[Marxism] Socialism, Capitalism Seen in New Light by Younger Americans; Surveys show a leftward tilt, and pessimism about the future, among millennials

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 7 16:30:26 MST 2017

The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 6 2017
Socialism, Capitalism Seen in New Light by Younger Americans; Surveys 
show a leftward tilt, and pessimism about the future, among millennials
By Eli Stokols

ELON, N.C.—John Della Volpe, who has been polling millennials for 17 
years, stood before about 150 students in a gleaming new center at Elon 
University this fall in search of an answer.

In his 2016 survey for Harvard University's Institute of Politics, 42% 
of younger Americans said they support capitalism, and only 19% 
identified themselves as capitalists. While this was a new question in 
his survey, the low percentage of young people embracing capitalism 
surprised him. He had come here, in part, to better understand why.

"Maybe it had to do with the 'American Dream,' and how capitalism was 
correlated with it, but a lot of young people don't believe in it 
anymore," said Ana Garcia, a junior at the Elon event. "We don't trust 
capitalism because we don't see ourselves getting ahead."

Largely because of such millennials, generally those born in the 1980s 
and 1990s, socialism has moved from being a taboo because of its 
associations with the Cold War to something that has found rising appeal 
among those polled by Harvard and in other surveys that compared 
different generations.

Grace Magness, an Elon freshman, has experienced the shift firsthand. 
Her great grandfather, she said, was named Eugene Debs after the labor 
leader who ran for president five times for the Socialist Party at the 
turn of the 20th century. "He was so embarrassed about it when he was 
older that he would never introduce himself using his full name," Ms. 
Magness said.

For her, she says, "socialism has gotten less spooky; it's no longer 
associated with communism the way it was." She adds: "straight-up 
capitalism seems like it has a lot of potential to be really corrupt."

Young people across the generations tend to be viewed as more 
left-leaning than their elders. Underlying the millennial generation's 
leftward tilt is angst about the future, Mr. Della Volpe said. In a new 
smaller Harvard survey, released Tuesday, 67% of those polled said they 
are more worried than hopeful about the direction of the country. The 
fall survey sampled 2,037 peopled aged 18 to 29 in live interviews.

"If something unites these young people," Mr. Della Volpe said, "it's 
fear," driven by their perception that they have limited economic 
opportunities and that society as a whole has become more unequal.

The 2016 poll also found that the millennial generation is less 
religious than their parents and losing faith in institutions—a finding 
consistent with other polls that track some of that loss of faith to the 
slow recovery from the deep recession that began in 2008.

"Every new group of voters is disproportionately affected by whatever 
was salient when they were growing up," said Celinda Lake, a long-time 
Democratic pollster. "That's led this group to be really cynical about 
institutions: military, government."

In the view of Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster and the 
author of, "The Selfie Vote: Where Millennials Are Leading America and 
How Republicans Can Keep Up," the idea that young people tend to be 
liberal and become more conservative with age is misguided. "The oldest 
millennials are actually the most left-leaning," she said. "If you came 
of age, graduated college and were job hunting around the time of the 
financial crisis, you might be asking, What have free markets done for 
you? The easy rhetoric that 'markets are bad, government is bad' is 

The Harvard survey has polled roughly 1,000 respondents between 18 and 
29 years old annually since 2001. The sample size has grown over time. 
In the spring 2016 survey, it was a measure of nearly 3,200 people. The 
survey has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

Still, millennials polled say they want a bigger role for government in 
making conditions better for their future. The number of young people 
who believe that tax cuts spark economic growth, which had held fairly 
steady for years, fell seven points over the past two years, according 
to the 2016 Harvard survey.

That may be an ominous portent for the GOP, which is on the verge of 
passing a major tax overhaul that is projected to add $1 trillion to the 
federal deficit and cut taxes for corporations. According to the new 
Harvard poll released Tuesday, 67% of respondents oppose the way 
President Donald Trump is handling the tax measure. And a Quinnipiac 
University poll also released Tuesday showed that 78% of millennials, 
defined in the survey as 18-to-34 year-olds, believe the GOP tax 
overhaul would mostly benefit the wealthy.

"We are on the verge of a very significant political movement led by 
millennials," Mr. Della Volpe of Harvard said. "This generation does not 
believe in trickle-down economics."

Democrats may appear poised to capitalize on these trends in midterm 
elections next year and the presidential election in 2020. An NBC News 
poll of millennials released last week showed that just 19% of young 
people identify as Republicans and 71% don't believe the GOP cares about 
people like them. By comparison, 53% said Democrats care about people 
like them.

But in the most recent survey for Harvard, Mr. Della Volpe asked the 
same question and found that just 34% of millennials believe the 
Democratic Party cares about them.

"Democrats can't take these voters for granted," Mr. Della Volpe said. 
"They have a year or so to focus on this generation, but if they fail to 
do so in the 2018 cycle, someone else will in 2020."

Millennials also say they consider themselves socially conscious, which 
has ramifications for potential employers.

"They see where they work as an extension of who they are and what they 
value," said Whitney Dailey, the director of marketing and research at 
Cone Communications, a firm that advises on corporate-responsibility 
strategies. "They're looking to work with companies that align with 
their values."

According to Cone's 2016 millennial-engagement study, which surveyed 
more than 1,000 employees at large companies, 76% of respondents between 
ages 20 and 35 consider a company's social commitment when searching for 
a job; 75% are willing to take a pay cut to work for a company that 
suits their values.

When recruiting new employees, Don Slager, chief executive of 
waste-management company Republic Services Inc., emphasizes diversity 
training for managers, a 10-hour workday for employees in an industry 
where longer shifts are common, and investments in recycling programs.

"I think there's more commitment and I think that is absolutely tied to 
the millennials because the younger generation just inherently cares 
more about it," Mr. Slager said. "And I think that kind of consumerism 
will drive companies to make different decisions."

Following the 2008 crash, Citigroup Inc. changed recruitment efforts to 
offer a better work-life balance. These programs, including one that 
lets employees defer their job responsibilities for a year to do 
philanthropic or volunteer work and be paid 60% of their salary, arose 
from a recognition of the younger generation's heightened social 

"When we go to college campuses, we tell the students we work with a 
purpose, that we're trying to do good for society," said Jamie Forese, 
Citigroup's president. "And students don't want apologies; they want a 
plan that's forward looking."

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