What if young Americans in their early careers aren’t so much sympathetic to socialism as they are really, really confused?
Vice writer Katie Way accidentally raises that question when she insists that it’s the capitalistic side of America’s bipolar politic that doesn’t want people “to have a greater degree of autonomy over [their] lives.” Her concern is that powerful politicians (all Democrats, by the way) are ramping up the pressure on those professionals who’ve been working from home to get back to the office.
Way’s argument for her hell-no-we-won’t-go position relies on a familiar strategy that is, if nothing else, convincing proof our education system is failing to teach young adults how to think. Just as such advocates can conceive of no explanation other than greed and bigotry for opposing policy positions on any issue from a higher minimum wage to mandatory speech codes, Way finds no reasonable argument for ending work-from-home options.
The evidence is clear, she thinks, that employees who work from home are more productive… even as they do their laundry and browse streaming television titles for hours during the workday. Anybody who wants to disrupt that paradise on Earth must have some ulterior motive!
Springboarding from this confident assertion, Way proposes six possibilities, from an expression of “extrovert supremacy” (which, she admits, is not plausible) to a conspiracy of “real estate interests” (which she characterizes as probable). But the explanation that she finds so obvious that she ranks its plausibility as “eyeroll” on a 10-point scale is, “Uhhh… capitalism???”
She writes, “as the heads of a functionally capitalist state, they don’t want us to be comfortable. They don’t want us to have a greater degree of autonomy over our lives, because when we have free time — countless hours saved by not commuting, the personal lulls of a workday at home, or the post-quitting high of a worker with options — workers will use it to do productive things for themselves, even as they reach new heights of workplace productivity.”
If you’re an actual capitalist, take your moment to chuckle at how thoroughly Way misunderstands your beliefs, but then turn your mind to the unprecedented opportunity to flip the script for a generation that’s been so thoroughly misinformed. The idea that “workers will use [time] to do productive things for themselves” is practically the definition of capitalism.
Capitalists don’t want young Americans in the prime of their lives sitting in their cars or public transit commuting (while absorbing progressive nonsense on podcasts). We’re not, to respond to one of her examples, especially interested in boosting the customer traffic of fast food and delivery restaurants. If young adults want to explore home cooking, they’ll create opportunities for businesses that supply fresh food, cookware, and appliances. That’s capitalism!
The ideology that wants everybody on an orderly treadmill from home to train to work to cafeteria/restaurant is socialism. Individuals are “the means of production,” so “private ownership” thereof means you own yourself. Under socialism, you and your time are effectively owned by the state, whether the commissar dictates your employment, your pay, or your bodily presence in a drab office (where he can keep a close watch on you).
Imagine if the readers and writers of publications like Vice could be brought to that one, basic conclusion. America’s political landscape would change overnight.