Dear young socialists: the future you want is all around you now

We know you were promised paradise by Teen Vogue, but the realities of government control are actually bleak.

Libby Emmons and Barrett Wilson Montreal, QC
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We know you were promised paradise by Teen Vogue, but the realities of government control are actually bleak. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren said they could give you all of your dreams, if only you gave up your basic freedoms to government control and accepted nationalization. While that progressive overreach sounded like a great idea to idealistic people at the time, our current situation provides us with a glimpse of what that looks like in practice. Giving up individual rights for the greater good looks a lot like the coronavirus era.

The National Guard is being deployed to New York, Washington State, and California. The governors of those states will retain control of those troops. Those guardsmen will be used at the discretion of those same governors that have closed schools, businesses, churches, and public spaces. We don’t know how far they will go in using their discretionary military force to keep people off the streets, social distancing, self-quarantining, and in their homes.

Right now, we don’t have much choice; we’re acquiescing to a stifling of liberties because we don’t want to get sick or get our vulnerable loved ones sick. It’s the right thing to do, too. But as we hunker down in our homes, scrounge for that last packet of yeast, try to figure out what to do with that can of pumpkin mash, our civil liberties are being erased by government agencies. We are promised we will get them back.

Make no mistake, when the needs of the majority are put before the needs of the individual, we end up being told what to do, prohibited from free assembly, from commerce, from working as we choose. Our travel is limited, our ability to chart our own course through life is upended.

In Germany, Angela Merkel has limited group gatherings to two, family members excluded. In New York, 75 percent of the workforce has been declared non essential, and are told to stay home. In Quebec, a woman was arrested for defying a quarantine order. She was apprehended for the crime of moving about freely.

This is what it looks like when we give up our rights to the government. And without human labour, and the capital we generate, the economy grinds to a horrifying halt.

While public safety is paramount, and implementing strict measures is absolutely the right thing to do in a pandemic, it’s quite the opposite in a free society under normal circumstances.

We’re told that we are tracked for our own protection. The government can use emergency powers to team up with telecom companies to track us and see if we’ve been in contact with infected people. How will this look if it’s activists and political dissidents they’re tracking, not sick people? Once the tech is in place, and the procedures approved, it will be hard to get the government to ramp down this intrusion.

We are not saying that things are inevitably going to go this way, simply that our current reality gives us a good understanding of what government control over every aspect of your life looks like. And why you should not want it.

The provisions that intentionally disrupt our lives must dissipate when this virus passes us by or is neutralized. But how much of this nonsense will we have got used to? How much will subsuming our desires to government restriction have become second nature?

Right now, the same kids who are acting like this is no big deal while spring breaking in droves are going to start thinking this is just normal. We must reject any notion of this becoming the new normal. We have to constantly remind ourselves that this is not the way we want our lives to be and to make sure government overreach and emergency measures do not stay in place.

While it’s true that many of our experts and leaders are acting out of a genuine urgent need to keep people safe right now, it’s also true that there are authoritarians salivating at the prospect of keeping people “in their place.” Young people must be made aware of this and they must reject this.

After all, it’s better to rule your own destiny, to take your own risks, and not be protected from your own abilities. We need to keep saying this, we need a way out of these restrictions on our rights or else we’ll all forget what life is supposed to look like.

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