Writing for Tablet magazine, Michelle Goldberg tells us that Marxism is gaining popularity with young people.
Of course it is. Marxism will always be with us.
It's like a remake of "No Exit" where human society's punishment for its frequent callowness and ignorance is to be trapped with Marxists for all eternity.
Like it or not, we will always have capitalism and Marxism in our social order, but for very different reasons.
Capitalism will always be with us because it works. It's not very popular, its imperfect and causes known problems, but still it works. Even if a group of people destroy it and forbid its return, the general public will secretly toil to bring it back simply because it works.
Marxism, in its many forms, will always come back because its general platitudes appeal to the uninformed. It makes great promises and forms a secular religion, where all the inequalities of society can be burned away in the casting of a great utopia.
Goldberg's piece tells us that the 20-somethings of today are too young to remember the Soviet Union but old enough to have their lives damaged by the 2007 financial crisis, and while the group as a whole isn't turning to Marxism, there is a large trend. She even referenced a 2011 Pew Research poll that showed 18-to-29-year-olds buck the trend and have a more favorable view of socialism than of capitalism.
What's going on here is the Cycle of Ignorance, where past generations have experienced the folly of things like Marxism, patent medicines and doomsday prophecies but the younger generation missed those lessons and have to learn the hard way. Eventually they become the older generation, but by then there are more young people who just won't listen.
Naturally, some of those who lived through the first iteration of these arguments—and the subsequent cultural disillusionment with left-wing radicalism—will find all this irritating, if not infuriating. There are, after all, good reasons that Marxist political economy fell out of fashion. And it’s true some of the leftmost communist revivalists are disturbingly blithe about the past; at times one senses a self-satisfied avant-garde delight in making outrageous pronouncements. In The Communist Horizon, part of Verso’s Pocket Communism series, the newly fashionable academic Jodi Dean, a professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, airily dismisses the “circumscribed imaginary” in which “communism as Stalinism is linked to authoritarianism, prison camps, and the inadmissibility of criticism,” as if such links are a neoliberal fabrication.
There will be countless articles in the future about the return of Marxism. Long after the current generation of Marxists are dead and the mass graves of citizens subjected to a socialist revolution have been paved over, there will be other revivals. Each time, those enlightened by calamity will swear that they will never let it happen again, but after they die their books and essays will be shrugged aside by innocent little monsters who think they have stumbled onto something foolproof.