Recent polling conducted by YouGov demonstrates that socialist ideas are back on the agenda, with a rise in the popularity of socialism amongst the public. British people of all ages prefer ‘socialism’ to ‘capitalism’, and are turning left and looking for an alternative to crisis and austerity.
Recent polling conducted by YouGov demonstrates that socialist ideas are back on the agenda, with a rise in the popularity of socialism amongst the public.
According to recent statistics, British people of all ages prefer ‘socialism’ to ‘capitalism’, and are turning left and looking for an alternative to crisis and austerity. For instance, the YouGov article on the survey results stated that, “While British people on balance tend to have an unfavourable view of capitalism (39% view it unfavourably, 33% favourably), more people (36%) view socialism favourably than negatively (32%).”
In addition, it is worth nothing that only 5% were found to be very favourable towards capitalism; 11% of people, meanwhile, were very unfavourable. Meanwhile, 16% described themselves as ‘capitalist’ compared to 19% who called themselves ‘socialist’ politically (with the majority saying either ‘neither’ or ‘don’t know’).
Even more notably, amongst young people (18-24 years old) the net favourability (% favourable minus % unfavourable) of socialism and capitalism was 18 and -15 respectively, whilst among 25-39 year olds, the same figures were 20 and -1. Even in older demographics, socialism is still more favourable than capitalism, although the figures drop for both.
These statistics were vividly expressed at a recent debate at Hills Road Sixth Form, in Cambridge, held between the Marxist and Conservative societies on the topic of ‘Communism vs Capitalism’. This debate was won by the Marxists on an extremely narrow margin (56 against 54), but given the demonization of communist ideas in the media and textbooks, it is a victory to be celebrated. It should be noted that Hills Road has received a 40% cut to their budget in the last year, leading to lay-offs of teaching staff, inability to provide course materials, and many other problems. Students are becoming aware of the effects of capitalism and are getting fed up of it and searching for an alternative.
The YouGov figures come as no surprise in an epoch where many people are feeling the harshness of austerity and are fed up with Tory attacks on the NHS, welfare and education alongside rising underemployment and low wages.
On the one hand, the rise of Corbyn has given a platform for the expression of left-wing policies in the mainstream media. The more vitriol with which the media attacks Corbyn, the more workers and youth see him as an anti-establishment candidate and are drawn towards what they identify as socialism. On the other hand, the school of the Tories has clarified that, contrary to the claims of George Osborne, they are not (and never have been) the “party for working people”. It is increasingly clear that they are the party of the ruling class and the Establishment, which defends the bosses and the bankers – and, ultimately, the capitalist system itself.
The British masses are, as a result, increasingly rejecting this rotten system and drawing the conclusion that there must be an alternative to the inequality and relentless crises that are inherent under capitalism.
Whilst the survey does not define what either ‘capitalism’ or ‘socialism’ are, the figures are nevertheless a clear indication of the radicalisation and fundamental change in consciousness that is taking place in society.
This is a trend which is not local to Britain. It is increasingly evident with the electoral successes of left-wing forces such as Syriza and Podemos, in Greece and Spain respectively, and is even more evident in the steady drop in support of the traditional parties of the Establishment across Europe.
Most notably, the presidential campaign of the self-described socialist Bernie Sanders has meant that even in America, “the belly of the beast” and the epitome of modern capitalism, where socialism was previously a dirty word – even here the ideas of socialism are now approvingly given a hearing by the masses in their millions.
“Socialism” itself is of course a broad term, meaning many things to many people. For us, its meaning is quite simple. It is the democratic control and running of the economy by the working class, the vast majority of society, without whom not a lightbulb shines and not a train would run – and, in turn, allowing each and every one of us the necessary time, opportunity, and ability to fulfil our full potential. For us, socialism does not represent the end of history, but the liberation of humanity; the next step in the flourishing of human culture and the true beginning of history.
That people in Britain are increasingly open to the ideas of socialism can only be a good thing. But it is important to do more than simply discuss these ideas; we must strive to fight for them and put them into practice.