I find it quite interesting that the Millennial generation has taken to Socialism and largely the biggest supporter of the Socialist Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. I find their actions and consumer behaviors indicate the exact opposite of the economic and political philosophies of Socialism. However, when looked at objectively there really is not irony in this given that the Millennial truly encompasses the postmodern world, a world in which there is no truth and the law of non-contradiction no longer applies.
With that said, I understand why the younger generations are upset and can see why Bernie Sanders and Socialism seem like a viable answer to their problems. There is another individual in history that thought the same in the early 1900’s, the famous Austrian Economist Friedrich Hayek. Young Hayek started out his early life supporting Socialism during a time of social unrest and war. The idea of central planning by the government to solve problems and control economies seemed logical. Unfortunately, he and many others through the terrible 20th century got to see this political and economic theory play out in its extreme. It resulted in two world wars, economic collapse, and over 100 million individuals killed under Communist regimes.
After years of intellectual discourse and thinking in Vienna, Austrian Economists Ludwig Von Mises and Friedrich Hayek both landed on the basis that two parties voluntarily setting pricing for goods and services with little government involvement was at the core of a strong political and economic system. Mises wrote the book “Socialism” describing how Socialist political and economic theory was unsustainable for the very fact it took away voluntary exchanges to set pricing and indicators for decision making. A strong economy was set by entrepreneurs seeing disequilibrium in the marketplace and voluntarily delivering goods and services to the voluntary buyers. Through the voluntary exchange of goods and competition price is set in the marketplace which drives a healthy economy. I don’t know about you but this sounds a lot like the very companies Millennials love – Uber, Airbnb, Bitcoin, Alibaba, Lending Club. This leads to why I believe the Millennial Socialist to be confused.
At any point during the day you will find a Millennial using Uber, AirBnb, Hotel Tonight, or Bitcoin to get great pricing for their goods and services. All of these technologies and platforms developed by entrepreneurs clearly illustrate the desire for voluntary deregulated exchanges among private parties to set fair pricing. These sought after brands and technologies are the opposite of Socialism and encompass the very essence of Austrian free market economics. Here are three reasons the modern day Millennial is not a Socialist from a consumer behavior perspective.
- Entrepreneurship: Never has entrepreneurship been more popular in our society, especially with Mellinnials, which is a strong indicator of free market support. Mises states the importance of entreprenuership best “The equilibrating properties of the market process depend vitally upon the activities of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs see opportunities for profit in the conditions of disequilibrium. Competition among profit-seeking entrepreneurs is the agency which would bring the market prices of all goods and services to their equilibrium levels.” We love entrepreneurs in our society and we can’t wait until the new phone or app comes out to make our lives easier or our goods and services more affordable.
- Peer-2-Peer Sharing Economy: Millennials love peer-to-peer transactions and the theory behind the sharing economy. This at its core is based on Austrian economics and free market theory. The idea that two individuals can freely exchange goods and services without interference among a central authority is a hot concept right now being proven out in the marketplace. This sets pricing and interest signals which allows the economy and individual to have knowledge to make free decisions (I can not emphasize “free” and “voluntary” enough here). Most of the new high growth companies and start-ups disrupting markets are based on this foundation.
- Deregulation: As millennials embrace Lending Club, Uber, and Airbnb they are supporting deregulation and promoting the free market. This points back to allowing the entrepreneurs to find disequilibrium and compete to give the consumer the best pricing through peer-to-peer voluntary exchanges. This is the very foundation and disruption that made Uber the largest taxi company in the world with no vehicles, Alibaba the most valuable retailer with no inventory, and Airbnb the largest room provider with no real estate. This is the new economy and it is based on deregulation and voluntary peer-to-peer transactions, a far cry from Socialist political theory.
I think many Millennials are confused and bombarded by manipulative media which is driving this phenomenon and contradiction in behavior. When asked about the products and services that Millennials use and support it aligns far more with free market thinkers like Adam Smith, Fredrick Hayek, and Ludwig Von Mises. I think there is a strong argument to be made that we are moving more in the direction of a true free market and deregulation than ever before thanks to technology advancement and societal support of entrepreneurship.
Now we just need to align our behaviors to our political theories and philosophies. In the end, I think this is purely a result of limited political choices and the decaying and archaic two party system. I am just as frustrated as anyone but that will not allow me to contradict my behaviors and logic and run to Socialism. I think that Millennials and all of us need to rethink our strategy on how we align our behaviors as consumers and entrepreneurs to political theory and philosophy.
Rather than picking a side we should be questioning the entire system as a whole right now. Let’s start there while we continue to produce bad ass entrepreneurs and new technologies that promote deregulated voluntary peer-to-peer transactions. I will forever support the individual as the greatest and most powerful minority and any political or economic system the infringes on individual liberty and voluntary exchange of property will never be a political or economic system I can support. Join me in questioning the foundation of the current political system and in promoting voluntary free exchange of goods and services in the new economy.