’re right back to where you were before, and the results are written across the pages of history in blood.
Capitalism has its flaws, but it doesn’t lead to things like the Holodomor.
So maybe, just maybe, instead of hopping on board the Karl Marx Express, we could work on fixing the system we have. Hey, it’s got some issues, I know, but nothing irreversible. Correcting the issues will take some work, sure, but hell, what doesn’t? The baby boomers are dying out. It’s time for millennials to take their place on the stage of power. Let’s not go full Stalin and fuck things up worse than they already are.