This finding is worrisome, but not surprising:
The majority of millennials would prefer to live in a socialist, communist or fascist nation rather than a capitalistic one, according to a new poll.
In the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s “Annual Report on U.S. Attitudes Toward Socialism,” 58 percent of the up-and-coming generation opted for one of the three systems, compared to 42 percent who said they were in favor of capitalism.
The most popular socioeconomic order was socialism, with 44 percent support. Communism and fascism received 7 percent support each.
Younger generations have been poorly educated. One could see that trend developing during my educational experience a few decades ago, but these poll results suggest that conditions didn’t stay flat or reverse, but worsened. In the article, Marion Smith, who is executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, suggests that students aren’t being taught relevant facts, such as “genocide, destruction, and misery,” but I’d suggest that the problem is more fundamental. I don’t think students are being taught how to draw relevant distinctions between things that are superficially similar.
This came to mind a couple of weeks ago when a trial Audible subscription led me to listen to a podcast called Days that Changed the World. One episode concerns the Battle of Cable Street, and it would be easy to equate that rousing story out of history to recent events based on the names given to each group.
In brief, British fascist Oswald Mosley wanted attention and a show of force in 1936 and thought to march his Black Shirts through the heavily Jewish East End of London. The residents of the area pledged not to let that happen, under the slogan, “They Shall Not Pass.” On the day of the planned march, the local anti-fascists filled Cable Street with vehicles, other obstacles, and human beings, and resisted the attempts of the police to clear the street.
See? You’ve got fascists, anti-fascists, and police working with the fascists in the name of free speech. Just like today!
Except… Mosley was trying to tap into a movement growing across the continent by symbolically invading the working class neighborhood of an out-group. In modern America, by contrast, the overarching story is one of Antifa invading neighborhoods to prevent free speech of people whom the masked rioters assert are fascists.
With Cable Street, the invaders called themselves fascists and attempted to use speech rights as an avenue to intimidation. Nowadays, Antifa calls people fascists for supporting free speech and takes that as excuse to use speech rights as an avenue to intimidation.
The closest the United States has come to the Cable Street scenario was Charlottesville, where actual white supremacists sought to show presence on a college campus, but even with that, important differences exist. Universities owe much of their status to their pledge to provide an environment of open inquiry, yet it can hardly be disputed that they are hostile to white men. That’s a very different scenario.
Just so, younger Americans lack not only the historical context to understand that socialism and fascism are closer to each other than either is to democratic capitalism, but also the trained habit of juxtaposing circumstances to discern their differences. The feel-good sloganeering of socialists and a good-team-bad-team narrative therefore obscure the extent to which the so-called anti-fascists of today are behaving in ways and expressing viewpoints that precisely mirror the fascism that they decry in the past.