3 Reasons Why So Many Millennials Love Socialism

By Michael Brown Published on August 3, 2018

It’s true that socialist Bernie Sanders is anything but a millennial. And it’s true that socialism was popular long before any millennials were born. But there’s no doubt that socialism is becoming increasingly popular among young people today. Why?

According to the Daily Caller, “Young people view socialism as more attractive than older people. Of people ages 18-29, 55 percent considered socialism favorably compared to other age groups, according to a 2016 Gallup poll. Only 37 percent of people between the ages 30 and 49 viewed socialism as positive.Twenty-seven percent of people between 50 and 64 years old thought of socialism positively.”

So, millennials, especially younger millennials, have a very favorable view of socialism. But do they — or most of us — even know what it is?

Professor Jay Richards offers this helpful primer.

“Marx and his disciples claimed that ‘capitalism’ must give way to ‘socialism,’ where private property would be abolished and an all-powerful state would own everything on behalf of the people. That’s what Marx meant by the word socialism, and that’s the main dictionary definition.

“This was only supposed to be a stage, though, not the end of all our strivings. At some point, under socialism, people would lose their silly fondness for property, family, religion, and other evils. A ‘new socialist man’ would emerge and then the state would ‘wither away.’ Everyone would enjoy peace, prosperity, and the brotherhood of man. Marx and his acolytes called that final, stateless paradise ‘communism.’”

And how has that vision worked itself out in history?

Prof. Richards states: “Here’s the point: Those regimes led by mass murderers with their gulags, death camps, man-made famines and killing fields were socialist. That’s not slander. It’s what these countries called themselves. USSR stood for the ‘Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.’

“You gotta break millions of eggs with socialism to make the communist omelet. Socialism, you might say, was the necessary evil to reach the bliss where no state would be necessary.”

Yet the lure of socialism continues, getting stronger in the last few years, especially among American youth. Why?

Here are three simple reasons.

(1) Young people want “equality.”

The word “equality” has become almost sacred to the younger generation, and in many ways, that’s a good thing. They want a level playing field. They want everyone treated fairly. They want to leave behind our discriminatory, racist past. All that is positive.

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Unfortunately, there is often a passion for equality that is not based on realism (or function, as in all the talk about “marriage equality,” where sex differences are blurred).

The fact is that life is not always fair. There are winners and losers. And some people work harder than others, because of which they succeed more.

That success is well-deserved and should be appreciated. But all too often today, success through hard work is scorned.

Question: “Why should you have more than I do?”

Answer: “Because I worked hard for it.”

Response: “But that’s not fair.”

Socialism, then, is the fix!

(2) Young people today have a deep sense of entitlement.

Conservapedia.com defines the entitlement mentality as “a state of mind in which an individual comes to believe that privileges are instead rights, and that they are to be expected as a matter of course.”

I am owed a free lunch, and it’s got to be a good lunch too. The lunch of my choosing. I deserve it.

As explained by Dr. John Townsend in his book The Entitlement Cure, “Entitlement is the belief that I am exempt from responsibility and I am owed special treatment. Entitlement is: The man who thinks he is above all the rules. The woman who feels mistreated and needs others to make it up to her.”

This dangerous attitude is crippling a whole generation. As expressed by Kate S. Rourke in her article, “You Owe Me: Examining a Generation of Entitlement,” “Children in the most recent generation of adults born between 1982 and 1995, known as ‘Generation Y,’ were raised to believe that it is their right to have everything given to them more than any other previous generation.”

Socialism plays right into this mindset, especially the fuzzy, idealized, unrealistic socialism being put forward today: “We all get our free lunch!”

Unfortunately, that can only happen when the government owns all the lunches. Do young people understand this?

(3) Young socialists haven’t done the math.

The obvious question is this: “If you’re getting a free lunch — no, if we’re all getting a free lunch — who’s paying for it?”

The immediate, thoughtless answer is: “The government!”

And that leads to the real question: “Who’s paying the government?”

The answer is as painful as it is obvious: “You are!”

As one news commentator suggested, there’s no reason to wait for the government to become socialist. Just start paying more taxes today and do your part. Right!

Do you remember the viral video clip where a young Florida woman, Peggy Joseph, was ecstatic after hearing candidate Barack Obama speak in 2008? She said, “I won’t have to worry about puttin’ gas in my car, I won’t have to worry about payin’ my mortgage.” Obama will take care of it!

