For these past few years, the rise of socialism amongst teenagers has become fiercely evident. Statistics reveal that nearly half of Gen Z believes that capitalism does more harm than good to society and that the American “laissez-faire” system is increasingly less favourable with the passing of time. According to a Gallup poll from last year, nearly 50% of Gen Z is leftist. To a great sector of our generation, the Left is not evil and hence does not bear the negative connotations that are evident to older generations who endured the effects of the Cold War.
It is undeniable that the ideas that are presented alongside socialism are particularly appealing, especially to most of today’s teenagers, who are advocates of freedom, equality and diversity. After all, who does not want free education, healthcare, and other commodities? It is very tempting to wish to live at the expense of a government to avoid the apparent risks that are entailed by the free market.
However, is socialism as humanitarian and easy-to-achieve as it is portrayed? What even is socialism?
Socialism is an economic theory that states that the regulation of the means of production, transport and trade wealth should be owned by the government. Capitalism, on the other hand, claims that the means of production should be owned by private individuals, such as businesses or firms.
Under a socialist system, citizens work for a wealth that is equally distributed to everyone, while under a capitalist system, everyone works for their own wealth.
These last decades, our culture has been shaped by the notion that capitalism is callous, corrupt and greedy, having little to no interest towards modern-day problems such as Global Warming and pollution, and only seeking to maximize profits.
Nonetheless, many do not realize that the prices set by the free market are linked to society’s supply and demand. Companies make products that are wanted by consumers, so while there is wealth for a business, there is satisfaction for buyers. And although most companies are indeed profit-driven, what they are doing is merely adapting to our many needs and wants. Things are not so black and white.
What happens when a government intervenes with the free market (e.g. in a socialist country) is that incentives for hard work are reduced. No matter how much effort you put into your job, everyone in the end receives the same reward. Personally, I find this demotivating. However, that’s a debate for some other time.
The thing is that plenty of today’s self-proclaimed teenager “socialists” do not support government ownership of the means of production. In other words, a great part of Gen Z is socialist without truly being socialist.
Economics aside, I believe that the reason why so many teenagers are inclined towards the Left is because of the liberal views it encompasses.
Take Donald Trump, for instance. In socially progressive times like this, Gen Z is less likely to have respect towards a man who has proved himself to be sexist, supremacist and ignorant when it comes to the health of our planet. Many teenagers will probably side with Democrats, without understanding economic implications, as this party vividly supports equality and has viable propositions to ease Global Warming.
Another reason why we tend to side with the Left is because of its open-mindedness towards same-sex marriage, abortion and social integration as a whole. Likewise, social media, and the influencers that compound it, regulates the spreading of news and ideas that may in turn affect our views and opinions regarding which side to take.
What is clear is that our political views are beginning to lean towards the Left. The consequences are up to you to decide.