Who says so? No less an authority than The Pew:
Young people — the collegiate and post-college crowd, who have served as the most visible face of the Occupy Wall Street movement — might be getting more comfortable with socialism. That’s the surprising result from a Pew Research Center poll that aims to measure American sentiments toward different political labels.
The poll, published Wednesday, found that while Americans overall tend to oppose socialism by a strong margin — 60 percent say they have a negative view of it, versus just 31 percent who say they have a positive view — socialism has more fans than opponents among the 18-29 crowd. Forty-nine percent of people in that age bracket say they have a positive view of socialism; only 43 percent say they have a negative view.
And while those numbers aren’t very far apart, it’s noteworthy that they were reversed just 20 months ago, when Pew conducted a similar poll. In that survey, published May 2010, 43 percent of people age 18-29 said they had a positive view of socialism, and 49 percent said their opinion was negative.
It’s so funny to watch the media sputter over this, isn’t it? Wait, it gets funnier:
It’s not clear why young people have evidently begun to change their thinking on socialism. In the past several years, the poor economy has had any number of effects on young adults — keeping them at home with their parents, making it difficult for them to get jobs, and likely depressing their earning potential for years to come — that might have dampened enthusiasm for the free market among this crowd.
Indeed, the Pew poll also found that just 46 percent of people age 18-29 have positive views of capitalism, and 47 percent have negative views — making this the only age group where support for socialism outweighs support for capitalism.
Young people have also been among the most involved in the nationwide Occupy movement, whose members have leveled pointed criticism at the capitalist ethos and often called for a more equal distribution of American wealth.
In general, income inequality — which a Congressional Budget Office report recently pointed out is at historic levels — has received more and more attention in politics and the media since the Occupy movement launched in mid-September. Usage of the term rose dramatically in news coverage following the start of the protests, and politicians from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to President Barack Obama have used the movement’s language to describe divisions in the American public.
Isn’t that funny? They say “It’s not clear why…”, only to go on for four paragraphs making it altogether clear why. This tells me one thing: the media don’t get it, but the younger folks do.
Socialism was something most young people of my generation couldn’t mention without sneering, when they mentioned it at all. (Reagan and Bush I: Fuck ’em.) The fact that all these kids who grew up during the Clinton Boom (and came of age during the BushObama Bust) are willing to contemplate it gives me hope for the future. I had to grow into my socialism. I hope they never grow out of theirs.
I hope they just keep it growing and growing and growing.