According to a survey conducted in 2016 by Harvard, more than half of young Americans outright reject capitalism, while a full third support socialism. 51 percent of young people polled, ages 18 to 29, rejected capitalism.
In a similar Pew poll conducted in 2011, more young people in the same age group had a favorable opinion of socialism over capitalism.
These numbers may come as a shock to older generations who revere capitalism and revile anything resembling the victims of the red scare. And yet, what the numbers reveal is that an increasing number of young Americans are much more open to alternative governmental systems in the wake of a clearly fragmented Democracy.
If it is any surprise that young voters are less than fond of capitalism and more in favor of government-control or intrusion on the free market, look no further than the overwhelming support for the likes of Senator Bernie Sanders stateside and Jeremy Corbyn abroad.
Sanders’ rallying cry for the Revolution was that the people at the top held far too much of the nation’s wealth, and therefore controlled just about everything else. Unless you are ignorant or blind, this fact is undeniable.
The “top one percent of the top one percent,” became a rallying cry, and something to focus our anger on. During the primary, Sanders provided a litany of ways to shift the balance, taking some of the wealth from the top and giving it, through tax breaks and increased social programs, to those at the bottom.
Even once Sanders lost the primary, and even after Trump won the election altogether, support for socialism in the wake of Sanders continued to grow. Now, the Democratic Socialist of America party boasts hundreds of thousands of members they didn’t have this time last year.
In the U.K., Prime Minister Theresa May nearly lost her seat to far-left Labour candidate Corbyn. Reaching even further than Sanders, Corbyn inspired hoards of young voters with his anti-capitalist ideals.
But this distaste for the men at the top didn’t come from nothing; over the years, capitalism has failed us, helping to morph a system which once rewarded hard work and struggle into a system which increasingly favored those already at the top. If Capitalism hadn’t been seen as a failure, socialism or Democratic Socialism wouldn’t have been examined as an option.
While a trend toward socialism may scare the boots off of older Americans, politicians would do well to pay attention to this growing group of voters.