If we were to judge public attitudes toward socialism based on what the corporate politicians and mainstream media say, then we would come to the conclusion that socialism is a “dirty word.” However, recent data creates an entirely different impression.
Merriam-Webster has declared the words socialism and capitalism together to be 2012’s “Word of the Year” due to the high number of dictionary searches for the two words. Also, recent Gallup polls show that support for socialist ideas is increasing – a growing 53% of Democratic-leaning people support socialism while a shocking and a whopping 23% of self-identified conservatives view socialism favorably (11/29/2012).
This shows that people can resist the attitudes thrust open them by the corporate-controlled media. Nowhere on TV or radio or mainstream newspapers is socialism ever mentioned favorably, yet people are generally supportive of these ideas. In fact, the interest in far-reaching radical change is sometimes precisely because hated right-wing politicians like Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin attack socialism. Some folks may think, “If the politicians I hate attack socialism, then there must be something good about it.”
Of course, there is still a lot of confusion about what socialism actually means, and millions of people are not moving into struggle to end capitalism. However, one idea is clearly spreading among workers and youth in this country: We need a different system. These facts show that the idea is gaining momentum that the current system of capitalism is not working and that a radically different system is needed.
The Kshama Sawant campaign, getting around 20,000 votes in Seattle against the state legislature’s most powerful Democrat, is only a tiny glimpse of what would be possible if the left and labor put their resources and energy into bringing genuine socialist ideas into the public dialogue and engaging with the mood that exists. We can build a mighty movement to challenge the capitalist system and replace it with a democratic socialist system based on production for the needs of the 99% and not the profits of the 1%.