Nearly half of Gen Z Americans view socialism favorably: survey

Activists protest against capitalism as riot police stand nearby during scattered left-wing protests in Kreuzberg district on May Day during the novel coronavirus crisis on May 1, 2020, in Berlin, Germany.
Activists protest against capitalism as riot police stand nearby during scattered left-wing protests in Kreuzberg district on May Day during the novel coronavirus crisis on May 1, 2020, in Berlin, Germany. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

After 100 million murders, dozens of wars, unquantifiable starvation, and gulags created under socialism, 40% of Americans today consider it “favorable,” a survey by Victims of Communism Foundation has found.

The Victims of Communism Foundation released its fifth annual survey, asking 2,100 representative Americans their opinions on socialism. In 2020, 4% more Americans view socialism favorably than in 2019.

Younger generations approve of socialism most, the survey said. Some 49% of Generation Z and 47% of millennials have favorable opinions of the term socialism. For millennials, that number has gradually declined from 50% in 2018 and 49% in 2019.

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It also found that one in four Americans favors the gradual abolition of the capitalist system. Some 12% of Gen Z and 10% of millennials said they believe "society would be better off if all private property was abolished and held by the government."

The change in approval toward socialism has delivered remarkable political gains for socialists, said Democratic Socialists of America San Diego chapter Treasurer Herbert Shore in an interview with The Christian Post.

“There was a lot of activity after Trump was elected,” he said. “The institution has increased tremendously. Eight years ago, we had 6,000 members nationally. Now we’re passing around 70,000. We’ve become a significant force in American politics.”

Reps. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., are both members of the DSA. Along with former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who also identifies as a Democratic Socialist, they represent an increasing acceptance of socialist politicians.

According to Shore, the government should take over electric utilities, railways systems, and other companies that affect many Americans. And workers should have representatives on the directing boards of corporations.

“It’s more closely linked to the government taking a larger role in the whole economy. It’s not about seizing the means of production as a whole,” he contended.

Shore said that many of the DSA’s new members are young people who feel that neither Republicans nor Democrats help working-class people. The DSA doesn’t have a clear set of beliefs or policies because most American socialists define socialism differently, although it can be roughly understood as “the way Bernie Sanders describes it,” he added.

In 1988, Sanders honeymooned in the Soviet Union. He praised Venezuela in 2011 as a place where the “American dream is more apt to be realized.” As recently as February, Sanders said “it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad” about dictator Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

“People who are older, their attitudes tend to change,” Shore said. “Bernie Sanders today did not espouse anything like [support for Venezuela and praise for Fidel Castro.] Very few American socialists are Marxists,” he said. 

Wall Street Journal opinion columnists noted, however, that Sanders has a long history of backing Venezuela's dictators. In 2003, Sanders signed a letter in support of Hugo Chavez at a time when politically motivated arrests and property confiscation were rampant. Similarly, Sanders has received criticism from even Democrats for backing socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro, and for saying he would not recognize Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

Victims of Communism Foundation Director Marion Smith said that socialists cannot redefine the term socialism.

“It’s a term for an ideology, an imperfectly practiced system that affected the lives of millions of people. They don’t get to redefine it,” he said. “The DSA has misled the public on the meaning and history of the word. That is dangerous.”

Socialism means government control of the economy, Smith explained. If people vote a socialist government into power, it will be the last time they vote. Every time socialists have ruled a nation, it resulted in economic collapse and the creation of dictatorial police states.

“People murdered in Venezuela were murdered with the wink and nod of the Chavez regime because they were ‘class enemies,’” he said.

The media and school system have ignored the legacy of murder that socialist states have left behind, Smith added. Young people don’t learn the crimes of socialists, so they become socialist.

“Unlike the crimes of Nazis, the crimes of communist regimes never received a moral reckoning and legal accountability. Those who defended the Soviet Union never apologized,” he said. “Socialism should be just as unacceptable as fascism.”

Shore and Smith agree that multinational corporations are one reason why some young Americans are showing interest in socialism.

Smith noted that corporations that use slave labor in Communist China aren’t really part of the free market. And Shore said that the migration of manufacturing jobs overseas has left many Americans behind.

Arthur Herman, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, noted in an op-ed for WSJ that in the last 20 years, more than 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost. "In the 1960s, manufacturing made up 25% of U.S. gross domestic product. It’s barely 11% today." 

Herman added: "A 2018 White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy study noted that, since 2000, America’s defense industry has shed more than 20,000 U.S.-based manufacturing companies. As the work those companies once did domestically has shifted overseas, much of it has gone to China."

Speaking more on China, Smith told CP that “big business in the United States has given free enterprise a bad name."

"More millennials and Generation Z members have realized some of America’s largest corporations have conspired with some of the worst regimes on earth, including China, to use slave labor,” Smith continued. “The little man in China suffering under the slave system and the average worker in the Midwest have a lot more in common than they realize about wanting free enterprise.”

Christians should remember that socialism has no greater enemy than faith, Smith stressed.

"Every socialist system has viewed religion as an existential threat. Anything that provides a moral authority higher than the Communist Party is a threat." 

In August, a survey released by the Cultural Research Center headed by noted evangelical pollster George Barna found that 98% of Americans who hold socialist beliefs reject a “biblical worldview.”  

By contrast, 83% of those who hold a biblical worldview responded that they preferred “capitalism over socialism," according to findings from the American Worldview Inventory 2020. 

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