Color me skeptical, but when neoliberal scribes Paul Krugman and Michael Tomasky write pro-socialist op-eds in the New York Times on the very same day it does tend to send my bullshit detection radar into high alert.
Krugman even took a break from his European bicycle tour vacation to wax rhapsodic about Denmark's social welfare state. It seems like only yesterday when he was waxing funereal about Bernie Sanders's call for single payer health care and free higher education. O.K., so it was more than a year ago, but time flies when millions of desperate people are logically thinking that their time is running out.
Tomasky, editor of the centrist journal "Democracy" and a columnist for the Clinton-supporting Daily Beast (Chelsea Clinton sits on its board of directors) is not so much enthusiastic about socialism as he is worried that capitalistic greed is creating too much socialistic enthusiasm in the great unwashed masses.
Mind you, Tomasky mainly has the interests of the plutocrats at heart. His column is an appeal to their alleged altruism and understanding of the lesser people and by no means a list of remedies to ameliorate record inequality. He doesn't go so far as to agitate for single payer health insurance, a living wage, increased Social Security benefits, a federal jobs guarantee or new taxes to fund affordable housing. He only asks that wealthy "thought leaders" care, or more accurately, pretend to care. Otherwise too many leftists might get elected and take away their perks.So if you were a person of modest or even middle-class means, how would you feel about capitalism? The kind of capitalism this country has been practicing for all these years has failed most people.Yes, it’s given us lots of shiny objects to gush about. A smartphone that can display slow-motion video is a wonder. But an affordable college education, though perhaps not a wonder, is a necessity for a well-ordered society. So is a solution to a national drug crisis in which 115 people die every day, as well as a lot of other problems that the capitalism of our era has simply ignored.I have mixed feelings about this socialism boomlet. It has yet to prove itself politically viable in general elections outside a handful of areas, and by 2021 we could wake up and see that it’s been a disaster for Democrats.
Nevertheless, both he and Krugman are being widely praised for saying such pretty, inclusive words. They are good soldiers who will do whatever it takes to get disaffected Democrats to the polls in November.
Meanwhile, since I wanted to find out if socialism is getting even more popular among disaffected young people, I Googled "millennials/socialism/polls" to get some numbers.
Surprisingly or not surprisingly, the very first entry in the Google search results was from a site calling itself "Victims of Communism.Org."
It wants to warn struggling, indebted young people about their deluded thinking. If they persist in wanting guaranteed medical care and other nice things, they might end up in a Stalinesque gulag. Or to be really realistic about it, Maduro's Venezuela!
It goes on to equate the neo-Nazi provocateurs at Charlottesville with the anti-fascist protesters "with hammer and sickle flags" despite the fact that the anti-fascists are not members of the Communist Party.Unfortunately, Americans are as ignorant of the developing situation in socialist Venezuela as they are of the definition of socialism itself. Six out of every ten Americans surveyed were wholly unfamiliar with Venezuela’s socialist dictator, Nicolás Maduro, and the economic crisis and human rights abuses that have occurred under his rule.
So, 100 years after the Bolshevik Revolution, the majority of the largest generational cohort in America show great enthusiasm for socialism while completely failing to correctly identify its definition when asked or examine its consequences. It gets worse.
Seven in ten Americans drastically underestimate the number of people killed at the hands of communist regimes over the last century. This is unsurprising, given the fact that half of all Millennials say they have never heard of Mao Zedong, a man whose policies killed nearly 60 million people, making him the greatest mass murderer of the twentieth century.
A click on the miniscule link to "Leadership" reveals that, unsurprisingly, the people in charge of Victims of Communism.Org hail from conservative think tanks, the finance industry and the security state. The executive director, Marion Smith, is a Heritage Foundation alumnus. Look for his re-education campaign on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, Fox and other echo-chamber outlets of the corporate propaganda consortium.
Chairman of the Board is Lee Edwards, also of the Heritage Foundation, who cut his own anti-socialistic teeth as director of communications for Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign.
Not that the Victims of Communism organization is totally Republican, of course. Since "bipartisan" is establishment-speak for "noble, altruistic and honest," there is even a congressional Victims of Communism Caucus to more ably represent the interests of unfettered capitalism.
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Dennis Lipinski (D-IL) joined with their GOP colleagues in urging EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to boycott the unveiling of a statue of Karl Marx (a gift from China) in his hometown of Trier, Germany this past May in honor of his 200th birthday. No matter that Marxism was co-opted by such despots as Joseph Stalin in order to do some truly evil things. According to the official US corporate bipartisan consensus, Karl Marx personally was and is responsible for all manner of global evil.
To his credit, Juncker not only ignored the US politicians and right-wing hecklers, he publicly derided them in his speech at the statue's dedication:
Mr Juncker said: "Anyone would do well in remembering Marx because remembering and understanding are part of securing the future.
"Without memory and thought, without understanding memory, there will not be much for the future.
"Marx isn't responsible for all the atrocities his alleged heirs have to answer for.
"One has to understand Karl Marx from the context of his time and not have prejudices based on hindsight, these judgments shouldn't exist".
He went onto discuss Marx's influence on the European Union, saying that Marx's philosophy taught Europeans that it was the “task of our time” to improve social rights.
No word on whether the Bipartisan moralizers back in the USA will demand that Marx's books be banned as well. But no matter. In the American Land of the Free, Marx is rarely, if ever, taught in institutions of higher learning. And most important of all, curious learners anxious to learn about socialism and polls and young people always have the Google to set them on the right-wing path.
Google, you might remember, has not only given the reactionary website "Victims of Communism" the top spot as a result of this query, it has actively suppressed such leftist groups as the World Socialist Website from its results pages.
Here are the other top hits to the query "socialism/polls/millennials" on Google's front page of results:
"Majority of Millennials Want to Live In Socialist, Communist or Fascist Nation Rather Than Under Capitalism" (Washington Times) According to the lead, "this troubling turn highlights widespread historical illiteracy in American society."
Sound familiar? Maybe it's because the source of this scare-mongering piece is none other than the above mentioned Marion Smith of the Heritage Foundation. For a guy so concerned about education, he certainly has a parallel agenda of the destruction of public education in the United States. He also has an addiction to false equivalency, the way he equates socialism with fascism.
Third-ranked on the Google search results page is a Chicago Tribune piece titled "Why Are Millennials So Hot on Socialism?" (Hint: they are woefully uneducated, not knowing such uncomfortable factoids as "the forcible removal of ghetto children" from their parents in Denmark... so they can go to school for 25 hours per week!) Also too, the American millennials who favor socialism are the same depraved individuals who believe in birth control and extramarital sex.
It's only until you get halfway down the Google search results page that you get to read more objective and relatively unbiased articles about young people and socialism, which are largely centered around the upset primary victory of Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. Still, as CNN reported on the recent polling, millennials still like capitalism and free enterprise right along with their newfound enthusiasm for socialism. So all is not lost. As long as there's Google to supplant critical thinking skills and the deep study of history, there's life in the old Oligarchy yet.
So the corporate media will keep their fingers crossed until such time as they can get back to business after the November midterms. They'll keep inviting reactionary shills like Marion Smith on their air to keep the conversation balanced, the concern for the poor as shallow and perfunctory as possible, and the capitalistic cancer in fake remission even as it grows and multiplies under all the concern-controlling and co-optation and snake-oil treatment.