This is so true across campuses. As students most get attracted to the ideals of socialism and breathe by it. However, post college and getting into a job/business, we move towards capitalism and breathe by it. Though few friends say they have moved from Capitalism to Socialism seeing the ruthless corporate world.
BK Marcus reflects on this phenomenon of students giving capitalism an F:
Not only are young voters more likely to support Democrats than Republicans, they are also more likely to support the most left-wing Democrats. In recent polls of voters under 30, self-declared democratic socialist Bernie Sanders beats the more mainstream Hillary Clinton by almost six-to-one.
Former professor Mark Pastin, writing in the Weekly Standard, acknowledges some of Clinton’s flaws as a candidate, but concludes that “the most compelling explanation” for young Democrats’ overwhelming preference for Sanders “is that young voters actually like the idea of a socialist revolution.”
I’m embarrassed to confess that when I was a young voter, I probably would have been among the “Sandernistas.”
I don’t think Pastin is right about the revolution, though. Much of Sanders’s success in defanging the word socialism is in pairing it with an emphasis on democracy, as George Bernard Shaw and the Fabians did in an earlier era. Democratic socialists — at least among my comrades — preferred the idea of evolutionary socialism, and we tried hard to distance ourselves from the revolutionary folks.
Whether by evolution or revolution, however, what we all sought was less competition and more cooperation, less commerce and more compassion. Above all, we wanted greater equality.
“When I asked my students what they thought socialism meant,” Pastin writes, “they would generally recite some version of the Marxist chestnut ‘from each according to ability and to each according to need.'” That sounds about right, but add to that the assumption that it’s government’s job to effect the transfer.
He recalls his student days:
Trying to recall the details of my own callow political folly, I seem to recall three main issues behind my anti-capitalistic mentality:
- “Capitalism” was just the word we all used for whatever we didn’t like about the status quo, especially whatever struck us as promoting inequality. I had friends propose to me that we should consider the C-word a catchall for racism, patriarchy, and crony corporatism. If that’s what capitalism means, how could anyone be for it?
- Even when we left race and sex out of the equation, our understanding of commerce was zero-sum: the 1 percent grew rich by exploiting the 99 percent.
- For whatever reason, none of us imagined we’d ever be business people, except on the smallest possible scale: at farmer’s markets, as street vendors, in small shops. Those things weren’t capitalism. Capitalism was big business: McDonald’s, IBM, the military-industrial complex.
There is little doubt that capitalism is associated with all evils of the world as socialism once was.In latter, we saw the politicians amassing huge wealth in the name of socialism and in former, it is the big corporates and finance guys who have done the same. In socialism the idea was govt would redistribute which failed. In capitalism it was market forces which were supposed to do the same but have been found equally wanting.
The Professor in the article runs an experiment on students to show the ills of S word:
As an informal test of his students’ egalitarian beliefs, Pastin “would offer to run the class along socialist principles, such as the mandate to take from the able and give to the needy.” Specifically, he proposed subtracting points from the A students and transferring them to those who would otherwise earn lower grades.
Even the most ardent socialist students balked at this arrangement. In fact, according to Pastin, the highest-performing students were both more likely to be self-declared socialists and more likely to meet his proposal with outrage: grading, they argued, should be a matter of merit.
Well this is just the half baked story. Let’s say the class follows capitalism which selects on merit. But selection of merit could be tweaked so that it is not necessary that most deserving one wins and is left out of the race. This is what has been happening in world of capitalism for centuries now. The rich and powerful win the race each time. These are things which irk people especially the younger lot who have not been exposed to the real world.
Finally Marcus says, market forces are more revolutionary:
In contrast, an unhampered marketplace makes everyone better off, however unequally.
More significantly, in a free economy, there is no one person in the role of the grade-giving professor. In the absence of coercion, power has a hard time remaining that centralized. Yes, wealth can be seen as a kind of grade, but in the free market, an entrepreneur’s profits and losses are like millions of cumulative grades from the consumers. A+ for improving our lives. F for wasting time and resources.
That kind of spontaneous, decentralized, self-regulating prosperity is every bit as radical as the visions of young socialists, minus the impoverishing effects of coerced redistribution. It’s almost certainly not what they imagine when they say they oppose “capitalism.”
An ideal world. But practically hasn’t worked..