“A man could make a fortune selling Geritol to these people.”

That was Jack Langer’s reaction upon seeing the fiarly small crowd that showed up to last weekend’s anti-war, Anti-Bush pro-left shouting festival in Washington.

Expecting a healthy turnout of idealistic youths, I was surprised to find that the crowd was comprised predominantly of middle-aged ’60s throwbacks looking to recapture the glory days of the jarring folk music, campus occupations, and general social chaos that accompanied the Vietnam War. When the Raging Grannies showed up, it was hard to distinguish them from the rest of the crowd.

Dominated by the ’60s generation as it was, it was unsurprising to see a galaxy of signs and booths invoking the sacred cure-all of nearly every 1960s radical — socialism. “Bush is the symptom, Capitalism is the disease, Socialism is the cure” blared one giant banner. “Defeat US Imperialism. Socialist revolution is the only solution” intoned a pennant by the League for the Revolutionary Party. “Defend China, North Korea, and Vietnam Against Imperialism and Capitalist Counter-Revolution!” was the motto of the Sparticist League. That last slogan I found to be one of the most offensive statements of the day — right up there with one speaker’s invocation of Maureen Dowd as an authoritative social analyst.

They’ve had 30 years of practice. You’d think they’d have gotten better at it. But as Langer says, their story hasn’t changed…

What do the old radicals have left to offer the youth? Socialism. One can understand the attraction of this credo back in the 1960s, when its American adherents only had the millions of victims of the Soviet regime to contradict their assertion that socialism would provide a positive alternative to capitalism.

But now, we know of the atrocities of a whole new set of postwar socialist regimes in China, Cambodia, Romania, and countless other places — including Vietnam — as well as the final collapse of most socialist governments and the turn toward capitalism of nearly all the remaining socialist regimes. Younger activists may have the Iraq War to fight against, but they need something to fight for — and with socialism, their older role models are not offering them anything appealing.

Their problem here is, that the measurement of what is and is not appealing seems to be wanting. Certainly, there are some who are stupid enough to jump headlong into this.  But most young people are going to steer clear of the failures of the past.  At least, those who have actually studied history.

Maybe now we have a better understanding of why it is the government wants to take over the education of our children.  Those failures, and the understanding of them, are a problem for those pursuing the socialist revolution.

Tags: , ,