If not capitalism, then what? Just 33% of young people surveyed say they support socialism.
“The word ‘capitalism’ doesn’t mean what it used to,” said Zach Lustbader, a senior at Harvard involved in conducting the poll, which was published Monday. For those who grew up during the Cold War, capitalism meant freedom from the Soviet Union and other totalitarian regimes. For those who grew up more recently, capitalism has meant a financial crisis from which the global economy still hasn’t completely recovered.
A subsequent survey that included people of all ages found that somewhat older Americans also are skeptical of capitalism. Only among respondents at least 50 years old was the majority in support of capitalism.
Even conservatives don’t defend capitalism much anymore. When they talk about “capitalism,” it’s likely to be the phrase “crony capitalism.”
John Della Volpe, the polling director at Harvard, went on to personally interview a small group of young people about their attitudes toward capitalism to try to learn more. They told him that capitalism was unfair and left people out despite their hard work.
“They’re not rejecting the concept,” Della Volpe said. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting.”