We’ve had a lot of debate and soul searching on why many young Americans are so smitten with socialism, a system that has never produced prosperity and led to enormous human suffering.
Leave it to Camille Paglia to offer a refreshingly simple explanation for the popularity of socialism: ignorance. She tells Tunku Varadarajan in the Wall Street Journal:
“Everything is so easy now,” Ms. Paglia continues. “The stores are so plentifully supplied. You just go in and buy fruits and vegetables from all over the world.” Undergrads, who’ve studied neither economics nor history, “have a sense that this is the way life has always been. Because they’ve never been exposed to history, they have no idea that these are recent attainments that come from a very specific economic system.”
Capitalism, she continues, has “produced this cornucopia around us. But the young seem to believe in having the government run everything, and that the private companies that are doing things for profit around them, and supplying them with goods, will somehow exist forever.”
Ms. Paglia asks me to note that it was “because of capitalism” that her forebears “escaped the crushing poverty of rural Italy,” emigrating to Endicott, N.Y., to “work in the Endicott-Johnson shoe factories, whose vast buildings, tanning pools and smokestacks dominated my childhood.”
Paglia ties capitalism to the freedom women experience today (though she does go in for moderate regulation of capitalism):
"While I believe that boom-and-bust capitalism is inherently Darwinian and requires moderate regulation for the long-term greater good," she says, "I insist that capitalism has produced the glorious emancipation of women." They can now "support themselves and live on their own, and no longer must humiliatingly depend on father or husband."
Paglia, who has spoken at IWF events, came under attack at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she has taught since 1984, for critical remarks about aspects of the MeToo movement. Fortunately, the University of the Arts had a president who stood up for academic freedom, and Ms. Paglia remains a member of the faculty there. Hers is a voice we would not like to have silenced.
In the wide-ranging interview with Varadarajan, she let it rip (as she generally does). It is well worth a read.
Here she is on victim feminism:
Ms. Paglia laments that the “antisex and repressively doctrinaire side of feminism is back again—big!” She calls it “victim feminism” and complains that “everything we’d won in the 1990s has been totally swept away. Now we have this endless privileging of victimhood, with a pathological vulnerability seen as the default human mode.” Everyone is made to cater to it—“in the workplace, in universities, in the demand for safe spaces.”
As a teacher of undergraduates, Ms. Paglia despairs at how “bad it is for young people, filled with fears, to be raised in this kind of a climate where personal responsibility isn’t spoken of.” Since her own youth, she says, college students have devolved from rebels into skittish supplicants, petitioning people in authority to protect them from real life. Young adults are encouraged to look for “substitute parent figures on campus, which is what my generation rebelled against in college. We threw that whole ‘in loco parentis’ thing out.”
Read the entire essay.