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The Faceless Donor

Foreign Policy has published the results of a survey that demonstrates that the younger generation rejects their experience of capitalism. The methodology of the survey was not a simple “yes or no” on capitalism per se: respondents were actually asked to identify the favorability of a number of “isms.” At the top of the heap came “patriotism.”

Neither did the survey attempt to define the terms. This means that the respondents were indicating their favor of the terms as used in common social discourse, rather than as understood by those that originally coined them.

Instead, the survey probed with specific policy prescriptions, such as “Should government provide housing and food for those unable to obtain them?” This is obviously a socialist prescription. The answer from millennials was a resounding “yes.”

I wonder why the expectation is that the government should provide this support. What about family and friends? What is it about “government” that is so attractive as a source of support?

I have an unfortunate intuition that the desire to avoid obligation to others may be involved. Receiving something from government as a right means that we can chart our course independently from others. We don’t have to constrain our choices to sustain their good will.

Of course, that is impossible: the “government” is our family and friends. It is us. If the greed of the 1% should remind us of anything, it is of our dependency upon one another. The faceless “isms” don’t care about any of us individually, and our loyalty to them will always be betrayed. Ultimately, we survive only because others care for us, and that requires a reciprocal caring for them.

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