By ELLIE GARDEY CONTRIBUTOR
The average age of a Democratic Socialists of America member was 68 in 2013. But today, that average age has sunk to 33, representing a movement of young people towards socialism.
New data from the College Pulse on 10,590 full-time and part-time college students demonstrates this movement, showing 39% of students today have a favorable opinion of socialism, while an equal number (39%) have an unfavorable opinion of socialism.
The data also shows college students’ opinions of socialism differ according to their college major.
Socialism, which aims at public ownership of the means of production to counter the exploitation and inequality of capitalism, has found increasing support among all Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll.
“I came to see capitalism as a revolutionary force that would destroy or subject all things to itself,” University of Notre Dame student Steven Larkin told the Daily Caller in explaining his socialist viewpoint.
In the 2016 election, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a socialist, captivated a young base angry at the economic inequality of capitalism. In 2018, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also an avowed socialist, unseated former New York Rep. Joe Crowley to bring far-left economic policies like the Green New Deal to the forefront of the public mind through her strong media presence and 4.7 million followers on Twitter.
Many attribute the rise of socialism among young people to universities, particularly because college professors are overwhelmingly left-leaning. In 2007, 18% of sociologists identified themselves as socialists. (RELATED: The Key To Winning In 2020 Will Be Properly Explaining Socialism, Says Bernie Sanders)
“There is one sector of American society where Marxism’s influence has continued to grow, and its adherents have seized some tangible power: the university,” Robby Soave, associate editor of Reason Magazine, wrote in his new book “Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump.” “For nearly a hundred years, academia has kept Marxism alive and thriving.”
A 2014 study suggested college professors may not be the reason socialist ideas spread in college. The study showed academic work has a moderating effect on political opinions. It was more time spent on extracurricular activities, according to the study, that resulted in more extreme political beliefs.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that academic work may not have all that much influence, as college students spend an average of less than three hours a day on academic work, according to the Heritage Foundation.
Data from the College Pulse survey conducted on college students released Thursday demonstrates the demographics of college students who believe in socialism. The data shows women, minorities, and LGBTQ people tend to have more favorable opinions towards socialism than men, white people, and heterosexual people.
One area where college students differ on their opinions of socialism is their college major.
Students majoring in the humanities were favorable to socialism 51% of the time, while those majoring in the sciences were favorable to socialism 35% of the time. Philosophy is the major with the greatest number (78%) of students favorable to socialism. The major that is least amenable to socialism? Accounting — at 20% favorable.
There is a gender gap among students regarding their attitudes toward socialism. Men are much more likely to have an unfavorable view of socialism (53%) than women are (33%).
People who identify as neither male or female have a very positive opinion towards socialism, according to the College Pulse survey. 77% of non-binary people are favorable towards socialism.
The survey also collected data on how opinions about socialism vary depending on race. People who are Native American were the least likely to say they have a favorable opinion towards socialism (31%). White college students are favorable to socialism 39% of the time, while black students are favorable to it 44% of the time.
LGBTQ college students are much more favorable towards socialism than their heterosexual counterparts, and almost doubly so. These students were favorable towards socialism 60% of the time, while heterosexual students were favorable towards socialism 33% of the time.
The survey also covered perceived attitudes towards socialism. Calling someone a socialist is considered by college students to be an insult (23%) much more than a compliment (13%). However, it is more so seen as a neutral statement.
Students are more likely to identify as a capitalist (28%) than as a socialist (15%). 39% of college students do not identify as either. Some students also consider themselves to be both a capitalist and a socialist (15%).
In 1942, 25% of Americans said socialism would be a good thing for the country. A recent Gallup poll found that number has now jumped to 43%.
President Donald Trump has accused his Democratic rivals of being socialists and has spoken out against the ideology. (RELATED: Guess Who Said It: Ocasio-Cortez Or Karl Marx?)
“Socialism promises prosperity, but it delivers poverty,” Trump said to the Venezuelan-American community in February.
“Socialism promises unity, but it delivers hatred and it delivers division. Socialism promises a better future, but it always returns to the darkest chapters of the past.”