Millennials are worried about their futures in a free market society, leading them to increasingly gravitate toward socialist ideology.
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America—the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Since 1776, this great country has been the bastion of freedom, wealth and prosperity. People from all over the world have risked their lives, and willingly left families behind to take part in this abundant and ideal society.
“Be all that you can be” and “follow your dreams” are phrases and individualistic ideologies taught to American children for decades and burned into the minds of millions.
The United States has been both the envy and the example to the entire world.
Vast stores of wealth can be obtained by private citizens in a free, law-abiding society. The American Dream—what could be better? The campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” capitalized on this established idea and led to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent victory.
Many tens of millions of Americans, however, were stunned by the president’s victory in part because a different philosophy for American society has been developing quietly in the background. This model is not new, but it is one that would not have been as publicly accepted a decade ago.
Socialism, a form of government driven by collective control and typically enforced by strong government oversight, is now becoming widely embraced and threatens to become the new American ideal.
According to a recent YouGov study commissioned by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, socialism among millennials is on the rise. Forty four percent of American millennials surveyed would prefer to live in a socialist country versus only 42 percent who would prefer capitalism. Going even further, 7 percent would prefer communism. This is a very distinctive move leftward when contrasted with the entire study group of U.S. adults—34 percent prefer socialism and 3 percent communism.
The reason that these numbers are somewhat unsettling to some is that millennials (those 18-34 years) now make up the largest generation living in the United States.
Groups all over the U.S. are gaining steam from this youth movement toward the left. The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is one such organization riding the political coattails of self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders.
The DSA was originally established by Marxists in 1982. Its membership has nearly quintupled since the 2016 presidential race to nearly 30,000 while its median age has decreased from 60 to 35 (Agence France-Presse).
Millennials, many of whom were children during the financial crisis of 2008, witnessed firsthand what the economic downturn did to their families and society. Capitalism, for all its apparent good, became dissatisfying to a growing number of young adults. Where has it failed?
Think of the current massive disparity between the upper class and the lower class, much of which has occurred under capitalism. According to Oxfam, the richest 1 percent on Earth have as much wealth as the rest of the world combined. This has led to a diminishment of middle class society and an increase in the working poor. These are the millions of hardworking families, living under the shadow of massive student loans, medical bills and other debts. Mired in modern drudgery, these people are unable to crawl out from life’s financial hole to get ahead in life.
The Great Recession left a sour taste for many toward capitalism. One prominent millennial told AFP that the effects of the crisis left them ready to “embrace [socialism] and really fight with it publicly.”
Capitalism’s undeniable flaws have led to the honest consideration of its alternatives.
Professor Cathy Schneider of American University noted that socialism’s negative reputation is fading. She told the news organization: “People no longer associate socialism with dictatorships in the USSR and China.”
This trend is not solely confined to the U.S. In Australia, millennials who were affected by the same global financial crisis are moving in a similar direction.
According to one millennial and member of the Australian Labor Party: “…the ideas that [Karl] Marx expressed in his writing have a lot of resonance today: ideas about automation, about a reserve army of labor, about massive inequality, about capitalism being a system that is prone to crisis…And traditional economic explanations don’t really work, or people don’t find them convincing.”
Many who desperately want socialism do so for good reason. They generally want what everyone does—to ensure that everyone’s basic human needs are met.
Bloomberg reported on a debate that took place in New York City at Cooper Union’s Great Hall. The debate was between two popular socialists and two libertarian defenders of capitalism. Bhaskar Sunkara, founder of left-wing Jacobin magazine, argued that a socialistic society is one that helps people with life’s basic needs such as food, housing, education, healthcare and childcare.
Notice these were all the needs negatively affected during last decade’s financial crisis. People lost homes, jobs were scarce, millions were on food stamps as never before, and mounting healthcare bills went unpaid.
According to The Washington Post many budding socialists have Scandinavian countries in mind as their model states. Even though many of these countries are not technically socialist, they currently outrank the U.S. in the area of social welfare programs.
This thinking is the driving force behind groups such as the DSA, who do not care what party platform candidates run on but rather what they are promising. Democratic socialists, who largely supported Bernie Sanders’ presidential run, are not necessarily concerned with any single politician but with larger core values—universal healthcare, public investment in education and housing and labor protections (AFP).
These ideals, to be fair, are not unique to socialists. Many capitalists share similar desires for access to quality healthcare, good education, affordable housing and good jobs. They simply differ in how they should be achieved.
Do millennials—and millions of others—fully understand what they are asking for in shifting away from capitalism?
There are concerns that this trend may be more harmful than what it appears. According to Satyajeet Marar, a 25-year-old in Australia, “a narrative has been sold to us that the Global Financial Crisis only happened because of capitalism and greed, and that led to horrible outcomes like banks being bailed out. In fact, it was a lot more complicated” (ABC).
