So my oldest boys had a sit down dinner with us recently. With their college and work schedules, that doesn't happen much. Our third is also getting busier, being active in the Police Explorers program and working, while also searching for a job more akin to a career in law enforcement.
Nonetheless, we're still homeschooling our youngest and use such times to educate through conversation. Being in fourth grade, we felt it was time for him to learn some things about the different macro-issues and terminology he might hear about on the news, such as what people mean when they say things like Free Market, or Socialism, or Communism, Fascism, Capitalism, Totalitarianism and so forth.
While doing that dinner time lesson, one of my boys brought up an interesting observation. It's likely not original, but it made me think. When talking about Socialism, it was mentioned that proponents of a new, Democratic Socialism often object to being linked to old forms of Socialism that led to things like Communism, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. That was National Socialism, they insist, not to be confused with the brand being peddled today.
My son pointed out that it's really not accurate to call it Democratic either. It sounds more like 'Individualist Socialism' (not to be confused with Libertarian Socialism) than anything Democratic. He meant that in a way similar to how Socialism of the 19th and 20th centuries hitched up with the wave of Nationalist fervor of those times, so this Socialism seems to have glommed onto the radical Me Generation/Millennial individualism of today.
Whereas the old socialists linked to nationalism, patriotism, love of country, devotion to the Fatherland, all for Mother Russia, and similar sentiments, today it seems to be about promising the world to Me. I get everything free. I get sex, money, smartphones, legal drugs; I get free college, housing, healthcare; I get to have more opportunities to eliminate people who are inconvenient through such things as euthanasia, assisted suicide and abortion/infanticide; and if I want to be Napoleon, no more trips to the funny farm, they'll just see to it that the definition of Napoleon is changed.
Is this done for a greater social or national ideal? Is it for the Fatherland? Is it for our good old Uncle Sam? No, it's for me. Me alone. And if others fall through the cracks or have to be hurt because they're challenging my right to have whatever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want, free of charge? Well, that's were getting rid of pesky things like due process is concerned. And those who are hurt or fall through the cracks? Screw'em.
I've said how, when I first went to Patheos, I blogged that many Americans were still being left behind Obama's great economic recovery. I said there were plenty out there hurting, and being lost in the dust. The overwhelming response from the majority progressive/millennial readers? Screw'em, I'm fine. I'm making money. I'm doing just swell. What do I care? And when I tried to point out that my parents' generation in the 70s, even if they personally were doing well, still had a link to other Americans and didn't like the fact that others, and the country, were still struggling? The Patheos reader response: Screw the past. Who cares?
That's the modern attitude, and it's not confined to economics or Patheos. Terrorism, falling behind in the rush to globalization, eradicating due process and presumption of innocence, suppressing free speech, AIDS and overdosing through sex and drugs - are all of it is based on the idea that as long as it happens to others, it's the sacrifice I'm willing to make. Because Me. Martyrdom by proxy and all. It's why Europeans just shrug their shoulders when the prospect of their civilization's inevitable death is brought up, but the first mention of austerity measures causes them to go batshit and riot and destroy and attack and burn.
And that's the mentality, the generational distinctive, that this new incarnation of Socialism is trying to appeal to. Don't worry about your neighbor (heck, fear and despise your neighbor, depending on his gender, religion, national origin, skin color or politics). Whatever happens, happens. Omelets and broken eggs after all. But you'll be fine, awesome and always have enough for the next smartphone. After all, we gave you trophies when you lost and let you take tests over and over until you passed.
Socialist Individualism maybe? Me Socialism? Selfish Socialism? Whatever we call it, no more National, and certainly not sounding overly Democratic. A new Socialism to appeal to the radical self-serving individualism sweeping our country, and the West, today.
Hmmmm. I'll think on that. As I've said many times, I'm no economist or economic theorist, but I believe he might be onto something. He is coming from the vantage point of his own Facebook and post-Millennial generations after all. Again, I'm sure he didn't come up with that out of the blue. But it seems credible to me, especially given what we've seen here and across the ocean in Europe. It also seems, just based on what we're witnessing, every bit as deadly as the National brand of Socialism from all those years ago.