Cancel Culture Is Leninist and Maoist—Morgan Zegers
Morgan Zegers, founder of Young Americans Against Socialism, recently launched a podcast called “Some Sanity.”
She discusses the rise of cancel culture and how young people in America today fundamentally misunderstand what socialism actually is.
Jan Jekielek: We’re here sitting down with Morgan Zegers at CPAC 2021. It’s a kind of a reprise, a check back from 2020. We had a really, really wonderful conversation about someone who understands socialism out of Generation Z, which seems to be not as common as one would like.
Morgan Zegers: Absolutely. My generation is embracing socialism at a very troubling rate, and I’m going to do everything I can to fight it. It’s just a very difficult situation when words are being distorted. Language is distorted, and the Left is doing that to control the narrative. So we’re really fighting back and trying to debunk a lot of the lies of the Left in this.
Mr. Jekielek: So America Uncanceled is the theme of this year. What does that mean to you?
Ms. Zegers: For me, when we talk about socialism, I always try to distinguish for my generation that socialism is not Nordic Europe. It’s a capitalist economy over there. They have large social welfare programs and they have very high taxes, but at the end of the day, they have private industry and private business and a respect for capitalism and that system.
Socialism, on the other hand, is that economic system where you start to take control of private industry and private business. That’s the basic facts that I try to make sure they understand. But when we move into not just talking about economic socialist policies being implemented, and more embracing a radical, authoritarian style of cancel culture that we’ve seen in socialist uprisings throughout history that turned into a communist, radical, oppressive regime—that’s when I’m starting to get worried.
Mark Levin is really good when he talks about cancel culture. This is gone beyond when you start trending on social media when you say something a little scandalous, and then you get reprimanded for a few days. Now you are removed from participating in society, and that is Leninist, it’s Maoist, and unfortunately, it’s on the shores of America and Gen Z is leading that charge.
Mr. Jekielek: So break it down for me a little more, because it’s not necessarily obvious. People will say, “Wait a second, people have to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds.” You could say something stupid on Twitter, usually it’s Twitter, but it could be any social media. I’ve heard knitting groups engaging in this kind of thing, from Karlyn Borysenko. How is this Leninist? That seems like a really extreme position, is it?
Ms. Zegers: I love to look back. Throughout history, socialists, and communists have used kids against their parents and against their family members to report on their parents if they’re talking bad about the government behind their backs. It happened in China and happened in the USSR. But what I’m seeing in America is, it’s not just cancel culture in the political theater anymore. It’s not just on Twitter, the political people attacking each other.
Instead, I’m watching The Bachelor. I’m seeing that a picture came out of a young woman where she’s in grade school wearing an Indian headdress for Halloween, or some Indian costume, Native American costume. And what do you know, she’s now being canceled, and apparently she won the show. That’s what the rumors are. She won the show. The backlash was so bad from the public when this picture was exposed, that she and the man, the bachelor, ended up breaking up. Now she’s publicly apologizing, saying, “Please don’t defend me. I need to own up to this.”
Another example is Solly Baby. I’ve been following this. It’s a baby company that produces wraps. You can hold your young infant close to you when you’re in your work attire, and it’s very fashionable. They came out with a new style called the Loop. Unfortunately, people weren’t really happy because apparently women throughout history and people of color and tribes wore a similar style. They felt like she was stealing that way of holding a child, which is something that has literally been around since humankind has existed. They’re saying that she stole that style and tried to market it and make money off of a style that women of color used. That whole process is crazy.
She apologized and she said, “I’m very sorry that you guys were offended. I had no intention of doing that.” She was canceled again, because her apology was about herself, a white woman, a privileged white woman, and she should have made the apology to the women who are so offended and affected by it. Now she’s apologizing and saying she truly is very unaware, and she must apologize ten times more.
She’s on her third apology now, basically, and the summary of the story is that the people in the comments are finally happy with her because she’s basically down on her knees saying, “I am sorry for anything that I might have done to offend you. Please forgive me. Please allow me to just learn from you. I’m so sorry to even waste your time and having to show me how wrong I was.” It’s disgusting. It’s a baby carrier company, and we’re seeing it truly go into the public square. You have to apologize and be whipped until you have satisfied the mob. That’s what it is.
Mr. Jekielek: In this particular scenario, from what I understand, this woman was very influential and played a significant role in a lot of women’s lives.
Ms. Zegers: Yes, and everybody loved her. What was so surprising to me is that the first apology, it got a lot of praise. People said, “That’s really respectful of you to be able to say I’ve upset some people with what I did, and I’m very sorry.” But the small minority of people who are in the angry leftist woke mob, who only see identity and are so focused on that Cultural Marxism aspect, they were not satisfied.
