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Activism

Nearly 70% of young people want socialism – and no, they won’t grow out of it

The majority of millennials and Generation Z in Britain want to live under socialism, according to a new study.

The majority of millennials and Generation Z want to live under socialism, according to a new study – which showed they believe it would be the best system to tackle UK inequality – as researchers warned not to dismiss their beliefs as a passing phase.

The report, by right-wing think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said 16 to 34-year-olds are “hostile to capitalism”. Rather than being the “politically disengaged and apathetic” generation they have “long been portrayed as”, young people want to renationalise the railways, energy and water systems, and keep private companies out of the NHS.

The study shows “‘Millennial Socialism’ is not just a social media hype”, said Dr Kristian Niemietz, head of political economy at the IEA and author of the report. “It was not just a passing fad which ended with Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation.

“Nor is it simply a replay of the student radicalism of the 1960s,” he added. “This is a long-term shift in attitudes, which is not going to go away on its own.”

Up to 78 per cent blame capitalism for Britain’s housing crisis, according to the survey of just under 2,000 young people carried out between February and March this year, while 75 per cent agree that climate change is a “specifically capitalist problem”.

More than 70 per cent agreed that “capitalism fuels racism”, while 73 per cent said a socialist system would boost solidarity, compassion and cooperation among people.

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Movements such as Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg’s climate campaigning could be behind the shift in attitudes, the report theorised.

Youngsters associate socialism with “workers”, “public”, “equal” and ‘fair” while 75 per cent agreed with the statement that “socialism is a good idea, but it has failed in the past because it has been badly done”. 

Meanwhile the majority linked capitalism with terms such as “exploitative”, “unfair” and “the rich”.

The research found little difference in attitudes between people in their late teens and those in their early 40s, meaning capitalists must not dismiss the beliefs as a phase typical among young people.

Where differences in attitude do exist, the report said, it seems more likely young people will “grow into” socialist thinking, rather than away from it.

Supporters of the market economy need to “accept that challenge and rise to it, rather than dismiss it or pretend it is not happening,” Niemietz said, urging people to make a “positive case” for capitalism by developing solutions to young people’s problems. 

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