Young Americans are stunningly ignorant of the tragic history of Communism. A new study found that millennials and the youngest generation (Generation Z) are unfamiliar with past Communist leaders, underestimate the number of people killed under Communism, and support the collectivist ideas of Bernie Sanders. Terrifyingly, almost a third of millennials think more people were killed under President George W. Bush than under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
“One of the concerns the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation has had since its establishment is that an emerging generation of Americans have little understanding of the collectivist system and its dark history,”declared Marion Smith, executive director of the organization, which sponsored the report on U.S. attitudes toward socialism.
“Unfortunately, this Report, which we intend to release on an annual basis, confirms this worrisome impression,” Smith concluded.
Indeed, the report — compiled by research and data firm YouGov — paints a dark picture of young Americans’ attitudes about collectivism.
More than a quarter of Americans (26 percent) and almost a full third of millennials (32 percent) said that more people were killed under George W. Bush than Joseph Stalin.
This is, quite frankly, absurd. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union suffered an estimated 56 to 62 million “unnatural deaths,” with 34 to 49 million directly linked to the dictator. Under Bush, 6,648 U.S. service members died, and the number of Iraqis who died has been variously estimated at 112,114, 122,644, 151,000, and even 655,000. Even the highest number for Bush is roughly 700,000, while the lowest for Stalin would be 34 million.
Such stunning historical ignorance also emerges when Americans estimate the number of people killed by Communist regimes. A vast majority (75 percent) place the number below the accurate figure of 100 million. A full 80 percent of millennials underestimated the victims of Communism, and 88 percent of Generation Z did so. In other words, the younger generations are growing up without an accurate picture of the sins of collectivism.
Indeed, many millennials are unfamiliar with Communist leaders, such as Mao Zedong (of whom 42 percent admitted ignorance), Che Guevara (40 percent), Lenin (33 percent), and Stalin (18 percent). The report also listed current Russian President Vladimir Putin (18 percent), although he likely is not an ideologue or a Communist. Among millennials who did know Lenin, a full 25 percent had a favorable opinion of him.
Perhaps tied to this historical ignorance, younger Americans have sharply different views of Communism and socialism than their parents. Only half of millennials (55 percent) said Communism was and still is a problem, while a full 80 percent of Baby Boomers said so, along with 91 percent of elderly Americans.
Over half (57 percent) of Americans overall had a “very unfavorable” view of Communism, although that view is held by only 37 percent of millennials and 38 percent of the youngest generation.
Perhaps revealing the influence of Bernie Sanders, nearly half of Generation Z (45 percent) said they would vote for a socialist, while 21 percent would be open to voting for a communist. Only 42 percent of millennials had a favorable view of capitalism, verses 54 percent of Baby Boomers (and, interestingly, 47 percent of Generation Z).
Younger Americans proved less likely to agree with the capitalist ideas of Milton Friedman than with Bernie Sanders. Only 55 percent of Generation Z and 58 percent of millennials agreed with Friedman, while 71 percent of Generation Z and the same percentage of millennials agreed with Sanders.
The survey was conducted online, among 2,300 respondents above the age of 16.
“This report clearly reveals a need for educating our youth on the dangerous implications of socialist ideals,” Smith declared. “We will continue to work with educators to build curriculum to address this important need.”
Check out a video of the report on the next page.