It has been said that if you are not a socialist before you are 25, you have no heart; if you are a socialist after 25, you have no brain. Young people typically gravitate toward left-leaning concepts when they are exploring the world around them. It is only natural as even some of the greatest conservative minds, such as Friedrich Hayek and Thomas Sowell, flirted with progressive politics in their youth. But a plethora of recent studies have found that young people’s attitudes toward economic and political philosophies are increasingly leaning left. Will the next generation change the fabric of America?
Do Young Americans Endorse Socialism?
Every year, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) conducts a survey on the opinions Americans hold about capitalism and socialism. The main takeaway from the 2020 edition is that favorability of socialism among Generation Z has skyrocketed.
According to the study, which was conducted by research firm YouGov, 49% of Gen Zers had a favorable opinion of socialism, up from 40% in 2019.
For millennials, 47% held a favorable opinion of socialism, down from 49% a year ago. Thirty-nine percent of Generation Xers expressed support for socialism, up from 33% last year.
Researchers came across some other interesting findings from the nation’s youth:
- 34% of Gen Z and 35% of millennials view President Donald Trump as the greatest threat to world peace.
- 39% of Gen Z and 32% of millennials think Trump is more responsible for the coronavirus pandemic than Chinese President Xi Jinping.
- 60% of millennials want to move the economic system away from capitalism, up from 8% in 2019.
Marion Smith, executive director of the D.C.-based nonprofit, blamed the latest trends on the “total failure of our education system”:
“This represents a total failure of our education system, not just in schools but also a basic dishonest in our media and popular culture. When one-in-four Americans want to eliminate capitalism and embrace socialism, we know that we have failed to educate about the historical and moral failings of these ideologies.
It shocks the conscience that more Americans today believe the U.S. president is a bigger threat to world peace than the most brutal dictators in the world, and that four-in-ten Americans believe that their country is a ‘racist’ nation.”
Is it the fault of the education system, or is there something else at work? Perhaps the best way to find out what exactly is going on is to look at previous VOC studies.
VOC’s Previous Findings
In 2017, the organization’s annual study found that 44% of millennials would prefer to live in a socialist or communist country. When they were asked to name “a personal hero, hero for the country, or hero for the world” a considerable portion named Che Guevara, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, and Joseph Stalin.
The most compelling revelation from that year’s study was that one-third could not correctly identify the real definition of communism and socialism. Does this mean youth are getting their information from the classroom, the mainstream press, social media, or another venue that is not offering accurate information?
That said, since the state is in charge of educating more than 56 million students, it would make sense that government-run schools would get most of the blame for this disappointing level of knowledge and admiration for tyrannical dictators. At the same time, parents are the ones who should also play an integral role in their children’s education, introducing them to history without force-feeding them opinions and analysis like a CNN or Fox News Channel program.
Then, Now, Forever?
In the end, maybe this is just another flash-in-the-pan endorsement of the socialist system that is responsible for the deaths and suffering of millions of people around the world. Young people were enthralled with the ideas of socialism and communism yesterday – and they are interested in these ideologies today. Chances are, the next generation will be fascinated by these philosophies tomorrow. History is cyclical, and it typically repeats itself.