A recent poll has highlighted how the youth and young adults are significantly more supportive of socialism than their older counterparts. This feeling, compounded by the rise of two pro-socialist candidates in the UK and US leads me to believe socialism is making a comeback of sorts. How long this trend will last is another question, but whether the current situation is a good one is up for discussion. I’ll be talking about Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, who are running for the Democratic and Labour Party nominations respectively.
Sanders, a self proclaimed Democratic Socialist, is the longest serving independent member of Congress ever. He has campaigned for over 40 years against American foreign intervention and income inequality. Polls have Sanders gaining on Clinton, and while many still view him as an underdog, he is making his presence known. He supports a top tax rate in excess of 50%, with an increase in corporate tax too. No other candidate has gone so far as to support a tax increase this high, and his resolute opposition to the TPP trade agreement only serves to embellish him as a man of principle rather than pandering to corporate interest.
Sanders, along with Senator Barbara Boxer of California, tried to pass legislation back in 2013 which would tax methane and carbon emissions and rebate 60% of that revenue to citizens. The legislation was not passed but this shows that along with Sanders’ clear economic agenda, he has also proven to be equally clear and vocal on preserving the environment. His website states
“We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels, and towards energy efficiency and sustainability. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, and we need to greatly accelerate technological progress in wind and solar power generation.”
Jeremy Corbyn, a staunch supporter of socialism and someone who has also debated its merits publicly, has been an MP for Islington North for over 30 years. He has not been afraid to deviate from what his party tells him to do, having rebelled over 500 times, most recently voting ‘No’ to the Tory Welfare Reform bill. His bold stances have not gone unnoticed, with Unite, Britains largest trade union endorsing him.
While Corbyn was initially seen as a token candidate for the hard left of the party, many polls now have him set to win the leadership election. The prospect of Jeremy Corbyn leading Labour is no longer a far fetched one. Like Sanders, he is also opposed by the ‘establishment’ with former Labour leader Tony Blair telling those who wanted to vote for Corbyn to have a transplant.
On Corbyn, Owen Jones points out what I think really makes me support this new wave of progressivism. The youth are no longer disillusioned; there’s a mass mobilisation of them in opposition to austerity. In this article he goes on to write that:
“His policies align with their progressive values. He is focused on the long-term issues that will stretch to the end of our generation and beyond. He is proactive in his efforts for peace in the Middle East, and stopping the replacement of Trident. He wants to immediately tackle climate change, and create more equal opportunities through education, and the cutting of tuition fees. He focuses on people and their needs.”
By no means do I agree with everything these two are saying; it would be scary if I did. But I think the rise of these two figures re-ignites a debate which is worth having, and this can be seen through the enthusiasm with which the young are supporting these candidates. Some would say you need only to look at the Nordic Model’s successful welfare state to see an example of successful socialist policies.
The special relationship between the UK and the US could, and most likely would stand the test of time but would be absolutely redefined under the leadership of these two people.
Do you think that Socialism is the way forward or a failed project altogether? Drop a comment below.