Campus Reform recently took to the streets of Washington D.C. to try to gauge the opinions of college students about the increasingly popular form of government imposed by some of history's most notorious mass-murdering despots: socialism. To the surprise of no one who watched the stunning success of an obscure septuagenarian senator from Vermont in the Democratic primaries, most of the students Campus Reform talked to were big fans of socialism, which they agreed would "really benefit our country." The only problem is that the same students who were so clearly amped up about installing the preferred political system of Che Guevara and Joseph Stalin, were less clear about what socialism is. In fact, most had no idea how to define it whatsoever.
In its write-up of its new man-on-the-street video (below), Campus Reform notes that recent polls have shown a surge in the popularity of socialism — as well as widespread ignorance about its definition and history.
"Last year, a poll was released showing 53 percent of Americans under age 35 are dissatisfied with our nation’s current economic system and think socialism would be good for the country," Campus Reform notes. "The same poll found that 45 percent of young Americans would be willing to support an openly socialist Presidential candidate."
Yet that same poll also found that a third or more of millennials admitted to being "unfamiliar" with the likes of Che Guevera, Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx — and that's just the percentage who were willing to admit it.
When the conservative education reform group talked with D.C. students about socialism, they found anecdotal confirmation of the polls: most of the college students they interviewed "loved" socialism, but were unable to offer a coherent definition. Below are the responses to the question "Do you like socialism?" followed by the same students' responses to the question "What is socialism?"
Is socialism a good thing or a bad thing?
“I think people kind of throw that word around to try and scare you. But if helping people is socialism, than I’m for it."
"It could really benefit our country in the future."
"I think it's a really good idea."
"Socialism as a concept, as a philosophy is good. I think that it's got a bad rep."
"Trying to spread the wealth is definitely a good thing in America,and I definitely think it's needed."
"There's a lot of things with social welfare that would be good to have."
"I'd say [I have] a more positive [opinion of it]. I'm definitely open to it."
"We should have a standard of living for all people. By default, that should just be available."
"If we did it democratically, then we could really incorporate socialism."
"It definitely seems like a more feasible option and it could help more people — just as a broad term, it could help more people."
Here are the responses of the same students asked to define the system they just so enthusiastically endorsed.
How do you define socialism?
"I mean, honestly, that definition gets thrown around a lot. I mean, honestly, I’m not not exactly sure."
"Economically, hm. ... So... Let me think about that for a second..."
"Um, geeze. I guess, just, specifically, just, you know — getting rid of that wealth gap."
"Um, how would I describe it as literally as possible? Uh..."
"I mean it’s definitely more of an open form of government and it feels a lot more accessible to a lot more people, And that's kind of how I see it, being more accessible and more kind of like equal ground. Yeah."
INTERVIEWER: "What does that mean necessarily, though?"
"To be quite honest I don’t know."
It's easy to say that those running academia have "failed" to educate these students about socialism, but the truth is, this degree of uniform endorsement of a feelings-based, utopian vision of a system is exactly what so many leftwing academics actually want. This is not failure in their eyes; it's success.