Power to the [snake] people, right on!
April 27, 2016 12:35 AM   Subscribe

A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, poll shows. The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.
posted by anarch (173 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
The poll seems to show that they have joined the ranks of CAVE people - Citizens Against Virtually Everything. They don't support capitalism, according to the article, but they also don't support government regulation of the economy, or using government spending to spur growth.

I'm not sure what the other alternatives are.
posted by kanewai at 12:47 AM on April 27, 2016 [31 favorites]


As the article states, the questions are pretty broad and are difficult to interpret. It's an interesting survey, though, and the article goes into other surveys to look at broader trends. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 12:48 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


52% of respondents disagreed with basic healthcare insurance as a right. 53% did not think shelter, heat and food should be provided by the government to those who do not have it. 51% do not support capitalism.

The intersection of these three sets is the recruitment pool for actual fascism.
posted by cromagnon at 12:49 AM on April 27, 2016 [156 favorites]


I wonder what percentage of them understand what capitalism is.
posted by Punkey at 1:05 AM on April 27, 2016 [34 favorites]


Would understanding what capitalism is make them more or less likely to support it?
posted by Phssthpok at 1:13 AM on April 27, 2016 [20 favorites]


I think that the ridiculous-student-debt issue probably really reifies for people how as much as under nominally communal societies where altars are torn down and replaced with farm tractors, under capitalism you're expected to live your life in service to the economy. It's just that the ideal of capitalism is that you get nothing of value in return for it. (Nothing that might detract from the abiding wealth of capitalists, at least.)
posted by XMLicious at 1:17 AM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


they also don't support government regulation of the economy

Equally likely that they are moving towards an understanding of the fact that 'the economy' is a meaningless concept.
posted by colie at 1:20 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


The intersection of these three sets is the recruitment pool for actual fascism.

You missed one: 50% of young Americans agree with the statement “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing”
posted by theodolite at 1:23 AM on April 27, 2016 [16 favorites]


I had a long and peculiar conversation with a young person once: I was defending materialism and it turned out eventually that to them the word just meant obsession with wealth and possessions. Some of these respondents probably consider 'capitalism' a synonym for greed.
posted by Segundus at 1:41 AM on April 27, 2016 [11 favorites]


Yeah, all this says to me is that millennials don't like the status quo, and disapprove of anything identified with that status quo (capitalism and The Government most obviously). This is pretty usual for young people facing an uncertain future.
posted by AdamCSnider at 1:46 AM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


> I had a long and peculiar conversation with a young person once: I was defending materialism and it turned out eventually that to them the word just meant obsession with wealth and possessions.

So, what is your definition of materialism? I also understand it as meaning a preoccupation with amassing more and 'better' possessions, particularly when considered competitively (eg. having a bigger car than your neighbour).
posted by winterhill at 1:54 AM on April 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


Socialism is, of course, out of the question as a totalising system, after the collapse of the USSR. Though Communism (of the Fully Automated Luxury variety) is looking more feasible than ever.
posted by acb at 1:56 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Winterhill, "materialism" is the belief that the supernatural does not exist, and that the universe is subject only to physical laws rather than the whims of gods.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:07 AM on April 27, 2016 [38 favorites]


So what was that Madonna song all about? :)
posted by winterhill at 2:11 AM on April 27, 2016 [22 favorites]


The intersection of these three sets is the recruitment pool for actual fascism.
...which is certainly what Trump (and most other Republicans) are essentially promoting, yet, according to a part of the survey highlighted by Josh Marshall (hat tip to tivalasvegas), they are solidly pro-Bernie (54/31), anti-Hillary (37/53) and extremely anti-Donald (17/74); in fact, if forced to choose between the two, Clinton beats Trump handily.

Socialism is, of course, out of the question as a totalising system, after the collapse of the USSR. Though Communism (of the Fully Automated Luxury variety) is looking more feasible than ever.
to quote a famous movie "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
I spent half my life during the Cold War and the USSR was totally and proudly Communist. These days, Denmark and Finland are examples of functioning Socialism although China is now more hiding behind that label instead of Communism. But after all these years, my definition of Communism is still "Fascism disguising itself as Socialism".

And my Grumpy Old Man opinion (31 years too old for this survey) has become that the only way to fix ANY Economic System is too abolish Money, and I have no clue how to accomplish that. (But hanging all the Economists would be a start)
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:15 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


#WhenKidsConfuseTheCurrentStateOfTheUSWithCapitalismPlusWhenKidsFlunkHistory
posted by chavenet at 2:20 AM on April 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


Willenials: "Moar liek Crapitalism."
posted by klangklangston at 2:23 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


They don't support capitalism, according to the article, but they also don't support government regulation of the economy, or using government spending to spur growth.

I'm not sure what the other alternatives are.


This demonstrates either a profound lack of imagination, or a complete domination of capitalism. It's as natural a breathing air, people don't support it OR respirators, what else can you do?
posted by Dysk at 3:01 AM on April 27, 2016


Winterhill, "materialism" is the belief that the supernatural does not exist, and that the universe is subject only to physical laws rather than the whims of gods.

I'd call that naturalism, not materialism, which, to me, has more specific connotations.
posted by thelonius at 3:13 AM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Scotland invented capitalism, and now we're showing the world why it doesn't work - Irvine Welsh.

(I'm not sure which book. Maybe Skag.)
posted by emf at 3:17 AM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


See you on the barricades!
posted by Meatbomb at 3:37 AM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


If you call someone materialistic in a conversation, no-one is going to go "oooh, she doesn't believe in anything supernatural, totally rationalist", they're going to go straight to "Yeah, they're not into expensive things and brands, very hippy-dippy".
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 3:49 AM on April 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


Would understanding what capitalism is make them more or less likely to support it?

Perhaps simply more resigned. You can resist capitalism while providing ample support at the same time. Resistance is just another source of capital, right?
posted by sapagan at 3:52 AM on April 27, 2016


If you call someone materialistic in a conversation, no-one is going to go "oooh, she doesn't believe in anything supernatural, totally rationalist", they're going to go straight to "Yeah, they're not into expensive things and brands, very hippy-dippy".

Or the exact opposite...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:57 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Resistance is futile.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:58 AM on April 27, 2016


That's okay. The rejection is mutual.
posted by srboisvert at 4:13 AM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Materialism?

You show up at the party with your chocolate ice cream, and yeah, it's the real deal. As a matter of fact, nobody had any idea this was an ice cream social until you showed up, but your ice cream gave everyone the idea. And what an idea! Spoons out, let's have us some fun!

Then some dude, let's respectfully call him a "fucker," shows up with something we never expected: another flavor. Vanilla! The nemesis! And what the fuck, people, you all go over there to try it out because why? That's complicated but the fact is now you're all over there and these plentiful tubs of luscious chocolate ice cream are melting! Melting!

And I mean it's not the "fucker"'s fault, that's just the way it goes. But we're saying, "Hey you guys, there's gonna be a brown flood of some sort over here unless we do something!"

So some plucky big idea-type says "Eureka!" and doles out one scoop of each to herself and then the same to a friend, and a revolution begins....
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:17 AM on April 27, 2016 [28 favorites]


If I say 'deja vu', will you know what I mean?
posted by Segundus at 4:49 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Materialism

What you think it means: The supernatural does not exist, everything is governed by the laws of physics.
What it actually means: You have a "Whoever dies with the most toys wins" bumper sticker.

Naturalism

What you think it means: The supernatural does not exist, everything is governed by the laws of physics.
What it actually means: You are a nudist.

Rationalist

What you think it means: The supernatural does not exist, everything is governed by the laws of physics.
What it actually means: You wear a fedora and are Going Your Own Way.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:02 AM on April 27, 2016 [160 favorites]


This article seems to say a lot..without actually saying anything. I'm very, very dubious of "journalism" that's basically "wow look at this demographic's conflicting values, do they even know what they're talking about?" but then they don't offer up the chance to read the survey that was given. It kind of even outted itself in the article- "The results of the survey are difficult to interpret, pollsters noted. Capitalism can mean different things to different people..."

You polled for an opinion on an abstract idea, without giving a definition of it? This is the Washington Fucking Post and you couldn't even be bothered to make sure people were at least trying to answer the same question??
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:02 AM on April 27, 2016 [17 favorites]


A parable:

"I hate capitalism", the Millenial wrote online, from his Apple MacBook, using a wifi signal from a Linksys router provided at Starbucks for no charge. He paused and sipped his Starbucks latte, made from beans imported from Ethiopia, and took a bite of a banana imported by Dole from Ecuador. "Markets are despicable and exploit people", he continued writing.

He checked the time on his Samsung smartphone and realized he was late for class, so he returned his laptop to his Patagonia backpack and pulled on his North Face jacket (there was a bit of a chill in the air).

(And so forth, and so on.)
posted by theorique at 5:05 AM on April 27, 2016 [29 favorites]


Well, there's capitalism and then there's crony capitalism. They seem to go in and out of style. By which I mean, the model used to be Milton Hershey the model now is more Enron.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:10 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Markets don't exploit people! That's proved by the fact that a college student owns a backpack! Check and mate!
posted by beerperson at 5:22 AM on April 27, 2016 [86 favorites]


I, too, read this as a rejection of the status quo by millennials. Obviously random dude off the street is not going to have the most sophisticated definition of capitalism ever. But young people are suffering, they know it, and we have capitalism as an economic system. And the jobs ain't coming back. This points the way to some kind of political and social transition. If capitalism isn't satisfying human needs, and it increasingly can not, let's get rid of it.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 5:23 AM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh for crying out loud, theorique. Dissidents in the Soviet Union presumably wrote their samizdat on paper made in state factories. Does that make their criticisms invalid? I'm pretty favorable towards capitalism but the whole "you're not pure and untouched enough to talk about this" thing is pure ad hominem. Hypocrisy doesn't invalidate insight.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:24 AM on April 27, 2016 [91 favorites]


I would be willing to bet that the respondents to this poll are perfectly fine with capitalism and simply don't have a good working definition of the term. This is almost certainly an example of not understanding that Scandanavia and the US have the same economic system, just operated in different ways.


Oh for crying out loud, theorique. Dissidents in the Soviet Union presumably wrote their samizdat on paper made in state factories. Does that make their criticisms invalid? I'm pretty favorable towards capitalism but the whole "you're not pure and untouched enough to talk about this" thing is pure ad hominem. Hypocrisy doesn't invalidate insight.

Nothing gets past this guy!
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:34 AM on April 27, 2016 [43 favorites]



The intersection of these three sets is the recruitment pool for actual fascism.

Does the study make any claims that these sets of people overlapped? For all we know, they may be almost mutually exclusive groups.

