If there’s confusion about what socialism means in today’s America it should be cleared up by Simon van Zuylen-Wood’s recent article on the hip socialists of New York City. Socialism is mostly a scene—a loosely organized assemblage of youngish people who are connected by a shared aesthetic. That’s pretty much it.
There were once beatniks, rockers, and punks, and now there are socialists. They speak about the same things, drink beer at the same bars, and celebrate one another for belonging to the same group. Yes, they talk about corporate greed, and they back socialist candidates. But they also do things like start a socialist dating app (called Red Yenta) and launch a glossy magazine (named “Lux,” after Rosa Luxemburg). Many of them, in fact, seem to have sexy media jobs. And judging from the pictures in the article, they look a lot like fashion models. They’re wealthy, whiny, and mostly white. In the U.S., socialism is for the privileged.
If all this sounds like a strange manifestation of socialism, keep in mind that socialism in America is bound to be bizarre (and silly) because we have none of the supposed preconditions necessary for a people’s revolution. No brutal class distinctions, no tyrannical government, no grossly exploited workers.