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