Can we maybe cool it with the lol-silly-youngs sentiment? As far as the bit about capitalism no longer meeting the country's needs, well, I think it makes sense that a lot of young people feel that way. Anecdata: I was born in 1988. I remember being maybe 6 yeas old, hearing Rush Limbaugh on the radio openly mocking women and black people. A few years later, I hit my teenage years just as Bush II was taking the presidency with a cyborg oil executive running mate despite losing the popular vote. And at the end of two terms of Bush, when I was finally able to cast a vote for Obama, the whole Wall Street fiasco started. What really bothers me, and maybe a lot of people my age, is that the economy has continued to grow but that nearly all of that growth has been siphoned into the inviolate bank accounts of the super wealthy. The growing consensus seems to be that the game is rigged.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 5:44 AM on April 27, 2016 [30 favorites]


As a historian, I would point out that capitalism is not the only kind of market economy. Market economies and trade pre-date capitalism by -- actually by several thousand years. (southern Mesopotamia had a complex trading system in about 3000 BCE).

Capitalism is just one form of market economy -- and it really only came to dominate in the 19th & 20th centuries.
posted by jb at 5:47 AM on April 27, 2016 [28 favorites]


(1) Yes, capitalism's not perfect, but it has its positive benefits.

(2) What does a naive 20 year old actually mean when he says he rejects capitalism? Is he performing a complex ideological and practical comparison between market economy, mixed economy, socialist economy and their variants? Or is he seduced by "Bernie's gonna give us free college, man". Given Sturgeon's law, I suspect more of the former than the latter.

(Lest this sound too biased against lefties, note that the 20 year old Rand-ite exhibits the same naivete.)
posted by theorique at 5:48 AM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


(That should read: "more of the latter than the former")
posted by theorique at 5:55 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


What does a naive 20 year old actually mean when he says he rejects capitalism?

what does a naive 20 year old actually mean when he says he doesn't want to bend over and take it?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:00 AM on April 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


What does a naive 20 year old actually mean when he says he rejects capitalism?

What does a naïve 40 year old actually mean when they say get off my lawn?
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:03 AM on April 27, 2016 [27 favorites]


"In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism."
Lord knows I tried, but just I couldn't resist reading this story in my Chevy Chase Weekend Update voice.
"'Young people could be saying that there are problems with capitalism, contradictions,' Frank Newport, the editor in chief of Gallup, said when asked about the new data. 'I certainly don't know what’s going through their heads.'"
"Apparently young people are mad about something," Frank Newport, noted pollster and old man, did not say when asked about the new data. "It's always something with them. I don't know what's crawled up their ass."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:06 AM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Dude, it's a lovely idea to have a nation of idle, hyperrational philosophers calmly reading Marx and Adam Smith and constructing sound ideological vases for their views. Just, you know, never gonna happen.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 6:06 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


The intersection of these three sets is the recruitment pool for actual fascism.

The Network of Global Corporate Control S. Vitali, J.B. Glattfelder, and S. Battiston

There are around 150 global corporations that control around 3/4th's of the world's wealth. I do not see many obvious differences from where we are and actual fascism.
posted by bukvich at 6:08 AM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Marx? Heck, I'd be happy if they'd read a little Žižek or Hoppe!
posted by theorique at 6:09 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


At least they'll be up on Lacanian film crit
posted by thelonius at 6:10 AM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'd be happy if they'd read a little Žižek or Hoppe!

AKA the long Hoppe through the institutions.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:14 AM on April 27, 2016


Words have meanings.

Materialism is a philosphy, characterized (loosely speaking) by belief only in the physical, immediate, tangible world. Being a materialist means advocating the philosophy of materialism. Being materialistic means being focused on accumulating stuff/physical posessions. The material world is the physical, immediate, tangible world. Except in the Madonna song, where she uses "material" to mean "materialistic", likely because it sounds better in the song, actually fitting into the meter for the chorus. Material girl is a phrase that Madonna made up for that song. They do all come from the same root, and have that real, physical world connection. But refer to different ideas. (Aside: naturalism, as I understand it, is a philosophy that came from the roughly same historical period as materialism (the Enlightenment), but kind of as a response or opposing philosophical view of the world. Naturists, on the other hand, are people who don't wear clothes. Both come from the root word nature.)

Also we've had the what actually is each type of economic system review before in previous threads. Multiple times. But here's a summary. A good and easily-readable resource on economics, for some nuance and additional detail (mainly about capitalism): Economics For Everyone.

Capitalism is an economic system characterized by private (but tradable, unlike in feudalism) ownership of capital (means of production, not just any private property). Socialism is a collection of related economic systems (including communism variants) characterized by some sort of collective ownership of the means of production (ownership by a state, ownership by cooperatively run businesses (eg. anarcho-syndicalism), etc.). Democratic socialism is the name that has been given to a form of capitalism where the state ensures that people's basic needs get met (but there is still private ownership of capital). Communism is a collection of related economic systems characterized by economic decisions being made through political decision-making processes (anarcho-communism aka libertarian communism being on the radical direct democracy end of how political decisions get made, China or the Soviet Union before either of those countries embraced significant elements of capitalism being on the authoritarian end of how political decisions get made), thus no money or markets.

In short, we have various tools for how collective decisions get made. One of those is to have everyone get together in a meeting or series of meetings and hash out the topic on which a decision needs to be made (and there are oodles of different options/tools for how to run such meetings, which affect more specifically what that process looks like). One is to elect representatives and have a much smaller number of people get together and hash out the topic. One is to use emergent systems like markets to emergently arrive at collective decisions on a topic. One is to have a single person or small cabal make the decision. Etc. Some of the collective decisions we make deal with how we allocate resources, some deal with how we allocate services (cooking, serving food, cleaning up public spaces, cleaning up private spaces, etc.), some deal with how we organize who does what work tasks, some deal with what sort of health care we provide and how, some deal with what sort of education we provide and how, some deal with what sort of housing we provide and how, some deal with what sort of large-scale infrastructure we provide and how, some deal with protection from external threats of violence from other groups, some deal with responses to natural disasters or longer-scale changes in our physical environment, etc. The separation of political economy into economics and politics is an Industrial Revolution development; at their base, our political systems and economics systems are both collective decision-making tools, however.
posted by eviemath at 6:16 AM on April 27, 2016 [32 favorites]


Hey everyone! Silly dumb millennial here who if taken this survey would've said "I don't support capitalism" because, by that, I would of course mean, I don't support American Capitalism, which is a mix of crony capitalism & plutocracy under the guise and rhetoric of laissez-faire capitalistic principles!

It's weird, that when given a poll in a society which they contextually exist in, people would reject capitalism based on their experience of it, and not say they accept it based on an economics 101 definition of "private owners own private capital!"

Baffling. Absolutely baffling.
posted by mayonnaises at 6:16 AM on April 27, 2016 [79 favorites]


Anyway, I'm eager to see the results of the next survey, when they ask people if they support war.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:21 AM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


. But after all these years, my definition of Communism is still "Fascism disguising itself as Socialism".

AFAICT "communism" requires a non-democratic (or quasi-democratic) Communist Party controlling government with no independent, competing power centers, theoretically providing the Socialist economic system.

The Socialism in Communism is a mixed bag of course. Party insiders get a lot of it, the masses, not so much, other than the basics like education, health care, housing, food, entertainment.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 6:22 AM on April 27, 2016


The coffee was stale again. Bob never understood how the coffee could be stale at 8:00am, but at this point he figured it was probably part of some grand plan by Logistics to see how many pennies they could squeeze out of the catering bill. Bastards. Well, if nothing else, they'd been hung out to dry by Accounting recently, so what goes around, or whatever.

Sixteen displays stared at him. Once upon a time this had driven him slightly mad, being able to see their differing refresh rates, but these days he couldn't really tell the difference. His left eye still twitched a bit now and then in memory of it.

Not much going on this morning, although Dispatch reported several deliveries to outlying depots were late. Before Bob could move his fingers, the AI Overwatch told him why the trucks were late.

Out on Route 9 somebody had set up a barricade overnight. Bob muttered; the night shift must've really dropped the ball. The barricade wasn't particularly impressive, mainly construction debris, a car someone had seemingly dragged out of a swamp, and the remnants of the first AutonoTruck to stop, which was now smoldering. Bob zoomed in. Couldn't really read the slogans painted on the side, not that it mattered. Overwatch sent the ready signal and waited for Bob.

Thirty AutonoTrucks were idling further down the highway, staying well back of the affair. Overwatch had put their LiDAR into slave targeting mode, giving Bob a nearly perfect overview of the surrounding countryside. Couple of deer wandered past in the woods, thinking they were well out of sight. Overwatch was prompting Bob to make his decision.

Probably twenty kids were on the highway in front of the barricade, waving banners and placards. Probably shouting, too. The AutonoTrucks had microphones he could access, but the shouting was pretty much always the same anyway. Overwatch noted these decisions were usually made in thirty seconds, and Bob was now outside the normal performance range.

Bob sipped his coffee. Overwatch buzzed impatiently. Bob moved his finger.

From twenty-six thousand feet overhead, three squat metal cylinders dropped off the circling drone, falling a dozen feet before their rocket motors ignited.

The remaining AutonoTrucks arrived at their depots less than an hour late. Six of them required minor repairs to their fenders, sustained when they pushed through the debris.

The deer ran for a mile and a half before deciding they were safe, and went back to wandering.
posted by aramaic at 6:23 AM on April 27, 2016 [22 favorites]


evimath: Words have multiple meanings. Don't tell me you're going to write a philosophical screed and pretend not to understand context and idiom.

Like, come on - really?
posted by absalom at 6:25 AM on April 27, 2016 [16 favorites]


Materialism is a philosphy, characterized (loosely speaking) by belief only in the physical, immediate, tangible world.

Well, this is where naturalism seems to me to be superior - it accepts the reality of whatever natural processes science may discover, regardless of whether they seem immediate or tangible to anyone. Materialism seems to be kind of mired in 18th century corpuscularianism and that kind of thing.
posted by thelonius at 6:27 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's weird, that when given a poll in a society which they contextually exist in, people would reject capitalism based on their experience of it, and not say they accept it based on an economics 101 definition of "private owners own private capital!"

The GOP has been working hard for at least eight years now to define government-coordinated pooling of resources as socialism. Obamacare is socialism. Free college is socialism. For young people who are breathing a sigh of relief that they can stay on their parents' insurance plan until age 26, but are distraught at the student loan debt they are amassing, the Republicans are saying, again and again, that they are anti-capitalist socialists. Is it any wonder that a bunch of them started to agree? Add to the mix the enormous popularity of Bernie Sanders, who openly embraces the socialist label (although, yes, we know what he means is capitalism with powerful safeguards), and you have even more impetus to say "no, I'm not a capitalism, I'm with that Sanders guy."

And really, given the way "capitalist" in the American context is often used to mean lassez-faire plutocracy, and "socialism" is often used to mean what Sanders means by it, if the survey isn't carefully defining those terms it is completely understandable and not at all wrong to say "Hell, no, I'm not a capitalist" and mean by it that you want to break up the big banks, raise the minimum wage, provide health care to everyone, heavily subsidize college tuition, but still live in a society where capital is controlled by private individuals and entities, albeit heavy regulated.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:32 AM on April 27, 2016 [66 favorites]


OMG, no generation of young people has ever rejected capitalist and establishment values before!
posted by aught at 6:32 AM on April 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


...sound ideological vases for their views...

