Adventures in Illinois Higher Education: Why Are Most Millennials Socialists?
By: Shane Radliff
April 30th, 2016
“Socialism has scammed the oppressed peoples of the world into believing that socialism offers them relief and a future utopia upon this earth; and it is a lie.”
– Bill Cooper, The Truth About Socialism (March 21st, 1996)
Bill Cooper was certainly correct—but, he was a Constitutionalist. In the 1000+ hours I listened to his radio show, I never heard him mention the socializing of the war debt; whether that was due to his ignorance of the subject, or a deliberate exclusion, I will never know.
My path to Liberty began as an unknowing adherent to socialism. No, not in the Bernie Sanders sense of the term. But, it did; I started as a Constitutionalist. Though, once I began to understand the founding of this country and the dangers of the State, I dropped minarchism completely.
The main reason that the 1787 federal Constitution was brought into fruition was due to the lack of taxing powers provided in the Articles of Confederation. In short, the Federalists chose to socialize the war debt, rather than utilizing the free market.
That said, socialism (even communism) has existed in this country in a long time. The most important year being 1913, when the Federal Reserve Act was passed. The only difference now is the open advocacy for socialism, much like recent history in countries like Greece and Venezuela.
Being a college student, I have been unlucky enough to witness this new phenomenon firsthand. Whether it be the Bernie Sanders bumper stickers on the majority of cars I see on campus, the people screaming Bernie Sanders out in the quad (where all of the students walk through to class), etc., socialism is the goal of the mindless Millennials (and even some in academia).
1) Economic Illiteracy
Murray Rothbard once said,
“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”
This seems like the most prevalent answer to me, albeit it is two-fold. First off, any socialist is collectivistic and that is what “the college experience” breeds; that, and the disdain for individualism. People want to “fit in”, “party”, and “get laid” (I didn’t include “get educated” on that list, because they really aren’t getting an “education”). The collectivistic part is bad enough, but once you toss in a socialist demagogue, things escalate quite rapidly.
In addition to that, there is also the promise of “free stuff.” Obviously, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and to believe that your education will be “free” is patently absurd, but again, that comes with the lack of even a basic understanding of economics. Whether it is a product or a service, there is always time, money, and/or effort exerted. Though, time is, in fact, money considering the limited time human beings spend on this earth, and there is also the issue of opportunity costs. Even if you aren’t explicitly paying for the service (in this case, college), someone else is and there isn’t much of a difference between you and those parasites that leech off of the welfare state.
As Henry Hazlitt explicated many times in his Economics in One Lesson, the money that is used for x industry is money that cannot be utilized in y industry, even if y industry will produce more. In short, those tax dollars allocated towards higher level indoctrination are creating a much higher supply, and as a result, the demand decreases and competition for jobs increase, ceteris paribus—hence, the unemployment and underemployment rate for recent college graduates.
You can ignore economics throughout college, but once you enter into the workforce you’re going to learn firsthand the law of supply and demand, and unless you’re in a growing field, you’re probably not going to have a happy result.
In summation, it comes down to the collectivistic college atmosphere and the lack of understanding of even basic economics.
One other problem a lot of college students have is a complete misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of history. Predominantly, that is due to public schooling. As George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Similarly, as is expressed in Ecclesiastes 1:9, there is nothing new under the sun.
That said, it doesn’t even take an extensive study of history to understand the dangers of socialism; even a look at mainstream media in the past year should represent that (Greece and Venezuela).
Additionally, the democide statistics for the 20th century are quite revealing. Over 262 million citizens were murdered by their own government, excluding war casualties. It is worth noting that 4 out of the 5 “deka-megamurderers” happened under socialist and communist regimes. Also note (even expanding beyond that label), not a single one of those regimes gave a damn about either property rights or the free market.
Contrary to what is being pushed in your government schools, “capitalism” and the “free market” are not your enemies. Your enemy is the State and all of history exemplifies that fact.
