For at least 20 years, the mainstream political and academic narrative in the west has been that socialism is a failure. Many site production deadlock, strikes, riots and a punitive taxation system to justify these claims.
However, the system which ended up supplanting socialism both as a governing economic force and as a viable mainstream opposition platform in the west has also failed and failed more miserably than any prior socio-economic system. Corporatism, a system that is the logical result of neo-liberal economics rejects the cottage-industry style capitalism of people like Ron Paul and the classical Austrian economists. Therefore it is unfair to call it ‘capitalism’ in a true sense.
Unlike with Austrian economics, corporatism places no value on individual liberty, nor does it decry endless rules and regulations and bureaucracy either. Corporatism is to capitalism what the Manson Family is to a Norman Rockwell family painting–it is a sick perversion.
Likewise, corporatism does not value the growth of a national economy, the steadying of national wealth or the protection of national wealth from foreign hands. In this sense, it is unlike traditional market-protectionist economics, neo-mercantile thinking and what many now call sovereigntist economics. It is in this sense different than what I call conservative socio-economics.
Corporatism is a series of inter-locking oligarchic global-corporations where production often occurs on different continents from where the profits are stored and furthermore, products themselves are often sold in multiple third locations.
Corporatism has plenty of regulations and bureaucratic red tape but all of it works in the favour of giant multi-nationals who often end up paying less tax than struggling middle-income individuals and families who are oppressed with the high taxation of socialism while receiving none of the benefits of a real welfare state.
There is neither a moral, national or individualist component in corporatism. In this sense it rejects the morality of socialism, protectionism and classical capitalism simultaneously.
While occasionally corporatist economics can result in a trickle-down effect for some ordinary people, if this ever happens it is generally short lived. The Great Recession of corporatism in 2007/2008 was a testament to this phenomenon.
The result has been that many middle income, middle-aged people have turned to sovereigntist/protectionist conservative politicians who reject the multi-nationalism of corporatism and the collectivism of socialism equally.
People in all age groups have also begun to revisit classic capitalism as defined by the Austrian school of economics. Generally these people are drawn to the connection this school makes between individual liberty and economic liberality.
Socialism too has seen a revival and one of the biggest constituent part of this new socialist coalition has been the young, although it is a very different kind of youth than those who previously voted for classical left wing parties.
Throughout much of the 20th century, left wing voters came from the heart of suburban industry and of course the urban proletariat also. In the US this was the so-called ‘rust belt’ states and in Europe this was generally in the big industrial cities outside of the more urbane capitals (Marseilles, Calais, Birmingham, Glasgow etc).
It was only logical that working class voters would vote for parties with an emphasis on the morality of treating working class people with economic and social dignity and fairness.
However, today’s socialist core voters are very different. Although what remains of a western industrial base still often vote for politicians like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, an increasing amount of young people from struggling middle-income families are turning to ideas which previously had appeal among the working classes and those of other classes who for moral, intellectual or spiritual reasons turned to socialism.
These young people are not classical socialists but they are victims of corporatism. They have found that the first proper job in life hardly pays enough to make it worth considering and that the comfortable middle-income jobs of their parents’ generation have either gone oversees or become reserved exclusively for an upper-middle class of people who are highly connected, beyond simply having a decent income and ability to work hard for an honest first world pay-cheque.
They have found that the neo-liberal myth that having a university education guarantees good employment was simply a lie to force young people to take out insanely high loans to pay a university which was in actual fact, a business disguised as a place of learning.
They have also come to the realisation that many of the comforts of middle-income life were based on the fact that working class people created wealth. Now that wealth is being created in foreign factories.
All of these factors have led young people to turn to socialism for moral and personal reasons rather than more broad economic beliefs.
It is difficult for socialism to work in a non-industrial society. Socialism relies on working-class labour to create wealth in the same way that conservative economics relies on investment into national (rather than global) industry to initially create wealth. A healthy working class however is indispensable to proper, moral conservative socio-economics also. One must remember that the Irish famine of the 1840s and 1850s was not created by conservative policies but by the adoption of liberal free trade by the British state which ruled Ireland at the time.
With few countries in the west having any national wealth and millionaires conveniently and legally offshoring their money, it is difficult to see how socialism can achieve anything in the 21st century west unless it takes the crucial step to use the resources of the state to build new factories and pass protectionist laws to keep the wealth they generated flowing on the home front.
These longer term economic issues however, are of little consequences to many young, enthusiastic supporters of people like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, who unlike Sanders, will almost certainly attain the highest political office in his country.
These voters are drawn to the moral message of socialism and this should not be condemned callously, even by conservative, protectionists like myself. It should instead be praised.
The only way society can ever retain its traditional values is by embracing anyone who rejects the immoral ideologies of globalism, liberalism and corporatism. While I personally prefer a mixed system, what Deng Xiaoping called “market socialism”, I am nevertheless sympathetic to those who have turned to classical socialism, even though I fully reject the dogma of radical wealth distribution and the rejection of traditional conservative values that many socialists preach.
However, in this case, socialism is a healthy first step towards rejecting neo-liberalism and allowing a path back to conservatism to form.
In many ways it is the opposite of the Marxist historical world view wherein we have to go back from corporatism to socialism to them step back to conservatism, in each case along the way one must realise our return to past values while combining such thought with contemporary realities. In this sense one can be both a reactionary and a pragmatic modernist simultaneously. This is the essence of any mixed socio-economic system which rejects the dogmas of progressive thinking for the sake of modernity alone.
This obviously assumes that it is not full communism but full corporatism which is the final ‘end of economics’. Here, Marx got it wrong while Oswald Spengler (a conservative) got it right.
This has been proved not by a theory but by history. After Russia attempted communism between 1917 and 1991, Russia then turned to corporatism for the remainder of the 1990s.
Today, Russia is taking certain socialist elements of the past such as higher pensions and better funding for public services vis-a-vis the 1990s, while ultimately returning to a modern version of patriotic conservative socio-economics.
If the west is to attempt to save itself, it must follow the same path. While my view is that the October Revolution was a crime against humanity, I nevertheless wept in the 1990s at photos of old women, too thin for their age, who were carrying photos of Stalin while protesting the piratical liberal economics of Yegor Gaidar and Anatoly Chubais. Indeed, if Russia was ever to return to a fraction of its pre-1917 conservatism, the liberal corporatists of the 1990s would have to be opposed by both conservatives and those holding placards of Stalin while protesting the Yeltsin regime.
This is why conservatives who ridicule supporters of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn ought to really step back from their position of arrogance.
The young people voting for Sanders and Corbyn may often be odd in their appearance and the idea that they would want to radically redistribute wealth might be horrifying. Their lack of God is also deeply sad for conservative believers. However, in finding Corbyn, these young people are rejecting the same immoral Godlessness inherent in neo-liberalism that true conservatives reject. They are looking for morality, they are looking for ethics, they are looking for community, they are looking for family. The authentic conservative solution is the best way to find each, but if they support socialism which for all of its faults is still endlessly more moral than liberalism/corporatism, then we should wish them well while respectfully offering them a respectable conservative alternative.