Obviously a typo, but I love the metaphor. "Yes it's pretty, but it's an antique and very delicate. If you're not careful and it hits the floor, the lady of the house will be very put out."
posted by 3urypteris at 6:33 AM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


I would love to see this survey in context with other generations - my impression has been, at least since the 60's, young people have always believed in a different economic system, but that belief turns conservative once they are the ones to receive the spoils of the capitalist system. So I guess it's a sexy headline, but is it really new?

At some point, if you're lucky you cross a thresh-hold economically where the imagined benefits of socialism for all persons are trumped by the actual ability to buy a third flat-screen TV for your home. At that point, you support capitalism because it's of greater self-benefit.
posted by scrittore at 6:39 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


So is the millennial cut-off 29 (born in 86ish-87ish)? Because I have also seen it be 34 (born in 81ish-82ish).

This is relevant to this poll. My instinct is older "millennials" (those who born in the confusing years that are sometimes assigned to gen x and sometimes assigned to millennials) would temper this result.
posted by millipede at 6:40 AM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


but that belief turns conservative once they are the ones to receive the spoils of the capitalist system

For a lot of snake people, the (well founded) fear is that that day will never come.

Student loans and a lack of entry-level opportunities are a big part of it, but also remember that the average 29 year old did not graduate from college and lives in the 'burbs and has even fewer opportunities than the debt-laden Vassar grad people seem to imagine.
posted by R a c h e l at 6:46 AM on April 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


I would love to see this survey in context with other generations - my impression has been, at least since the 60's, young people have always believed in a different economic system, but that belief turns conservative once they are the ones to receive the spoils of the capitalist system. So I guess it's a sexy headline, but is it really new?

People with few assets to lose tend to support (some form of) revolution, people with assets to lose tend to support (some form of) the status quo.

Aside from your usual class traitors who go against the usual pattern (broke aspiring millionaires, champagne socialists).
posted by theorique at 6:49 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Materialism seems to be kind of mired in 18th century corpuscularianism

That's easy for you to say.
posted by Segundus at 6:55 AM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


So is the millennial cut-off 29 (born in 86ish-87ish)? Because I have also seen it be 34 (born in 81ish-82ish).

My sense is that strict definitions have to be adjusted depending on what's being measured - so when we talk about privacy/internet/social media, a good cutoff would be those who had fairly good access to the computers and the internet for some part of their childhood and spent high school and/or college interacting by social media (I'd roughly estimate that to be 1984ish and after). When we talk about economics, though, it'd be fair to cut it off with people who started their careers during or after the recession, so that'd start with people who were born in about 1986-1990. I think the survey's cutoff makes a lot of sense in that context.
posted by R a c h e l at 6:56 AM on April 27, 2016


Kids today. Of course they're too dumb to know what they're actually talking about! Couldn't possibly be a failure of the corporate - owned opinion manufacturing mouthpiece of the wealthy class to accurately represent what they're saying. By god, when I was their age I already knew everything! They should really just listen to me.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:06 AM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Materialism is a philosphy, characterized (loosely speaking) by belief only in the physical, immediate, tangible world.

In my 46 years on this planet I have never heard the term "materialism" used this way in regular daily conversation. I accept that in a philosophical context, it has that meaning, but to the layman, the definition of "materialism" is understood to mean something more like "attaching social value to things, like cars or houses, as opposed to intangibles."

I'm not saying materialism doesn't mean "believe only in the physical world". But you may want to consider the audience.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:08 AM on April 27, 2016 [19 favorites]


FWD:FWD:FWD:Re:RE:FWD:FWD: A parable:
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:11 AM on April 27, 2016 [19 favorites]


We would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:11 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Trying to talk about philosophical ideas while at the same time completely rejecting the language developed over centuries to facilitate those ideas goes about as well as you'd think.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:11 AM on April 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


"Sure, an inch may mean 2.54 centimeters in math, but in real people talk for people who aren't egghead idiots..."
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:12 AM on April 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


"I hate capitalism", the Millenial wrote online, from his Apple MacBook, using a wifi signal from a Linksys router provided at Starbucks for no charge.

If participating in capitalism was optional no one would be against it.

As a snake person I can assure you olds I'm not naive, I just see how completely fucked people my age are. And I understand quite well what "capitalism" means and my anti-capitalism is far to the left of Bernie "lol free stuff" Sanders.

The olds seem to be in the denial phase. When do we get to bargaining? Before or after the barricades? I guess we'll find out eventually.
posted by bradbane at 7:17 AM on April 27, 2016 [33 favorites]


I agree with Pater that rather than chuckling at naive kids not knowing the definitions of things, you remember the sustained propaganda effort by the right to say "You know that social program you like? SOCIALISM! Boogity boogity!!" and expecting that to repel people. Unfortunately that only works on people who can still remember (and care about) red scares and the Cold War. Anyone under 40 is not going to fall in that group. They're going to say "Huh. Guess I'm a socialist." and go about their business.

Whether they are in fact some pure definition of socialist, or even know what that means in full, is irrelevant. Most conservatives could not give you a coherent description of socialism, communism, and the differences between the two if their lives depended on it. (Not many liberals either).
posted by emjaybee at 7:17 AM on April 27, 2016 [12 favorites]


There was an episode of Creature Comforts America where the interviewer asked "What do you think about flying?" with no explanation or context, and half of the interviewees started talking about airports and plane crashes and the other half talked about how awesome it would be to soar around like Superman. I think the capitalism question is a little like that, except for some reason these millennials aren't being animated as hilarious talking snakes
posted by theodolite at 7:20 AM on April 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


If participating in capitalism was optional no one would be against it.

Of course you're right, insofar as all the land is tiled with different nations and empires, and most of them have at least some form of market economy or activity.

What would the world look like if participating in capitalism were optional? (Perhaps with autonomous 'capitalism-free zones'?)
posted by theorique at 7:21 AM on April 27, 2016


What would the world look like if participating in capitalism were optional? (Perhaps with autonomous 'capitalism-free zones'?)

Like Oregon in the 80s.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:26 AM on April 27, 2016


except for some reason these millennials aren't being animated as hilarious talking snakes

No one cares about good journalism these days.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:33 AM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure what the other alternatives are.

Speaking as a milennial, I've never seen so many people engaged in casual embrace of violent politics. Whether it's alt-righters or my lefty activist pals. It's very shallow, though. If it came to picking up pitchforks, I can promise you none of them would show up to the mob. What you're seeing is some very erratic and frustrated apathy.
posted by constantinescharity at 8:00 AM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


I Blame Neoliberalism
posted by Apocryphon at 8:04 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


eviemath Words have meanings.

No they don't. People have meanings for words.

Since you have "math" in your name, I'll mostly go with math examples.

Simple example: "Proof" means something completely different in a math class, in a biology class, in a courtroom, and in a casual conversation. It even means something different in different branches of mathematics, because different branches have different standards of proof (constructive vs. contradiction, for example).

More complex example: "Number" is a word that has changes in meaning over millennia, and over a person's education. Initially number was something you counted with; then we introduce negative numbers*, and the meaning of "number" changes; then fractions, and the meaning changes of "number" again; roots and algebraic numbers, and the meaning changes of "number" again; transcendental numbers, and the meaning changes of "number" again; then complex numbers, and the meaning changes of "number" again; Hyperreals, and the meaning changes of "number" again; Surreal numbers, and the meaning changes of "number" again; octonions, etc.

*or historically, fractions first.

Is a vector a number or not? It depends on what you mean by number. They're not traditionally constructed as a number, but you can do numbery things with them (like arithmetic) and they behave like numbers in a lot of ways. So... maybe?

Similarly, the meaning of "function" changed over 200 years from Euler's notion of something one can write an algebraic expression for, to Euler's notion of something one can write an infinitely long algebraic expression for, to the Bourbaki definition of a directional mapping/set of ordered pairs with unique first elements. If words had meanings (that can't change), "function" would still be something that we can write an equation for, and most of modern mathematics would be impossible.

Mathematics is particularly flexible with meanings, because there is a process of definition and redefinition, This phenomenon not unique to mathematics. Meanings of words change as people's needs for them change. We used to go to a theatre and watch a "film" because there was actual film being watched. Now we watch "films" that are stored on a hard drive. We are still "watching a film" even though there is no actual film anymore. The meaning has changed from a physical object to an experience originally associated with the physical object, by a process called metonymy.

The meanings of words are what people agree on them to mean. When people agree they mean something else, then the mean something else. And not everybody has to agree. When a small group of people agree that a word means something else, then it still means something else to them. That's how secret languages (such as the famous Cockney rhyming slang) occur.

Language is nothing more than a pile of conventions.
posted by yeolcoatl at 8:05 AM on April 27, 2016 [17 favorites]


The intersection of these three sets is the recruitment pool for actual fascism.

Does the study make any claims that these sets of people overlapped? For all we know, they may be almost mutually exclusive groups.


The groups of, respectively, 52%, 53% and 51% of respondents may be almost mutually exclusive? "Okay, I know you are all three of you are hungry but I promise you can each have more than half of the pizza when it gets here."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:05 AM on April 27, 2016


Unfortunately that only works on people who can still remember (and care about) red scares and the Cold War.

Yep. And I've been waiting for this demographic shift for a long, long time. (I am Gen X, I remember the end of the Cold War but I didn't spend so much of my life being scared of commies that the mere utterance of the word "Communism" makes me automatically shit bricks.) This is an explanation I've had to give to many-a European friend. The American version of the Cold War hinged on making the American people terrified of anything that smacked of godless Communism, up to and including all flavors of socialism, communal action, labor unions, or terms such as "Workers" and "Progressive." I've spent most of my life waiting for people who were born after the Cold War was well and truly over to grow up and realize that all of the above was a bunch of "Is your bathroom breeding Bolsheviks????" nonsense.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:07 AM on April 27, 2016 [23 favorites]


I really struggle with why things are the way they are in terms of our economic system and the world of work and money. I struggle even more with why the prevailing view is that we can't change anything, and that this is the way it has always been and will always be. I'm thirty and I've been working for more than a decade, so I take (mild) offence at the idea that I'm some sort of wide-eyed naif who'll grow out of it. In fact, the older I get, the more I question. Perhaps in ten years' time when I'm 40, I'll have two Nissan Qashqais in the drive, a flat screen TV in the kitchen, stress lines around my eyes from years of long hours and I'll be quite happy with the status quo - but I bloody hope not. I want to keep questioning until things are better.

