In a video recently released by Campus Reform, reporters hit the streets of Washington, D.C., with two questions to ask millennials they encountered: “Do you like socialism?” and “What is socialism?” The replies they received were startling:
Person after person shared their support for socialism in the United States. One student stated, “I think people throw that word around to try and scare you, but if helping people is socialism, than I’m for it.” Many commented that they thought creating a system of equal wealth was a positive thing, with one respondent even stating that it should be the “standard.”
Yet, when asked to define socialism, the same people who so avidly supported it seemed to be at a loss for words. Some thought the definition boiled down to wealth distribution. Another suggested that socialism is “more of an open form of government, and it feels a lot more accessible to a lot more people,” though she wasn’t able to give an example of what that would actually look like when pressed for more detail.
If you viewed the video above, you may still be skeptical; after all, impromptu street polls can be edited to fit the agenda of the organization that distributes them, and they also reach a relatively small group of people. However, a 2016 poll reveals that those shown in Campus Reform’s video are pretty typical representatives of the millennial population when it comes to supporting socialism.
The poll was the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s “Annual Report on U.S. Attitudes Towards Socialism,” and the statistics are telling. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents thought that more people were killed under Adolf Hitler’s reign than under Joseph Stalin’s, while 26 percent thought that more people were killed under the leadership of President George W. Bush than under Stalin. Seventy-five percent of the respondents incorrectly guessed the number of people killed by socialism and communism, with only 25 percent correctly answering that the number is over 100 million people.
Forty percent of the respondents said that they would be likely to vote for someone who openly self-describes as a socialist. And 4 in 10 of the respondents said that changes must be made to our current economic system to create more of a balance, while only 42 percent of millennial respondents had a favorable view of capitalism.
What do this poll and the Campus Reform video say about socialism in America?
That it is flourishing because of ignorance.
Millennials have never been taught of the horrors of socialism. They don’t see the true situation in Venezuela, where eggs are black market items; they ignore the deaths under Stalin’s regime. Instead, they listen to people like Bernie Sanders who preach a false gospel of “democratic socialism,” attempting to rebrand the same old ineffective economic ideology under the guise of something hip, new, and world changing.
Therefore, if socialism is gaining popularity in America due to the ignorance of the younger generations, the logical solution is knowledge.
If we don’t want to see the United States adopt more and more socialist policies and legislation — if we don’t want the next generation to be blind to the truth of socialism like millennials are — we must do as much as we possibly can to spread knowledge. We must work to reform what kids are taught in K-12 education, and encourage and support groups that are preaching the truth behind socialism on college campuses.
We must be able to define socialism ourselves, and have evidence for anybody who questions us when we say, “Socialism kills both economies and people.” We should be using social media to our advantage, sharing facts that help people rethink their own support of socialism. We must be doing everything we can to reach the socialists in our own life, educating them in a straightforward manner and encouraging them to research on their own.
If socialism is only flourishing in the darkness, we must be the ones to bring it to the light. When people who know the truth stay silent, evil is allowed to grow and gain power. When people who understand the horrors of socialism stay silent, they allow people who are blind to those horrors to vote it into American government.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore