By Zach Foster
The great thing about young people, especially students, is that they have an unparalleled amount of energy and vigor with which they can achieve their goals. This is how young people become Eagle Scouts, valedictorians, Rhodes scholars, military officers, and Peace Corps volunteers. The problem with young people is that they have not been on this planet long enough to fully grasp what goes on around them. Often times, they are receptive to radicalism and radical ideologies—ultra-leftist or ultraconservative—and they pour their hearts and souls into these ideologies. Their passion and zeal borders on militancy as they jump into various political and social causes with both feet. Young people often think they are smarter, better educated, and better informed about the world than they really are.
More often than not, young people become liberals or leftists for various reasons. The greatest one is perhaps peer pressure and the need to belong to a community. When all the other people in the classroom, in the club, or in one’s circle of friendship are attending a meeting or a rally, the “lone wolf” who fails to conform and join the rest becomes a social pariah. No one wants to be an outcast. More often than not, the most dedicated student activists do not separate their political activism from their social life. Their organization becomes a pseudo-cult around which their lives revolve. Never has this been truer than in the Marxist community today.
Moderates and conservatives fail to understand why young people are so prone to leftism. The answer they seek lies in the fields of sociology and psychology. As children become teenagers and their bodies and minds begin to mature, they become self-aware. Their raging hormones keep them from being aware of much of the world around them, but these teens are aware of what they want. They are also painfully aware that what they want and what their parents allow or tolerate are two differing concepts, most often mutually exclusive. Teenagers and young adults begin to learn more about themselves and embark on the long quest to form their identity and the way they relate to the world.
It is an indisputable fact that teenagers generally look to spread their wings and fly away from the nest, and such being their nature, they have a tendency to rebel against their parents. Many young people develop personalities, lifestyles, and identities inconsistent with those of their parents. Parents, knowing their youngsters—be they teenagers or economically dependent college students—are inclined to rebel, will often try to repress rebellious behavior. They believe that the lifestyles adopted by their youngsters are harmful and counterproductive, and most of the time these parents are correct. While they try to repress their youngsters’ rebellious behavior for their own good, the youngsters mistake this loving repression as outright oppression.
In the face of such perceived oppression—conveniently ignoring the fact that these “oppressors” pay their tuition and bills—they do their best to become the exact opposite of what their parents are. In some cases where parents are very liberal or live as free spirits, their rebellious children become ultraconservatives and embrace the ideologies put forth by Fox News and groups like the Tea Party Patriots. Where parents’ religious affiliation is more of a tradition than a living faith, their children experiment with other religions and spiritual philosophies. However, in most cases, regardless of whether parents hold liberal or conservative beliefs, most of them live moderate or conservative lifestyles that do not depend on political ideologies. Whether they are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, or Greens, Mr. and Mrs. Jones own a house or a spacious apartment, go to work Monday through Friday, and are pleased that their child is doing fairly well in high school or college. Rebellious children observe their parents’ behavior which they attribute to be a part of “the establishment.” They begin to view their conformist parents as mere cogs in the wheels of the establishment, and therefore are in need of distancing themselves as far from the establishment as possible. They become radicalized.
They find the answer to their problems in the writings of Karl Marx. After all, there is no philosophy that is as clearly anti-establishment as Marxism. The working classes are struggling against the elites; they fight against every oppression, both real and imagined; there is no God and religion is merely the opiate of the masses, used by the bourgeois to control the proletariat; homophobia, racism, and sexism are all the products of capitalism rather than mere human savagery; ownership of private property is akin to robbery. Given that students view themselves as struggling against the elite (“the establishment”), that their parents are usually believers in a Supreme Being, that Marxists take up everyone’s underdog causes, and that they themselves do not own property, students become dedicated Marxists and vainly see themselves as vanguards of the revolution.
Continued in Part 2: "10 Points of Unity and Struggle"