The Centre for Independent Studies (CIS), a right-wing think tank, is not at all happy with the results of a survey they commissioned from international polling agency YouGov Galaxy to find out the attitudes of “Millennials” (people born between 1980 and 1996) in Australia to socialism and capitalism.
The poll found 58% were favourable to socialism and 59% thought that “capitalism has failed and government should exercise more control of the economy”.
A majority of women and men, those who were university educated, TAFE educated or had no tertiary education, and who lived in urban and regional areas, favoured socialism. The highest proportion of those favouring socialism were the university educated (64%).
All sub-categories also thought capitalism had failed, with the highest percentage of Millennials in regional areas.
An even bigger 62% — again a majority in all sub-categories — agreed that workers were worse off now than they were 40 years ago. The highest agreement on this point was from Millennials without tertiary education (69%).
This indicates a stronger support for socialism and against capitalism than similar surveys conducted by the same polling agency in the US in 2016, where 43% viewed socialism favourably. In Britain, the same year, a poll found that the only age group in which a majority viewed socialism unfavourably was the over-60s and socialist Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to “to nationalise many of Britain’s key industries, including water, electricity, gas and railways” was popular among Millennials.
In its report on the survey’s findings, the CIS disparaged and patronised young Australians for their left leanings and blamed an alleged left-wing bias in the education system.
The reported commented that while “comparison with other Western countries shows that, similarly to Australia, Millennials prefer socialism to capitalism, … the trends are not as extreme as those identified in the CIS/YouGov Galaxy Australia” poll.
Right-wing radio shock jock Alan Jones was hysterical in his response. “Perhaps we need a war to sort these people out,” he railed, deploring their “ignorance” about history.
But several Millennials who spoke to Green Left Weekly thought the attitudes of their generation were based on real life experience under 21st century capitalism.
Amber Embry, a young worker, said: “Alan Jones is saying that young people are ignorant about the events of the past, but what events is he talking about? We have had implementations of socialism and communism that went poorly. We've seen that authoritarian ‘Communism’ has had devastating effects on its people. But we also have examples of countries like Cuba, where socialism has greatly improved the lives of its people.”
“People like Alan Jones don’t understand what young people are facing,” said Harvey Rayson, a 19-year-old a university student. “Young people have to work a lot longer than Jones to get paid a tiny fraction of what he earns.”
Leo, a Year 11 high school student, told Green Left: "The results of this survey are unsurprising. Most of my friends and I are quite frankly tired of excuses offered by proponents of the cruel socioeconomic system that is capitalism. We are tired of grotesque inequality, of stagnant wage growth, of a lack of affordable housing and rising university fees. Most importantly, we recognise that systemic change is needed”
Ramla Hashi, a 29-year-old community worker, said: “We see capitalism producing wars and crises and destroying communities. Every year, capitalism kills hundreds of thousands of people and we are told that it is socialism we have to worry about.
“We are speaking from our experience and from what we see of our parents’ experience. We’ve seen our parents work hours on end and still not make much money. We’ve seen our parents almost at retirement age and not having enough money to retire with.
“It gives me hope to see these numbers because it finally says that people are waking up to this and they are not falling for the pro-capitalist propaganda.”
Jacob Andrewartha a university student and childcare worker said the reality of the climate crisis was a major reason for this left-ward shift in opinions of his generation.
“We understand that climate change is a fact and is caused by the continued burning of fossil fuels, like coal,” he said. “What we see is the capitalist system actually wanting to open new coal mines instead of investing in renewable energy, investing in our future.”