Social Media’s Love Affair With Marxism
In recent months, many Packer students have been eagerly using their social media platforms to spread information about social justice. However, because of the simplistic nature of the messages being shared and the ease of sharing them with your followers, social media is a breeding ground of misinformation and radicalism.
I have noticed many posts being shared by Packer students from self-titled “Marxist” accounts. Clad in hammer and sickles, the symbol of the Soviet Union, with names that reference different Marxist philosophers, these accounts post memes and infographics in support of their ideals.
Proponents of these Marxist ideologies would have you believe that their beliefs are the only pathway towards equality. Marx detailed his vision of a utopian society in his manifesto, advocating for a society where the wealth is spread throughout all of its members. This would happen through a redistribution of wealth through workers seizing the “means of production,” or how a society generates wealth. In reality, the opposite has happened.
During the 20th century, many populist governments rose to power through vowing to shape their government in the image of Marx’s philosophy. These governments, such as the Communist Party in Russia, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and the current Chinese government have carried out some of the worst atrocities in the history of the world – tens of millions of people have died at the hands of these oppressive regimes. Not only were they repressive, but horribly racist, too, as can be seen by the Soviet attitude towards other European ethnic groups, and the ongoing CCP treatment of Uighur Muslims. While these governments hardly represented Marx’s vision of the perfect society, they are still examples of the viability of his theory, namely that it is an unrealistic vision of society that results in brutal repression and dictatorships every time it has been tried on a large scale. These governments are the real world manifestations of Marxist ideologies. A lot of promises are made but historically, those promises never come true.
If you talk to a person who lived in these countries, overwhelmingly their opinions on Marxism and communism are negative. “Soviet communism was the height of hypocrisy. They proclaimed everyone equal, but the party members had their private clubs and private food while the supermarkets were empty. The society was just as stratified as it was before. They were absolutely repressive. Believe only what the central committee wanted you to believe. No dissent of any kind was tolerated, even unintentionally. Like making art. You were subversive for simply making art. It strangled the soul. The lack of freedom twisted people into these… husks”, my father, who was born in the Soviet Union, recounts. I recommend The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, or Confessions by Zhengguo Kang for more first hand accounts of life under communism. Despite these testimonies, communism and Marxism still seems to be in favor with many young Western teens.
No pure economic or political system is perfect, whether it be socialism or capitalism. Critiques of capitalism are widespread nowadays, and many of them are very valid. The disregard for others extreme individualism can bring, rampant consumerism, corporate interference in government, and lack of a robust public healthcare option in America come to mind. Additionally, capitalist systems have been used in the past to justify colonialism (although this is certainly not unique to capitalism, as can be seen by the Soviet colonization of Eastern Europe). But the solution to these problems does not lie in radicals or demagogues on either side of the political spectrum.
I am not writing this article to say that ALL socialistic ideas are wrong, but rather to combat the simplistic notion that Marxist ideas are a moral good and the path towards a more equal society that is being spread on social media. Social media algorithms profit off of echo chambers where ideas can form and go unchallenged, both on the left and right wing. Do students sharing these posts stand behind and believe in everything a certain account has to say? Probably not. I only caution to avoid flashy, simplified ideas spread online.