Springtime for socialism

BY:Ben Bath| May 16, 2019


The primary race of 2016 represented a kind of culmination of an epochal, generational shift in the United States regarding socialism.  Socialism became the most Googled word of 2016. The statistics on the popularity of socialism among millennials, that quixotic often dismissive term used to describe anyone under 30, according to every poll is roughly 50%.


What is going on?

That millennial generation, who grew up after the fall of the Soviet Union into a country and world that, having vanquished socialism no longer needed veneer of Social Democracy to mask the horrors of capitalism, were plunged into a hideous New World Order of unbridled imperialism, war, destruction of the working class, and ecological catastrophe.


We have literally known no other world.  Some of us, fortunate enough to have had some connection to what came before, have caught glimpses of the past, social struggles to inspire us, but our real life experiences are a kind of nightmare.


Consider the collapse in the 80s and 90s brought on by deindustrialization and globalization in the former industrial belts of the mid-west.  Booming steel towns turned into third world no go zones, where drugs, suicide, and alcoholism has led to demographic collapse literally on par with the Black Death of medieval Europe.  This is no exaggeration or figure of speech.


The intentional flooding of the inner cities with crack by rouge elements in then CIA (now no longer a conspiracy theory but accepted as canonic history) from the late 70s on as a way to break up radical formations within Black and Latino communities led to what can only be described as genocidal policing and prison policies culminating in the horrendous war on drugs and the mass incarceration and criminalization of black and brown communities overseen by a Liberal Democratic presidential administration has given us the highest prison population IN THE WORLD and virtually destroyed black and brown working class communal life for a generation.


My generation was born and grew up to the revolutionary and emancipatory sounds of rap on the one hand, and the reactionary realities of angry white nationalist culture, violence and nihilism on the other.


Foreign policy continued as an unabated nightmare of US backed imperialism without the Soviet Union to counter it.  Yugoslavia, endless meddling in central and south America, Africa, etc.


Then came the coup in the year 2000.  The full cost of the Bush administration and the dark reactionary fascistic War on Terror has not yet been counted.  The Bush administration gave us 17 years of war and the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression.  The permanent restructuring of our country into a security state system has not yet been and can probably never be fully undone.


Our generational hope was invested in Barack Obama, for many of us, our first vote.  The left made a wager that his community organizing years were genuine as was his opposition to the Iraq War and the left lost big.


Obama not only undid none of the unconstitutional policies of the War on Terror, but increased them.  Obama personally ordered more drone killings and assassinations than any other president in history.  With Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy taking the lead, America’s imperialist thirst remained unquenched, marching onwards to sow more terror and death in the middle east and North Africa: Libya, Syria, Yemen.  Guantanamo was not closed and Afghanistan raged on and on.


The Bank and Auto industry bailouts, what’s there to say?  Flint Michigan was and is still being literally poisoned to death and Obama went there to say the water was clean.  Bob Dole’s old plan for health insurance was passed with massive opposition and some of the few progressive social policies Obama was able to get thru provoked a massive racist backlash, unable to be countered by the left who has by this time sold out to a neo-liberal economic compromise.


So here we are, my generation which is saddled with literally a trillion dollars in student loan debt, was lived thru 20 years of continuous war, and we backed an out and proud 71 year old Socialist and build the biggest socialist organization since the height of the CP in the 30s, the new and revamped DSA.


The popularity of socialism is increasing with each passing success.  The rot has run deep and the millennial generation isn’t having any of it and isn’t going to settle for this shit anymore.


It is a reality for of the millennial left that there are fascists in the streets that we have to fight and confront physically.  It is a reality for the millennial left that white racist cops are murdering more people of color PER YEAR than were ever killed during the height of southern lynching.  It is a reality that defacto segregation, impoverishment, and redlining of the African American community is actually worse than it was 40 years ago.


Th the Unions have forgotten how to fight, have forgotten how to strike, and why the NLRB regulations are there to be violated, not kowtowed to, Unionism is more popular than ever.  We should here also take a seriously hard and long look at the mainstream Union movement but this is also a subject for another report.  Suffice it to say the wave of teacher’s strikes are a shinning example of what is possible with the millennial labor left.


We should not underestimate the very real rebirth of the Fascist movement in the United States.  Groups like Identity Europa and Proud Boys actively seek out and attack and have attacked friends and comrades of mine.  They target all organizations on the left and of course people of color, and queer comrades for assault.  Anti-fascist activism that takes physical form is a mass movement on the left.  Almost all activists I am aware of take some part in this.


And finally, there’s the very real possibility of no life on earth after this capitalist assault on the environment makes large parts of the world uninhabitable.  Socialism or Barbarism is no empty slogan.  Everyone under thirty has some sentiment of this.


But millennials shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.  We are both the most politicized generation in 100 years and also the most demobilized.  The destruction of political life as such, with the lack of requisite political skills is another gift of the Reagan era.  Millennials don’t understand organization, organizing, lines, chains of command, or how to run a campaign, but we’re learning.  Basic civics is beyond most of us, mainly because basic civics has long ago been privatized away as a reality along with privacy and other old fashion rights.


The 50,000 millennials that joined the DSA IN FIVE MONTHS don’t need to be convinced that capitalism is a THE problem, or that racism is THE problem, or that exploitation and oppression of women is THE problem.


In those areas they are better versed, intellectually that is, than you are.  But of practical experience and history, they have almost none.


[An aside here should be made at some point about neo-liberal education and how faux-radical theory is being pedaled as politics and used to neutralize actual politics in every College and University in the country, but that is a subject not for this report.]



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