So she had to apologize again and again. Finally, on that third apology, I’m reading the comments, those activists from social media were commenting and saying, “This is the apology I knew you are worthy of making.” It’s very concerning language, because they will continue to go after you until you have satisfied them and made them happy and said what they want you to say.
Mr. Jekielek: Some of the people that I work with that actually came out of China and lived through the Cultural Revolution have told me that this type of behavior is actually reminiscent of what happened during the Cultural Revolution. Not the same, but this whole idea of cancellation and this whole idea of having to make these extreme amends. What is the ideology behind this? Why is cancellation such an important part of this, in your mind?
Ms. Zegers: It’s having an opposing political thought that can challenge you. That’s why in China, people aren’t given access to basic resources online, because if they had the power— one of my favorite quotes is by Frederick Douglass, and he says, “Education makes you incapable of being a slave.” I’m paraphrasing, but basically, it says education makes you incapable of being a slave, because you know what’s true, you know what’s right, and you can stand up for yourself and stand up against your oppressors. That’s why regimes try to hide the truth, suppress the truth.
People say, “It’s 1984.” Unfortunately, we might be experiencing that. My worry, though, is that when we think of what we learned in the education system when I was going through high school—I did not learn about the history of these regimes in the sense that they came with promises of progress, with promises of changing and fighting for the working class fighting for the people. That’s how these terrible totalitarian authoritarian regimes begin. We really need to make a connection of those dots for my generation.
Mr. Jekielek: You’re leading a whole youth movement against communism, against socialism. How has that developed in the last year since we last talked?
Ms. Zegers: Thank you. It’s been a long year. COVID has been a wild, wild experience. When I first met you, we were about six months into the organization. Our initial goal was to tell the stories of survivors, because 70 percent of my generation right now says they would vote for a socialist. I have a strong feeling that they don’t actually want to implement socialism. They have probably never heard the definition of socialism in terms of seizing the means of production or nationalizing a major industry.
But they still say that they want to do it, so I am focusing on really making that clear to them. Unfortunately, we haven’t felt the direct threat of socialism. My generation has never felt that threat. That’s why we’re more willing to hear out the left now. We’re falling for it, if I put it simply. A great way to paint a very vivid picture for them of what socialism is actually like and explain to them how threatening it can be is to tell the stories of survivors.
So we started the organization on that, and we’ve got millions of views on our first months of content. Our best video got 25 million views in 2020. It tells the story of a man who windsurfed across the ocean from Cuba to the Florida Keys to reach America. Eventually, he does the immigration process, and he then joins the U.S. military. He serves over in Afghanistan, and he does it to say thank you to the country that gave him freedom.
That’s a powerful story. It gives you a very great lesson of why it’s so good to be in America, even though we have our problems. We’re not perfect. We are so blessed to be here. That’s how we started. Then we wanted to move forward and say, “What do we do now, though, when we know the education system is broken? Pop culture is seeping through with this leftist propaganda as well. Our college professors are basically Marxists trying to train the upcoming generation of the left. What do we do now to make this generational and long lasting beyond just viral videos on social media?”
I found a study from Michigan State University, and it was fascinating. Basically, the goal was to get information on how to make sure young people aren’t just memorizing information for the test and then spewing it out onto the paper and then forgetting it. How do you get them to deeply comprehend an issue and especially understand why it’s important to see an opposing viewpoint and understand that? It turns out the most effective way to do that was via peer, not via parent or professor. So it’s called peer rationale, peer-to-peer communication.
Apparently talking as a friend to a young person is exactly how you get them to open their mind and open their heart for the possibility of having it be changed. We’ve taken that and we’re running with it. So we have a studio in Texas now, we’re right in the San Antonio area. We create videos on history, economics, policy, finance, culture—all of that good stuff that when it’s lacking in the education system leads to an interest in more socialist ideas as these young adults grow older.
Mr. Jekielek: So who would have thought that a tete-a-tete like that is what would make the difference? I guess that is how it works. Any final thoughts?
Ms. Zegers: For me, I’m very excited. A lot of people ask me what they can do. My biggest thing to say is, stick to your local community. If you’re not sure exactly what to do, but you want to get involved and you’re very concerned, go to the school board meetings. Make sure that the 1619 Project is not being implemented in your community, in your school.
Those are the young minds that are going to be leading your community in the future. Make sure you understand what they’re being taught. Make sure that there aren’t crazy radicals on the school board. If you want to, run for school board. That’s in the future for many young people in our area. We’re going to work on that.
Mr. Jekielek: Morgan Zegers, it’s great to talk to you again.
Ms. Zegers: Thank you so much for having me.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.