One thing I've never managed to figure out is why, no matter what office job I've worked in over the years, there's been this obsession with hours worked. It seems to reward slowness - every single job I've had, I've had oodles of downtime, I've learned languages, I've posted countless comments online, I've emailed, played text adventures, I've done crosswords, read more news than Trevor McDonald. Perhaps it's me doing something wrong, or perhaps it's just the system, preoccupied with having us present in a room for 40 hours a week regardless of whether or not we've actually got anything to do. I feel like I've wasted years of my life in front of a screen not doing anything particularly productive and I'm starting to get sick of it. Perhaps others feel similar.

Things are not going to stay the same - if I believed that for a second, I'd go crazy. I have to believe that things will change for the better, that we'll progress beyond what are basically Victorian work values forged in the pits and the mills, that we'll move on from an economic system that is nonsensical and broken beyond repair and that technology will finally liberate us rather than keeping us chained to desks in arbitrary locations for increasing amounts of time based on blind terror of the thought of the people above us finding out that we're actually expendable and don't actually do very much and aren't of value. I'm fucking sick and tired of, for instance, being surrounded in an office by people putting on this show of oh, I'm so stressed, I have so much to do, the sky would fall without me in an attempt to avoid looking dispensable.

If I could, I'd jack the whole lot in tonight and move to a small community somewhere and make my way in the world among others who feel the same as me, but our current system has things sewn up to such an extent that radical change is necessary before it's possible. If I knew how to help bring about that sort of radical change, I would. I can't stomach the idea of living like this for the rest of my life. I've had mental health issues for so many years now, and they've largely been down to this existential questioning - why am I sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, why am I sitting in a car looking at someone's brake lights for an hour every night when I just want to be at home because some long-dead boss hundreds of years ago decided 5pm was the time everyone has to go home, why am I always tired and exhausted and what's the point of carrying on if there's no hope of things ever changing for the better?

I could bang on like this for pages and pages, I'm so tired and fed-up and angry and despairing, but I don't know - bin this comment off if you like, it's not constructive or adding anything to the discussion, it's a right old rant, I just had this box, and this keyboard, and this time, and nothing else to do with any of it.
posted by winterhill at 8:09 AM on April 27, 2016 [40 favorites]


The poll seems to show that they have joined the ranks of CAVE people - Citizens Against Virtually Everything. They don't support capitalism, according to the article, but they also don't support government regulation of the economy, or using government spending to spur growth.

I'm not sure what the other alternatives are.


In my little island city on Canada's Left Coast, the alternative economic model would seem to be "urban chicken coops" and "bike lanes."
posted by My Dad at 8:13 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


This (materialism, capitalism) is why I prefer not to discuss -isms at all. I don't know what you mean by them, there are a vast array of subtly-contradictory definitions and their tied up in cultural narratives that soundly trounce any actual disagreement we might have. It becomes a fight about semantics instead of a conversation about policy.

As someone once said: don't tell me your priorities, show me your budget and I'll tell you your priorities.
posted by Skorgu at 8:17 AM on April 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


Every philosophy of [anything] discussion turns into a philosophy of linguistics discussion turns into a bifurcated epistemology / solipsism discussion and anyway that's why I switched my major to creative writing.
posted by penduluum at 8:28 AM on April 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


Also worth pointing out (as I take a sip from my Nalgene water bottle and adjust my Warby Parker reading glasses) that being against capitalism doesn't mean throwing out the whole thing. We can still buy goods in a marketplace without being beholden to the whims of an oppressive system.

Have you been to Europe? ~*~*~*~*~A mythical land where you can wear shoes of your choosing and not let one bad accident send you into crippling medical debt forever~*~*~*~*~
posted by witchen at 8:30 AM on April 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


are we seriously suggesting that a millenial's use and definition of the word materialism in casual conversation is SO BAFFLING when it's the first fucking definition of it in the goddamn dictionary

reading this thread as a millennial has been wild
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 8:40 AM on April 27, 2016 [36 favorites]


Yep, there's been a lot of dust chucked into the eyes in this thread about the meaning of "materialism." It's been a real disservice to an important discussion about the political and economic orientation of young people. Disgraceful.
posted by No Robots at 8:47 AM on April 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's not that I condone fascism or any 'ism' for that matter. Ism's, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an 'ism,' he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon: 'I don't believe in Beatles. I just believe in me.' A good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off of people.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:11 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm an oldster but I trust the kids today to know which system is fucking them over. Capitalism has had 40 years since the end of the Carter administration to show how freakin' awesome it is at everything. It has failed, and there are consequences for that failure, and those consequences will play out over the next 20-30 years.
posted by eclectist at 9:16 AM on April 27, 2016 [15 favorites]


Yesssss, thissss thread hassss been unkind to ussss Ssssnake People. We are disssspleassssed
posted by Slackermagee at 9:17 AM on April 27, 2016 [19 favorites]


a more enlightening survey might be:

a) T/F Shit is fucked up and bullshit
b) example?

There's probably a top-ten and they should probably be on some candidate's agenda. who could that be? not clinton.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:21 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Have you been to Europe? ~*~*~*~*~A mythical land where you can wear shoes of your choosing and not let one bad accident send you into crippling medical debt forever~*~*~*~*~

Most European countries fit the dictionary definition of "capitalism" better than they fit the dictionary definition of "socialism."

Which is why answering a question like: Do you have a positive view of capitalism/socialism?* in the negative is probably a poorly thought out stance**, even if you can agree on the meanings of the terms. Countries that work tend to have implemented a mixture.

If anything, I take the result of this report to somewhat heartening, as it's making it more clear that building and sustaining functional society is more complicated than just subscribing to the "-ism" of your choice.

*the Pew Report is frustrating me because I cannot find the actual question asked.
**it's interesting to note that it's not just snake people here on MeFi who tend to call for an "end to capitalism"
posted by sparklemotion at 9:23 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Look, this is totally a derail, but (a), "Words have meanings" was a link to a t-shirt with that phrase based on a webcomic comic strip which used the phrase as a humorous tagline, and (b) note that "meanings" is plural. My earlier comment was intended to be informative and slightly humorous. I'll try to remember to put my jokes in [joke] [/joke] tags for greater clarity in the future. On the other topic, while language drift and appropriation of specialized terminology for more general meanings are indeed things that happen, regardless of anyone's opinion of whether they like or agree with the processes or not, it is still the case that the point of language is communication, and language-based communication is greatly assisted by having commonly agreed upon definitions for words. Given that metafilter has a very broad user base, I personally think it's best to use standard dictionary definitions for words in discussion threads here, as a general rule. But more to the point, although "capitalism" seems to have been used more colloquially in the survey that is the subject of the fpp, this thread includes a sub-discussion in which economic systems were referred to and compared as economic systems, as in, in a context where their technical usage is both appropriate and important. Likewise for the sub-discussion relating to materialism. I don't always reference specific comments when posting from my phobe, because it's a pain to do and it hasn't generally been my experience in the past that itvis unclear which comments I'm replying to or which sub-discussion I'm participating in. I will try to pay more attention to that in the future. For present clarity, this comment is directed most proximally at yeolcoatl.
posted by eviemath at 9:26 AM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


are we seriously suggesting that a millenial's use and definition of the word materialism in casual conversation is SO BAFFLING when it's the first fucking definition of it in the goddamn dictionary

reading this thread as a millennial has been wild


honestly like 80% of the time reading Metafilter at all as someone who isn't a professional academic and/or librarian is pretty wild.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:35 AM on April 27, 2016 [18 favorites]


Yesssss, thissss thread hassss been unkind to ussss Ssssnake People. We are disssspleassssed

Don't be so smug! David Icke is on to your game!
posted by theorique at 9:39 AM on April 27, 2016


"The groups of, respectively, 52%, 53% and 51% of respondents may be almost mutually exclusive?"

Forgive me if I'm not high enough to do math, but that seems to imply that the minimum overlap is the sum of each percentage above one third — or 55 and a third percent. But since two of the questions — healthcare and shelter — are much more congruent, you could have an almost total overlap with those two, with only one percent excluded, and the anti-capitalism and no-shelter groups overlapping just four percent. The conclusions that could be drawn would be significantly different.

"Okay, I know you are all three of you are hungry but I promise you can each have more than half of the pizza when it gets here.""

This, however, is an excellent metaphor for capitalism.
posted by klangklangston at 9:45 AM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


It's very shallow, though. If it came to picking up pitchforks, I can promise you none of them would show up to the mob. What you're seeing is some very erratic and frustrated apathy.

Maybe it was all drum circles in zucotti but out here in oakland the pitchforks were definitely out and the barricades were literally burning for months.

Before it was brutally oppressed of course with extreme violence. But I'm sure some old person will be along shortly to tell me it was just a bunch of naive hippies with no plan.
posted by bradbane at 10:04 AM on April 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


The Millennial experience of "capitalism" has been one long, never ending, decline of living standards, with no end in sight, and everyone older than 30 telling them how privileged they are to be experiencing it, so STFU, you don't deserve "free stuff", ingrateful kid. It's not really surprising that 54% would reject the label of the economic system with its boot on their necks for their entire lives. "Socialism" is as good a word as any other for "not more of this same shit, for fucks sake".
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:08 AM on April 27, 2016 [22 favorites]


Oldmansplaining.
posted by No Robots at 10:10 AM on April 27, 2016


honestly like 80% of the time reading Metafilter at all as someone who isn't a professional academic and/or librarian is pretty wild.

you misspelled 'software engineer'
posted by beerperson at 10:13 AM on April 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


Seriously, this is kinda like saying "Studies show teenagers don't like chores".
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:36 AM on April 27, 2016


Adding to the philosophy derail... it should be remembered that while eviemath's loose definition of materialism is good enough, materialism is not opposed to supernaturalism but to idealism. And idealism probably has the upper hand here. (With apologies to any actual philosophers in this thread): while materialism is an eminently sensible belief to hold, the access to that material world is conducted entirely by idealistic means: concepts, ideas, beliefs, phenomena, experience, etc. In this sense, materialism as a belief is always at least a step removed from experience, because it is an idealistic derivative of it. It is an idea, a concept. Therefore idealism wins!

(Also, idealism in philosophy has just as little to do with being idealistic as materialism in philosophy has to do with being materialistic, so in the end this is a huge irrelevant derail.)
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:52 AM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


Seriously, this is kinda like saying "Studies show teenagers don't like chores".

Kind of! Except this would only be like that in a world where teenagers only two decades before this point were universally brainwashed into absolute constant love of doing chores.

I know people in their sixties who say "but he's a SOCIALIST" to me about Bernie Sanders, and they panic when I say "yes, that is what people (including me) like about him." This is absolutely a sea change, and pretending it isn't is disingenuous. I recently read some HUAC transcripts, where even admitting you were friends with a communist was tantamount to treason and the end of your career. A generation of Americans saying "yep, socialism sounds good" is not obvious or a given.

