Thursday, 16 September 2010

Why are young people left-wing?

I am what would be considered a young person and I am a right-wing conservative (not a Tory though). Without getting into a soul searching debate of what actually defines 'wings', lets just say that I am one of the few, if my position in society at large were to be examined. My fellow peers at university are mostly ultra-liberal and even more so left-wing bordering on socialist. Political affiliation is a difficult subject mostly because the people subject to evaluation simply do not know what they are, because few know what they believe in. They have a few hunches as to what an appropriate knee-jerk response would be to some random statement, intended to produce such a reaction but that is about it. When pressed they get annoyed and want to end the discussion. I do not want to end the discussion, I want to know why most people start of their lives as left-wing liberals but later on change to something else and not necessarily conservatism or similar 'isms'.

I have a lot of friends in Sweden, and Sweden is about to have an election. Regular readers will know that I wrote a long prodding essay about Facebook here, sadly Facebook will feature again in this little attempt to come to closure. Facebook is where the action is, so too with politics. I am very saddened to see that so many of my friends, of similar age to myself, are so fantastically left-wing. They post little messages on their personal "comment" about their thoughts on the election and they join various groups who advocate socialism. Much to my dismay for they are comprehensively and collectively, wholly ignorant of the dangers of what they are advocating. I can say this not because I am a righteous plonk who thinks he knows what is best for everyone else, no, because I am a political nerd, and I would like to think that my thoughts and comments are a bit more informed than those of the average Joe.

I have been fortunate enough to have known some of these people since I could barely walk. They are truly wonderful people, but sitting where I am, they are also complete fucking nut-jobs who are indulging in the most disgusting form of cultural relativism. What is more they seem to have no recollection of history, which is made even worse since I know they have had history classes; I took the same classes. When they say socialism, they dream up some eutopia-like scenario and post a nice little red star to accompany their political creed, leaving me dumbstruck again. They know nothing of the gulags, perestroika or glasnost or of serfs and Molotov. What is 1905 and 17 to them more than some random years? Do they know that Soviet socialism (which is nice way of saying 'communism') killed in excess of 20 million people. Who is Solyetzin, what did he do, 'sounds lika soya to me'. Do they know that socialism/communism has failed everywhere it was tried? Sweden was not built upon socialism, but it just so happens to be one of the frontrunners of the modern welfare state. Welfare per se, is not socialism - I think. That might just be my deluded way of putting together a cognitive argument. Put it like this instead: I believe that if you are fortunate enough to have had the possibilities to advance to such a point that you are self-reliant, then a small small percentage of your income should be given to your fellow man so that he too, hopefully, can do the same. Our birth place is, to the best of our knowledge, random and for all I know I could have been sitting in Katmandu right now, mending carpets, not having a thought in the world for the modern welfare state. Based on that alone, it suffices to say that we should all be compassionate but not excessively so [I think]. However...

The dangers of the welfare state are 1) it often is unjust in taking lawful property from individuals through excessive taxation, 2) it substitutes the collective judgment of the government for the freedom and judgment of the individual 3) it discourages initiative and entrepreneurship by individuals, and 4) it leads to excessive government power and hence corruption. The danger of these tendencies of the welfare state were well summarized by Lionel Trilling, a respected man of the contemporary liberal left as quoted by Gertrude Himmelfarb in her book 'Poverty and Compassion' “Some paradox of our natures leads us, when once we have made our fellow men the objects of our enlightened interest, to go on to make them the object of our pity, then of our wisdom, ultimately of our coercion. It is to prevent this corruption, the most ironic and tragic that man knows, that we stand in need of the moral realism which is the product of the moral imagination”. As political economist F. A. Hayek has stated; “The guiding principle that a policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy remains as true today as it was in the nineteenth century”.

So why are young people left-wing? I think (a lot of 'I think' tonight simply because there is very little written on this subject, at least very little that is available to me) a lot of it is derived from some spurious belief that because you are young you want to break from the past, you want the new world, automatically assuming that the old world is a bad world. Since you yourself are 'new' your ideals have not been tainted by reality and pragmatism (you remember, I am sure, all the bollocks you got at school "anyone can do anything" and we all thought 'great, fantastic, I can be a rocket scientist' even though we knew deep down that there was probably only one or two kids in the room who had those kind of brains) and you express yourself in the way of a revolutionary who has the most commendable of values, not to mention altruistic of values, but has little in the way of prospects. Because you are new (simple terminology but lets not get bogged down in semantics) you reject all opposing views as being irrelevant and erroneous, because they are made on the premise of an old society. Yours is the right belief, the righteous belief, yours must be correct because others are wrong, since their ideals and morals have been debased and contaminated by the old world. Hence by proxy, and proxy alone, your altruistic and utopian idea must be morally superior to those of the elders. And since you have the moral imperative only you, and you alone, have the right to change the world.

