21 July 2016

Millenials are not afraid of socialism

A recent Reason-Rupe survey found that a majority of Americans under 30 have a more favorable view of socialism than of capitalism. Gallup finds that almost 70 percent of young Americans are ready to vote for a “socialist” president...

Indeed, the criticism most heard against the millennial generation’s evolving attachment to socialism is that they don’t understand what the term really means, indulging instead in warm fuzzy talk about cooperation and happiness. But this is precisely the larger meaning of socialism, which the millennial generation—as evidenced in the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements—totally comprehends...

While banks were bailed out to the tune of trillions of dollars, the government was not interested in offering serious help to homeowners carrying underwater mortgages (the actual commitment of the U.S. government was $16 trillion to corporations and banks worldwide, as revealed in a 2011 audit prompted by Sanders and others). Facing crushing amounts of debt, millennials have been forced to cohabit with their parents and to downshift ambitions. They have had to relearn the habits of communal living, making do with less, and they are bartering necessary skills because of the permanent casualization of jobs. They are questioning the value of a capitalist education that prepares them for an ideology that is vanishing and an economy that doesn’t exist...

...the Keynesian insight that a certain level of equality must be maintained to preserve capitalism has been abandoned in favor of a neoliberal regime that has privatized, deregulated, and “liberalized” to the point where extreme inequality, a new form of serfdom, has come into being...

But millennials are done with blind faith in the market as the solution to all human problems. They question whether “economic growth” should even be the ultimate pursuit. Ironically, again, it is the extreme form capitalism has taken under neoliberalism that has put millennials under such pressure that they have started asking these questions seriously: Why not work fewer hours? Why not disengage from consumer capitalism? Why trust in capitalist goods to buy happiness? 
More at the Salon link.


  1. I think capitalism has been taken to about the furthest extent it can go without collapsing or turning into a complete oligarchy. I am a grandparent of milennials, and I agree with them that a turn toward socialism would be healthy for the country.

  2. Police, fire departments, public schools, libraries, Medicare, public roads, bridges and infrastructure... Socialism!

  3. My main reservation is that I don't believe there ever was a generation in which a signicant proportion of people (as opposed to lobbyists) saw the market as the solution to all human problems or thought economic growth should be the ultimate pursuit.

    There is a difference, but it's an adjustment of priorities, not an ideological divide.

    I think Aristotle's system of defining every virtue as a midpoint between two vices (e.g. generosity as the midpoint between the miser and the spendthrift) ought to be more widely applied to societies. For example, the ideal society is somewhat capitalist but not too much so. Ordinary people know this, but there is a need for better ways to express it, in order to give common sense arguments more rhetorical force.

    1. That's a great post, Adrian, very nice.

      I hadn't heard the Aristotle thing before. Aphorisms are always too simple, but that's also their attraction, they help us think about difficult topics in simpler symbols; helps us wrap our arms around some of these things.

  4. You don't need to be a millenial, you just need to observe how our system works or doesn't work. I'm a 58 year old woman who becomes more and more socialist the older I get.

  5. I've always wanted to reincarnate to a life where satisfaction is the currency

  6. The irony is, the selected quote pretty much exactly describes life under Communism as the older generation remembers.

    "millennials ... downshift ambitions...relearn the habits of communal living, making do with less...bartering necessary skills..."

    OK, in communist countries the jobs are not casualized: instead they are given to cronies and unfireable chairwarmers with lifelong contracts.

    "... questioning the value of a. () education that prepares them for an ideology that is vanishing and an economy that doesn’t exist..."

    Yep, sounds like post-Soviet Russia forced to face reality.


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