A Brit is more likely to view socialism favourably than unfavourably. 36% of British people see it in a positive light, whist only 32% feel the opposite.

Of course, we’ve all heard about the need for a modern, socialist approach to running a country, but is this major economic system style over substance?

By contagious ignorance, millennials are being lured into the web of socialism. In fact, 61% of 18-24 year-olds have a favourable view towards socialism. However, it is likely that the majority of these youngsters see socialism through rose-tinted glasses - underneath the show of fairness and benevolence lie unnerving economic implications.

It would be apt to begin with a definition of socialism, something the majority of “passionate” young socialists would benefit from.

  • Socialism is a major economic system, centred around the state ownership of businesses and property. This facilitates what is called a planned economy, where the government sets controls on business activity.
  • This state ownership has the effect of reducing incentives for lower costs, which allows for primacy of workers as opposed to owners.
  • However, socialist models can vary, and some allow private ownership of land and enterprise, incorporating stringent governmental regulations and frankly obscene levels of taxation.
  • The primary concern of socialism is the redistribution of wealth and resources from the rich to the poor.​

For all its popularity, socialism has a dismal record. An example that comes to mind is Venezuela, which was led by Hugo Chávez. He was (senselessly) hailed as “an inspiration to us all” by Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party. In reality, he was hardly the most successful leader - to say the least. When he came to power in 1998, 48% of Venezuelan households lived below the poverty line, and by 2017 this had, quite astonishingly, reached 82%. In fact, it was under socialist leadership that Venezuela fell from one of the most promising South American countries to one of the poorest. So much for improving quality of life and achieving equality.

Socialism has adverse economic impacts. At the heart of socialism lies discouragement of innovation and inhibition of economic growth. An interview with a friend of mine, Adi Vish, only confirmed this, as he questioned “why [he] would seek to aim high when everyone is entitled to a share of [his] efforts” adding that he would be “better off being average like everyone else” if a socialist economy was put in place.

“If socialism is followed, what is the difference between myself in a population and a drone bee in a beehive, or a machine in a factory - producing for a collective rather than for myself”.

Another friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that “a socialist society removes the main motivation for people to innovate. It makes everyone the same, and nobody ever strives to be better”.

Socialism leads to human capital flight, or "brain drain". Socialism is an impractical model, driving away the most valuable, high quality and skilled workers we have. Another friend of mine, Aurideep Nayak, explained how “socialism leads to intelligent, hard-working people leaving the country in order to benefit from a capitalist society”. Perhaps, therefore, socialism can have the effect of driving a nation backwards - not living up to its “futuristic” and “modern” basis.

Capitalism is the polar opposite of socialism, based on a more practical and less naive worldview. Essentially, capitalism is based around a free market system, where ownership of property and business is left to individuals, and the state only provide minimum-level services. This system strives on efficiency rather than equality. It is a fact that inequality is the driving force for innovation, and, in turn, economic development; without this economic development, a country will quickly be left behind - far behind. Is this the effect that socialists yearn for?

Capitalism has a proven track record. India, China and Indonesia have all grown into global economic superpowers, because they have embraced the principles of the free enterprise system, lifting over 1 billion people out of poverty. They reflects the opposite of Venezuela’s fate.

The mixed economy is better than socialism. Another economic system, which is used by the majority of countries including the United Kingdom, is the mixed economy, which incorporates a private sector from capitalism and the public sector from socialism in a bid to mitigate the disadvantages of each of these individual systems. This method has clear advantages over socialism, albeit with a compromise from the freedom provided by capitalism.

Socialism is an impractical system based upon a naive assumption that money grows on trees for anyone that has it, and it has a proven record of failure. It is crucial that the nation’s next generation is not blindfolded by socialism’s display of equality and togetherness.

Socialism well and truly is style over substance.

by Kinshuk Jain