Following the Piper’s Tune

Written by Charles Battig

While political pundits ponder the reasons for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s success with his socialist message among younger voters, they might also consider the “power of myth” as evidenced by human behavior.

Historian Joseph Campbell’s reflections on the topic aired on PBS in the mid-1980s and were later published in 1988 under the title The Power of Myth.  Campbell documented and analyzed recurring basic themes embedded in the folklore and mythology of most every culture…good vs. evil, underdog hero, in-group vs. the outsider, trickster vs. honesty.

In the current contest for the Democratic nomination, two geriatric contenders seek the youth demographic – the millennials.  Mr. Sanders is seen as winning those votes.  Why?

A historical event from the Middle Ages in a small German village provides an analogy and modern-day parable.  The original legend as retold by the brothers Grimm: “the strange sound of piping wafted through the streets… only the children heard it… children of all sizes flocked at his heels to the sound of his strange piping… he played his pipe even louder still and a great door creaked open… In trooped the children behind the pied piper, and when the last child had gone into the darkness, the door creaked shut.”  After following the piper into the mountain, they were never seen again, according to the legend.  A blind, a lame, and a deaf child, unable to partake in the piper’s parade, are said to have been the only remaining children in that village of Hamelin.

Mr. Sanders is piping the socialist’s seductive tune of free everything for almost everyone.  This swan song also has a German origin in Karl Marx: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”  It is an especially beguiling siren song for youth now seeking rescue from economic circumstances seen as caused by their village elders’ unwillingness to pay the piper for past economic blunders.  If “it takes a village to raise a child,” the kids must now feel betrayed by their village.

Let’s hope, as in the fable, some youths will remain deaf to this dead-end tune.  History, not fable, documents the destructive nature of socialism and its unsustainability, as seen in the history of the USSR and of the National Socialism movement of Germany.

The prototype for the other Democratic presidential contender, Ms. Clinton, might have been the queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, a powerful and shrewd female politician who ruled over a mighty empire.  However, as the tally of political and legal misadventures accumulates daily for Ms. Clinton, her epithet is better rendered as the “Queen of Denials.”

Charles G. Battig, M.S., M.D., Piedmont Chapter president,
VA-Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment (VA-SEEE)

Originally published at