Liberal societies now have more to worry about than just election meddling by the Kremlin. New research reveals a growing threat within, with millennials increasingly rejecting free markets and favoring authoritarian forms of government including socialism, communism, and fascism.
The Victims of Communism Foundation’s Annual Report on US Attitudes Towards Socialism states that 44% of millennials surveyed favored socialism, while communism and fascism each drew 7% support, respectively. The findings come at a time when adherents of all three ideologies are increasingly meeting in violent clashes on US streets and campuses.
Millennials are typically considered to be the generation born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, Making up approximately 86 million Americans, roughly 1 in 4 citizens, they are a generation defined in part by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and, maybe, more importantly, the 2008 financial crisis. They watched their parents’ retirement plans collapse just as they were about to be realized and, if they attended college, often graduated with six-figure debt burdens into a bleak job market. They exist in the kind of disaffection that makes recruitment and radicalization easy, to the point that a 2016 Harvard University poll found that 51% of 18-29 year-olds now reject capitalism.
According to researchers like Harvard’s Yascha Mounk and the University of Melbourne’s Roberto Stefan Foa, the recent findings are a warning sign that closely mirrors what happened in Venezuela before its descent into dictatorship. To add to concerns over the findings issued by the Victims of Communism Foundation, these two researchers also reported in the Journal for Democracy that only 19% of US millennials agreed that a military coup and junta would be illegitimate.
While this collection of findings is by no means conclusive, they are worth paying attention to. A casual look at torch-bearing fascists in Charlottesville or black-clad communists marching under the Antifa flag reveals a preponderance of angry youth yearning not to be free, but to impose a new order antithetical to the ideas of revolutionary liberty the United States was founded on.
If the American cause is to be secured it is imperative that libertarians, conservatives, and others who value individual rights not only broaden and deepen their engagement with millennials but begin developing and implementing workable policies and programs that address their concerns and help them achieve the stability they are looking for in all the wrong places.