3) Cultural Marxism (Political Correctness)
In the spirit of the Trivium method, it is important to define our terms. The definitions of “cultural Marxism (CM)”, “political correctness (PC)”, and “social justice warrior (SJW)” are essentially synonymous and will be used as such. In essence, it:
“…Places great emphasis on analyzing, controlling, and changing the popular culture, the popular discourse, the mass media, and the language itself…Cultural Marxists themselves try to remove these inequalities by more or less subtle manipulation and censorship of culture.”
This is one concept that is unique to the Millennials growing up in this geographical location known as America. That’s quite obvious, considering the fact that the SJW movement has essentially grown out of college campuses. Though, PC and censorship are not the only things that come with it.
With CM, also comes the Marxist ideology, which is completely detached from reality (which will be discussed in a moment). Ludwig von Mises in his magnum opus, Human Action, described this quite succinctly:
“Only one way could lead the socialists out of this impasse [Mises is describing the destruction of communist ideas by classical economists]. They could attack logic and reason and substitute mystical intuition for ratiocination. It was the historical role of Karl Marx to propose this solution. Based on Hegel’s dialectic mysticism he blithely arrogated to himself the ability to predict the future…” [Emphasis added]
This irrationality is not only propagated by mindless Millennials, and it’s not segregated from topics such as economics. In one particularly atrocious example last semester, my sociologist justice warrior teacher openly advocated for communism and praised Karl Marx. Granted, her understanding of it was nil, as she provided an elementary definition of it to college students, and not much else.
In one less egregious example, Professor Statist (American Government and Politics professor) claimed that the perfect economic system is one that is the ideal blend of communism and capitalism, which is completely fallacious. He must not have read Human Action:
“The market economy or capitalist, as it is usually called, and the socialist economy preclude one another. There is no mixture of the two systems possible or thinkable; there is no such thing as a mixed economy, a system that would be in part capitalistic and in part socialist. Production is directed either by the market or by the decrees of a production tsar or a committee of production tsars.” (p. 259)
To sum up, CM has a major impact on the creation of socialists within higher level indoctrination for the following reasons: the complete detachment from reality, the open advocacy by academia, and a minimal understanding of economics. I highly doubt these mindless Millennials study economics in their “safe spaces.”
4) Amorality (Without morals)
Kal Molinet has a done fantastic job in his Spreading Anarchy series, in providing empirical evidence that most Millennials claim to already live the axioms of non-aggression and self-ownership, albeit, generally, not in a consistent manner. In their interpersonal relationships they claim to exude libertarian principles (and oftentimes do), but on the other hand, they advocate for political rulers and the violation of person and property by way of the voting booth.
Something I’ve often been told is, “But Shane, life isn’t black and white. There are shades of grey.” In some cases, this might be possible, but when it gets down to ethics, I don’t think any such claim can be made sincerely. This doesn’t necessarily only pertain to Millennials, but I think a case could be made for widespread moral relativism within college campuses, which, simply put, is an ethical standpoint which deems that morals are subjective and relative; so, therefore, virtue can never truly be known universally (except of course, when the State outlaws vices, according to its sycophants, because “we” must unquestioningly obey the “authorities,” for only they constitute the priest-class of “society”).
For my ethics class, we were required to read Whatever Happened to Good and Evil? by Russ Shafer-Landau, who is an ethical objectivist. In this book, he made a fantastic point which further verifies my claim:
“Ask any ethics professor nowadays, and you are bound to get the same report—most students regard moral skepticism as the default position in ethics, and abandon their view, if at all, only very begrudgingly.” (p. 21) (Note: Moral skepticism is just the term the author uses to define all of the ethical standpoints that reject ethical objectivism, which includes moral relativism.)
That’s quite the admittance coming straight from the Director of the Parr Center for Ethics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
This may also explain why college-aged students are the most apathetic publics, which leads to inaction in most circumstances. One of my professors this semester made an accurate statement along the lines of, “That’s why event organizers always offer free pizza at events—you need to be motivated to come.”
