Burlington According to a recent survey at ZeroHedge.com, Americans age 18-29 respond negatively on net to the word “capitalism” (47/46), versus a net favorable (49/43) response to “socialism”.
A lot of the blame for response this can be laid at the feet of the capitalists themselves. As I’ve said many times, if the “free market” meant what capitalist apologists mean by it, I’d hate it myself. Young people constantly hear “free market capitalism” used as if it were one word. And hear see politicians, corporate spokespersons and media talking heads explaining that stuff like patent-inflated drug prices, skyrocketing CEO pay and stagnant wages, the Keystone XL corporate welfare scam and the Bain Capital model of strip-shop capitalism are
all parts of “our free enterprise system.”
Twenty-somethings are presumably reacting to the connotations “capitalism” = “everyone gets screwed over so the rich can get richer, and “socialism” = “people are treated like human beings.”
These connotations are promoted by both mainstream coalitions in our society; the only difference is people like Romney talk like it’s a good thing for people to get screwed over to make the rich richer.
Meanwhile, the dirty little secret of the Democratic side is that all these “progressives” promoting state intervention to make capitalism less onerous to those under its yoke (aka “help working families”) are just another wing of the same capitalist ruling class. The main reason they do this, and the main reason they expanded the social safety net under FDR and LBJ, is to stabilize capitalism — to enable it to extract profits on a more sustainable basis on the long run.
As Marx said of the Ten-Hour Day law in Britain, the primary function of “progressive” legislation by the capitalist state is to overcome prisoner’s dilemma problems among individual capitalists and force them to act in the collective interest of capital — in his words, to come to an agreement on the manuring of their fields so individual farmers don’t strip the soil in the interest of short-term profit.