What liberal snowflake in the general vicinity of collegiate age that’s worth their salt doesn’t love socialism? Heck, it goes along with free trade coffee, Amiri Baraka readers and “Dump Trump” buttons the same way that peanut butter goes with chocolate.
Of course, the great irony of this is that almost every single one of these “woke” people lives in a capitalist system and likely has enough financial resources to stay “woke.”
They don’t have to worry about privation that those under socialism experience. They’re the most likely people to pontificate about the “authentic” nature of Cuba, unspoiled by capitalism, without really questioning why its citizens have to keep 1956 DeSotos running in order to have a car, and couldn’t afford a McDonald’s even if one magically sprang up.
That’s why this video is so magic. It may have been kicked around social media for quite some time now, but it’s the perfect rebuttal to the Oberlin graduate in the family who has the tendency to blurt out inanities like, “You say socialism like it’s a bad thing.”
The video is from 2012 and involves a millennial protester supporting a write-in campaign for a socialist candidate.
“So you want to change our system to a socialist system?” the man behind the camera, who seems to have a thick Eastern European accent, asks her.
“Yes,” she says, smiling.
“And you think you’re going to change for the better?” the narrator said, again getting an affirmative response.
The protester says that “capitalism is a root cause of sexism, homophobia, racism, classism.”
When the cameraman brings up Che Guevara, the protester deflects, saying that “there are things that have happened in the past in the name of socialism that haven’t been good.”
“So Che Guevara was not a socialist?” the cameraman presses. “He was homophobic, he was a … racist.”
The protester keeps on saying that this is all in the past — refusing, one notes, to mention how socialism has changed in the interim or why so many of her ilk seem intent on putting Che Guevara patches on their backpacks. That’s when the videographer drops the fact that he originally hails from Russia.
“So that’s when I see ‘vote socialist’ kind of stuff, I’m honestly shocked,” he says. “Because that’s the system I escaped from. We all know how it ends up. If you say there were some aberrations in the past, how is it going to be different now?”
The protester has that look on her face as if her cerebellum were a Commodore 64 and our Russian friend had just tried to load Photoshop onto it. Eventually, it spat out an error message: “Russia lacked international support.”
Apparently, this young woman hasn’t heard of the Eastern Bloc, or North Korea, or Vietnam or the Central and South American countries that gravitated toward the Soviet Union, or the fact that even “free” countries like Finland and India had friendly relations with Moscow well before glasnost made the socialist state marginally more palatable.
There is plenty of gold in here that I didn’t elaborate on, but the point is that while modern proponents of socialism say that things have changed since the Soviet Union days, most of them can’t point to any particular way that it’s actually refashioned itself. Once you point that out, the next argument is always that socialism hasn’t really been tried, as if only an imposter version of the political theory has ever been implemented.
That’s not what supporters say when the system is first put into place, of cours. When the USSR was a relatively new entity, American journalist Lincoln Steffens famously remarked about the Soviet Union that “I have seen the future, and it works.” Now it’s not really socialism, and it was an isolated instance anyway.
If that’s too ancient for you, let’s consider the late Hugo Chavez’s petro-utopia. Back when Venezuela was keeping the unsustainable Chavismo system of socialist redistribution alive with a surfeit of oil money, socialists and fellow travelers like Sean Penn and Michael Moore touted it as proof that they had seen the future (again), and this time it would really work.
Now that Nicolás Maduro and his socialist cronies have predictably carved out a brand new circle of hell for their country’s wretched inhabitants, it’s yet again not actually socialism: “(R)evolutionary socialists view what’s happening in Venezuela not as a result of socialism failing, but as a consequence of the fact that it was never implemented,” the Socialist Worker claims. (Emphasis theirs.)
Learning from historical failures doesn’t seem to be a millennial thing — which oughtn’t be a surprise, considering that learning doesn’t seem to be a millennial thing, either. Viral videos are, however, and although this one may be six years old, it’s still a classic. So, if you ever need to explain to a millennial how, no, socialism wouldn’t “work if it were like, actually tried,” this could be the best place to start.
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