February 27, 2017

The (ten-year-old Communist) kids are alright!


John Stuart Mill claimed to have begun studying Greek by age three. By eight, he was well read in Xenophon, Plato, and Herodotus. By twelve, he had fluency in Euclid and had tackled the works of Adam Smith and David Ricardo. In his autobiography, Mill wrote:

…[Y]ouths who have had much knowledge drilled into them, have their mental capacities not strengthened, but overlaid by it. They are crammed with mere facts, and with the opinions or phrases of other people, and these are accepted as a substitute for the power to form opinions of their own; and thus the sons of eminent fathers, who have spared no pains in their education, so often grow up mere parroters of what they have learnt, incapable of using their minds except in the furrows traced for them. Mine, however, was not an education of cram. My father never permitted anything which I learnt to degenerate into a mere exercise of memory. He strove to make the understanding not only go along with every step of the teaching, but, if possible, precede it. Anything which could be found out by thinking I never was told, until I had exhausted my efforts to find it out for myself.

Last week, an internet phenomenon spread like wildfire. Perhaps our century’s Mill, a YouTuber who goes by the name of Sceneable, went viral with a series of short clips unpacking the meaning and importance of Communism. His argument boiled down? Communism ends poverty, solving the problems that result from it. A refined distillation by any account. Even Marx was once caught saying, “Das Capital? More like Das Richman keeps all the money!”

But what makes Sceneable even better than Marx? Sceneable is a ten-year-old boy named Dylan.

In the “About” section of his YouTube page, Dylan writes: “This is my account!My name is Dylan.And I`m a ga* dork.Who makes video of Minecraft [because,that`s going to give me a good reputation]reactions,animations,JUICY drama and random videos!YAY!Lets reach 20 subscribers!:)Enjoy!Also,my dad owns this account.” He’s well past twenty subscribers now — pushing 25,000, in fact. And don’t let his tender years and fondness for internet colloquialisms get in the way of your appreciating his intellect. He has some rather insightful and snarky comments to offer up on topics ranging from feminism to theology.

Like any polemicist, Dylan is fueled by “fear, rage, disgust… a lot of it is triggered by emotions,” as he reported last week to New York’s Madison Malone Kircher.

My favorite thing about Dylan is his willingness to think about complex problems. The internet, of course, can be a veritable den of haters, and Dylan isn’t afraid to call out his detractors on their anti-intellectualism and ageism. Like Mill, this kid doesn’t seem like the type that wants to read something, memorize it, and then accept the common culture as objective fact. He learns and then applies his new knowledge to an analysis of the world. More than asshole cats, more than puppies rolling in snow, more, even, than toddlers who look surprised, Dylan might be the best thing that’s ever happened on the internet.

Oh, and he’s a vegetarian too. Keep up the good work, buddy. We’ll be watching.




Peter Clark is a former Melville House sales manager.