The Halo Halo! column from the June 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard
‘A majority of millennials now reject capitalism’ reported the Washington Post (26 April) after a recent Harvard University poll concluded that 51 percent of people between 18 and 29 do not support the system and only 42 percent said they did. More interestingly, 33 percent said they supported socialism.
Let’s not start winding up the World Socialist Movement just yet though, our job isn’t quite done. The Washington Post pointed out that ‘Capitalism can mean different things to different people’, and noted ‘Bernie Sanders is profoundly changing how millennials think about politics’. Ah, Bernie Sanders, that American capitalist politician who thinks he’s a socialist. Perhaps someone should inform the Washington Post that ‘Socialism’, too, means different things to different people.
Whether the rightwing Christian Post website has been bamboozled by Bernie, too, is not clear but some joker seems to have told them that socialism has been established in Venezuela and they’re not happy about it. And that Harvard poll has pushed them right over the edge. Anyone browsing their website be warned, you can almost feel their anger and indignation blasting its way through cyberspace and smashing against the inside of your computer screen.
This survey, they say, ‘goes to show you that higher education can’t fix stupid – especially when it’s flowing from the mouths of anti-capitalist educators’. ‘These educators’ they go on, ‘take advantage of their captive audiences, rambling on with their vast “knowledge,” mistaking the blank stares and half-smiles in the room as “interest” having no idea that if they heard themselves in playback, they’d probably stab themselves with their pointing sticks’.
And we thought Christians were such nice, peaceful people. ‘Before all you anti-capitalists jump on the socialist bandwagon’, they warn us, ‘why not first take a look at what’s happening in Venezuela, that pitiful place on the globe where it takes a wheel barrel full of cash to buy a hot dog’. Ah, hot dogs are involved. No wonder they’re angry.
‘I know American socialists are far above eating hot dogs’ their writer explains, ‘and probably prefer munching on exotic tree bark, but if a hot dog is what’s available thanks to your beloved socialism, needing a wheel barrel full of cash to buy one is a bit much, wouldn’t you say?’
It descends into a bit of an incoherent rant after that, although a few paragraphs later we do get a clue about their anger or, at least, their confusion.
Still seething about nasty university lecturers who, although they don’t actually blame them for the economic situation in Venezuela, they do hold responsible for the result of the Harvard poll, and inform us, ‘Venezuela happened – amidst their attempts to paint a rosy picture of socialism, omitting from their lectures historical facts about the collapse of communism in the Eastern bloc’.
Well, Christian Post, here’s a historical fact for you. There was no communism or socialism in Russia and the Eastern bloc, or in Venezuela for that matter. What they had in Russia, and in Venezuela was just another form of capitalism – administered by the state instead of by big business. And, as we saw in Russia, state administered capitalism is just as useless as private capitalism.
As for your concerns that ‘The International Monetary fund says this year Venezuela’s inflation rate will rise to 500% while other experts predict 700%. That’s why you need wheel barrels loaded with worthless cash to buy hot dogs’. Well, that’s capitalism for you – private or state run. And, we seem to recall, capitalist America too had a bit of a depression back in the 1930s.
And more recently (See wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States) ‘Recent census data shows that half the population qualifies as poor or low income, with one in five millennials living in poverty’ and ‘In 2011 child poverty reached record high levels, with 16.7 million children living in food insecure households’.
Rest assured, when we have real socialism, even in America you won’t need a wheel barrel (or wheelbarrow as we call them on this side of the pond) to collect your hot dog – you just won’t be that hungry.
Pass that on to Bernie, will you?