The end of the “traditional” politics has been long foretold. There are some signs that suggest this may actually be happening, and not merely within American borders.To illustrate this trend, I chose two very distinct, discrete and mutually exclusive phenomena. The first one is the increasingly popular Millennial Socialism, as The Economist and general mainstream media agreed to call it. The second one is very peculiar: the demographics of the Argentine libertarian party following (you’ll be surprised).
By analyzing these opposite experiences, I intend to raise one simple question: are these political movements really innovative? We will find out soon enough.
Earlier this year, business newspaper The Economist published a story on this new doctrine that has been gathering followers under the age of 35. This piece originated a cascade of media responses, and suddenly everybody was talking about a movement that can be traced back to the days of Occupy Wall Street. In case you missed it, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was a series of demonstrations against economic inequality that began on September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park (the heart of New York City’s Wall Street financial district).
But what is millennial socialism exactly? It is the redefinition of the Left under the needs and concerns of the 30-year-olds (and under). The traditional basis of socialism – such as class struggle and collective ownership – have no place in today’s discussion.
Millennial socialism’s agenda includes climate change, inequality, feminism and wealth redistribution. It also relies heavily on technology and the scientific revolution.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is arguably who best embodies this new doctrine. Ocasio-Cortez (or AOC, for shorts) is the 29-year-old Democratic Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district. But her inspiration comes from another popular figure among millennials, although far from a millennial himself: Bernie Sanders, 77 and Democratic front-runner for the 2020 presidential elections.
But the very basis of millennial socialism actually come from Europe. Its epitomes are Laborist Jeremy Corbin, fiercely anti Brexit, and Berliner party Die Linke.
Going back to the US scenario, both AOC and Bernie Sanders call themselves democratic socialists. This is the joint venture of political democracy with a socially owned economy that is incompatible with capitalism. Why? Because capitalism defies the values of equality and solidarity and, therefore, liberty. The challenge that this doctrine poses is the democratic control of economic institutions.
Now, if you’ll allow me a little commentary on the side. We are all familiar with the millennial jokes. The Internet and pubic opinion in general love to point out how lazy, self-centered and unreliable millennials are. We have all seen the “millennials discover” memes and shared them. And now I cannot help but thinking that naming a popular and promising doctrine “millennial” is just intended at discrediting it.
Argentine Libertarian Youths.
2019 is an electionary year. In October, Argentina will be choosing a new president and representatives for both branches of Congress. Economist José Luis Espert, 57, has joined the presidential race. His prospects are meager to say the least – polls grant him a solid 4% – but his follower base is what actually stands out. Espert’s fans are young, very young. Mostly male, and very much under 25.
The fact of the matter is that J.L. Espert, being the free market candidate, has piqued the interest of the Libertarian Party. The local branch has a following base that ranges mostly from 14 to 30, and that never ceases to amaze me. How the most conservative and orthodox of ideas can have such an alluring effect upon people at such young age?
Apparently, the answer lies in social media and online forums.
Twitter, Facebook and a local forum called Taringa! seem to be the places where these ideas took root. In here, fringe groups of centennials and millennials became interested in politics for the first time. Seduced by the simplistic explanations of orthodox economics, they started networking to create a “new” party.
They call it anarcho capitalism, because their goal is to suppress the state, but their theoretical backbone was mostly produced one or two hundred years ago: Milton Friedman, Adam Smith, David Ricardo, William Petty. Libertarians focus strongly on economics, and pay Little attention to other matters of governance. Ultimately, their philosophical views are summed up in a strong sense of individualism: as long as you don’t damage others, you are entitled to your actions. Coercion is “immoral”. And it’s every man for himself.
What does this movement have in common with millennial socialism? Two key elements: they are both popular among young people who are fed up with the current state of affairs. And although they both claim to have revolutionary ideas, that does not seem to be the case with our South American example…
We have previously questioned the freshness of two political movements that claim to be revolutionary. Democratic socialism, although defiant of capitalism, does not rule out the idea of a market economy. However, this market should be in control of the people and not the corporations. Libertarian youths believe that the market should be left to their own devices, and that is exactly what Adam Smith wrote in the 18th Century. This is exactly the way things have been carried out throughout history, time and time again.
And where did that lead us? The results are there for all to see.
Whereas Millennial Socialism advocates for solidarity and mutual support, the new Libertarians value their individuality above everything else. And while individualism was endangered in pre French Revolution times, 2019 poses different challenges. Almost two decades into the 21st century, inequality is the enemy – and strength is in numbers.
Millennial Socialism has heard the historical claims of the oppressed (women, racial and sexual minorities, indigenous cultures, etc) and made them part of their agenda. This doctrine understand the importance of economics, but also – first and foremost – its proper place. Far from being a separate entity, the economy is to serve the needs of the people. Millennial socialism is determined to correct the mistakes socialism has made in the past, with the aid of new technologies. Millennial socialism is quite aware of its time and place, and seems it is here to stay.