February 19, 2019, was a day of great reckoning in the United States.
On a radio show in his home state of Vermont, Senator Bernie Sanders – a progressive democratic socialist – announced his bid to run for President in 2020. Back then, and even now, Senator Sanders remains the oldest running candidate in the US presidential election, but it is widely acknowledged that he is the most popular candidate amongst younger voters.
And why shouldn’t he be?
With his election manifesto promising to combat socio-economic inequalities, imperialism, xenophobia, and climate change, Bernie has captured the attention and trust of the youth both nationally and abroad with his socialism. Even Russian feminist icons Pussy Riot have endorsed him in the last few days.
The last four years have seen authoritarian governments come into power and proliferate with distressing consequences. Whether it’s Trump in America, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Modi in India, or Duterte in the Philippines, numerous countries have seen the far-right mobilize populations by capitalizing on their deepest fears, making false promises, and ultimately implementing harmful policies that infringe on the rights of millions whilst benefiting only the oligarchs and capitalists of this world.
However, the tide is changing, and youth are at the front of this change.
So it’s no surprise that the world is watching Senator Sanders and the American election at large. With American hegemony impacting nearly every global transaction, it makes sense that this is big news.
Numerous countries have seen the far-right mobilize populations by capitalizing on their deepest fears,
People – particularly millennials and younger people – are also looking to other countries where socialists are sweeping the polls, like in Spain (where the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) was voted in and gained an absolute majority of the seats in the Spanish Senate) or New Zealand (where Jacinda Ardern leads the democratic socialist Labour Party). Socialism is back en vogue, and it’s here to stay.
People under the age of 30 are now roughly 50% of the global population, and in some areas – Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia – they make up more than 65% of the current populace.
These are youths who have seen their parents live extremely comfortable lives and rise in terms of economic class but wonder if they will ever achieve the same success. In the US, experts say that anyone born after 1980 is less likely to have the same standard of living as their parents did.
Millennials and Gen Z are watching the world burn (quite literally, with climate change) and are distraught by capitalist greed and unfettered resource wastage. They’re also watching their governments pass horrendous, exclusionary, backward, policies that are fueled by alt-right ideologies.
Young people are also looking to the models of democratic socialism that are working well in Scandinavian countries, collectively called the Nordic model.
With public pension plans, a robust social safety net, subsidized or free education, and lively labor unions, the Nordic model is widely seen as a feasible solution to combat the dire socio-economic conditions that many global youths are mired in. Faced with the highly probable scenario that the world of the future will be a non-inclusive and totalitarian one, young people are embracing socialism and demanding equality and social justice.
Young socialists are at the forefront of every major fight.
They’re demanding solutions to climate change, insisting that corporations are held accountable for their shortcomings, and calling on politicians to be beholden to citizens rather than donors and personal opinions. They know that their states and governments should be creating equitable living conditions and enforcing rights for all, and are angered by how politicians are engaged in corruption whilst favoring the upper crust over the needs and demands of the general populace.
Well, the youth are here, and they demand socialism with good reason.
They see solutions to each of these issues in the framework of socialism and are working hard to dismantle the right-wing ideologies and structures that are disenfranchising millions. In addition to this, they’re also critically examining previously accepted center-left ideologies and outcomes: take, for example, the robust criticisms of President Barack Obama’s military record.
Socialist feminists are also on the front line of combating injustice.
Noting that capitalism exploits and entrenches gender inequality – whether though traditional gender roles or unequal pay – socialist feminists have long noted the nexus between class, oppression, gender, sexuality, and other factors. When Second Wave feminism demanded the right to work, equal pay, and legislation for women’s economic rights, it tapped into the intersections of class inequalities and social welfare.
Even today, as women carry the burden of care, unequal wages, and gender discrimination, socialist feminists call to attention the necessity to dismantle oppressive hierarchical structures, rebuild the global economy to be inclusive of women’s and minority rights and to take away the abundance of unnecessary privileges and authority afforded to corporations.
People wax on and on about how the youth are the future. Well, the youth are here, and they demand socialism with good reason. A world rid of inequalities and hardships is a world worth living in – and that world can be built on a socialist philosophy.