Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
mmirate 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite

The article is laughably biased in both its reporting and its language, it's almsot funny how they don't try to hide it:

> According to a survey conducted late last year by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

> But it is far from clear that classroom _indoctrination_ is driving students to the far left

> students’ upbringings are a large part of today’s _problems_ on campus

Most clearly visible in the following excerpt:

> Naturally, when they arrive on campus as 18-year olds, they look to professors and administrators to take over the parental role of protecting them from life’s challenges. Thus, so-called “helicopter parenting” yields “snowflake” students unable to tolerate uncomfortable opinions.

> In response to perceived slights, however artificial or exaggerated they may be, activists demand and often receive compensation

> This is an encouraging conclusion as it suggests that students who are more serious about their academic work are more likely to think for themselves [leftist = unable to think for themselves?] and less likely to be drawn into disruptive political activities

> If moderate and liberal professors want to take back the campus from illiberal activists who reject open debate and a marketplace of ideas, then a good place to start would be to re-emphasize academics as the raison d’etre of university life

Isn't this interesting because it puts a new perspective on the debate? I thought the conservative angle was proffesors and universities corrupting our youth, and this contradicts that... it's always interesting to see evidence of contrast and complexity in political views.

This isn't complexity. There's a perfectly straightforward explanation, which is that lots of educated people accept leftism on the merits, and what we're seeing is grasping-at-straws attempts at explaining this politically-incorrect explanation away. Since the "liberal professors" story isn't working out, they need to make up a new one.

Explaining the common cold as the work of Asmodeus instead of the work of Belial isn't a new perspective on the debate.

This is a non-reputable, rail-thin analysis by a Koch-funded right-wing think tank (the Manhattan Institute) citing another Koch-funded right-wing think tank (the Heritage Foundation) for supporting data. It is peppered with weasel words ("Some observers blame leftist professors...") and worn-out ideological canards ("helicopter parents," "snowflakes", "illiberal activists who reject open debate and a marketplace of ideas").

I'm seeing a lot of comments pointing out that the thesis of this argument rests on a confusing conflation between "socialism" and "Scandinavian-style social democratic policies." I actually think the article gets this right. American news media and mainstream politicians have spent the entire lifespan of most millennials arguing that the US can't have basic first-world social programs because those programs are "socialist." Whatever one thinks of socialism proper, this is a deliberate rhetorical confusion meant to draw an equivocation between modern European social democratic states, South American socialist states, and communist states like the DPRK. The article reproduces this rhetorical device, then asks why "today's kids love" policies in the massive ideological grab-bag now encompassed by that term. No wonder!

Questions like these ("would you prefer to live under a socialist system") always come down to semantics. It should be noted that Social democrats often identify as "socialist". So while a third of Swedish voters are social democrats, and all of them would agree that regardless of who runs the government, the state apparatus is more or less "social democratic". Not all of these people would identify as "socialist" just because they are social democrats, but many would.

Meanwhile in the US, very few would equate social democracy in a capitalist society as "socialist", because you were raised to believe that "socialism" is the opposite of "capitalism". Which it is. In a way. But it's complicated.

So a better question would be:

- Would you like to live in a capitalist society with significantly more socialism?

- Would you prefer to live in a completely non-capitalist society, i.e. without a free market?

- Do you know the difference between democratic socialism and social democracy? Which do you prefer?

So: to a lot of people, "socialism" means there is no market economy/capitalism. To a lot of other people, socialism is also the social democratic ideals of redistribution, equality and strong workers' rights.

Kids today love socialism not because of their radical professors, but because of their radical politicians - namely, those devoting their political careers to destroying what little safety net remains.

It's a generation that has watched health care become utterly unaffordable, that no longer have any hope of the lifelong job security their grandparents often enjoyed, who are taking on a lifetime of debt in terms of student loans so they can ever hope to make much more than minimum wage, who despair of ever owning a home, who have watched more than 100% of all economic growth for their entire lives go to a handful of extremely wealthy people at the top of the chain.

Capitalism has nothing to offer them but chains at this point. The market has failed in one of its most fundamental tasks - getting people to have faith in the market. If an entire generation starts thinking that there's nothing in it for them... sooner or later, they'll fight back.