Also, I know it is fun to pretend snake people are 13 years old, but just a reminder: millennials are a lot older than that. Our housing crisis is already shifting into a new sort of crisis because a huge portion of the people who are culturally on the cusp of "home ownership" are saying "no, and not just because I can't afford it, but because ownership itself is a trap".
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:53 AM on April 27, 2016 [18 favorites]


I know people in their sixties who say "but he's a SOCIALIST" to me about Bernie Sanders,

That's not a function of their being in their sixties. It's a function of biases that arise from their social class and education. I know a bunch of people in the 50-70 age range who have given money to and voted for Bernie.
posted by aught at 11:02 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seriously, this is kinda like saying "Studies show teenagers don't like chores".

Nah, it's more like saying teenagers don't like the idea of living in a feudal future where our education, healthcare and job choices are dictated by a powerful group of wealthy people who have absolutely no loyalty to any group other than themselves.

Seriously, as someone on the older side of millennial, barring a major change, my future is utterly bleak, I can't afford college, I'm probably never going to own a home, having a family is dependent on having a good job and a stable living situation, neither of which I am likely to have, and I've been watching my friends get arrested, pepper-sprayed and beaten for merely suggesting that there should be investigations into police shootings for a couple months now, so I'm really not in the mood to take any guff offa people who would compare the hellhole I am walking into right now to 'not liking doing chores'.

Oh, and you know what else? I didn't mind chores, because I trusted my parents to take care of me, and that was a fair compensation. I don't feel the same way about any employer I can ever see having, and that's based on about a decade of working and having never not been screwed, illegally, by every employer I have ever had at least once.
posted by neonrev at 11:05 AM on April 27, 2016 [49 favorites]


That's not a function of their being in their sixties. It's a function of biases that arise from their social class and education. I know a bunch of people in the 50-70 age range who have given money to and voted for Bernie.

You're missing my point-- it isn't that I'm implying that people of their age can't be socialists. I'm saying that they talk to people of my generation with the assumption that we have ever lived in an era where "socialist" is a bad word.

Any socialists aged 50-70 years either suffered a lot for doing so, or kept it private, or changed their thinking in more recent years. There were enormous costs to associating yourself with socialism until very recent history. A lot of the people who lived through that history are having trouble adjusting to the fact that their experience of history has very little in common with ours.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:06 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Our housing crisis is already shifting into a new sort of crisis because a huge portion of the people who are culturally on the cusp of "home ownership" are saying "no, and not just because I can't afford it, but because ownership itself is a trap".

I'm in my 40s, and my experiences over the last decade owning a condo and later attempting (and failing, due to costs) to buy a house in one of the most berserk housing markets in the country have convinced me of this. Yesterday, a friend in his late 30s said as much on Facebook, and had multiple other "olds" agreeing with him.

It's not just millennials. My impression is that there are huge number of people 35 and over taking an exhausted but clear-eyed look at the fundamentals of the "American Dream" and concluding that they're no longer worth the expense, stress, and risk.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:07 AM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


One thing I've never managed to figure out is why, no matter what office job I've worked in over the years, there's been this obsession with hours worked. It seems to reward slowness - every single job I've had, I've had oodles of downtime, I've learned languages, I've posted countless comments online, I've emailed, played text adventures, I've done crosswords, read more news than Trevor McDonald. Perhaps it's me doing something wrong, or perhaps it's just the system, preoccupied with having us present in a room for 40 hours a week regardless of whether or not we've actually got anything to do. I feel like I've wasted years of my life in front of a screen not doing anything particularly productive and I'm starting to get sick of it. Perhaps others feel similar.

I like to reread this article at least once every few months.
posted by Automocar at 11:20 AM on April 27, 2016 [12 favorites]


Anyway, I'm a millennial (barely) that rejects capitalism, because while I believe that a system predicated on the profit motive expressed through the mechanism of private ownership of capital is super good at lifting people out of abject, desperate poverty, it's not very good at anything else, and is literally destroying our habitat.
posted by Automocar at 11:23 AM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Millennials are a lot older than that. Our housing crisis is already shifting into a new sort of crisis because a huge portion of the people who are culturally on the cusp of "home ownership" are saying "no, and not just because I can't afford it, b

The definition of millennial seems to change based on whether it's a kids-these-days article or a why-won't-these-assholes-grow-up-and-buy-a-house one.

Like I'm 30 and own a business but that doesn't fit the entitled, lazy snake people narrative, so it's a little ironic when the olds tell me I must just not understand what capitalism/socialism means. I know what it means, I eat bootstraps for breakfast and the taste has basically made me a raging communist. I still think everything is fucked beyond belief.

The boomers spent the last 30-40 years dismantling the institutions that helped them accumulate their wealth, and now seem so incredulous that the rest of us are not ok with that.
posted by bradbane at 11:29 AM on April 27, 2016 [34 favorites]


Our economy and society is built on endless competition.

Neoliberal capitalism tells us that this is an optimal state of affairs.

Snake people are realizing that success in this system is empty but nevertheless required just to stay afloat.

We also realize it doesn't have to be that way.

Those arguing that we can't do better are suffering from a severe lack of imagination.
posted by 12%juicepulp at 11:56 AM on April 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


profit motive expressed through the mechanism of private ownership of capital is super good at lifting people out of abject, desperate poverty

No it's not. Without wage controls and worker protections, private capital would work people to death for little or no pay. Capitalism puts the power in the hands of capitalists and if you have something they want (i.e. your labor) they want to pay the bare minimum to get it.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:10 PM on April 27, 2016 [12 favorites]


Also, I know it is fun to pretend snake people are 13 years old, but just a reminder: millennials are a lot older than that.

I am sometimes a millennial (born in 1984), but I mostly feel like millenials are my younger siblings, and damn I am proud of them. I don't know what's up with people who came generations before and now seem to think millenials are these selfish little monsters who only care about their ipads and whose political interest is insincere or hipstery.

Like honestly those 40, 50, 60 year olds on MetaFilter (who I assume are mostly lefties): you should be proud! Your protests, your activism, your conversations, your parenting, they all paved the way for this. This is the first generation in the USA that doesn't necessarily think redistribution of wealth is a bad thing. This is the first time capitalism isn't the obvious winner in the history in the US. BERNIE SANDERS IS A VIABLE CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT. These are the generation of people who grew up while FREAKING BUSH was president, and all his efforts to indoctrinate them FAILED.

Why are you stifling the fruit of your hard work? Millenials might not be perfect. Those in their 20s might be a little immature, even (like most of us were), but they are here, and they are smart, creative, and more importantly hopeful.
posted by Tarumba at 12:10 PM on April 27, 2016 [32 favorites]


Like honestly those 40, 50, 60 year olds on MetaFilter (who I assume are mostly lefties): you should be proud!

I am so very, very proud. I still can't really believe that Bernie Sanders is a thing. I honestly get choked up when I think about it at the same time I think about my dad having the RCMP check into his teaching at his college during the Cold War/ Vietnam War.
posted by No Robots at 12:22 PM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm just so tired and fed-up and exhausted and sick of it all and don't really know who to talk to about any of it. So I'm sorry for ranting on here - please do bin the comment if it's annoying.

There's a big map of the world on the wall in my house. It's so big - the world, I mean, not the map or my house. There's so much of it, so many places, so much nature and wildlife and creatures and plants the likes of which I have never seen, and I'm stuck in this one tiny corner of it, on my little island, doing the same thing over and over and over.

Things are alright on the outside. I'm employed, I have a house and car, I'm typing this on a computer - in world terms I am in the top few percent, I am sure. I feel bad for not feeling good. But inside I am desperate, I don't know where to go, who to turn to, whether there even are other people in the world who feel the same as me and want to do something about it and make things better.

I'm sick of performing. I feel like the world's worst actor. I'm sick of pretending every single day that I'm someone else, that I care about whatever job I happen to be doing at the time, that I'm happy to be there, that I'm not breaking inside every single time I think about the godforsaken repetitive mess that is day-to-day life. I'm tired of pretending to be someone else either in order to get work or to retain it, and watching the days and weeks and months tick away knowing that that's another day gone when I haven't been true to myself. I don't want this life anymore. I don't want to see the inside of another office or another flickery Outlook screen full of emails that people send to each other in a vague attempt to feel sort-of important and 'please don't sack me'.

I feel increasingly irritated by the whole thing, the lack of self-agency, the lack of excitement or hope or anything other than this constant grinding lurch from crisis to crisis, and what scares me is that I don't know if this increasing sense that the current world and culture I live in is a controlling and awful place that I want to escape from is my mental health deteriorating and how much of it is borne out by truth - it's really hard to tell from inside your own head and I guess I'm just splurging whatever's in my head out onto the computer screen because it's better this way than keeping it in there and letting it go around and around.

sorry for posting yet another rant - please do delete it if it's irritating or annoying. I just... wish I could change things, wish I could escape to a better world, wish that there were others around me who didn't say "hey, this is just how it is, get over thasen and deal wi' it" and would say "hey, yes, we can work to fix this stuff and make people's lives more fulfilling and worth living and help people feel like they are worth something and their lives and their experiences are valid and we can have all of this and we don't have to pretend we're enjoying being beaten over the head over and over again any more". Where are these people? Surely I am not the only one in the world. I don't even know what I would label myself as politically - I just want things to change and for people in the world to feel like our existences and experiences are valid, and I want our current system to hurry up and crumble so we can put something better in. Sorry ~blushes~
posted by winterhill at 12:23 PM on April 27, 2016 [16 favorites]


The definition of millennial ... the olds tell me ... The boomers spent

I just think this sort of grouping is an artifact of bad contemporary journalism that wants simple explanations and doesn't actually reflect the way political beliefs, sympathies, or achievements actually play out in the general population. But they make great CNN copy and blog post fodder, sure; the real world is crazy complicated and frustrating and gives us all a headache trying to figure out.
posted by aught at 12:24 PM on April 27, 2016


I just want things to change and for people in the world to feel like our existences and experiences are valid, and I want our current system to hurry up and crumble so we can put something better in.

The Empire of Nothing is a hollow empire. We must become barbarians in its crumbling remains, as we burn it down and start the world from its ashes.
posted by theorique at 12:26 PM on April 27, 2016


...sound ideological vases for their views...

Obviously a typo, but I love the metaphor. "Yes it's pretty, but it's an antique and very delicate. If you're not careful and it hits the floor, the lady of the house will be very put out."


Not obviously a typo! Very alchemical.

We do need a transformation of our current iteration of capitalism, that much is for sure. And don't look too enviously at Europe, the 1% are trying to weaken worker protections on several levels.
posted by fraula at 12:28 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


A lot of my agemates have some, i don't know, loose rhetoric, but if you press them they would describe the problems with capitalism quite correctly:

- work is improperly valued
- Having money (or capital) makes it easier to get more money (because profits go to the owner and not the worker)
- Money and capital translate directly into political power

I mean, just based on those last two facts, a plutocracy seems like the inevitable outcome of capitalism. Not some unintended perversion.

reading this thread as a millennial has been wild
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2016 [19 favorites]


"hey, yes, we can work to fix this stuff and make people's lives more fulfilling and worth living and help people feel like they are worth something and their lives and their experiences are valid and we can have all of this and we don't have to pretend we're enjoying being beaten over the head over and over again any more". Where are these people?

