Why is support for socialism growing among young people today?

Nathanael Blake of the Federalist suspects that it is a symptom of a deeper problem:

Monetary capital does not necessarily preserve social capital, and our nation’s prosperity is undermined by the hollowing out of families, churches, and communities.

This is why socialism, at least in name, is having a recrudescence in the United States. We have no crisis in our political economy that makes socialism qua socialism seem necessary or plausible, and hardly anyone, and certainly not socialists, really cares about the endless deficit spending that will eventually precipitate a real crisis. Our nation’s widely shared material prosperity exceeds our ancestors’ wildest dreams. But there is a crisis in our souls that makes a different approach to politics appealing.

The surge in socialism’s popularity among young Americans has little to do with the actual merits (or demerits) of the system, or even what it actually entails. Most seem to think it means a larger welfare state and taxing “the rich” a bit more. Rather, socialism’s allure is due to the families that are broken, the communities that are atomized, and the churches that are empty — often, sadly, because they betrayed their responsibilities to God and man.

The needs and desires that are met only by faith, family, and friendship are still part of the human condition. The current half-baked socialist revival is a category error, as it attempts a political and economic solution to a cultural and spiritual problem. But part of our crisis is the loss of the ability to think clearly about such matters, as exemplified by a generation that relies on the Harry Potter books for a shared moral language. This poverty of moral imagination and expression illuminates the spiritual and cultural desolation that prior generations created and bequeathed to their children.

As people seek a political solution for their spiritual and psychological dismay and distress, we see pathologies that used to afflict religious entities become manifest in politics. The sudden popularity of ersatz socialism is not because it offers a realistic plan of improvement, but because it sounds fair and compassionate while promising to relieve anxiety over economic uncertainty. That socialism will deliver on none of these promises is beside the point.

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