“Socialism” No Longer a Dirty Word

A recent Pew Research Center poll, arguably by the most respected polling company in the USA, asked over 1,500 randomly selected Americans to describe their reactions to terms such as “capitalism” and “socialism.” Pew summarized the results of the poll with the title: “Socialism not so negative; capitalism not so positive.”

Only a narrow majority of 52% of all Americans react positively to “capitalism.” Thirty-seven percent say they have a negative reaction and the rest aren’t sure.

Among the “millennial generation,” those currently between 18 and 30, just 43% of Americans describe “capitalism” as positive, while 43%, describe “socialism” as positive. In other words, young people are equally divided between capitalism and socialism.

Among Democrats, 47% see capitalism as positive, while 44% see socialism positively. While it is impossible to know just what people understand by these terms, it is clear that interest in socialism is rising.

According to Boston College professor Charles Derber: “On nearly every major issue, from support minimum wage and unions, preference for diplomacy over force, deep concern for the environment, belief that big business is corrupting democracy, and support for many major social programs including Social Security and Medicare, the progressive position has been strong and relatively stable. If “socialism” means support for these issues, the interpretation of the Pew poll is a Center-Left country. If socialism means a search for a genuine systemic alternative, then America, particularly its youth, is emerging as a majoritarian social democracy, or in a majoritarian search for a more cooperativist, green, and more peaceful and socially just order.”

This comes at a time when the media tells us that the “Tea Party” represents the true face of protest and frustration in the U.S. The last thing they want is to give anyone the idea that the pent-up discontent can be expressed in a leftward direction. But sooner, rather than later, we can be sure it will, and in a big way.