Millennials are lambasted on a day-to-day basis for many futile and arbitrary matters. I have seen articles blaming millennials for the state of the economy, decline in marriage rates, the rise of the Kardashians and even for the vanishing of bar soap.
But what most millennials will gladly attest to is the fact that so many members of this generation identify themselves as socialists. As a millennial, I personally am not a socialist and find the ideology reprehensible, but what is to say for the 53 percent of millennials that view that ideology favorably? A common claim for the cause of millennials support for socialism is that they were not around to experience the feelings of panic and trepidation that were associated with living through the Cold War. They were not around to witness the horrifying atrocities in which the Soviet Union and other communist countries were responsible for.
When millennials are confronted and asked why they would support such an ideology that has caused so much harm throughout the world, they deny and say that it is “not really socialism.” An example of “successful” socialism they often cite is the example of the “Scandinavian model” of socialism. What they’re referring to are the countries in Scandinavia such as Denmark and Sweden who appear to have socialist-style economies. While they do have large social welfare programs, their economies are not really socialist. In fact, Denmark is ranked higher than the United States in terms of levels of economic freedom. Socialist millenials often cannot provide a coherent definition of what socialism actually is. They recite some definition about how government should be a generous safety net and should care for its citizens, downplaying the true meaning.
The true definition of socialism is that government has total control over the business industry, not individuals. In the countries aforementioned, the governments do not have total control over the business industry. What they do have is a large safety net funded by extraordinarily high taxes. In the 1990s, these countries moved towards more free market principles as they sold off state owned industries, eased regulations, promoted free trade and invited competition into the market. Now these countries are said to have more economic freedoms than the United States.
This argument that socialism works in Europe has been debunked on multiple occasions, but socialists will never stop preaching falsehoods in their condescending fashions. The only argument that could benefit from this example is that moving towards more free market reforms improves economies, not socialism. If socialists want to look at an example of “true socialism” in the modern age, they should look to the socialist paradise of Venezuela. Socialism has no respect for individual liberty or human nature and that has been proven true in the country of Venezuela. Under the dictatorial socialist regime that is said to govern that country, it is the government that owns the businesses, sets the prices and assumes that the government officials are more competent to make decisions than the individual. The picture that socialism paints in Venezuela is one of starvation, poverty and a grim future. There is a reason why socialism has been given a bad rap in the past, and this is just one current day example of the immorality known as socialism.
But as stated before, it does not have to be this way. If history has taught us anything about socialism, it is that instilling free market principles can serve as an antidote to the very evils this ideology generates. Countries like Denmark and Sweden were saved because of these very principles of less regulation, individual ownership and free trade. Now why won’t Venezuela just look to the rest of the world for answers to its problems? It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, which is exactly the situation in Venezuela. When Venezuela was taken over by Hugo Chávez in 1999, he stayed in power from the time he took over until his death in 2013. After his death, his handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro, took over the reigns of the dictatorship that they call the presidency and continued the same socialist experiments that have failed them in the past.
When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was asked about these failures in Venezuela, he refused to comment. Sanders refers to himself as a “Democratic socialist,” as if it’s so different than just a socialist. Nicolás Maduro could also be considered a “Democratic socialist,” since he was also democratically elected. Bernie Sanders fails to discuss Venezuela because he himself knows that it is just another example of the failed ideology he has spent his whole life preaching.
It is clear that if millennials should be blamed for anything, they should be blamed for their gullibility in believing in such a foolish system of governing.
Louis Ruziecki is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science with a minor in history. His column, “Conscience of a Co-Ed,” runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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