Not a very metafilter answer, I know, but: church. Not all churches, maybe not even most, but still. And I'm sure other houses of worship have similar outlooks. Even if you don't believe, finding a religious congregation where daily work is being done to mitigate (and dismantle) the destructive effects of robber baron economies and treat victims of global capitalism as whole and valuable human beings can help stave off the existential despair.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:38 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


... it's a little ironic when the olds tell me I must just not understand what capitalism/socialism means. I know what it means ...

Hey, don't look at me. I haven't a clue if you know what "capitalism" or "socialism" means. Haven't a clue if the people surveyed do or not, either. And given the many connotations of each word and the variety of actual political policies that could be and have been pursued in the name of both, I'm not sure that I know what "capitalism" and/or "socialism" means in the abstract, detached from specific historical circumstances.

But I am struck by how much this thread resembles the kinds at Reason.com—if you replaced "capitalism" with "statism." Everyone's agin' it, just not real clear on precisely what it is they're agin, or what precisely what they're for.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:39 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Like honestly those 40, 50, 60 year olds on MetaFilter (who I assume are mostly lefties): you should be proud! Your protests, your activism, your conversations, your parenting, they all paved the way for this.

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn't mean it, but this comes across as massively condescending. Those who have protested over the decades -- for abolition, ending child labor, women's suffrage, fighting poverty after the Depression, increasing labor union power against wealthy bosses, civil rights for African Americans, ending the Vietnam war and combating the military industrial complex, fighting for women's rights / the ERA, banning nuclear weapons and power, fighting for gay rights, cleaning up the environment, -- did not do it simply to set the stage for you. The struggle for power goes on and on.

This is the first generation in the USA that doesn't necessarily think redistribution of wealth is a bad thing.

Sigh. No it isn't, not by a long shot.

a plutocracy seems like the inevitable outcome of capitalism

Of course it is. Marx wrote about this back around the time of the U.S. Civil War.
posted by aught at 12:40 PM on April 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


Those who have protested over the decades...did not do it simply to set the stage for you.

I did.
posted by No Robots at 12:57 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


did not do it simply to set the stage for you.

I don't think you understand what I mean to say. You did not do it for me (and I know you didn't, because I didn't even live in the US until 2009). You worked hard for your society, and for long term change in your society. Unless you wanted short term change only, you were working hard for the future generations.

Of course, if you want to believe that I think you worked ONLY for the future generations (and for me no less, because I am a selfish self-absorbed millennial) and not for all of us present past and future, then I suspect you might be willfully trying to find offense in my comment.

Sigh. No it isn't, not by a long shot.

Show me when was the last time there was an equivalent of Bernie Sanders two steps away from presidency. In one of the mainstream parties.
posted by Tarumba at 12:59 PM on April 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


...to continue the philosophy derail just for the hell of it, thinking about the adventures of concepts throughout the centuries. I assume most mefies would think they are realists of some sort. Well, what do you think was the original name for the following idea: abstract concepts and ideas are actually real things that have existence, so that they are not mere words or names?

Such is the fate of philosophy: those who call themselves realists today are actually nominalists, and those who think they are materialists are in fact idealists...
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:00 PM on April 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


I didn't find Tarumba's comment patronizing in any way, aught. Though I did feel some internal cringing because I wasn't what you would call a social justice warrior for most of my 20s-30s, so I don't really feel entitled to any kudos.

If my kid turns out all right, I'll take some credit for that but otherwise my Gen X experience has been cutting through a morass of confusion, indoctrination and misinformation to find a way to live that doesn't make me hate myself and others, while doing the tiny, pitiful amount I can do to make change. I've marched in a few anti-war rallies, voted for many liberal candidates who never won, donated when I could, and of course ranted on the internet. As far as "making change happen" well I don't know. There are Gen Xers who have, but I can't take credit for that. The problems we face are so huge that I mostly hope I just haven't made things worse.
posted by emjaybee at 1:01 PM on April 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm sick of performing.

We are the hollow men.
posted by aramaic at 1:11 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


Show me when was the last time there was an equivalent of Bernie Sanders two steps away from presidency.

You may have not heard of this guy named Franklin Roosevelt. He was President of the US for twelve years. (No, I don't remember him; I'm not that old.) Following President Roosevelt, there were Democrats like Adlai Stevenson, George McGovern, and Teddy Kennedy, just to name a few. Very much in the mold of Bernie Sanders, they were. A few of them even ran for President.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:12 PM on April 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


God, it's like trying to pay a compliment to an overly modest person.

Whatever, I appreciate what you have done, and I have high hopes for this country. I think the democratic socialism of Bernie is special and I think we are going places. I will thank you even if you don't like it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I would prefer it if you saw me as an ally instead of a self absorved bandwagon jumper, but I think I kind of get where you are coming from.

And please don't think I represent millennial standard of knowledge of US history. I moved here in my mid 20s and my version of national history involved the Incas and Spain - I was born in Peru.
posted by Tarumba at 1:22 PM on April 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


A few of them even ran for President.

This is true. It is also true, however, that socialism has been on the run since the Thatcher/Reagan/Kohl/Mulroney years. Its recent resurgence is very inspiring.
posted by No Robots at 1:23 PM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


octobersurpise beat me to it but I would throw in Eugene McCarthy, Ralph Nader, maybe William Jennings Bryan (though, despite all Bryan's populism, the Scopes trial leaves a bad taste in a contemporary mouth).

It is also true, however, that socialism has been on the run since the Thatcher/Reagan/Kohl/Mulroney years. Its recent resurgence is very inspiring.

I would agree, though I have to try very hard not to be cynical about the prospects, and worry about any raised consciousness going away quickly after this election year, since everything in our media culture these days seems to work as a transient fad. (Not a generational critique, true I think of attention spans of all ages who are plugged into phones and web.)

Final thought is that the fundamental change someone like Sanders represents might only be more effective coming from the ground up, rather than being introduced at the Presidential level first. The President (as we have witnessed dramatically during the last 8 years) can only do so much when opposed by a legislature, and by elected officials on the state and local level. I know it seems impossible from our vantage point, but lasting change would be more effective if it started in local and state government and worked its way up through Congress. People wild for Bernie need to strategize about how to get local Bernies into office in their towns and cities, as governors and congressional reps.
posted by aught at 1:34 PM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't think you understand what I mean to say.

Tarumba, my apologies if I misrepresented what you were trying to say.
posted by aught at 1:36 PM on April 27, 2016


The acceptance of the name is important. I say this as someone who had some trouble from the socialist label.
posted by No Robots at 1:37 PM on April 27, 2016


"I know people in their sixties who say "but he's a SOCIALIST" to me about Bernie Sanders, and they panic when I say "yes, that is what people (including me) like about him.""

From about 20, which was mumble years ago, I started identifying as a Democratic Socialist in part to undermine the stigma around the words. Unfortunately, in the context of America's current election, people respond with, "Oh, like Bernie Sanders?" To which I must reply, "No, like Kim Jong Il. JUCHE!"
posted by klangklangston at 1:37 PM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Final thought is that the fundamental change someone like Sanders represents might only be more effective coming from the ground up, rather than being introduced at the Presidential level first.

Kind of a chicken and egg problem though, no? Thanks to Sanders engaging at the national level, there are thousands of people (myself included) who've "woken up" to the fact that there are many, many, people who share the same vision, and who are excited about directing that energy into a new wave of progressivism.
posted by kyp at 2:23 PM on April 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


This is the first generation in the USA that doesn't necessarily think redistribution of wealth is a bad thing.

We did win the New Deal. By the skin of our political teeth, because a combination of ecological disaster and social breakdown so bad that we lost most of an economic generation and way too many rich people were flirting with fascism. The silver lining to that is, hey, it's happening again: shuffle and New Deal!
posted by clew at 2:42 PM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Kind of a chicken and egg problem though, no? Thanks to Sanders engaging at the national level, there are thousands of people (myself included) who've "woken up" to the fact that there are many, many, people who share the same vision, and who are excited about directing that energy into a new wave of progressivism."

Yes, same with me. I'm a millennial voter and this last week was the first time I've ever voted in a primary election and it was all because of Bernie. I intend to vote in midterm elections going forward. I came of age during the Bush and early Obama years (when the Tea Party became a major national force) and I've never thought that people with my political beliefs were electable nationally. They probably weren't, before now. I've never truly identified with the Democratic party and never really bothered to interrogate why, before Bernie rose to his level of prominence. After listening to him speak and becoming really enthusiastic about his campaign, I realized it was because I never believed in the centrist third way style of politics that the Democrats employ and I think it's been just as responsible for moving our Overton window dangerously to the right as anything the Republicans have ever done and voting for Democrats (even Obama) made me feel like I was trying to forestall a worse outcome, rather than actually vote my beliefs.

The fact that Bernie did as well as he did makes be believe that people who actually share my politics might be electable in the future and that's what gives me the drive and enthusiasm to want to engage more--to volunteer for local candidates, vote in midterms, vote in primaries--going forward. In the past, the only thing I ever did was vote for president because I felt that was my duty but I didn't really care enough to do anything else.
posted by armadillo1224 at 3:17 PM on April 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


This:

52% of respondents disagreed with basic healthcare insurance as a right. 53% did not think shelter, heat and food should be provided by the government to those who do not have it.

is fucking terrifying. What the actual fuck is going on with the 52-53% who would be OK with people dying sick, cold, hungry and poor in a ditch? These don't sound like people who are going to vote Sanders.
posted by Hoopo at 4:36 PM on April 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


Fun story: in 1996 I contemplated getting a rose-in-fist tatoo, but couldn't because I was too drunk; until that point I was unaware that you could be too drunk to get a tatoo.
posted by eclectist at 4:38 PM on April 27, 2016


Also just so I'm clear, "milennials" includes people in their early/mid-30s at this point, no? Most definitions I see say it includes people born in the early 80s. Kind of having difficulty parsing comments about mefites in their 40s paving the way ... I'm not quite at 40 yet but by these definitions I was in high school and university with milennials.
posted by Hoopo at 4:42 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


"most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to around 2000"

So yes, there's a vast difference between older "millennials" born in 1980-83 (like me), who were in middle-high school when AOL was just coming on the scene, and voted for the first time in 2000 (they're both the same right?) or 2004; and younger "millennials" born in 1995-2000, who never knew of a world without broadband, Facebook and iPhones, and voted for the first time for Obama's second term in 2012, or have yet to vote in their first election.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:51 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know of more than one "millennial" with 3 kids. I'm sure we'll think of a catchy name to blame them for everything wrong in the world by 2020-2024. Maybe "the Burning Generation", since climate change will clearly be the fault of children born between 2000 and 2020. Pull yourselves up by the bootstraps now, Third Graders. Global warming won't solve itself, and we're all going to blame you.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:57 PM on April 27, 2016


Rejecting capitalism and supporting communism strikes me as just young folks trying not to be like their parents, and also maybe a little "grass is greener" on the side you're not standing on.

