21 July 2009

A New Generation

Those of us born in the 1980's and later never lived under the cold war proper, sure I remember a bit of the Regan and Thatcher shit and the decline but I never remember it being a serious topic in the household, or feeling any kind of threat from the soviets.
I believe that this generational difference in terms of propaganda exposure will become important. For the young supporters of president Obama the response to calling the president's programs socialism is not always "no they are not" but more along the lines of "so what if they are?".
Obviously someone from my position on the political spectrum thinks that any bourgeois government cannot by definition be socialist, but point aside, Our generation will relegate iron curtain politics to be nothing more than a historical curiosity. Sure the capitalist propaganda is just is strong now as it was during the cold war, but the old linguistic fight over words such as "socialism" just does not hold the same terror for us in the younger generation.
This brings me to my most important point of this post. As this younger generation experiences their first economic crisis as adults (I was born in 81 and don't remember having very many peers effected in the dot com recession of 01 as we still were in school.), now is the time for us to be doing everything possible to explain....Socialism, Communism, these are NOT historical curiosities, these are NOT things that were in place in the former Soviet Union, These are NOT things that were tried and failed. Now is the time when this generation will be most open to hearing that the system the live in may need to be removed. No one likes change when they are comfortable, but when a person is feeling bad about them self for being unemployed, a wonderful time to explain that it is not only their fault, the system is partially to blame.
What we need is for this younger generation to see socialism and communism as possible (if partial) solutions to some of the types of hurt and suffering around us, as alternatives to the system that has left some of us unemployed and wasting our lives, while some of our childhood friends become unbelievably, and decadantly and wastefully rich. (no blame on them of course....or is it time to start)


Daniel MacDonald said...

I had a few interesting conversations with my sister when I was home. She just finished up her sophomore year of high school which, for her social studies curriculum, meant the end of 2 years of comprehensive global history: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and everything that comes with it. One day she mentioned she read Ayn Rand's Anthem in her English class and I told her the whole story of Rand's connection to the soviet system and what Rand was reacting to. My sister knew about that for the most part, and instead of attacking the soviet "communists" as a system which failed miserably, she made the argument concerning the differences in Marx and the policies of the Soviet Union. Of course, she could be simply regurgitating something her leftist history teacher ranted on for half the semester, but my sister's not like that and I didn't really get that impression. She was able to see the history of the Soviet Union in more of an objective perspective, and I think it's a sign of something much more broad within this generation, as you argue. (I of course was quick to mention as well that just as you have people who took Marx in directions Marxists wouldn't agree with, so did you have people who took Rand in directions she wouldn't necessarily agree with.)

You know, our generation is unique in a lot of ways. But I think a key theme of the story is how fast technology has changed and how important computers have become -- not only in terms of production, distribution etc. (all that boring economics jargon), but also in terms of social networking and culture more generally. I think it fundamentally alters this generation's view of society and in the end it will ultimately come down to whether that is for better or worse. That's a response I'm not willing to put a lot of faith in either way, but I lean towards "better" probably because I'm just an optimistic person. Or maybe Obamamania has reached me. "yes we can!"

Z~ said...

The impact of new tech on the future social movements or revolution is really huge, and as a result the conflict and struggle could be more intense than ever before.
Really happy to read dialogues between Daniel and his sister~