Mr. Marar went on to state that “millennial socialists are naive about what life would be like under socialism.”
Recognizing the millions of deaths and other atrocities that took place in the USSR under Josef Stalin and Vladimir Lenin and the scores of millions of deaths in China under Mao Zedong, he concluded that many millennials “don’t approach left-wing ideas with the caution they should.”
The truth is that most millennials do not actually understand true socialism. For instance, in the same YouGov poll, many failed to know the difference between it and what is considered its extreme form—communism.
The survey revealed that only 33 percent of millennials surveyed recognized the real definition of socialism: economic and social systems characterized by social ownership and state control of the means of production, as well as political theories and movements associated with them. Twenty-two percent thought this was the definition of communism.
Equally concerning is that 71 percent could not properly distinguish the proper definition of communism: socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money and state. A whopping 31 percent thought this to be the definition of socialism.
After soaking in these facts for a brief moment, it becomes apparent that a large percentage of millennials are willing to blindly accept socialism or communism in order to replace what they have now. Worse yet, a large percentage of millennials unwittingly prefer communism given their misunderstanding of what they think is socialism.
These findings are scary considering that communism is responsible for over 100 million deaths over the last century!
Yet this movement to the left could simply be a knee-jerk reaction—one made without all the facts. For instance, a Reason-Rupe poll showed that 54 percent of millennials preferred a larger government offering more services. However, when this form of government was described as needing more tax dollars, the support dropped to 41 percent (The Washington Post). Once given the facts, many retreated in their position and instead preferred the status quo.
As in all other areas of life, the choices we make have effects—both positive and negative. Yet some calling for socialism want to have their cake and eat it too.
Venezuela and Zimbabwe are two socialist nations in the news recently and not for good reasons.
Venezuela once thrived with a large middle class and strong oil-based economy. Now the South American country, which still possesses the world’s largest crude oil reserves, is in economic free fall and has been since 2013.
Under socialist Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan government seized control and ownership of the country’s oil, creating a powerful monopoly. Initially, national poverty was reduced and literacy increased, both due to an abundance of resources and money controlled by the government and made available to the people. Yet this prosperity was short-lived, partly because the government attempted to become an oil and gas expert overnight. It eventually saw a large drop in oil-based income, rendering its social programs unmanageable.
This led to massive food shortages and shortages of medical supplies. Over the last year, the average Venezuelan lost 19 pounds due to starvation.
Today, the country sits $196 billion in debt that it cannot repay. Inflation is skyrocketing and there is no end in sight. Current expectations are for 720 percent inflation in 2017 and over 2,000 percent in 2018 (CNN). These problems, many due to attempts to finance socialist programs, are unsustainable and will no doubt cause more hardship to the average Venezuelan citizen.
Zimbabwe is another example. It was the richest and most productive country in Africa just a few decades ago. Socialist dictator Robert Mugabe dealt with his nation’s resulting inflation problems by declaring inflation illegal and crushing those who spoke against his socialist policies.
Today, the nation is rife with poverty, social unrest and political turmoil. People in Zimbabwe are now 15 percent poorer than they were in 1980 (BBC).
Most recently, a military coup took control leading to Mr. Mugabe’s resignation. His former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has succeeded him. Mr. Mnangagwa is a longtime member of the same ruling Zanu-PF political party, which follows a socialist ideology. One wonders how much more prosperous Zimbabweans will be while continuing along the same socialism path?
Other socialist states from history include the USSR and its satellite nations. How long did it take for those countries to recover after their extreme socialist governments were overthrown?
Clearly, these examples are stark modern reminders of socialism’s inability to solve overall problems.
While many are staunch capitalists or die-hard socialists, others see flaws in both systems—even among millennials. One 31-year-old told Bloomberg that “capitalism and socialism might ideally be ways to improve the world, but both can fall short when applied to the real world.” Neither form of government offers lasting solutions.
On one side, socialists are willing to overthrow the current societal order in search of change. Those on the other side doggedly hold to capitalism because they see it as the reason for America’s success.
Both sides, however, recognize the importance that administrative structure or oversight plays in ensuring the prosperity of a people. In other words, government—not in the bureaucratic, red-tape sense, but instead in the sense of how a nation is organized and its policies are implemented—is the key to realizing lasting solutions.
Government is the key to solving mankind’s persistent problems. And there is a government—also known as a kingdom—coming to fix what is wrong with the world.
This kingdom was foretold to be perfect, fair, equitable and just. It will have many of the best things that current human governments have to offer—yet so much more. This flawless system is just over the horizon and will transcend nations to eventually cover the entire Earth.
To learn more about this coming government, read our free booklet How God’s Kingdom Will Come – The Untold Story!
Those young and old looking for a solution will find one—and soon.