As an older millennial, I don't explicitly support or reject either. Deng Xiaoping sums it up best for me when he says, "It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice." And I would go beyond and say why not use a gray cat or an orange tabby or even a totally different animal like an owl? As long as it achieves the goals of society and government it shouldn't really matter.

As for definitions, I always thought that when people are railing against socialism or communism they were against planned or command economies. Which is interesting, because a lot of multinational corporations these days are kind of like islands (or even continents) of planned economies in a sea of the free market.
posted by FJT at 5:02 PM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


52% of respondents disagreed with basic healthcare insurance as a right. 53% did not think shelter, heat and food should be provided by the government to those who do not have it.

is fucking terrifying. What the actual fuck is going on with the 52-53% who would be OK with people dying sick, cold, hungry and poor in a ditch? These don't sound like people who are going to vote Sanders.


That's not actually what the study said though. The person you quoted misinterpreted the results. From the [pdf] of the report:

Q97. Basic health insurance is a right for all people, and if someone has no means of paying for it, the government should provide it.
48% strongly agree or somewhat agree
28% neither agree nor disagree
21% strongly disagree or somewhat disagree

Q108. Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them.
47% strongly agree or somewhat agree
30% neither agree nor disagree
20% strongly disagree or somewhat disagree
posted by melissasaurus at 5:10 PM on April 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


I'm surprised to see nobody has mentioned Piketty yet, or even the Occupy movement. If you want a glimpse of what Millenials believe about capitalism, Piketty is as good a place to start as any. During the Occupy movement, Piketty's 700-page technical tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century actually topped Amazon's best-seller list, it was so popular with young people who are angry about rampant economic inequality. Here's what Piketty had to say about Occupy. What people mean by socialism is much more varied; I think most Millennials tend to picture a Nordic-style social democracy with a restrained free market and universal social programs focused on redistribution to counter the accumulation of wealth at the top that results from our current form of capitalism, rather than the unrestrained crony capitalist model with a minimal social safety net like we have now.

I find it kind of hilarious how older people dismissed Occupy as a pointless movement that achieved nothing and are now simultaneously downplaying the shocking success of Bernie Sanders' movement and the increasing rejection of hypercapitalist values by young people. If you can't see the success of Occupy in those changing attitudes, you're being willfully obtuse. Despite the conventional wisdom of the Baby Boomers, political experiences in your formative years actually tend to leave a strong imprint on political beliefs as people age - I wouldn't expect this nascent acceptance of socialist values to disappear as young people get older and discover their bootstraps, especially since there are fewer and fewer carrots left to entice them to buy back into the system.

As far as the GenX/Millennial dividing line, I was born in 1983. I've culturally identified with GenX most of my life because I was such an early adopter to the internet, which was heavily dominated by GenX folks in its early heyday, but economically and politically I've recently found that I generally have much more in common with Millennials. Paralyzing student debt and hopeless career prospects have gone a long way to increase solidarity and radicalize our economic views, especially when faced with endless Boomer/GenX op-eds about what a bunch of spoiled babies we are (mostly based on idiotic stereotypes based on the top 1% of Millennials anyway). People who have steady jobs and aren't paying half their paychecks in student loans might do well to spend some time trying to understand the economic position of Millennials. There are a lot of good pieces, but this article from Zero Hedge is a good start - 25 Reasons Millennials are Screaming Mad about America's Unfair Economy. This article from the Guardian gives a more global picture of how Millennials have failed to prosper as compared to previous generations.
posted by dialetheia at 5:11 PM on April 27, 2016 [20 favorites]




To head off some of the customary victim-blaming about student debt, I should add that the cost of not going to college has gotten higher and higher for Millennials as compared to previous generations; wage stagnation and the replacement of manufacturing jobs with higher-skilled service positions (or much lower-paid service positions) have put an enormous amount of pressure on young people to get at least some college education. This Pew report covers it well:
The economic analysis finds that Millennial college graduates ages 25 to 32 who are working full time earn more annually—about $17,500 more—than employed young adults holding only a high school diploma. The pay gap was significantly smaller in previous generations. College-educated Millennials also are more likely to be employed full time than their less-educated counterparts (89% vs. 82%) and significantly less likely to be unemployed (3.8% vs. 12.2%).
posted by dialetheia at 5:42 PM on April 27, 2016 [10 favorites]


(Piketty's book came out a few years after the Occupy movement happened, not during)
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:01 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Millenials say they don't support Capitalism, says study."

Response: Haw Haw, patchouli hippies amirite *giant fart*
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:11 PM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


And please don't think I represent millennial standard of knowledge of US history. I moved here in my mid 20s.

Nobody cares where you are from, but if you don't know US history you should probably just avoid statements along the lines of "let me make proclamations about how x is unique in US history".
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just think this sort of grouping is an artifact of bad contemporary journalism that wants simple explanations and doesn't actually reflect the way political beliefs, sympathies, or achievements actually play out in the general population.

I agree with you, it's just lazy shorthand, but if I talk about it in terms of capital or class people say

Rejecting capitalism and supporting communism strikes me as just young folks trying not to be like their parents

I don't think you have to be particularly radical to see that people my age are fucked, and the left (Picketty etc) make a whole lot more sense than the neoliberal consensus.
posted by bradbane at 8:22 PM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was having a hard time explaining this all to my older supervisor... some of this might be skewing away from the specific capitalism/socialism thing, but I think for people who were adults when all this went down it must be hard to imagine just how formative an age we Millennials were at for recent political events, and what the impact of that is going to be as we gradually become The Grownups.

Like, ok, I'm 28 now. Prime Millennial age. The first time I can remember caring about a presidential election was in 2000. I was in middle school then. I was in middle school for 9/11, we invaded Iraq when I was in high school, and in my first presidential election I voted for Obama and I thought the whole Bush thing was just a blip... and then the financial crisis hit while I was in college, meaning I've spent my entire adult life, literally, dealing with the fallout from the financial crisis.

Is it any wonder that my generation is looking at the way this country is currently being run, and the role which wealth plays in that, and thinking "wow, what a giant garbage fire of a way to run a fucking society"?
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:35 PM on April 27, 2016 [20 favorites]


I find it kind of hilarious how older people dismissed Occupy as a pointless movement that achieved nothing and are now simultaneously downplaying the shocking success of Bernie Sanders' movement and the increasing rejection of hypercapitalist values by young people. If you can't see the success of Occupy in those changing attitudes, you're being willfully obtuse.

I'm not much older than you and am still a doubter of what Occupy accomplished. Tgese attitudes aren't all that new and I don't see a line from Occupy to Sanders. I see a Democratic party trying to hand the nomination to Hilary Clinton, who was who they thought was the most electable candidate they had. She also happens to be an incredibly polarizing figure who has been demonized by the Right (and others, quite likely on the Left as well) consistently for the better part of 2 decades. That's not a good spot to be in, but I mean look at the competition here. The pre-Obama regular candidates are gone to scandal or prior defeats. Thankfully the Republicans are an even worse mess, with a cartoon character like Donald Trump being an actual threat of winning a nomination. And somehow flirting with the 40s in presidential polls on top of that. It's looking like a lot of the same old story from where I'm sitting. A centrist vs a fuckin whackjob, with a large number of people having no choice but to hold their nose.

I do think it's encouraging that younger people are willing to go out and protest and that this will shape their political beliefs. I did that too, not all that long before Occupy. The anti-globalization protests, the anti-Iraq protests, the anti-Bush protests...these were international and they were big. We didn't camp out though, and we didn't have twitter. Strangely enough I gather Occupy was sparked by Adbusters, who were a big deal in the mid/late 90s (and are apparently still headquarted in a house in a quiet neighbourhood about 2 blocks from where I live) with the whole anti-commercialism and "culture jamming" things that turned on a lot of us when we were teenagers.

Anyways, hopefully in a few years from now the younger generations won't mind me pulling up a lawn chair and sitting with them as we watch all this shit burn.
posted by Hoopo at 9:17 PM on April 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Naturalism

What it actually means: You are a nudist.


That would be Naturism.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 9:18 PM on April 27, 2016


Also consider the ubiquitous morass of retail hell among this generation. Cashiering customers on too few hours for too little pay with more clopen shifts than should be remotely legal or fair and knowing that might actually be the best job you ever get. You work through high school, you work through school, you graduate -- and here you are, same job, same hell, except you get more duties for still too few hours and still no pay rise and still no power to deal with customers who want you to magically produce things you don't have while refusing to ever entertain a thought that perhaps they just can't have it today and there are other colours in stock but they just simply won't do and neither will ordering it off the internet and neither will visiting the other stores in the same town that have the colour -- it must be Right! Fucking! Now!

Rinse, repeat, for years.

Except now you have a degree and now your boss is making noises about you being overqualified. If you haven't been fired or stiffed of hours already to the point you might just as well quit because the commute is taking more than the pay is worth. Rinse, repeat, with your other jobs that you may or may not have been able to hang onto. Rinse, repeat, student debt that doesn't get or care you're being fired because you did the thing that got you the debt to begin with. Rinse, repeat, customers. Rinse, repeat, bosses. Rinse fucking repeat.

Don't underestimate the impact of sustained, hopeless retail hell on personal opinions of capitalism.
posted by E. Whitehall at 10:01 PM on April 27, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm sick of performing. I feel like the world's worst actor. I'm sick of pretending every single day that I'm someone else, that I care about whatever job I happen to be doing at the time, that I'm happy to be there, that I'm not breaking inside every single time I think about the godforsaken repetitive mess that is day-to-day life. I'm tired of pretending to be someone else either in order to get work or to retain it, and watching the days and weeks and months tick away knowing that that's another day gone when I haven't been true to myself.

Quitting the Paint Factory: On the virtues of Idleness.

There are other ways to live, even under capitalism. They aren't for everybody, and they can ask a lot from you, but if you're not happy with your life in this way (as I was) it might be worthwhile to stop and consider what you'd rather be doing instead. For myself, never having a mortgage or children is a small price to pay for freedom. I work for a short time, save every penny I can, and then when I can't stand it anymore I quit and travel, living on my savings until I run out of money again. Some people I know hitchhike or bicycle across the country. Check out WWOOFing. I've talked to forest rangers, they seem to enjoy their jobs.

If you don't have anything to lose (it sounds like you're miserable), why not see if another way of living suits you better?
posted by Feyala at 10:46 PM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not much older than you and am still a doubter of what Occupy accomplished. These attitudes aren't all that new and I don't see a line from Occupy to Sanders.

