We haveseen recently in the United States how the concept of socialism – for years, a dirty word in associated with Soviet Russia – is enjoying a comeback among the youngest generation. It is translating into a tangible movement in the Democratic primaries and for Bernie Sanders’ ‘democratic socialist’ campaign, in a reminder of the Labour leadership race last year in Britain when Jeremy Corbyn won support from similar groups of voters.
While this trend is not turning into widespread support for Corbyn’s Labour party – the Tories had a ten point lead in YouGov polling at the beginning of the month – new YouGov research suggests that the concept of socialism is now more popular than capitalism.
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%).
British people view socialism more favourably than Americans, but remain less anti-capitalist than mainland Europe – Germans are twice as positive about socialism (net +19) than capitalism (-21).
Over 60s in Britain are the only age group to tend to view socialism unfavourably. But while in America capitalism has a better reputation (52% view it favourably compared to 29% for socialism), young Americans are now on par with young Britons for their favourability of socialism (+18 and +17 in net terms, respectively).
Compared to in May 2015, socialism has significantly boosted its reputation among young Americans. In May it was viewed favouraby by net +5 among young people, compared to net +17 less than a year later.
Although British people are more likely to identify as socialist than capitalist (19% and 16% respectively, or 20% and 14% among young people), a greater proportion (48%) say they do not identify as either.