The Disturbing Rise of the Teenage Communist

Education vs Experience

Avery Heinen, Contributor

One of the more recent developments that I find interesting is academia’s general disregard for the types of people that used to be seen as pillars of society: a person’s elders. It’s becoming easier and easier to see as the students that grew up hearing this rhetoric reach adulthood. Those first entering the workforce can often be heard lamenting the fact that older colleagues don’t have college degrees or formal qualifications, yet make more money or are higher up on the corporate ladder. The idea that perhaps decades of working in the industry may lead to a greater knowledge of how it works than a general liberal arts degree seems to elude many a young academic.

The problem isn’t just limited to the workplace either. Older adults all over the country have been hearing with an increasing frequency that they are ignorant or unaware of the world by 20-somethings with no life experience outside of the full-time student bubble. Ask anyone with a college-aged kid and they’ll have a story of being called out by either their own kid or hearing about it happening to a friend. The student will ironically call it being ‘open-minded’ when they’ve really just settled into a new school of thought and shut the door on all others.

This devaluation of experience is dangerous. One of the nearly universal aspects of any culture is the figure of the elder or ancestor. This figure is seen to be both wise and deserving of the utmost respect. Stories warning about disregarding the advice of one’s elders are a staple in fables and legends originating all over the world. Is it not telling that this notion of the importance of wisdom and experience developed independently across continents long before globalization was even a possibility?

Perhaps the most obvious symptoms of ‘I know best’ culture is the increasing popularity of the anti-vaccine movement. Nearly every person that preaches against vaccines grew up in an era where they were the standard. They never had to experience the fear of a polio outbreak or the grief of losing a young sibling to whooping cough and they are convinced they know better than to listen to those that did have those experiences. In this case, the damage caused by these people is instantly and readily apparent. They promote the spread of deadly yet preventable diseases. Yet this is just the tip of an iceberg of ill-effects that type of thinking have brought about.

Another experience that people born in the last few decades, myself included, lack is the fear that surrounded the Cold War. The installation of air raid sirens and bomb shelters in suburban communities. The whispers of peers about what might become of them if the Soviets did invade. The news surrounding bomb tests carried out in the east. It’s something you can’t even really grasp through first hand accounts or reenactments performed for documentaries. Can you imagine, then, how frightening it must be when these people’s own children start to praise the ideals of the very government that threatened their lives?

When you have groups of naive and sheltered teenagers proudly waving about the hammer and sickle that symbolized that decades long threat to a generation of Americans and still symbolizes a threat to over a billion people across the world, you have to wonder when and where it was decided that it was a good idea. Refugees from Castro’s Cuba are dismissed. Refugees from the Eastern bloc are dismissed. Stories about what is happening to the people in North Korea are dismissed. The ‘I know best’ mentality has overtaken all of those voices. Whilst taken as fact for decades, suddenly it has been decided by hoards of hipsters that Communism is not, in fact, a harmful system. Their minds are made up, too.

Shockingly, it’s not all that rare to see groups of teenagers online praising Mao, the former Chinese dictator who’s Communist ideas lead to a famine that killed millions. Even less rare is the praise of Lenin, who’s Communist ideals also led to a famine that killed millions (though admittedly less than Mao). Even Marx himself has been making his way into the good graces of a generation. If they took two seconds to listen to those who saw these ideas play out firsthand, they might think twice before promoting them.