When I was attending a primarily residential university, my favorite part of living on campus was the fact that I could wake up 10 minutes before the bus, jump into a pair of stained sweatpants and a ratty sweater, and be in class before I was even fully awake. All this and I would still be one of the more fashion conscious students in the class. By this, I mean that I had showered in the past week. But, being in classes full of Math nerds and Comp Sci geeks, what does it really matter what you look like? Indeed, universities drawn in a cornucopia of different styles and fashion statements (or lack thereof). There is one ‘look’ in particular that fascinates me and somewhat frightens me at the same time: I call it ‘communist chic’.
Don’t get me wrong. I support theoretical communism. I am an ardent socialist (thankfully, since I am going to graduate with a BSW), and generally more trusting of the government than sinister multinational corporations. I’m not really sure why, because if I delve into these views, they don’t really make too much sense. But, I am all for communal goods and services. However, the truth is that communism has not shown itself to be that idyllic “pure communist” paradise that Karl Marx predicted back sometime in the mid-19th Century. Surely by now we have proven that communism doesn’t work?
This is why this whole ‘communist chic’ concept fascinates me. It seems as though every couple of years, communism makes a comeback, and it becomes the mantra of a new generation of cutting-edge liberal Arts majors. But just how cutting edge is the concept of communism? Well, let’s put it this way, it was already old news when my father was attending Concordia 40 years ago. Yes, neo-communists existed then. Why then do we continue to see communism being exhalted as some type of salvation that will deliverusfromtheevilsofhumancapitalismandleadtoanewmoreacceptingand lovingsocietyofhappygoluckysocietymembers wherethereisenoughmarijuanatogoaroundthankyouverymuch? Have these people never read Animal Farm?
In theory, communism is a fascinating and compelling concept. However, haven’t we proven by now that a state of Marx-approved pure communism is simply not possible? Let’s just take a look at demographics for a second: Generation Y has been touted as the most superficial, materialistic generation to ever exist (Generation Me). There is something tragically ironic about the fact that the guy in line next to me in the bookstore had a Che Guevera sticker on his Blackberry. Then there was the young woman I spoke with in my Philosophy class, who claimed that she was doing her part for ‘social justice’ by riding her bicycle to school every day. The bicycle? Bought nowhere other than Wal-Mart, a corporation known for their use of sweat shops in third-world countries. Their bike manufacturing plant is not an exception (Wal-Mart bike factory). So, does peace of mind come too easily these days, and does the sky rain down cheap grace on our self-congratulating, perfectly-coiffed heads? Perhaps it is easier to wear a hammer and sickle t-shirt (in a color that coordinates with your $150 Birkenstocks) than to donate $5 to the homeless man on the corner?
Is communism really something that we should be pushing? Let’s look at the results of real, imposed communism: In China, Chairman Mao was responsible for more deaths than Hitler. And our modern-day hero, Che Guevera? He was responsible for the deaths of more than 180 people. Communism definitely has a bloody history, and it is questionable whether we should be holding up these values as our promised Utopia. Surely, in the annals of history, we can find more deserving heroes and causes?
And for God’s sake, you look like an idiot in that t-shirt.