To summate this section, I posit that moral relativism is widespread across college campuses and is one of the factors driving them to the socialist camp. Without a consistent philosophical/ethical grounding, rational self-interest turns into the indirect use of violence upon others through the collectivistic policies advocated.
5) Emotion > Logic
As was alluded to in section three, there is an obvious detachment from reality in the minds of the socialistic Millennials. I propose that this is caused by the (conscious or subconscious) preference of emotion over logic, or since their brand of socialism is a subset of Marxism, they may honestly believe that there is no such thing as a universally valid logic.
In Fascistbook debates, this first proposition can be easily evidenced in the form of logical fallacies and the emotional outbursts often accompanying these sorts of discussions. There are three that are extremely common:
- Strawman: Misrepresenting the position of the opponent
- Example: “You’re for the free market, therefore you must be a Trump supporter!
- Ad Hominem: Personal attacks against the opponent
- Example: “You’re just an idiot, selfish capitalist!”
- Red Herring: Changing the subject of the argument, rather than debating it (i.e. a “smoke screen”)
- Example: Libertarian/Anarchist: “Private and voluntarily paid for roads would be more efficient and more ethical.”
- Socialist: “But, we need taxes to provide for the poor, the single unwed mothers, and the elderly, not to mention the ‘vulnerable’ of society!”
In terms of the conscious emotional response, it could simply be due to ignorance on the subject at hand, or just simply, good old-fashioned bias. For the unconscious response, I will leave that up to psychology, but I would posit that the two aforementioned reasons could be at play here too.
The statement “there is no such thing as a universally valid logic,” can be dispensed with quickly. Simply put, it was an intuitionistic approach by Marx and Hegel that has no bearing on reality. Also, such a universal statement about there being “no such thing as a universally valid logic” is a self-detonating statement, which given its self-evidently contradictory nature, is dialogically estopped, and therefore, should not be taken seriously by anyone.
Summarily, socialistic Millennials are completely detached from reality because of their preference for emotion over logic. Consider, too, how they unabashedly violate argumentation ethics while they rail against capitalism and private property. If mindless Millennials don’t value property rights as a matter of principle, why would you ever assume that they would respect the property rights of the “poor”, themselves?
It’s first worth mentioning a realization I came to recently: the Trivium method has been turned on its head within higher level indoctrination (if it ever existed there at all). I’ve often stated that students are not “getting educated” in college, or even in public schools more generally and I still assert that.
Mine and many other’s self-driven education is done by way of the Trivium method; simply put, starting from axiomatic truths (grammar), building concepts and percepts that are verified in reality (logic), and then testing the practical application of such concepts (rhetoric). It is a bottom-up, self-vetting approach—but, that’s not what’s being done on college campuses.
Rather, they are teaching and promoting concepts that have been shown to not conform to reality. They are working top-down (rhetoric to grammar). This arises some problems. As pointed out by Bill Joslin:
“We can take higher order concepts and treat them as though they are percepts or axioms and build a case which has evidence and valid logic but yet be totally devoid of reality. A concept is an idea rooted in reality. Ideas can be applicable to observation, provide predictability, yet be completely disconnected in reality. Order is important!” [Emphasis added]
It’s also worth mentioning argumentation ethics, once again. As Kyle Rearden pointed out, it “is a logical proof that demonstrates the performative contradictions within any political ideology except for libertarian anarchism.” The simple act of advocating for violations of self-ownership is contradictory, which should, if they were logical, cause them to abandon such an ideology that does not conform to reality.
This decry for socialism is heavily influenced by attendance at higher level institutions and I believe it will continue for as long as people continue to believe in such archaic ideas. One thing that espousers of Liberty can do, is inform people on the importance of self-education, as well as mentorship, which was done more commonly during the early American colonial period. Some of the most influential innovators and entrepreneurs never got a college degree, and with the endless possibilities made available by the Internet, I think more of that will be seen in the future. Consider one more quote from Mises’ Human Action:
“Many who are self-taught far excel the doctors, masters, and bachelors of the most renowned universities.”
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