Rasmussen asked, “Which is a better system – capitalism or socialism?”

April 25, 2009 by  
By Andrew Kliman.

A Rasmussen poll conducted earlier this month found strong support for socialism, especially among low-income people and youth. And Scott Rasmussen is a Republican pollster.

In a nationwide U.S. survey of 1000 adults conducted on April 6 and 7, Rasmussen asked, “Which is a better system–capitalism or socialism?” Overall, 53% of respondents favored capitalism, 20% favored socialism, and the rest were undecided. That in itself is a surprising degree of support for socialism. But it gets better.

Only 37% of respondents under 30 years old favored capitalism, while almost as many, 33%, favored socialism. Among those between 30 and 40, 49% chose capitalism, while 26% chose socialism.

Respondents whose income is less than $20,000 favored capitalism by only a 35% to 27% margin. Among people with income between $20,000 and $40,000, the results were 46% to 25%.

We don’t know what the people who expressed a preference for “socialism” meant. The poll didn’t define “capitalism” or “socialism.” But one thing is clear: Margaret Thatcher’s TINA doctrine–”there is no alternative” to capitalism–is no longer all-dominating.

And while the poll provides no clue as to why (or even whether) pro-socialist sentiment is on the upswing, I’d bet my last dollar that the answer is: “It’s the economy, stupid.” And the way things are going, “bet my last dollar” might not be just a cliché.

As people begin to search for an explanation of what has gone wrong and a different way of life, we need to be prepared to meet them halfway with a clear understanding of how capitalism works; of why, when push comes to shove, it cannot work for the benefit of the vast majority; and of what exactly must be changed in order to have a viable and emancipatory socialism. Rather than slogans, they need genuine theories and concepts that provide real understanding.

That’s why I’m glad we now have the Marxist-Humanist Initiative, a new organization that can help meet the quest for new beginnings halfway.

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