Dominated by the '60s generation as it was, it was unsurprising to see a galaxy of signs and booths invoking the sacred cure-all of nearly every 1960s radical -- socialism. “Bush is the symptom, Capitalism is the disease, Socialism is the cure” blared one giant banner. “Defeat US Imperialism. Socialist revolution is the only solution” intoned a pennant by the League for the Revolutionary Party. “Defend China, North Korea, and Vietnam Against Imperialism and Capitalist Counter-Revolution!” was the motto of the Sparticist League. That last slogan I found to be one of the most offensive statements of the day -- right up there with one speaker’s invocation of Maureen Dowd as an authoritative social analyst.
It is sad that in thirty years, the U.S. Left hasn’t come up with a better idea than socialism. Dejected, I wandered away from the workers’ champions and approached a drum circle. Even this was dominated by superannuated radicals who couldn’t seem to play anything other than quarter notes. I struck up a conversation with one of the few college-aged girls in the vicinity, who asked me how I liked the music. As a drummer myself, I told her that I’d like to see the musicians venture outside of a 4/4 time signature. Perplexed, she picked up her “Buck Fush” sign and walked away.
What do the old radicals have left to offer the youth? Socialism. One can understand the attraction of this credo back in the 1960s, when its American adherents only had the millions of victims of the Soviet regime to contradict their assertion that socialism would provide a positive alternative to capitalism.
But now, we know of the atrocities of a whole new set of postwar socialist regimes in China, Cambodia, Romania, and countless other places -- including Vietnam -- as well as the final collapse of most socialist governments and the turn toward capitalism of nearly all the remaining socialist regimes. Younger activists may have the Iraq War to fight against, but they need something to fight for -- and with socialism, their older role models are not offering them anything appealing.
Langer's talkin' 'bout my generation, sadly, and he's absolutely spot on. These old coots--Fonda included--are like insects trapped in amber; forever destined to to remain fixated and unmoving as time passes them by.
How is it possible, you may ask, that they were unable to see the degreee of human misery and death that socialism and communism caused in the last century? How is it possible, you may wonder, that they can't even look around now and observe the horrors that this ideology is continuing to inflict on the world? You would think that, even if they don't give a shit about the human toll their ideas have brought about, these green champions of the environment might have noticed the environmental devastation wreaked by all the people's republics they support.
But they are far too psychologically presbyopic and intellectually stunted to be able to appreciate that reality. Age has not brought wisdom, nor has it brought them the long-desired socialist utopia. Instead they have maintained their finely-honed envy and thirst for power over others. How else to explain their enthusiasm for all the despotic, tyrannical and anti-human regimes on the planet.
If I may paraphrase Emerson: foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little socialist minds
When you think about it, denial is actually an amazing psychological defense. It may cause blindness, unrelenting stupidity, and unbelivably insane behavior--but golly it sure has worked magic for these
Once upon a time they were merely young, stupid and quaintly pathetic. Adults could benignly observe and even tolerate their silly antics, foolish utopian fantasies, and mind-numbing mantras, anticipating that eventually children grow up, mature, and face reality.
But the thick, lethargic amber moved far too rapidly for those socialist insects, and so they are preserved forever in all their pristine pathos. Perhaps their sad fate will serve as a chilling example for the most recent crop of young larvae, before they hatch and mindlessly morph into 21st century neo-socialist drones.