A new poll conducted June 11-25 by Momentive on behalf of Axios found that a majority (57% of U.S. adults) still have a favorable view of capitalism. However, the most notable data point is age. Those 18-34 now are evenly split on negative and positive views of capitalism. (46% vs. 49%). The dislike for capitalism rises further at younger age groups. For those 18 to 24, the negative views outweighing positive views by a margin of 54% to 42%.
The other groups showing stronger support for socialism are black and female Americans (60% and 45%, respectively).
The same swing is being reported internationally. A new poll by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) shows younger people growing opposing to capitalism and support for socialism. The paper includes a Forefront Market Research poll of people aged between 16 and 34 in the UK. An astonishing 67 per cent say they would like to live in a socialist economic system.
The fact is that none of the Western countries are entirely capitalistic in the sense of a pure market system with no social welfare programs. They are premised on capitalistic values while creating extensive social programs to expand opportunity and support those who are impoverished. At the same time, China has a long line of billionaires who have profited handsomely from the adoption of capitalist principles and market systems.
Notably, 75 percent view climate change is a specifically capitalist problem despite the terrible record of China and other socialist countries in the area of pollution and climate change.
Nevertheless, capitalism is being blamed for an increasing number of disasters. Recently, Professor Richard Wolf, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, blamed “privatized housing” for the recent collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida.
Wolf tweeted on June 30 that “Miami’s collapsed condo shows: privatized housing violates democracy. Only condo owners voted to defer building repair. Delivery workers, condo visitors, repairers knew nothing, didn’t vote, risked injury, death. As irreducibly social, housing must be run democratically by all.”
As with climate change, the point ignores the building collapses and lax enforcement in socialist countries. Central control has never translated to better building codes or pollution policies.
The shift in favor of socialism is no surprise for some of us. My kids were often given material and lessons in their public high schools that criticized capitalism while rarely pointing out the failures of socialist countries like Venezuela.
Indeed, Venezuela continues to receive support despite a blood-soaked regime that has destroyed free press and free speech rights as well as reducing the country into an economic basket case. Recently, the Democratic Socialists of America (which claims supporters in Congress) visited Venezuelan dictator, Nicolas Maduro. Previously, we discussed the delegation of Chicago Teachers visiting the country and showering it with praise as political prisoners languished in the jails of Maduro.
The pandemic has led to a massive increase in government spending which is also likely to shape the views of many on the benefits of government controls and centralized programs. These polls show a generation coming to age that is ready to embrace aspects of Marx’s Das Kapital over Smith’s Wealth of Nations.