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15 Aug, 2018 03:13

Young Americans have soured on capitalism, and that's what got Trump elected – Slavoj Žižek

Support for capitalism among younger voters has dropped drastically, a new Gallup poll reveals. The US establishment’s refusal to see this shift has resulted in Trump’s election, philosopher Slavoj Zizek tells RT.

According to the poll, 57 percent of Democrats view socialism positively. Only 47 percent view capitalism positively, down from 56 percent in 2010.

Across political lines, young Americans (aged 18-29) in general are split on capitalism and socialism. 51 percent of Americans aged 18-29 view socialism positively, while 45 percent view capitalism positively, down 12 points in just two years.

Slavoj Zizek sees the shift as a realization that for some, the American Dream just isn’t real.

“The roots of this disappointment can be easily identified” he told RT. ”The working class, but also the middle class feels betrayed. Generally, there’s widespread awareness that the American system doesn’t function the way people expected it to function.”

Curiously, the drop in satisfaction comes at a time when the US economy is booming. Unemployment is at its lowest point in half a century at just over three percent, wages are increasing, and if President Trump is to be believed, all manner of companies are clamoring to bring their manufacturing operations back to the USA from overseas.

In 2010, when more Democrats still trusted capitalism, things were objectively worse. Unemployment stood at a dismal nine percent, wages had stagnated since the great recession, and recovery was still a distant glimmer.

“The message is very hopeful,” Zizek said about the poll, which he said shows that quite a large part of the US population “no longer identifies with the American dream.” He described the drop in support for Capitalism as the “beginning of the end of what in learned terms we call ideological hegemony.”

With more Americans feeling left behind, the only candidate who capitalized on this dissatisfaction in 2016 was Donald Trump. However, Zizek doesn’t see Trump as the solution to America’s problems. Even as the economic good times roll, recovery has not touched everyone equally. 40 million US citizens still live in poverty, and five million of these live in “third world conditions,” according to a UN report released this June.

“The only thing that can save the US is a stronger, more radical left,” Zizek claims.

Where is the left?

The radical left Zizek talks about exists, but has been muscled out by the Democratic party’s more centrist establishment. The establishment, he argues, “should look at their own Democratic Party, how they totally ignored a clear, more leftist, anti-capitalist signal from Bernie Sanders and his movement.”

Sanders was a popular figure, particularly with young voters. By running Hillary Clinton instead, the centrist establishment “failed the expectations of the American people”

However, since Clinton’s miserable performance in 2016, the ‘progressive’ movement championed by Sanders has slowly seeped into the mainstream. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the Bronx this June, when self-professed ‘democratic socialist’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez snatched a stunning primary victory, ousting ten-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, a more centrist, suit-and-tie Democrat.

Ocasio-Cortez ran on a platform that includes Medicare for all, free college tuition, a $15 minimum wage, and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement – some of these points the Clinton camp of the Democrat party would have considered anathema.

Ocasio-Cortez’ victory appeared to lay out a clear roadmap for Democrats in the Trump age: embrace the public’s demand for a more radical left and win elections, or continue to blame Russia and continue to lose. The Democratic establishment didn’t listen however, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (California) playing down her victory, reminding voters that it happened in “one district” and warning people not to get “carried away” with progressive ideas.

Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (South Carolina) embodied the establishment mentality when he said in an interview that Ocasio-Cortez needs to wait her turn before joining the Democratic party’s leadership.

"I would ask her to remember how long I had to wait to get here," the 78-year-old Congressman said.

After her victory, Ocasio-Cortez jetted around the country to drum up support for like-minded progressive candidates ahead of primary elections. Her stumping fell short however, as four out of the six candidates endorsed by the socialist upstart lost their elections.

Some critics put this failure down to an inbuilt ‘fear of socialism’ among Americans. Zizek disagrees emphatically.

“I don’t think that even those who spread this fear, that they take it seriously,” he said, adding that the US is unlikely to turn into Venezuela any time soon. “That’s pure fear-mongering” and “panicky reaction” at the newfound popularity of socialism, he said.

If the trend revealed by the latest Gallup poll is correct, embracing a socialist message could soon be the Democratic party’s only means of survival.

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