Millennials might like capitalism if they knew what the word meant
20 February 2018
To many in this young generation, capitalism is a dirty word. If you were to ask a sample of millennials how they felt about it, a shocking number might identify themselves as anything other than capitalist.
Indeed, this is exactly what a 2017 report by YouGov found, as the investigation into millennial attitudes discovered that 51% of Americans aged between 21 and 29 would rather live in a socialist or communist society.
It seems that even those living in the richest and most capitalist country on earth have found themselves discontent with the idea that a person’s free will extends to their belongings.
But is capitalism really to blame? That same study also found that only ‘half of millennials’ could ‘correctly define’ the term. So maybe millennials might like capitalism if they knew what the word meant.
Despite 51% of them wanting to live in a socialist or communist country, the truth is that millennials wouldn’t really be happier under the thumb of either society. The fading memory of Soviet-era communism in the years after 1991 has allowed a certain kind of romanticism to bloom, one that is especially able to take hold in the minds of those who didn’t experience the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The younger generation’s flirtatious attitude towards communism and socialism stems from ignorance, and for those who are historically literate, it becomes easy to say that the Soviet Union and countries like Venezuela didn’t and aren’t practising ‘true socialism.’
When only an ideology exists and apparently no present examples, any proponent of said ideology can use the defence of, ‘it hasn’t been done yet.’
But after hundreds of thousands to millions of years of human existence on this earth, if something hasn’t been done yet—and not due to technological limitations—than it probably isn’t very good to begin with.
The problem with millennials isn’t that they’re budding socialists or communists, but that they’re idealistic enough to fall into the trap of believing people like Bernie Sanders. Essentially, young people have been tricked by the deluded of generations past, inheriting their ignorance.
During the 2016 Democratic primaries and caucuses, overall, Sanders won 70% of the under-30 vote. While Sanders’ stance as a democratic socialist may have been off-putting to older generations, his style of shifting blame was especially appealing to millennials who felt the ‘1%’ weren’t paying their fair share, despite that same 1% having to pay nearly half of all federal income taxes in the United States.
It isn’t socialism that some Millennials are attracted to but the constant blame-shifting that people like Bernie Sanders offer. Everyone feels better when they think their problems aren’t self-inflicted.
Attaching ‘capitalism’ to all of society’s woes is only another way of pointing the finger at someone else. But once that surface-level appeal for socialism is removed, you’ll find that millennials actually hold many traits and aspirations that are intrinsically linked to capitalist societies, with a study by Bentley University finding that 66% of millennials want to start their own business.
If only we could properly self-examine, we would all find that many of the fruits of modern life stem directly from capitalism. To continue this line of fruit-based wordplay, companies like Apple have changed the lives of pretty much everyone in America, and guess what? They don’t sell thousand-dollar phones out of the kindness of their own heart.
The biggest hurdle currently facing millennials is their own ignorance. Young people don’t hate capitalism—they hate the caricature of it drawn by people like Bernie Sanders. All we have to do is make the distinction, and after that, we can start achieving the wonders that a capitalist society allows. And this time, hopefully, we won’t let the bad ideas be passed on to the next generation.