Leftist politics … is something that the manipulative old sell to the gullible young. Hence leftists’ nonstop efforts to produce more gullible young people.
Young people are susceptible to socialism for a number of reasons. One is that families, by and large, actually do operate along more or less socialist lines.
“From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,” is a fair description of how most families work. Parents have jobs, earn, pay bills, care for their young, provide clothes, education, medical care and more, without the children being expected to pay their way or, nowadays, even contribute. (That last was quite different a few generations ago, when teenagers provided, on average, about a third of the household income.)
Since this works at home — certainly for the children who are the recipients of their parents’ largesse — it seems natural to expand it to society as a whole. People who have been looked after for their entire lives are likely to be comfortable with the idea of being looked after in the future.
Of course, it works at home because the parents feel an attachment to their children, and a loyalty to them, that people don’t feel for strangers. In ethnically homogenous countries, one sees a greater support for generous social benefits, because the populace is in some sense related; support for such benefits tends to drop when immigration renders those countries more heterogenous. Without such filial bonds, socialism works much less well. Except for the people at the top, of course, who look for young people to support their agendas because middle-aged people mostly know better.
Don’t let experience or older people tell them differently:
But to retain the support of the younger people, they must be insulated from the objections of the middle-aged.
This is done by cultivating youth culture. “Don’t trust anyone over thirty” is a famous example. The reason you’re not supposed to trust them is that they are likely to tell you that the exciting new socialist ideas you’re being fed have in fact been tried over and over again for more than a century, generally with disastrous results.
The divide was further strengthened by the invention of “cool.” As Roger Simon has written, at one time being cool was the obsession of a generation – really of several. And being cool meant, among other things, being estranged from what the squares were doing, and the squares were, by definition, the older, stable, more experienced people.
One of the reasons the “coolness” strategy worked was that young people care a lot about their reputations, and age separation in our education system (more on that in a bit) means that the people whose reputations they care about are mostly other young people. …
The crusade against “child labor” — which now, ridiculously, includes such things as 17-year-olds with paper routes if you’re unfortunate enough to live in California — was partly about promoting union jobs, but also about increasing the separation of young people from the real world. The promotion of college education for all is more of the same, turning college into an extended version of high school. (Though arguably many aspects of college today are less demanding of academic skill or discipline than was the high school of the 1930s.). The important thing is to keep “peer culture” going on as long as possible.
Modern society has extended adolescence well into the 20s for many people and, I want to stress, that’s not by accident. Separation of young people from the larger society helps create a captive cadre of voters, protesters, campaign workers, etc. There are, of course, other forces promoting this separation besides left-politics (companies like to market to young people for the same reasons of hive-mindedness and gullibility) but it’s worth keeping in mind what’s going on here, and why.
Countering the left:
And the solutions involve getting young people back out into the real world, instead of concentrating them in age-segregated ghettos.
We should make it easier for teens to hold part-time, or even full-time jobs. With online and home-schooling there’s no reason to assume they have to be warehoused during the middle of the day: My daughter did online school at night, and held a day job at a TV production company from 14 to 16, when she went off to college. We had insisted that she get a job at 14, and she’s very glad we did now. …
And higher education needs to be shrunken, and replaced in many cases by trade schools and apprenticeships. It’s questionable today whether many degree programs actually add value, but they do keep human capital tied up, even as the students run up debts. And many have their lives ruined by alcohol, drugs, or sexual misfortunes.