Americans don’t like each other very much and many are willing to fight for their differences. But what do the opposing factions believe? When it comes to economic systems and whether production and consumption should be dictated from above or guided by free trade, a growing number of Americans don’t seem to believe it at all. Both capitalism and socialism are losing support, especially among Democrats.
“Today, 36% of American adults say they view socialism somewhat (30%) or very (6%) positively, up from 42% who viewed the term positively in May 2019,” Pew said. reports. “And while a majority of the public (57%) continues to view capitalism favorably, that’s 8 percentage points lower than in 2019 (65%).”
Among Republicans, support for capitalism fell from 78% to 74%, and for socialism from a low of 15% to a slightly lower 14%. With the Democrats, capitalism became a minority taste, dropping from 55% support to 46%, while socialism’s favorable position eroded from 65% to 57%.
“Much of the decline in positive views on both socialism and capitalism is due to shifts in opinion among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents,” Pew acknowledges. That still leaves the GOP as a market-oriented political party (despite the bizarre 14% lobby to add Lenin to the partisan pantheon alongside Lincoln and Reagan). The Democrats have become a lukewarm socialist party, judging by the sentiments of supporters.
“Americans see capitalism as giving people more opportunity and more freedom than socialism, while they see socialism as more likely to meet people’s basic needs, although these perceptions differ significantly from a party to another,” Pew notes in a partial explanation of the disagreement. OK, but it’s an aspiration; do Americans really understand the differences between economic systems?
Fortunately, in 2019, Pew asked respondents more detailed questions about their views on capitalism and socialism. Unfortunately, this survey was too terrible for defining terms, but at least it allowed people to describe their impressions of the systems in their own words.
Proponents of free markets “mention that capitalism advanced America’s economic strength, that America was established under the idea of capitalism, or that capitalism is essential to maintaining freedom in the country” , report 2019 Free. “Critics of socialism cite Venezuela as an example of where it failed. People with a positive view of socialism cite different countries, such as Finland and Denmark, as places where it succeeded.”
This is useful because the Venezuelan government has largely seized the means of production and dominates the economy; it is socialist. The country is ranked at 176 in the Index of Economic Freedom 2022 as a “repressed” economy. However, Finland is ranked ninth among “mostly free” economies, with Denmark (10th), and the United States (25th); all are countries where private enterprise prevails. Yes, the two Scandinavian countries are somewhat considered After capitalist than the United States; but they have expensive welfare states and tax the hell out of their private savings to pay for them.
“I know that some people in the United States associate the Nordic model with a kind of socialism. Therefore, I would like to clarify one thing. Denmark is far from being a planned socialist economy. Denmark is a market economy”, said the Danish prime minister at the time. Lars Lokke Rasmussen commented in 2015. “The Nordic model is an expanded welfare state that offers a high level of security to its citizens, but it is also a thriving market economy with great freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish .”
“So what’s the catch you might ask. The most obvious, of course, is high taxes. The highest income tax in Denmark is almost 60%. We have a sales tax of 25% and on cars, excise duties are on the rise.Total, Danish taxes account for almost half of our national income, compared to about 25% in the United States.
In Raisonhistorian Johan Norberg has pointed out that Sweden, in particular, dabbled in the economic control of the state. The experiment was abandoned after the economy fell. Then the country “deregulated, privatized, reduced taxes and opened up the public sector to private providers”. Impressions of socialist Scandinavia are “stuck in the 1970s,” he added. Sweden also has a welfare state and very high taxes.
Americans probably understand capitalism most because they live in a generally market-oriented society, even if it is often clientelist and overregulated. Defects, including politically favored companies and companies supporting ideological goals under regulatory pressure, undoubtedly tarnish impressions of the system. It would not be surprising if recent disputes over “woke” corporations explain a slight cooling of enthusiasm for right-wing capitalism. But when it comes to socialism, too many supporters want a unicorn; they demand socialism but point to capitalist models. Other sources offer insight.
“The vast majority of Republican voters – 85% – think anyone who works hard can get ahead, while 53% of Democrats think so,” he said recently. the wall street journal survey reveals. “Democrats often say that hard work is not enough to get all Americans ahead, in part because of systemic barriers based on class or race, and that government should help. … Republicans, on the other hand , say the government should as often as possible get away from the efforts of individuals, businesses and charities to help people advance economically.”
Republicans therefore retain faith in individual effort, which is fundamental to free-market capitalism. Democrats want some sort of government thumb on the scales, which is not socialist state control of the economy (and this perhaps helps explain the decline in support for socialism), but which is like the welfare state. So maybe they do want Scandinavia to be a model, at least for the privileged groups.
“There are so many socio-economic differences in the country,” complained a Democratic voter in the the wall street journal. “It really depends on where you were born on the strata.”
But the same poll suggests grounds for After conflict. The Log 61% of Republicans and 53% of Independents agree they are “one of the people the elites of this country look down on.” Only 40% of Democrats agree. So the Democrats don’t trust capitalism, lose faith in socialism, but want the government to play a bigger role. Against them are Republicans and Independents who think the ruling class that would pick winners and losers despises them; they are unlikely to see themselves among those whom a hostile government would help.
In terms of capitalism and socialism, Americans may not quite know what they are talking about, but it seems clear that many of us have very different visions of the country in which we want to live. If there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that we will continue to strongly disagree.