There’s one quote I’ll never forget overhearing from a co-worker in my teenage years: “We’re all socialists if you think about it. When you go to the store you have to talk to the cashier, so that’s social.” He was dead serious. So it comes as no surprise that a poll shows 69% of millennials can’t define socialism.
My co-worker may have been clueless about socialism, and apparently that’s the rule rather than the exception among self-professed socialists. VICE magazine, which caters to an audience of hipster millennials, recently wrote about the burgeoning socialist movement among young people, and cited a poll that showed two-thirds of socialists can’t even define their ideology. (For the record, socialism is government ownership of the means of production, like land, labor, and capital).
Rather, today’s young socialists seem to think the government spending money on anything they like is “socialism.” It’s not uncommon to argue against socialism and hear in response something along the lines of “if you don’t like socialism, you don’t like roads,” which of course is not an example of socialism (it’s just and example of government spending).
To quote from VICE:
“…Though socialism is gaining in popularity, nobody can seem to agree on what it means. When the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation commissioned a poll on socialism last year it found most millennials—69 percent—had trouble correctly defining socialism. ‘People are taking their hopes and aspirations and good visions of what we could be and putting that into a bucket called socialism‘” argued Marion Smith, who is the executive director of the Foundation.”
I bolded the most important part. That seems to be exactly the case.
Back in august we wrote that socialism is the economic ideology of choice among Democrats today, with 57% having a positive view of the unworkable system. Only 47 percent, a minority, viewed capitalism favorably. Depressingly, it’s not just Democrats. A majority of millennials prefer socialism over capitalism too. Then again, they’re really just supporting what they *think* is socialism.
Millennial socialists don’t know what socialism is, while millennial socialist politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez know what socialism is…. but don’t know how to pay for it.
While socialists such as Bernie Sanders love to point to countries like Denmark and Sweden as those we should model America after, he seldom mentions their confiscatory levels of taxation. (Note that those countries aren’t socialist, but have all the big-government welfare programs Bernie and other socialists want). The top tax bracket in Denmark is 60%, and unlike America where our top bracket only applies to the well-off, someone earning over $60,000 is subjected to that 60% tax rate in Denmark. And on top of that, there’s a 25% national sales tax in both Sweden and Denmark. So $100 of income becomes $40 thanks to the income tax – and that remaining $40 can only purchase $32 worth of goods due to the sales tax. And all that’s excluding other local taxes.
Is there a single American who would accept socialism once they know the cost? None that have ever earned a paycheck, for sure.
The good news is that it’s only a messaging problem causing youth to embrace socialism – not socialist ideology itself. We can fix that.