A substantial majority of the younger generation are rejecting capitalism and would prefer to live under a socialist economic system, according to new research.
Around 67 per cent of Millennials and Generation Z would prefer to live under socialism, and three quarters believe that capitalism is specifically to blame for climate change and the housing crisis.
Young Britons predominantly associate “socialism” with positive attributes like “equal”, “fair” and “public”, while the term “ca[italism” was associated with negative terms like “exploitative”, “unfair”, “the rich”, and “corporations.”
Over 70 per cent believed that capitalism promotes selfishness, greed and materialism, and that a socialist alternative by contrast would deliver solidarity, compassion and cooperation.
Left Turn Ahead?
These fingers were presented in a report, titled ‘Left Turn Ahead?’, commissioned by the centre-right think tank the Institute for Economic Affairs. The report’s author, Dr Kristian Niemetz, describes these findings as a “wake-up call” for supporters of the free market.
The report describes a transition from “Generation Apathy” to “Generation Left”, with younger people becoming politicised in recent years by a succession of social movements, including Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg’s climate strikes, and Jeremy Corbyn’s 2017 election campaign.
Dr Niemetz rejects the common-place dismissive narrative that socialist beliefs among the young are a mark of immaturity that disappears with age and experience.
“There are no detectable differences in the economic attitudes of people in their late teens and people in their early 40s. It is no longer true that people ‘grow out’ of their socialist ideas as they get older.”
Rather than abandoning socialist thinking with age, the report found evidence that younger people will “grow into” socialist thinking and move further to the left over time. The report suggests that the views of “Generation Left” are “a preview of what will be the mainstream opinion in Britain tomorrow.”
Age, rather than class, has developed into the main political division of recent elections. In 2019 Boris Johnson managed to secure a landslide political majority by appealing to the social conservatism of older voters, with a majority of over 40s preferring the Conservative party to Labour, a proportion that rises above 60 per cent for over 65s.
Voters born after 1980 (“Generation Left”) overwhelmingly sided with Corbyn’s Labour party, but voters of this demographic were outnumbered by a ratio of almost two-to-one. The numerical inferiority of “Generation Left” was a significant factor contributing to Corbyn’s crushing electoral defeat.
This generational imbalance is set to be reduced rapidly over the coming years. The proportion of the electorate belonging to “Generation Left” is projected to rise from 38 per cent in 2019 to 43 per cent in 2024, and 52 per cent by 2030.
The gradual but irreversible rise of “Generation Left” appears set to challenge the Conservative’s political strategy of relying on a greying coalition of voters. By the same token, this trend may revive a Labour party that has suffered a run of electoral losses since 2010.
“Young anti-capitalists are not ‘just going through a phase’ and they will not ‘grow out of it’” Dr Niemetz asserts.
“If these trends continue, then in the future these will become the mainstream views of the population as a whole. ‘Generation Left’ will become ‘Population Left’.”
Related: Elevenses: Labour Clings On
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