It’s a fact provable both physiologically and empirically that ‘young people’ is an oxymoron.
The human brain isn’t even wired properly until age 25 or so. Add to this a comprehensively available education that doesn’t educate, and the path leading youngsters to full-fledged humanity is very thorny indeed.
If anyone still harbours reservations about this, a recent YouGov poll should dispel them. It asked American ‘millennials’ what kind of country they’d rather live in, capitalist, socialist, communist or fascist.
The findings go a long way towards proving the mental deficiency of youngsters: socialism outscored capitalism 44 per cent to 42, with the rest of the vote evenly divided between fascism and communism.
In other words, 58 per cent of young Americans choose various types and degrees of tyranny over freedom. These are the terms I prefer to the Marxist dichotomy of ‘socialism’ and ‘capitalism’.
The very fact that the question was worded that way shows the triumph of Marxist terminology, made possible by a combination of what I call totalitarian economism and ignorance.
The antonym of socialism isn’t capitalism. It’s freedom – or liberty, to be more precise. Socialism, whether democratic, national or international, is defined not by the economy but by the primacy of the state over the individual. That’s its immobile hub, and everything else, including the economy, spins around it.
Hence socialism entails a drastic diminution of civil liberties and individual freedom – how drastic depends on the type of socialism and its success in putting its foot down. But doing so is its innate desideratum, which is why ‘democratic socialism’ is another oxymoron.
Marx defined society in strictly economic terms springing from private or public ownership of the means of production. Derivative from that was class war between the haves and have-nots in a capitalist country, where greedy fat cats own the means of production and the workers starve.
That gibberish was nonsensical even at the time it was put forth, in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. Repeating it these days, which most people do, it’s frankly idiotic.
Marxism is based on a purely materialist view of man, which doesn’t make sense even in a purely secular society. Man, even post-Christian man, has aspirations produced not only by his stomach, but also by other parts of his body, such as head, heart and, well, the other one. Homo is indeed sapiens, not economicus.
Hence freedom – however defined – or lack thereof is a more telling feature of a country than who owns the factories. Whether or not a citizen can read whatever he wants, pray to God in any way he desires or say anything that comes to mind without fear of prosecution says more about society than the size of the public sector, although the two are usually linked.
To the American youngsters’ credit, their choices were motivated not so much by congenital stupidity or a lust for tyranny as by simple ignorance. When given the definitions of the four systems, they had problems identifying which was which.
Thus a third of them didn’t recognise capitalism from this definition: “Economic system based on free markets and the rule of law with legal protections for private ownership”. And two-thirds failed to spot socialism behind this description: “Economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and state control of the means of production as well as political theories and movements associated with them.”
Interestingly, most subjects felt well-disposed towards freedom of speech. However, they were so swamped by the totalitarian economism of the definitions on offer that they failed to grasp the inverse relationship between free speech and socialism.
Lest you might think I’m picking on Americans, I haven’t got the slightest doubt that a similar poll in any Western European country, including Britain, would yield similar or worse results.
What percentage of Oxford or Sorbonne students do you reckon would opt for socialism? My guess is five per cent on either side of 80, and I’m in a mellow mood.
Socialism will continue to triumph for as long as totalitarian economism does. For this philosophical aberration unites the seemingly incompatible political extremes.
Nationalise the means of production, claim the socialists, and everything else will follow. Socialism good, capitalism bad. Privatise the means of production, object the libertarians, and everything else will follow. Capitalism good, socialism bad. Like Orwell’s farm animals, both species reduce everything to a single issue. They just can’t agree on the number of legs.
This type of thinking is primitive; when applied to formulating policy, it’s dangerous. And it largely explains the gallimaufry of political thinking among young people. Yet some clarity of thought among them would be desirable because, by historical oversight, they’re allowed to vote.
That today’s young people aren’t taught the proper basics of politics, as related to philosophy, morality and civic virtue is fairly obvious – as is their inability to think such things through for themselves.
Hence, if I had to compile a similar questionnaire, I’d keep it simple. Instead of expecting the youths to find their way through the thicket of recondite and largely meaningless terminology, I’d ask just one question:
How much control over the individual should the state have, on the scale of 100 (total control) to 1 (only as much as is strictly necessary). This sounds simplistic, but then so are our youngsters’ minds. At least we’d get a reliable reading that way.
The young, said Trotsky, Corbyn’s role model, are the barometer of a nation. Alas, nobody notices that the barometer has fallen off the wall and shattered. Careful you don’t cut your feet on the shards of glass.