My biggest fear is that the fight could be a lot messier than mere single payer health care and free college.

> Kids today love socialism not because of their radical professors, but because of their radical politicians - namely, those devoting their political careers to destroying what little safety net remains.

That's true, both in part for the reason you describe and also in part because those same politicians have driven a linguistic drift where what would previously be described as “preserving the modern mixed economy against a regress to 19th Century capitalism” is now often , in American political vernacular, “socialism”.

While, sure, that scares some people into conformance with the right-wing program, it also reduces the cognitive distance between preserving the status quo, social democracy, democratic socialism, and even harder-left forms of socialism. When everything they isn't right-wing extremism is “socialism”, the term becomes less scary.

> According to a survey conducted late last year by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

which is a state-run propaganda institution: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victims_of_Communism_Memorial_...

It must be very hard for Americans to navigate the world having only allotted one braincell for both the concept of socialism and of social democracy.

"Social democracy" doesn't mean anything though. The most precise definition I can guess at is something like, ordinary capitalism with a more generous welfare programme than America.

Socialism has a fairly clear definition though. It's only tangentially related to social safety nets and other related things. Socialist countries often have huge wealth disparities and being poor in them is much worse than being poor in America.

Dude, they do tend to be a bit overly simplistic about it, but don't need to insult them for it. Just point out and move on. (P.S: I am not even american)

Americans have the weirdest ideas about Socialism. It is possible to have a state run healthcare system or nationalize the railways without devolving into Venezuela.

It's also possible to have a largely socialist government and still have private healthcare providers and privatized railways. It's almost like these aren't simple black or white issues.

Exactly. Venezuela is more of an object lesson about the resource curse and currency pegs than it is socialism.

As the guy above pointed out though, this is article is propaganda. It's not designed to make you think.

> A third of Americans and as many as 44% of Millennials would prefer to live under a socialist system than a capitalist one.

What a weird phrasing. In the real world capitalism and socialist policies are not mutually exclusive. The report also states that despite Millennials’ enthusiasm for socialism, they often confuse the definitions of communism and socialism. https://web.archive.org/web/20171220105444/https://victimsof...

”/../socialism has proved a catastrophic failure in its remaining strongholds in Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba.”.

Holy Smokes that seems a bit rough on socialism. Just because some countries are extremes does not mean the whole of socialism is bad. Take a look on successfull countries as France, Sweden, Germany, Danmark, Norway, Finland, etc, that all have some sort of socialistic goverance.

The pitfight between capitalism and socialism is a bad way to win any argument. It is not all black and white and saying otherwise is not helping further the discussion.

Exactly. If you define socialism as totalitarian anticapitalism which effectively can't succeed and only can sustain itself by force and corruption, then one has answered the question already. Since socialism is defined by these bad things, it's bad.

If you have a broader definition of socialism which includes all democratic branches of Marxism such as social democracy and others, it's obvious in the other direction - socialism is not evil by definition (quite the opposite - people seem very happy in those countries).

So regardless of which definition you use, there is no debate. It's either definitely evil or definitely not evil.

There is a third layer to this, and that is the more philosophical questions of the first case: "is socialism in some way inherently 'evil'", or "could there be a successful soviet style socialist society" etc. While those arguments are perhaps interesting, they are usually not worth having. It suffices to say that corruption and totalitarianism is bad/evil. Those who practice it tend to do it under whatever flag is easiest.

Germany has socialistic governance? How so? Germany is famous for holding down wages for years in order to maintain highly competitive export industries. They very much compete on price in the world market and their history is one in which West Germany (capitalism) won out over East Germany (socialism).

How do you figure that the statement in the article is contradicted by Germany? It's quite clear what they mean by socialism - a society explicitly guided by Marxist thought. Germany is the opposite. It's explicitly guided away from Marxist thought.

This is more than a little puzzling at a time when socialism has proved a catastrophic failure in its remaining strongholds in Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba.

Except the socialist practices that young people are in favor for are mostly the hybrid modern ones European countries have, not the ones North Korea has, so this article just completely pretends to miss the point.