Six years later, working as a nurse and the suburban mom of four kids, she was asked by filmmaker Joel Gilbert, “Did Obama pay for your mortgage and did he pay for your gas?” 

She laughed and replied, “Absolutely not! Mortgage got worse and gas prices got higher. … At that time we needed a change but a change for the better not the worse.”

When I asked my assistant Dylan, himself in his early 30s and the married father of four, why he thought so many young people were into socialism, he answered, “Perhaps because of being so absorbed with social media that they’re used to soundbite answers and haven’t thought it through.”

Or, as Jay Richards stated, “Too many of us are still clueless about socialism and communism. I blame biased media and fuzzy thinking.”

The bottom line is that most young proponents of socialism simply haven’t done the math. Had they done so, they’d start working the capitalist system a little harder. They would find it far more rewarding than socialism.

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  • Steve

    It was left to Britain’s Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher to accurately describe the flaw; “Sooner or later you run out of other people’s money”.

    • Dave

      A lot of people mix up income redistribution with socialism. Programs like farm subsidies, Social security and Medicaid which take money from one group and give it to another. These are situations where you could run out of other people’s money. Socialism is when the government owns and controls business like PEMEX or PETROBRAS

      • Patmos

        It’s all the same Marxist garbage that advocates centralized control. It’s anti American and it only helps solidify corruption in government, or at the very least inefficient bureaucracy. There is nothing good about Marxism.

  • Red Pete

    The short article associated with that dictionary definition of socialism points out that it is far more commonly encountered as democratic socialism rather than the extreme version and precursor to communism that you start from.

    • Jim

      Democratic Socialism is socialism. No difference. Research it.

      • pgtipsster

        Just like National Socialism was socialism, until it had a branding problem.

  • Red Pete

    I wonder if it is not that socialism is more popular wih young people *today* rather that socialism is more popular with young people. I.e. that we tend to get more conservative as we grow older, and always have done.

  • Ken Abbott

    A fourth reason: No grasp of history as it actually was, along with a basic dismissal of everything that isn’t “now.” Undoubtedly there are exceptions, but the schools aren’t teaching history to impart what has happened and (to the extent possible) why it happened so much as to assign blame and criticize past generations according to current concepts of what is right or acceptable.

    • GLT

      “A fourth reason: No grasp of history as it actually was, along with a basic dismissal of everything that isn’t “now.”

      BINGO!

    • AndRebecca

      You’ve nailed it. Here’s an easy to read historical author: Archer Butler Hulbert wrote books on the founding and expansion of America explaining how it was done using Capitalism. Many of his books can be read for free on the net, and bought used online.

  • Jason Trena Dagenhart

    The biggest problem with this ideology is that nobody is defending Capitalism in the least bit. When the banks got bailed out “that’s capitalism for ya!!”. When a CEO gets a big bonus “that’s capitalism for ya!!”. Corporate Greed, etc. When trying to discuss this with a young person who has this idea of Capitalism you can’t get through. We need to be able to break it down to the sound bite level. Ask them what restaurant they like? What coffee shop is good? What phone they have? Show them that they are fundamentally a capitalist at heart. (As a consumer that chooses their purchase out of multiple possibilities)

    • bdj

      I think you have hit on the “how” we need to communicate these ideas of liberty that made this country so prosperous and a governance model that is able to bring liberty to the greatest number of people. Making statements that create “a story” or the big buzz term today “a narrative” is the way. That is what the LEFT is good at (hollywood, media..etc). Science has proven what every propagandist, marketeer and writer already knows, It’s the emotions that rule the mind and the will. To use information (by speaking what is true) that will appeal to the emotions instead of using facts and figures is the way to communicate to this generation. I like ben shapiro but the “facts don’t care about your feelings” may give some conservatives a raise but it’s not going to reach this generation in a impactful way. IT’s true that the left owns the main levers of narrative power but I believe we make up enough of a impact that together doing our “small” part will make a difference. Of course as a Christian, I believe that the story that matters most, is that people need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and see it demonstrated with power and expressed with love. But, let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that we can just leave the culture into the hands of men and women who only want to rule by destroying (they call remaking) a foundation that has produced so many good things. We must defend the good ground that we know is true. This is our destiny to preserve, to defend it and have victory.

