Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Strange Rehabilitation of Socialism

Fully 27 percent of conservatives have a favorable view of socialism. That was the surprising tidbit in one of the many articles flowing out and studies being linked to that talk about Americans' evolving takes on socialism in the wake of the first Democratic presidential primary debate in which Bernie Sanders was asked about the term democratic socialism.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson/Wikimedia/Salon
For several years polling has been picking up the trend of younger Americans having a more favorable a view of socialism, as favorable as Capitalism in some polls, and I've noted that here.

Although the media casts the finding that 27 percent of conservatives overall approve of socialism as proof they don't like it, as compared to liberals, of whom more than half overall approve of it, I see it as somewhat amazing that so many conservatives have a favorable view of socialism. During the height of the Cold War Reagan revolution, when even the term "liberal" was demonized, it was hard to find anyone who'd admit they approved of socialism.

But Reagan is dead, most of the Cold War propagandists are gone and Americans aren't growing up under the anti communist hysteria that once gripped the country. Furthermore, the conservative political establishment continues to dismantle the New Deal socialism that ameliorated some of the more severe effects of Capitalism, and younger Americans see this happening before their eyes. They're looking forward to less rosy futures than their parents did at their ages and can directly attribute it to Capitalism. As they struggle through a Capitalist present of mushrooming wealth and income inequality, staggering student loan debt and inflation-adjusted wages that remain at early 1980s levels, they are seeing what they learn about socialism with different, clearer eyes.

It's ironic, of course, that the conservative dream of forever stamping out socialism didn't come true, but instead, someone labeled a socialist is a serious presidential candidate. It's just unfortunate that we're finding out the benefits of socialism the hard way.

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