Socialism is meretricious.


Anonymous said...

Another good post, 13th spitfire, and that is from a working class carpenter from England with no university education.

I think that the present generation of young people have not experienced a great deal of hardship and have a very rosy view of life. Couple this with ideological beliefs in socialism, national or international, and their vulnerability to the propaganda of those with vested interests - well we have a heady cocktail.

In Britain today we have huge divisions opening up – social, racial, and economical. The one I have noticed to be most prominent is that between a growing population of students and the ordinary working class concerning immigration and mass numbers of migrant workers.

We can not understand why our industries, local councils, and government have turned their backs on huge numbers of young people left to rot on our housing estates.
Universities are a great experience for those who are capable and able to take advantage of them, but nobody seems to care for the other 50% who should also have a chance to make a life for themselves.

Nationalists such as the BNP are becoming more relevant to the ordinary working class person, the students are becoming more attracted to the anti-fascist movement, and the divide is getting wider.

13th Spitfire said...

Dear Anonymous thank you for your comment. I know exactly what you, it is becoming very popular to join groups like UAF even though they are turning out to be more fascist than the group they attempt to suppress. And that is the rut of it, is it not?

They assume responsibility for what we should and should not hear, they decide what is appropriate for our ears, they are the ultimate invigilators of right and wrong; good and evil. If it does not fit their outlook such as those of the BNP (it does not fit mine either but I am prepared to give them the democratic benefit of the doubt and at least listen to what they have to say and the ridicule them) they silence them. We are not mature enough to make decisions about our own life, UAF acts as if they must make them for us by silencing groups which oppose their agenda.

With regards to universities though, they should not be dumping grounds for the youth which they have become. Only a few years ago only the best 5-10% could go to university because it was difficult. Now they have devalued the whole premise of higher education and employers do not have a clue as to who is bright or brilliant. All because the government does not have the guts to tell its people 'you are dumb, you are average and you are bright, but do not worry we have something for all you'

They must get back to having training and education which is suited to the individual. There is no way in hell 50% of youth today is equipped to study proper university education because it is bloody hard. I happen to study at a proper university and our annual drop-out rate is 10-15 people out of an initial cohort of 80. Another department had to fail 50% of their final years because they were not good enough to pass. This is real higher education, it is brutal yes, but it does mean something. I am not saying that we should deny it to people only to make it worthwhile again.

Anonymous said...
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Just Woke Up said...

Hi Spitfire. I grew up in the Socialist Republic of Central Scotland. After many decades of unchallenged socialism in that part of the world I failed to note any of the Red Utopia that my counterparts seemed to aspire to.

In fact I noted (before I managed to carry out my cunning escape plan) that in fact poverty, dependence on benefits, ill-health, addiction, excessive alcohol consumption, and violence were the main result of living in their self-proclaimed Utopia.
Maybe its just that we all aspire to a different form of Utopia? Who knows. I am as stupid as the next man - perhaps just slightly more able to manage my inherent stupidity than these spitting socialists?

Good essay mate.

Final thought. Re the BNP, we need MPs who are British, put Britain first, and who will be loud and proud in Parliament. I don't care what their politics are as long as they are troublemakers and test 'the establishment'. This is sorely needed to counter the CP drones that dominate the show. Their anti-EU stance and reform of the banking sector gets my vote.

Anonymous said...

Compelling and logical arguments. If more conservatives expressed their views so eloquently, I might be more inclined to listen to them. Unfortunately, that is is not usually the case, especially here in Australia at the moment where our bumbling Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, is giving the right wing a bad name with his frequent slip-ups.

This is coming from an ultra-left wing young person. Hi there. Sorry to hear you dislike us. We may be naive, but saving the world requires a healthy dose of idealism and faith in humanity.

Appreciate the article. It's nice to see that I can still sympathise with some aspects of right-wing ideology.