(Update, 7-26-16: Much of this blog remains accurate and relevant, but I should have emphasized the populism of Bernie’s youthful supporters. Since so many have been educated by soi disant “leftists”, I propose that either the Popular Front is still in favor, or the “leftist” professoriate is, in practice, social democratic and anti-semitic.)
I am wondering if we should reorganize the way we think about “class” in America.
In a media, political, and academic environment that confuses the working class with the “middle class,” and calls everyone who is not a “moderate” or a “conservative” a leftist, it seems to me that we should consider the young people that turn out for Bernie Sanders as a group unto itself, with the analysis appropriate to its numbers.
First, there is the obvious appeal to the Sanders platform: soaking the “rich” (with possible repercussions for the “middle class” parents of his enthused following; free college; fully socialized medicine; and even legalization of marijuana (http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-drug-policy/). I.e., a prolonged childhood with lifelong “sticking it” to parents who hoped that their kids would someday grow up and assume adult responsibilities. Here we have all the elements of generational conflict.
But more, second, there is the education that young people have experienced. From popular culture to both public and private schools, their education has been either rebellious (leaning toward anarchism: https://clarespark.com/2013/04/16/blogs-on-anarchismpunkprimitivism/) or “progressive,” dumbed down and forgetful of the fierce and instructive debates that energized the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the 1930s, when only the very young and the very old failed to distinguish between communism, right-wing social democrats, and FDR’s “progressive” version of moderate conservatism.
Many an academic has suggested that “youth revolt” was instrumental in the rise of the Nazi party after the Great War. I am not comparing Sanders to a young Hitler, but rather to a frightening pied piper, leading his young followers over a cliff, while promising new and better solidarities.