Don’t Know Much About History

by Dave Schuler on June 30, 2014

While I’m in a historical frame of mind, I should mention that I don’t think you can understand the early Baby Boomers very well if you don’t pick up some knowledge of the student radicalism of the 1960s. I find Hillary Clinton’s rather humorous scramble to be a “woman of the people” despite being a member of the top .5% of income earners is most easily understandable in that light.

If you’re not familiar with the phrase the “vanguard of the proletariat”, it refers to an idea from Marxist theory that the most class conscious and politically advanced members of the working class would form a vanguard that would lead the way to world revolution. We don’t just wear blue jeans today because they’re comfortable or because they look nice. We wear them to show solidarity with the workers and identify with them and, coincidentally, so that middle class college students could establish their bona fides as the vanguard of the proletariat.

That’s not to say that I think that Hillary Clinton is a Marxist. Far from it. She’s no more a Marxist than any of the rest of us are (I’ve got a post around here somewhere titled “We Are All Marxists Now”—all industrial or post-industrial economies are mixed economies and objectivists’ imaginings not withstanding I don’t think you can have a modern economy that’s not a mixed economy). But she came of age during a period in which a sort of romantic Marxism was the dominant strain thought among the young smart set, an attitude that’s come right down to today in the form of the image of Che Guevara you still see everywhere.

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