Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it, as George Santayana once said. Slightly before him, Karl Marx claimed that history repeats itself, the first time as a tragedy, the second time as a farce. Both of these Dead White Males are arguably right, if only the latter still continues to inspire people, though not with this particular quote.
Throughout the developed world – with the notable exception of Poland – Gen Ys or the Millennials veer strongly to the left. Young people have always done so, but the current crop would make even their proud Baby Boomer grandparents blush in their enthusiasm for collectivism. It’s not just that in countries like the United States or Australia two thirds of them vote for the parties of the left – after all, the left can be a broad church, from Tony Blair to Jeremy Corbyn – but they positively heart socialism: 63 per cent of Australian university graduates and over the half of the American cohort. Those who literally cannot remember the past are very keen to repeat it – let’s hope that this time only as a farce.
The Millennials can’t remember very much – and they don’t learn very much either. It’s easy being hot for socialism or communism when you actually have a very little idea of what it is and what it did throughout the 20th century. And the Ys have that ignorance in spades; one third of them think that George W Bush killed more people than Stalin and 42 per cent have never heard of Mao – but over 70 per cent agree with Bernie Sanders. Some research suggests that only 15 per cent actually have a correct understanding of socialism. It’s not just politics; the Millennials are the most woefully undereducated and miseducated generation in a very long time. To be fair, that’s not strictly their fault; that attaches itself again to their Boomer grandparents who have been in charge of our failing education systems during this time. Combine the modern indoctrination-cum-dumbification taking place in schools and universities with the attention span-killing impact of information technology and social media, and you have a barely literate cohort, which is simply not equipped with the necessary mental tools to learn about the real world even if they wanted to.