    • Starlord616

      That is a terrible argument because it doesn’t address Greed. Unrestrained Capitalism is a terrible idea because it leads to no choices. I’m not a socialist because I don’t believe that people can achieve protection by their own efforts

      • Jason Trena Dagenhart

        Perfect example. You just reinforced the narrative that the opposite of (or the cure for) Capitalism is Socialism. How does socialism handle Greed? Both systems contain Greed, which one handles it best? Geedy bureaucrats or greedy corporations? Choose your evil. BTW you can’t boycott the government.

        • Starlord616

          I chose both because because extremes of both lead to suffering.

    • TanaFaval

      Is difficult to defend it because the liberals/left-wing have taken over the Universities,Schools, TV, Media, etc and the opposition is silenced, bullied, mocked, which is an old communist trick.

  • Maltus Flavius

    Actually, there is no excuse for the Millennial crowd to be clueless about Socialism nor Communism since it often takes effort to find the truth through the lies and deceptions and selfish agendas of those that mask that truth.
    Maybe you could even say a fourth reason is willful ignorance or even intellectual laziness?

    • Starlord616

      It could go for both sides because not every liberal is a socialist. I know because I listen to a couple socialist podcasts.

      • Maltus Flavius

        Now I don’t really need to explain that I wasn’t being so exacting do I?

  • Tim H

    What’s killing me about this socialist business is the notion people seem to have that the government will provide. I get that life is scary but handing everything off to the government is one of the worst things we can do. We should have such free, private economies and vibrant LOCAL, private civic, social and philanthropic structures that no one should even care who the president is or which party controls Congress. Our country was envisioned to be a multitude of little commonwealths each with their own sovereignty and unique cultures not a uniform set of geograhic locations filled with automatons each interchangeable with any other across the country all living under this monstrously imposing beast of a government. Until people change their mental picture of what our country is supposed to be and recognize how insignificant the Federal government is supposed to be in our lives, nothing is really going to change. And socialism just drives it all the wrong way.

  • Patmos

    Proponents of socialism have mere done a decent job of relabeling the can. Doesn’t change the turd in the can.

    “Who in the world cans turd?” you ask. Proponents of socialism!

  • Jay Champagne

    Another reason has to do with generational dynamics. Baby Boomers were far more rebellious then normal, while Millenials (and GenXers, to a lesser extent) tend to be far less rebellious than normal. This leads to Millenials just blindly accept every bad idea their teachers, politicians, and media figures spew their way.

  • Yossi

    It brings to mind a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill that went something like “…if a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain.”

    The point is that the “heart” of the young is easily swayed by seeing poverty suffering and unmet human need, and seeing how the govenment already has the power to builds roads, run police and armed forces with expensive weapons, will then tend to view government as an almighty power of sorts, and think it would be a simple thing to end suffering and meet human need by just wielding its power and lifting people out of poverty, giving them housing, providing medical care, college, etc. The “brain” of the older person realizes that someone has to pay for everything, and as Margaret Thatcher is quoted as saying “eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

  • TanaFaval

    Sadly, it’s hard for young people today to learn about different views since the Universities, Schools, hire Professors, Teachers with liberal views. The history books have been rewirtten. Plus most of the newspapers, journalist, the media, Tv, social media, etc. present mainly a liberal point of view. In my city, for example, the owners of the only local cable company also own the only local newspapers, full of articles of outsider liberal articles, and they do not present conservative or libertarian views.

    • Kevin Carr

      I agree, I asked my daughter what they learned about the different systems of government and basically the lessons were quick and lightly covered. They are not being taught you can’t get something for nothing, all the “free stuff” cost somebody something. The government confiscates money from the bad “one percenters” then gives it to others. They don’t understand that was somebody’s hard work that is being stolen and they don’t even have to thank the people they are stealing from. The college students in love with socialism don’t understand their professors don’t work for free. Eventually the system fails then you end up as Maduro is talking about now in Venezuela, forcing people to work on farms. Communism is just socialism with a gun. The second amendment was crafted to avoid that, during that time the framers wanted a government to be afraid of its people not the other way around. Confiscate weapons and the people can;t fight back, as in Venezuela.

    • Isaac Santana Castro

      You’re totally right. That’s why we, people that can see things from highs, have the obligation to encourage youth not to rest in watching or reading only a few sources of information, but to see diversity of information from different places to get it more objectively.

  • Kevin Quillen

    The Christian foundation eroded is the problem. Capitalism without Christ is our problem now. It won’t work long term and produces the backlash we see in the millennials. Politicians do not get it, even the church doesn’t get it. The founders did. There is reason to believe the public school was intended to teach children to read the Bible and become good citizens.