Conflating "socialism" and with communism (specifically, Leninism/Stalinism and its children and grandchildren) is common as dirt. As soon as I see someone who can't make a distinction between "We should make sure people have health care" and "We should send a few million of our political enemies to break rocks until they die of exposure in Siberia", I assume they're simply too stupid to hold a reasonable conversation.

It's all just degrees of suffering.

European socialism is "not so bad" compared to North Korea, until you learn that Europeans on the whole are also significantly poorer than those in the US.

> European socialism is "not so bad" compared to North Korea, until you learn that Europeans on the whole are also significantly poorer than those in the US.

Yes, if you define "poor" in terms of net income. I could at least double my salary by moving from Paris to California, yet my standards of living would plunge... I love paying taxes - and every trip to a low-tax country reminds me of that !

Degrees of suffering! How many people in Norway died from not being able to afford a trip to the hospital? How many medical bankruptcies have there been on that entire continent? Any at all?

As one of the people pushing up the average in the US (thanks to having a tech industry job in a big city), I would be quite happy to be significantly poorer if the poor of the US got significantly richer: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/15/extreme-povert...

And as we all know, median income is a good measuring tool for the total health of a society.

Quality of life is more important than raw cash.

There are conservative and liberal professors, 'radical' professors are far and few between nowadays. As far as why the kids are socialists, it has less to do with their Boomer/gen x parents' raising, and more with watching them get laid off, refinance their houses so that they could defer payments and ultimately end up paying the high mortgage interest later over the course of their entire life--and then finding out that the bailouts given to the banks are what allowed the refinancing. and considering that that same money could have been applied as true mortgage payments instead, with the same economic stimulus effect, without rewarding the banks' behavior.

Our capitalist system already uses socialist instruments to affect the economy and to sustain itself. That the kids are fleshing this out online and discussing how it could be better served to the general populace as opposed to industry leaders should surprise no one.

They want Scandinavian socialism. But not sure how many want the higher taxes and lowered import tariffs. Most taxes in Denmark are at the local level. National income tax is less than 5 percent. Most people would be slightly amenable to higher taxes if they could be assured that it would be spent locally. I.e no major redistribution country wide. With high VAT, a highly regressive type tax, the middle class bears the tax burden. The rich live in Switzerland anyway

This is like explaining global warming to a climate change denier.

The arguments for capitalism are not sexy, but the ramifications of socialism are profoundly harmful.

Wait, which side is the climate change denier?

Because when you say things like "the ramifications of socialism are profoundly harmful", without any examples or supporting arguments - and ignoring the fact that every stable industrial nation government is to some degree socialist - well.

The ramifications for a purely capitalistic country would be very harmful as well. Would you prefer all military, police, fire, etc be privatized? Do you think that would have an effect on your life? You realize we are not purely capitalistic. And the majority of people in this country fighting for "socialism" are not fighting for pure socialism.

I find the best way to explain it is to apply the concepts to something other than classical wealth. Do it to something like relationships, and people insist that for anything that isn't classical wealth the market should be strongly libertarian (often accompanied by a suggestion that no such market even exists).

[citation needed]

I see plenty of anti-capitalism in today's youth, but I'm not sure that equates to socialism.

> This is more than a little puzzling at a time when socialism has proved a catastrophic failure in its remaining strongholds in Venezuela, North Korea and Cuba.

If the author is truly more than a little puzzled why today's youth would like more fairness in the world and less inequality, I don't know what to say.

No student is thinking, 'we should be more like North Korea'. However, all youth are thinking 'wow you old people are fucking brutal and want to kill a lot of kids by removing our healthcare and stealing from the poor, stop it' when they look at the practices of the extraordinarily wealthy US politicians and corporate owners.

> No student is thinking, 'we should be more like North Korea'.

I'll be honest, I've been starting to doubt that North Korea is actually as terrible as our leaders want us to believe it is. I still don't think we should be more like North Korea because I don't expect it's good, but I do think we should be less like the Soviet Union, telling our people that our ideological opponents are completely awful places to live as a way of propping up our own socio-economic system's failings.

This will probably get downvoted, but in case anybody is interested here is more information on the source for this article:


It ought to give you an idea about why they're pushing some of these ideas.

Veritas Omnia Vincit

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact