Marxism is great, in a perfect world

Published on Sunday, 12 January 2014 20:51 - Written by

It seems there are some things each generation must discover for itself. Communism seems to be one of those. And as the most recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine shows, some young people are now discovering Marxism anew.

Let’s start with the obvious: Communism is a great idea. It really is. In a perfect world, every person would work according to his or her utmost ability, and every person would be satisfied with only what he or she truly needed to survive.

But it’s not a perfect world. Still, it’s hard to convince the young of that. Like those apologists for Karl Marx who dismissed the collapse of the Soviet Union and said communism simply hasn’t been implemented correctly yet, the young just know they’d get it right, despite the fact that others had failed.

That’s what Jesse Myerson truly and earnestly believes.

“Five years after Wall Street crashed, America’s banker-gamblers have only gotten richer, while huge swaths of the country are still drowning in personal debt, tens of millions of Americans remain unemployed — and the new jobs being created are largely low-wage, sub-contracted, part-time grunt work,” Myerson writes. “Millennials have been especially hard-hit by the downturn, which is probably why so many people in this generation (like myself) regard capitalism with a level of suspicion that would have been unthinkable a decade ago.”

He cites five “economic reforms” that young people should advocate: Guaranteed work for everyone; Social Security for all, “taking back” (nationalizing) the land, collectivizing production (buildings and equipment), and a “public bank” in every state.

With youthful simplicity, he lists the faults of free enterprise. He starts with how awful unemployment is.

“There are millions of people who want to work, and there’s tons of work that needs doing,” he writes. “It’s a no-brainer.”

History shows, however, that people tend to prefer picking their own jobs. No nationalized system that guarantees employment can ensure that all workers will be employed happily, skillfully, or even by choice.

Myerson says landlords are evil.

“They don’t really do anything to earn their money,” he says. “They just claim ownership of buildings and charge people who actually work for a living the majority of our incomes for the privilege of staying in boxes that these owners often didn’t build and rarely if ever improve.”

History also shows what happens when no one (or, essentially, everyone) owns the land — it’s called the “tragedy of the commons,” and it’s the precise reason Cuba and Venezuela (two tropical countries with rich, fertile soil) are rationing food in 2014.

Fellow “Millennial” Maura Pennington, responding in Forbes, points out that most young people won’t respond to Myerson’s call, simply because they know better — and want more out of life.

“People want to be free and prosperous,” she writes. “That doesn’t entail collecting a check from a pool of others’ productive efforts. Millennials would have to be fools to want their livelihoods funded and assigned by the state. We all read Lois Lowry’s ‘The Giver’ in middle school. We know how that ends.”