September 26, 2017
Socialism has grown in popularity among the younger population of our country.
A 2016 Harvard poll showed that 51 percent of Americans aged 18-29 years old rejected capitalism, while a third of the same age range supported socialism.
Some analysts say the pull toward socialism is due to a lack of faith in the two-party system; others say that 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders presented socialist policies and politics in a new way that grabbed people’s attention.
Some students at UCCS feel thisway, and they have decided to act on it.
In August, freshman undeclared major Emerson Olsen founded the Young Democratic Socialists of America. Alongside the Socialist Discussion Group, YDSA is the second socialist group on campus.
Olsen was passionate about starting the club because she believes in spreading awareness of socialism and giving students the option to learn more about socialist ideologies.
“We want to have a closer connection with students,” she says. “We plan on starting a reading group, hosting speaker events and receiving input from our members.”
Olsen explained that there are certain aspects about socialism that she believes have made it so appealing to the younger generation.
“Socialism doesn’t believe in classes; we believe in equality. The American dream is a fabulous dream, but you have to make that dream a lot more accessible for people to achieve,” she says.
Young people tend to dislike politics because certain ideologies don’t work with their beliefs, according to Olson. However, this should not stop students from getting involved.
“I think it is important for young people to get involved in politics, and I think Bernie Sanders really showed us that there might be another way that could work for us,” she says.
Senior political science and economics major Gabe Palcic also founded a socialist club, the Socialist Discussion Group, last year. Palcic created the group to clarify misconceptions and answer questions that students may have about socialism. In January, the group became an official club on campus.
While his club initially had five members, Palcic said 37 members participate at UCCS this semester. Eight active members have joined the branch at CSU Pueblo.
Palcic describes the varying types of ideologies that exist within the club.
“Our group is composed of all three types of socialism: social democracy, democratic socialism and Marxism, as well as people from Sanders supporters to Stalinists and everything in between,” he says. “We emphasize that the meetings are to be kept civil and respectful despite various disagreements.”
The Socialist Discussion Group is also heavily involved in community events such as organizing marches and protests, participating in homeless outreach programs and forming educational events.
This group has also sent members to collaborate nationally with other organizations from different schools and regions in the country.
To help students learn more about the complex ideologies of socialism, Palcic recommends reading and educating oneself with several books and literature material that are great resources.
“We try to educate people at their own pace, and we really encourage collaboration and independent research,” he says.
Palcic believes that the rise in socialism among the younger generation is due to the internal crisis facing the two-party system.
“People are becoming more polarized between these opposite fields of far left and far right. My generation is the first in U.S. history to see lower living standards than the parent generation,” he says.
“Real wages are stagnating even though the average productivity per worker is increasing, the wealth and equality is reaching insane heights. There is widespread disaffection with the existing system and when that happens, people look for alternatives,” he says.
To find out more about YDSA, follow their Twitter or Facebook groups. Students who are interested in learning more about the Socialist Discussion Group can email [email protected] for more information.