  • Kevin Quillen

    The Christian foundation eroded is the problem. Capitalism without Christ is our problem now. It won’t work long term and produces the backlash we see in the millennials. Politicians do not get it, even the church doesn’t get it. The founders did. There is reason to believe the public school was intended to teach children to read the Bible and become good citizens.

    • Conr

      You are spot on.. many today would say “Jesus was a socialist” but in reality Jesus was a philanthropist giving of his own free will. Something that is only possible in a capitalistic society where wealth can be accumulated. The principles of the Bible are often misunderstood in this area. While we should be responsible self reliant people not dependent on the world, but despite this we are ultimately designed to be reliant on one thing and one thing alone, no not the government… but God himself. He is the only constant in this world. Our design that drives us towards reliance on a higher power pushes the non christian towards reliance on government which is their substitute for the hole in their hearts.

      • Kevin Quillen

        excellent! The ultimate problem is……there are only two world views, either man evolved or was created by God. One brings stability in society and the other tyranny. Government education teaches humanism. We are doomed unless we can put an end to public education, or return it to the mores of yesterday. Faith is being culled out and each generation is less religious then the previous. I am afraid we have crossed the Rubicon. I believe it was Madison who said that our form of government was for a religious people and will not work for any other. Lincoln said that the philosophy of the classroom in one generation is the philosophy of the government of the next.

        • Conr

          I am sure you are correct we have passed the Rubicon. While that saddens me… It also is a reminder of His return .. the world worsening is just a herald of His return..

          • Kevin Quillen

            sorry to say, He will not return. He already has, in 70 AD.

          • Conr

            What is the name of the theology you follow? I’ve not heard this before

          • Kevin Quillen

            I am a Full Preterist and Christian Universalist. Preterism pertains to eschatology and CU pertains to salvation for all.

          • Conr

            Gotcha I will have to do some reading

  • realvegasdawn

    It is a shame that schools do not teach self sufficiency.

  • The Evangelical

    Just for balance, here are some perspectives I have heard from some of my millennial cohorts:

    “Who end slavery? Who ended segregation? Who supports children, widows, elderly, and the disabled? The government! Churches and not-for-profits cannot be relied upon to help individuals on a systematic basis in the long run. How many churches have actually helped you when you were struggling? And when you talk about self sufficiency, how many of you were ever ‘self sufficient’? Did your parents, grandparents, or community help you out? Some people are literally all out there on their own with no support network! The government may not be the best, but the are the best we have right now.”

    I’ll be honest, I don’t blame them for thinking that government is the answer. Many think there is nobody left…

    • AndRebecca

      Marxists have been in charge of what is taught in public schools in America since the 1950s and before. It is a wonder it took this long to brainwash the kids.

      • The Evangelical

        Maybe even earlier than the 50s, but it isn’t just the schools. Their experiences leave them with the impression that the church can’t help them when they need it most. Even for something like discipleship and mentoring, many are ignored or given excuses–even at biblically sound churches.

        I can’t tell you how many young men I know who come from broken families, reach out to churches for discipleship or mentoring from godly men, and are ignored or are given shallow answers with no commitment.

        • AndRebecca

          I’m not quite understanding you. Are the young men reaching out for handouts or for what exactly? …Dean Gotcher has a website on how the Marxists have taken over the schools, and how this happened on a large scale beginning in the 1950s. Marxists were teaching the teachers Marxism as values and getting rid of Christian values in the schools. They are still doing it. Most of us are aware that the “emerging church” is Marxist. At a Catholic church in Mississippi that I visited, I learned they are now teaching Social Justice, not God’s justice, and they don’t care who knows it. And, the Unitarians have been behind most of this, accepting Marxism and getting rid of Christianity, even in Christian churches. You can get on their sites and see what they believe. Maybe that’s what has happened in your church. Every church I’ve attended/visited, has wanted me to join. I had a Christian give me their church card when shopping just a while back. Like I said, I’m not sure what you mean.

  • James Blazsik

    My parents escaped from communist Hungary in ’57. My mom was 3 months pregnant with me. It was after the Hungarian Revolution at the end of ’56. I grew up knowing how bad atheistic communism was.
    I also grew up during the Cold War and saw the strength of John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher win it. I saw the Berlin Wall come down.
    Ronald Reagan said we have to fight for freedom because it’s one generation away from losing it.
    Millennials didn’t have this experience. We have to teach the failures of socialism and the success of freedom because we might lose it.

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