Why Socialism Is So Popular With University Students
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Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

Why Socialism Is So Popular With University Students

Alex Fletcher May 23, 2022

Politics is one of those subjects that engages students the most. Whether it’s the signing of a simple petition, or taking part in a mass protest march on the streets of London, students are some of the most politically engaged people this country has. While the political spectrum is a vast and diverse place, it is no secret that students tend to lean more towards the left. Specifically, a large proportion of students would describe themselves as socialists or, indeed, followers of socialist political policy. I was keen to learn about why student socialists choose to follow this specific ideology. 

I should say from the start that I’m not myself a socialist. However, I can understand fully why students, and indeed young people in general, follow this ideology. I have always held the view that young people who hold less family responsibilities spend a lot more of their time concerning themselves with the issues of the wider world. They see socialism as the kinder end of the political spectrum and seek to adopt an ideology which, in theory, should look out for everyone in society. But I wanted to find out more about why students and socialism seemingly go hand in hand. 

Photo by Duncan Shaffer on Unsplash

Idealistic ideology

Luckily, universities are filled with individuals who subscribe to the socialist way of thinking and I had the opportunity to sit down with a few of them and hear their thoughts. Starting with Esther who, in answer to this question, stated, ‘It’s one of the more idealistic ideologies. Which is good for young people. They can see the effect of Neo Liberalism and think that it does not support them in life’.

So for Esther it’s all about the alternative. Socialism seems to be the only ideology in the eyes of many students that doesn’t have the potential damage of liberalism or conservatism. But, is this the only reason why so many students favour this way of thinking?

‘Pick the future that you want’

In order to gain another perspective I sat down with two other individuals to hear their thoughts. Charlie was unequivocal in his view of why socialism is for him.

‘You pick the future that you want to go into in terms of values,’ he said. ‘The socialist values that people chose to support during the pandemic often vote for people who don’t support things like the NHS or the education sector. Young people seek to give these people more financial support’.

Charlie feels that socialism was one of the most important parts of the response to the Covid 19 pandemic and that no other ideology gives the true support needed. Once again a contrasting, but equally convincing argument. 

Different stance

To obtain a slightly different view on socialism, I spoke to a student who doesn’t align themself with this ideology. The individual, who has chosen to remain anonymous, stated: ‘A lot of people our age don’t care about lower taxes, they don’t own land or a house. If they don’t have those things that they care about they will pick different ideologies such as socialism’.

So, once again, an intriguing analysis from an individual who argues it’s all about circumstance that guides the viewpoint of a university student. 

What I took from all of these interviews is that there really is no right or wrong answer. However, the one discernible trend I was able to isolate is that the majority of students supporting socialism do so because they genuinely believe it is the right way forward. This may be true of any ideology of course. But it was at least refreshing to find that, in this turbulent and fragile world we live in, there are still plenty of individuals out there looking to just do something very simple. Be kind and caring, and that most certainly isn’t a bad thing at all. 

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Hi, my name is Alex Fletcher. I’m a second year history and politics student at the University of Birmingham, originally from Portsmouth. My main passion is sport and I am a big supporter of Portsmouth football club and the McLaren F1 team. I also take an avid interest in music, theatre, politics and current affairs and I have a strong passion for writing and presenting.