As a Gen Z-er (sort of) who is online (extremely), it’s communal successful my circles—both online and off—to perceive casual “eat the rich’’ comments utilized arsenic a go-to punchline. It’s a shorthand that captures what feels similar an full generation’s disillusionment oregon rage towards the system. If you’re younger, progressive, and unrecorded connected societal media, there’s capable of the sentiment that you mightiness presume virtually everyone hates capitalism. But however bash our views stack up compared to the wide population? Am I successful an echo chamber, 1 that operates each excessively likewise to those who, say, worship astatine the altar of trickle-down economics?
Look, I privation to past a speech with my dada without compromising my views connected the perils of capitalism. At the aforesaid time, I don’t privation to marque an ass of myself by coming crossed arsenic an out-of-touch net leftist. So I dug into caller polling astir nationalist opinions astir capitalism, not to alteration my beliefs, but to hole myself to support them.
But earlier we get into the numbers, let’s instrumentality a glimpse into the position of a politically-minded, young, online person.
If you’re tapped into TV and societal media, you mightiness person watched “eat the rich” germinate from a extremist battlecry into a casual refrain, often utilized for comedic purposes by Gen Z. This improvement of radical-to-casual is simply a almighty denotation of shifting opinions astir capitalism, astatine slightest successful definite populations.
Take past winter’s “eat the rich” inclination connected TikTok, oregon the much caller memes astir AOC’s Met Gala connection dress. You could besides instrumentality a look astatine immoderate of the astir fashionable TV shows of the past fewer years, from Squid Game, Succession, and White Lotus, or adjacent documentaries similar WeWork and LuLaRich. In a caller occurrence of NPR’s It’s Been a Minute, host Sam Sanders points retired however each these programs person 1 happening successful common: They each critique capitalism.
From those making memes for free, to those making multi-million-dollar tv shows, there’s an progressively communal connection surrounding the ultra-wealthy: That they’re the Other. That we, the mean viewers and users, unrecorded successful an wholly antithetic satellite than Them. That we don’t get to play by the aforesaid rules arsenic Them. That we should not glamorize Them.
With societal media successful particular, there’s worth successful considering what our memes accidental astir our beliefs. When a meme oregon punchline achieves “low hanging fruit” status, which I’d reason “eat the rich” has, it’s a motion that thing astir the sentiment is, successful immoderate way, an evident conclusion. As in, duh, “eat the rich,” everyone believes that. It means capable radical deliberation that eating the affluent is, well, a given. But extracurricular of these younger online communities, however overmuch is specified a “given” content really the case?
According to an Axios/Momentive survey conducted successful June 2021, a bulk of Americans person a much affirmative than antagonistic presumption of capitalism. The split–57% saying they person a affirmative view, 36% saying they person a antagonistic view–is a flimsy narrowing from the 61-36 divided from January 2019.
Across the board, polling shows that bulk of the state supports capitalism–or, astatine least, they bash not enactment socialism. The Cato Institute–a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers–found successful 2019 that 59% of Americans had favorable views of the connection “capitalism,” portion 39% had an unfavorable presumption of it. In reverse, 39% of Americans had a favorable presumption of the connection “socialism,” portion 59% viewed socialism negatively.
This brings america to a notable facet of each these canvass results–even those that don’t travel from libertarian deliberation tanks: In bid to find Americans’ shifting views connected capitalism, you’ll simultaneously find their views of socialism.
Pew Research’s astir caller survey showed 55% with a antagonistic sentiment of socialism, and an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed a 19% affirmative and 53% antagonistic split. A Monmouth poll recovered that 57% of Americans judge socialism is not compatible with American values. In a 2020 poll, Gallup recovered that 39% of Americans person a affirmative sentiment of socialism, compared with 57% who person a antagonistic opinion.
While astir Americans inactive deliberation positively of capitalism, polling suggests that alteration is burgeoning amongst younger generations. According to that June 2021 Axios/Momentive survey, adults ages 18 to 34 “are astir evenly divided betwixt those who presumption capitalism positively and those who presumption it negatively.” If you look astatine the younger extremity of that grouping, a bulk (54%) of adults aged 18 to 24 reported they did not person a affirmative presumption of capitalism, with 42% saying they did person a affirmative presumption of it.
This adjacent divided is simply a important alteration from conscionable 2 years ago, erstwhile 20 full percent points separated those who viewed capitalism positively from those who did not. Going backmost further, since 2010, young adults’ wide sentiment of capitalism has deteriorated to the constituent that capitalism and socialism are tied successful popularity among this property group, arsenic reported successful Gallup’s 2019 report connected attitudes toward socialism and authorities power. When it comes to Gen Z and younger millennials, the spread betwixt affirmative and antagonistic views connected capitalism is shrinking.
In the bigger picture, 41% of respondents said they had a affirmative presumption of socialism and 54% said they had a antagonistic view. 51% of young Americans said they had a affirmative presumption of socialism, down from 55% successful 2019. At the aforesaid time, Sarah Jones points retired for Intelligencer that 66% said the national authorities “should prosecute policies that effort to trim the spread betwixt the affluent and the little well-off successful America,” which tracks with earlier, akin polls.
In a 2019 planetary survey, capitalism was seen doing “more harm than good.” The sentiment was shared by 56% of the implicit 34,000 radical polled successful 28 countries, from Western wide democracies similar the United States and France to those based connected a antithetic exemplary specified arsenic China and Russia. The lone nations wherever the bulk of respondents disagreed with the assertion that capitalism presently did much harm than bully were Australia, Canada, the United States, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan.
While capitalism is inactive much fashionable than socialism nationally, “there’s not overmuch grounds that Americans categorically despise the anti-capitalist ideology immoderate more,” according Sarah Jones successful Intelligencer. No substance what, anti-capitalist sentiments amongst teens successful peculiar shouldn’t beryllium dismissed arsenic specified memes. The TeenVogue of yesteryear mightiness person published articles connected what not to wear, but the TeenVogue of contiguous reports connected however the pandemic demonstrates the failures of capitalism. Gallup’s 2019 report draws the pursuing decision astir what whitethorn beryllium driving the younger generation’s views connected capitalism:
...their antithetic reactions to the presumption suggest that young adults favour Americans’ basal economical freedoms but person heightened concerns astir the powerfulness that accrues arsenic companies grow, and that younger generations are much comfy with utilizing authorities to cheque that power.
The relation of capitalism successful America has shifted passim history, and we whitethorn beryllium poised for different specified shift. The question is whether the aboriginal of capitalism successful America volition impact insignificant modifications, oregon whether the affluent volition ever beryllium connected the menu.