Are our socialist kids our fault?

I see the rise of the infatuation with socialist, Marxist and communist ideologies in our young and realise it IS our fault.

Decades of economic growth and prosperity in the west has led to complacency and an amnesia that this prosperity actually resulted from hard work.

Enter the kids, who grew up in a time where they were told they could be and do anything, obstacles to their success were mown down by lawnmower parents intent to ensure their paths to success were easier than their own and with the least chance of triggering anxiety, they were rewarded for simply turning up, everyone got a ribbon, and the lesson learned and ingrained was you don’t have to try to succeed because everyone’s a winner so no one’s psyche is hurt. 

At the same time there were – as there always are – economic ups and downs – but because of the prosperity of the previous decades, the global financial crisis enabled governments to empty treasuries and toss around welfare even to those who had never previously received it, in an attempt to “stimulate the economy” – the lesson being when times get tough, spend, not tighten belts and (gasp) go without – and then later as we saw in the COVID-19 pandemic, governments paying people to sit at home and play Xbox and watch Netflix.

Is it no wonder that these kids have the view that hard work is unnecessary and the government should look after them – because frankly many of them have never actually seen hard work in action.

Image: https://www.redspark.nu

We express surprise when our kids espouse socialist ideals yet we have taught them through sport, for example, that even the kid who comes last gets a prize (therefore trying hard isn’t worth it) and you raise yourself up by pulling others down (online bullying) – two very socialist ideas.

Ideologically and theoretically socialism, communism, Marxism all have similarities –  and in Marxist theory socialism is a precursor to communism. What is attractive to the young is the idea of wealth being shared and ownership of resources by the people. And it does sound great … in theory – it has never worked in practice – no not even in Venezuela (where a recent survey showed 96% live below the poverty line and reports are that they are ‘quietly quitting socialism‘) or Nordic countries (the latter who are not strictly socialist states, but who regulate capitalism and as in the case of Sweden businesses can still be privately owned, entrepreneurism is still allowed, and they have the third highest income tax rate in the world – at 57%).

According to Kristian Niemietz, author of ‘Socialism. The Failed Idea that Never Dies‘ and head of political economy at the Institute for Economic Affairs, London:

“Over the past hundred years, there have been more than two dozen attempts to build a socialist society. It has been tried in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Albania, Poland, Vietnam, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, North Korea, Hungary, China, East Germany, Cuba, Tanzania, Laos, South Yemen, Somalia, the Congo, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, Nicaragua and Venezuela, among others—not counting the very short-lived ones. All of these attempts have ended in varying degrees of failure.”

Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/sites/rainerzitelmann/2020/03/16/socialism-the-failed-idea-that-never-dies/?sh=6059c8f423cc

You can only tax a profit and tax is one way governments pay for things like welfare, education, infrastructure, health. It may leave a bad taste in your mouth that the wealth lies in the hands of a few, but the fact is profits generate tax.

Whilst America is vilified as the fat cat capitalist with a tiny portion of the population controlling the majority of the wealth, interestingly they actually have a mix of capitalist and socialist ideals running side by side. Capitalism drives the economy yet the government is responsible for the welfare of the people through defence, transport, infrastructure, education, fire and police, Medicare… sounds just like Australia…. This is why we see some things controlled by the public sector and some by the private sector.

In truly socialist or communist countries there is no free market economy. Entrepreneurship is non-existent, the state controls everything and distributes everything according to what they deem appropriate – in many cases keeping the majority of it for themselves (“absolute power corrupts absolutely” – George Orwell, 1984) and not raising people up, but bringing all of them down to the lowest common denominator.  We have seen situations in China where the state believed it was better that an estimated 15 to 55 million people died as a result of starvation and malnutrition in The Great Chinese Famine (considered to be the result of a combination of radical agricultural policies, social pressure, economic mismanagement, and natural disasters such as droughts and floods in farming regions) than that the people be looked after.

More recently, the Tiananmen Square student-led protests which started in April 1989 and called for greater accountability, constitutional due process, democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech – were forcibly suppressed on 4 June by an estimated 300,000 troops with machine guns and assault rifles and backed up by tanks (killing protestors and bystanders alike). Reaction to the protests set limits on political expression in China, limits that have lasted up to the present day.

Image: ‘Tank Man’ – Tiananmen Square – Pinterest

Many of the kids espousing the virtues of socialism or communism have spent the last four years sitting on a university campus, living off Youth Allowance or other government-funded assistance schemes and have yet to go out and work full-time for reward. It’s probably no wonder that having grown up with no motivation, and reward for no effort, having experienced government support, they are loathe to give that up.  Many have finished degrees and so now are faced with not only the loss of government support but the requirement to pay back HECS debts. They may be jealous of the wealthy but lack the motivation to go out and BECOME wealthy. They see the wealthy as sponges living off the backs of the workers – though haven’t witnessed the work that went into building those empires and that success – and ignore the fact that Australia for example has had an industrial relations system protecting the rights of workers since 1904! They see money and the success of the wealthy as dirty or immoral – not as a motivator to go out and get it themselves.

Yet no socialist country has eliminated poverty and raised up every citizen to even middle class status. The point our youth also miss is one of the first things to go in a socialist/communist state is free speech … something they dearly love and use whenever the opportunity affords. This alone should be enough to be cause for pause before the banner waving begins.

What our kids are probably more leaning towards is Social Capitalism – not true socialism, and definitely not communism – that ‘blends the free market sensibility of capitalism with the welfare outreach of socialism‘. They are worried about the inequality of wealth but benefit from taxes paid to the government; they want universal healthcare; and to benefit from a free market economy – but it makes them uncomfortable to say they actually support capitalism and therefore think the only other option is socialism – or communism. We have compounded this by giving them a false notion that effort doesn’t matter and that everyone gets a prize. As Buddy says in The Incredibles:

“When everyone’s super, no one will be.”

Buddy, ‘The Incredibles’

What they fail to see – since they have never had to experience it – is that governments who become too powerful can also become oppressive – they move away from socialism to totalitarianism.

Reform is good (though not for reform’s sake). Let’s hope since our kids are our future they don’t take us down that path.

© Earth Goddess Wisdom


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