Socialist Millennials: Left-leaning youngsters don’t know Stalin or Mao

One fifth of those asked were familiar with Lenin (right) while 34% were aware of Stalin (left). Source: Getty.

When you think of socialism names like Mao, Lenin and Stalin are probably among the first to spring to mind, but for the 58 per cent of millenials who lean to the left politically, these names bear almost no meaning.

A new survey carried out by YouGov Galaxy revealed that almost two-thirds of Australian millenials – born between 1980 and 1996 – are in favour of socialism, with the number increasing to 63 per cent for university graduates. 

Despite swaying towards socialism, a political system which places ultimate control over economy and society in the hands of the government, with the promise of equality and opportunity for all, only a few respondents were actually familiar with some of the most famous historical figures associated with it.

Communist leaders Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao Zedong are some of the names most synonymous with the socialist movement worldwide, and together the trio are responsible for the deaths of more than 80 million people. However their deeds seem to have been missed by the majority of left-leaning millenials. An astonishing 51 per cent of the 1,003 Aussie millenials surveyed confessing they had no idea who Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong was, and just 21 per cent owned up to being familiar with his policies, such as his Great Leap Forward.

While 42 per cent of those polled had never heard of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin and just one quarter said they were familiar with Lenin. More were aware of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, with 34 per cent describing themselves as ‘familiar’ with the WWII tyrant. However that still left two-thirds who either didn’t know him or were not familiar with his bloody history.

Centre for Independent Studies executive director Tom ­Switzer described the rise in popularity of socialism as alarming. He told The Australian: “A problem with the young is they fail to put contemporary events in a broader historic context. We’ve had 27 years of uninterrupted economic growth so these young people have not seen a recession or an economic downturn.”

The research, which was commissioned by the Centre for Independent Studies, revealed the main reason for this lurch to the left comes down to the fact that the generation believes capitalism has failed society. Almost 60 per cent of millenials asked expressed the opinion that capitalism had done more harm than good, while 62 per cent believe Australian workers are actually worse off now than they were 40 years ago, despite economic data suggesting otherwise.

Mr Switzer also warned that the shift to the left could have significant implications as millennials move into positions of power. The study concluded: “While a strong majority expressing a favourable opinion towards socialism hardly means the country is on the verge of a class revolution, the trend may have a significant effect as Millennials move into positions of power in coming years. Importantly, beliefs about government spending and the nature of capitalism could have major policy implications.”

What do you think? Are there any aspects of socialism that you agree with?

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