I'm older than both of you unfortunately and I'd say Occupy was the first time since Mondale that we got straight-up redistributionist / populist rhetoric back in the Overton window. It's OK to talk about now. Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama and every second tier figure except Wellstone was giving a lot of deference to 'job creators' and 'rising tides' and all that crap and studiously avoiding even the word "liberal". After Occupy we have Warren and Sanders as political celebrities and while Obama is still a centrist even he was stumbling into sentences like "you didn't build that."

Of course, being mid-life and quite fortunate in career I have mixed feelings about this. It's like the revolution might finally arrive and I'm going to be one of the ones with my back to the wall. But regardless I really think Occupy opened things up.

(OTOH, Piketty is an odd thing. I read the whole book and it struck me as utterly uninspiring for anyone who already believed that inequality existed--I recommended friends skip everything except for the wealth tax which is like the last fifth of the book. It was a best seller, sure, but also the least read book. Which makes sense to me. His book's popularity was completely a byproduct of the times.)
posted by mark k at 11:27 PM on April 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


I don't think you have to be particularly radical to see that people my age are fucked, and the left (Picketty etc) make a whole lot more sense than the neoliberal consensus.

No, but it's getting harder to tell when people mean what they say or are trying to position themselves more radically to get heard, or negotiate better, or to just troll. Trump isn't the first one to do so, but he has been very successful in getting some to believe what he says and others to believe he doesn't mean what he says.
posted by FJT at 2:48 AM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you don't have anything to lose (it sounds like you're miserable), why not see if another way of living suits you better?

This "other way to live" - would it enable a millennial-age person to waive the student loan debt they have probably racked up?.....I suspect not.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:47 AM on April 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


One way of dealing with the situation is to live peacefully within bourgeois material culture without embracing its materialist ideology. Geist trotz Welt (spirit in spite of world).
posted by No Robots at 8:04 AM on April 28, 2016


I think Donald Trump is the primary article of evidence that capitalism is broken. Do you really believe he has, over the course of his life, worked thousands (or millions) of times harder than you do? Or that he has worked thousands of times smarter than you?

I don't think everybody necessarily needs to (or even can) start from the same exact starting point, in terms of personal and family resources, skills, knowledge, access, etc, but there has to be some general sense that like amounts of effort are rewarded similarly. If the system seems entirely unfair, people are going to find ways to opt out of it.
posted by newdaddy at 8:31 AM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


When money is speech and political power, and there's no redistribution mechanisms like estate or wealth taxes, it only takes a couple generations for capitalism to morph into end-stage oligarchy.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:07 AM on April 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


After Occupy we have Warren and Sanders as political celebrities and while Obama is still a centrist even he was stumbling into sentences like "you didn't build that."

I may be wrong here but I think Warren was a political celebrity before Occupy. I remember her absolutely killing it on the Daily Show all the way back in 2009.

You both may be right about Occupy. I'm not American, just saturated with their news. But the economy crashing often leads to political change, and I remember pretty widespread anger about the Wall Street bailouts and "too big to fail" independent of Occupy. Hard for people to stomach that on both sides; even the Tea Partiers were against that and they were hardly allies. You previously had the housing crisis, with people losing their homes and/or large amounts of equity. You also had a good portion of boomers getting close to retirement realizing they didn't have enough savings to pay for it and dealing with more and more medical conditions associated with aging. These were significant events for people, and it opened the door for increased support of social programs, economic regulation, and government spending. I guess I'm not comfortable with the conclusion it was the protest that got us here. The protest seemed to me to be a symptom, not the cause.
posted by Hoopo at 10:34 AM on April 28, 2016


Totally: Occupy was of course caused by conditions of inequality and bullshit.

But one effect of the very public and sustained protest was that some very direct and nationwide conversations got moving forward about power and wealth distribution in this society that were previously far, far less mainstream. This is evident in so many things, not the least of this is the fact that the positions staked out by Bernie Sanders' campaign are an actual, legitimate part of political debate at this time.

Even Obama uses the term "the 1%." The popularity of this clear articulation of wealth disparity is absolutely something we can credit to Occupy.

Occupy didn't cause left-wing populism to take root in the US (this time around), but it certainly was a loud part of bringing the discussion into places it hadn't been before (at least not for a long time).
posted by eyesontheroad at 11:02 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


As an older millennial, I don't explicitly support or reject either. Deng Xiaoping sums it up best for me when he says, "It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice." And I would go beyond and say why not use a gray cat or an orange tabby or even a totally different animal like an owl? As long as it achieves the goals of society and government it shouldn't really matter.

I'm sorta with FJT here. This of course is categorically NOT to be taken as an endorsement of any features of the PRC government today; I wholeheartedly reject their censorship, hierarchichal pseudo-meritocracy, delusions of cultural superiority, and authoritarianism. But they've brought an awful number of people out of the lower, struggling-to-eat class and into something middle-class-ish or better, and I can't quite bring myself to ignore that.

All of which is pretty much to say: the complexities of the 21st century are perhaps unlikely to be adequately addressed by the -isms of the 20th and prior. At risk of infuriating a few here, the goal in addressing societal ills manifested most visibly by the US right now should be concrete prosperity and real justice for most to all, even if that means revising levels of attachment to understandably beloved ideologies.

/$0.02
posted by iffthen at 11:50 AM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


But they've brought an awful number of people out of the lower, struggling-to-eat class and into something middle-class-ish or better, and I can't quite bring myself to ignore that.

I can't ignore the tens of millions of people who died during the Cultural Revolution. And it seems to me the transition of some portion of the contemporary Chinese population to "middle-class" standards reflects to some degree its re-entry into capitalist markets - doing business with and for the high tech industry.
posted by aught at 12:32 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


you misspelled 'software engineer'

that's the other 20%

I honestly have no idea why I'm allowed to be here

posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 5:47 PM on April 28, 2016


I can't ignore the tens of millions of people who died during the Cultural Revolution.

What the quote from Deng Xiaoping above is getting at, is that the Chinese government made a change from doing stuff based on ideology, towards doing stuff based on pragmatism.

Ideology produces stuff like the Cultural Revolution, McCarthyism, Fascism, War on Drugs etc.

Pragmatism produces real change.

The reason is that all ideologies are simplistic. They in essence say, "The world should be like this". For example:

Landlords are rich and peasants are poor. Therefore do away with the landlords and put the peasants to work on collectively owned land. The peasants don't want that? Kill them until they see the One True Path.

Drugs are bad. Therefore people who use drugs are bad. Therefore punish them.

Newsflash: Punishment doesn't work. Deterrence doesn't work. Coercion can only work temporarily.

Pragmatism recognises that we live in an imperfect world, and looks for ways to identify & achieve a desired goal. For example:

Drugs cause harm. How can we minimise the harm caused by drugs? Provide addiction treatment. Provide safe ways for intractable addicts to deal with their addiction. Recognize that having some drug addicts in society is a lesser evil than pumping $billions into a criminal underworld.

As I'm sure most will agree, the Chinese govt is far from a bastion of freedom & democracy. However they did manage something that very few authoritarian regimes have ever done - they stopped working within the blinkered outlook of ideology and started doing what worked.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:45 PM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Pragmatism produces real change.

The reason is that all ideologies are simplistic. They in essence say, "The world should be like this".


You still need some sort of ideological value system to decide what "this" should be, though, and what sacrifices are acceptable in order to get there. This is one of the tricks people play with neoliberal economics: they pretend that it is simple pragmatism without any ideology whatsoever, and simply elide the means by which they decide on the proper goals and prioritization of interests as if the "common good" was obvious to everyone. Unfortunately, it isn't. In order to "pragmatically" evaluate policy options, you have to set your goals somewhere; the way those goals are set, whose interests they benefit, and what means we're willing to use to meet those goals still meaningfully constitutes an ideology. It may not be a rigid or overly theoretical ideology, but it's an ideology nonetheless. Emmett Rensin, whose "Smug Style in American Liberalism" essay was posted here recently, had an interesting exchange with Jonathan Chait in response to that piece and addressing Chait's 2005 essay "Fact Finders." Rensin's response to Chait addressed this issue in a fairly concise way:
It is not a coincidence that Chait's account of liberalism as a non-ideological fact finding mission quickly becomes a defense of welfare reform. "Clinton also recognized the failure of welfare, previously a cherished liberal goal, to accomplish its stated purpose, and he enacted a sweeping overhaul," he writes, "Many liberals complained, but the main objections centered around the details--certain punitive provision and the lack of adequate job-creation measures--not the concept of welfare reform."

Such is the consequence of Good Facts before good morals. Who cares that welfare reform devastated the poor? The numbers added up! What will the facts justify next? Who knows. Who the fuck even cares? What I tried to demonstrate by a dozen examples, Chait achieves in one essay: A liberalism that rejects prior moral commitments, that just "follows the facts" where they lead, will rapidly become a liberalism that punishes poor people.
This recent piece from the Jacobin, Liberalism's Crisis, Socialism's Promise (oddly enough, also a response to Jonathan Chait), might shed some light on the comparisons to authoritarian communism happening in this thread (whereas what young people are discussing is democratic socialism/social democracy, for the most part). Here's the basic gist of the piece:
Chait worries that the increasing attraction of young people to socialism and the Sanders campaign will push them down the slippery slope to authoritarian communism. But millennials’ newfound interest in socialism results not from dewy-eyed visions of five-year plans. Rather, they recognize that “the triumph of capitalism” has left them a world of contingent, low-wage labor, burdensome student debt, and insecure futures.

Chait conjures up images of young Marxists embracing the gulag. In reality, most Sanders enthusiasts support a return to the very New Deal liberalism that Chait claims to treasure. They don’t want “free stuff.” They want a progressive tax system that would expand public goods and decrease individual vulnerability to the market. These “liberal” gains occur only when a strong socialist left forces moderate political elites to expand social rights. But in a globalized economy, this can only happen once the Left rebuilds the power of labor over capital on an international scale.

Achieving that requires new forms of political organization and strategy. This is why young organizers and intellectuals are drawn to socialist ideas and outlets.
posted by dialetheia at 7:14 PM on April 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


Overqualified New York Millennials Languish in Low-Wage Jobs
Young workers in America's largest city make about 20 percent less than the generation before them and may fall forever short of the heights achieved by their predecessors, according to a report from the New York City Comptroller's Office.

The study, which profiled the employment trends of millennials born between 1985 and 1996, supports the widespread notion that today's entry-level employees are worse off than they were in decades past. It shows younger workers are bringing home significantly less than older generations did, even after adjusting for inflation and changes to the cost of living.

"Millennials were applying for jobs in the most difficult economic climate since the Great Depression and as a result, a growing number are now working in low-wage industries and earning less than their predecessors," Scott Stringer, the city's comptroller, said in a statement accompanying the report. "This group of young people is confronting unique economic challenges that their parents did not have to face."
@gavinsaywhat comments:
"entitled millennial" language is meant to discursively discipline an emergent servant class (related to welfare called "entitlements")

posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:43 PM on April 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


Ah, nihilists.

That must be exhausting.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:18 PM on May 2, 2016




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