VOC Releases Third Annual Report On Generational Attitudes Toward Socialism in America

 Students from Garfield High School march to rally with other students who organized a walkout protest on Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in Seattle.   AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Students from Garfield High School march to rally with other students who organized a walkout protest on Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in Seattle. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

 
  • 52% of millennials would prefer to live in a socialist (46%) or communist (6%) country than a capitalist (40%) one.

  • 26% of Americans have never been taught about communism in any education or professional setting.

  • Half of Americans associate socialism with welfare states in Western Europe and Scandinavia—not Marxist dictatorships.

The Third Annual Report on US Attitudes Toward Socialism has confirmed a trend evident in the previous two reports: the American public lacks a serious understanding and education regarding socialism and communism. Most people continue to woefully underestimate the death toll of communism. It follows that only half of Americans can identify Cuba as a communist country, not to mention that 41% of Americans do not consider North Korea communist.

In previous years, we found a worrying trend toward normalizing the positive connotation of "socialism." Therefore, this year's study asked more detailed questions on how people define socialism and why they perceive it as either positive or negative. The results show that when Americans—especially Millennials—think of "socialism," they primarily think about Bernie Sanders, Western European democracies, income equality, and access to healthcare. They also do not associate socialism with communism and authoritarianism.

 
 Protestors take to the streets during the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011.   Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Protestors take to the streets during the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011. Spencer Platt / Getty Images

 

"We can talk about different policy ideas as we debate our future, but when we talk about socialism we need to know what it means," says VOC's executive director Marion Smith. “We can talk about a high-tax welfare state, expanded healthcare system, and even universal basic income. But intellectually and historically that’s not the meaning of socialism. As Marx and other leading socialists have made clear, socialism denies the concept of individual rights, rejects transcendent truth, and favors a collective understanding of justice. This system also now has a past record of practice in places like the USSR, China, Cuba, North Korea, and now Venezuela, among dozens of others around the world since 1917. Marxist governments have caused enormous political, economic, and humanitarian catastrophes—some of which continue today.

The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is a Washington-based, non-profit educational and human rights organization devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes. VOC was authorized by a unanimous act of Congress on December 17, 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton.

To request an interview with Marion Smith, please contact Naphtali Rivkin by email at naphtali.rivkin@victimsofcommunism.org or by phone at (202)-629-9500.