Occupy Wall Street protests. 2011
Occupy Wall Street protests – 2011

On the corner of a main road, there is a decayed Palestinian flag. It was put up a few years back, around the three-year timetable that supporting Palestine becomes fashionable. Since then, it hasn’t been taken down.

As a result, it has faded away and been shredded until only a centimetre of colour and memory betrays its previous form. Further up the same road, there is a South African flag that has been up for longer. It is the same quality that it was the day it was erected. Obviously, it may have been replaced – or maybe it was taken inside during bad weather, or maintained. Regardless, the treatment of these two flags shows a vital contrast in the minds of the “Trendy Left”.

We’ve all seen them. The Trendy Left are those guys and girls who post about Wall Street around Occupy, but then forget about it the next year. They are the type that share the Oxfam report, decry Capitalism, while tweeting from their iPhones and living in their suburban homes.

The Trendy Left are the bleeding-heart, empathetic activists who tend to make up the bulk of many causes’ memberships. They are the most active on Facebook and some of the most dogmatic about their beliefs – until it requires them to do anything of worth.

This Palestinian flag was erected a few years back, during the last major Gaza conflict. It has never been taken down. Some would call this an act of persistence, but the state of the flag betrays this sentiment.

It is not hard to maintain a flag. As simple an act as taking it down in bad weather would suffice. Some may see poignant symbolism in the act of letting the flag decay, but I see symbolism of a different sort. The act of erecting the flag was one of support. It’s easy to erect a flag, in the same way it’s easy to declare loyalty to a cause. Maintaining said flag and actively supporting a cause, however, are a different matter. They require effort.

The Trendy Left vocally support causes, but will seldom ever do anything practical. They will preach Communism, while refusing to donate to the poor or give their property to the state. They will support sanctions on Israel, until they want some lingerie from Victoria’s Secret or almost any device that uses an Intel component. They will condemn white privilege, while maintaining their position at a university that they apparently ascended to only by virtue of their race.

The owners of the Palestinian flag weren’t willing to put in the effort to maintain a simple flag. It is pretty accurate to surmise that they did nothing to support Palestine proper.

Trendy causes follow this trend. Campaigns like Kony 2012, Occupy Wall Street and many others are founded on ignorant assumptions and grow popular simply through peer pressure. Individuals desperate for approval will jump on the bandwagon without any care for facts or reason. The comprehension of the average Occupy protester reveals that.

Trendy Leftists will join causes and remain as long as that cause is considered popular. Their support only wanes in correlation with the general support and media attention given to the cause. Thus, their support is transient and shallow; only worth it for the temporary body count needed to sign petitions.

The Trendy Left are more persistent when it comes to socialism. While Palestinian popularity goes in cycles, socialism tends to stick. The ironic nature of socialist support, however, is that its proponents are mostly from the middle or upper classes.

There is an interesting psychological analysis to be brought from the wealthy proponents of wealth redistribution. Guilt and naiveté are two good theories on the matter. What is obvious, however, is that wealthy socialists are blatant hypocrites. Not only are they participating in the system which they despise; they are not using the powers vested in them by virtue of their wealth to achieve equality. The reason for this is simple: enacting socialism takes effort.

It’s easy to preach, especially with social media. It is hard to put into practice what one preaches, especially if it hurts oneself. Socialism is an unworkable system because of that. It requires a society of patsies. Capitalism is superior because it accounts for self-interest and harnesses it for the good of society.

Capitalism is cold. It examines the world factually and doesn’t put on pretentious airs. Trendy Leftists, in their insufferable quest for approval, would rather back the shiny but fallacious lies of socialism.

This article is not about the vices of socialism, though; it is about its prime proponents. The Trendy Left make up the bulk of socialists, but are also the reason socialism will never be a truly workable system. Socialism requires too much self-sacrifice. Following a trend is not worth that much effort.

The Trendy Left do seem to be fervent and passionate supporters of their transient causes, until it requires any form of effort. When the cause requires more than a signature or a blog post, they will make shallow excuses, ignore the criticism or pretend they never followed the cause to begin with. Thus is the nature of the Trendy Left – transient, shallow and utterly hypocritical.

Nicholas Woode-Smith is co-founder of the Rational Standard and its Technical and Marketing Director. He is a student at the University of Cape Town, with majors in Politics, Philosophy and Economic History. He is the youngest council member of the Institute of Race Relations in history and the Regional Director of Southern Africa for African Students For Liberty. He also writes science fiction – prominently, the Warpmancer and Cape Zero series.