Nathanael Blake has a good editorial explaining that the yen for Socialism really amounts to a category mistake.
The surge in socialismâ€™s popularity among young Americans has little to do with the actual merits (or demerits) of the system, or even what it actually entails. Most seem to think it means a larger welfare state and taxing â€œthe richâ€ a bit more. Rather, socialismâ€™s allure is due to the families that are broken, the communities that are atomized, and the churches that are empty â€” often, sadly, because they betrayed their responsibilities to God and man.
The needs and desires that are met only by faith, family, and friendship are still part of the human condition. The current half-baked socialist revival is a category error, as it attempts a political and economic solution to a cultural and spiritual problem. But part of our crisis is the loss of the ability to think clearly about such matters, as exemplified by a generation that relies on the Harry Potter books for a shared moral language. This poverty of moral imagination and expression illuminates the spiritual and cultural desolation that prior generations created and bequeathed to their children.
As people seek a political solution for their spiritual and psychological dismay and distress, we see pathologies that used to afflict religious entities become manifest in politics. The sudden popularity of ersatz socialism is not because it offers a realistic plan of improvement, but because it sounds fair and compassionate while promising to relieve anxiety over economic uncertainty. That socialism will deliver on none of these promises is beside the point.
The concerns and anxieties that beset our culture will not be addressed only by reminders of material abundance provided by free market economics. Man does not live on technological miracles alone. Wealth will not satisfy us and assuage our anxieties; affordable airfare and iPhones will not save our souls. But as we look for that which will, we must remember the bounty lavished upon us. Our unhappiness rarely results from real material deprivation, and a socialist redistribution will do little to increase the sum of human happiness.
Only by bearing our material blessings in mind will we be able to think clearly about our desires for cultural, relational, and spiritual satisfaction.