Globally half think socialist ideals are of great value

The latest Ipsos Global Advisor survey shows that around half of those surveyed in 28 countries around the world think that at present socialist ideals are of great value for societal progress.

Globally half think socialist ideals are of great value

However, the same number believes that socialism is a system of political oppression, mass surveillance and state terror.

Australia mirrors global views:

  • Half of the people around the world think that at present, socialist ideals are of great value for societal progress. Despite this, half of the people also agree that socialism is a system of political oppression, mass surveillance and state terror.
  • Globally, eight in ten people think that the rich should be taxed more to support the poor.
  • Around the world nine in ten people believe that education should be free of charge and that free healthcare is a human right. 
  • Almost seven in ten people globally believe that every resident should have the right to an unconditional basic income.

The latest Ipsos Global Advisor survey shows that around half of those surveyed in 28 countries around the world think that at present socialist ideals are of great value for societal progress. However, the same number believes that socialism is a system of political oppression, mass surveillance and state terror.

The survey explores the perceptions of socialist ideas in the 21st century and was carried out online among adults aged 18-65 years in March/April this year.  The findings highlight considerable differences, including skepticism and approval, between countries in the way in which socialist ideas are currently perceived.

From an Australian point of view we are close to the global average on the majority of measures:

  • Half of the people surveyed globally (50%) and in Australia (49%) agree that at present, socialist ideals are of great value for societal progress. The Chinese* are most likely to agree (84%) followed by Indians (72%) and Malaysians* (68%). This contrasts with the USA (39%), France (31%), and Hungary (28%). Respondents in Japan are least likely to agree with only two in ten of the Japanese (21%) believing that socialist ideals are of great value for societal progress.
  • Nearly half of the people worldwide (48%) and in Australia (49%) agree that socialism is a system of political oppression, mass surveillance and state terror. In India (66%), USA (61%) and South Korea (60%) almost two thirds agree with this negative evaluation. In contrast, only about one out of three agree in Sweden (34%), China* (31%), Spain (30%) and Russia* (29%).
  • Two thirds of people globally (66%) and in Australia (65%) agree that free market competition brings out the best in people. People in India* (86%) were most likely to agree followed by Malaysians* (84%), Peruvians and South Africans* (both 83%). In contrast only about half of respondents in Sweden (52%), Belgium (51%), Germany (49%) and France (43%) agree.
  • Overall, half of the people who responded to the survey globally (52%) and in Australia (50%) think that individual freedom is more important than social justice. People in India* (72%), the US (66%) and South Africa* (64%) are most likely to believe that individual freedom carries greater importance than social justice. Whereas Germans (38%), the Chinese* (37%) and French (36%) are least likely to agree.
  • Nearly seven in ten globally (69%) and two thirds in Australia (64%) agree that it is right for people who are talented to earn more than those who are less gifted. Romanians, Russians* (82% each), South Koreans and the Chinese* (both 81%) are most likely to agree, while only about half of the respondents in Belgium (56%), France (51%) and Germany (47%) think the same.
  • Across all 28 countries nearly eight in ten people (78%) think that the rich should be taxed more to support the poor. Agreement is highest in Spain (87%), Serbia, China* (both 86%) and Russia* (85%), whereas it is lowest in the USA (67%), Brazil* (66%) and South Africa* (58%). In Australia, 76% believe rich people should be taxed more to support the poor.
  • Nine in ten globally (89%) and in Australia (88%) think that education should be free of charge. Russians are most likely to agree (98%) followed by Serbs and Romanians (97% each). Respondents in Japan are least likely to believe that education should be free of charge (64%). The idea has considerably less (but still substantial) support in the USA and the South Africa (77% each).
  • Most respondents globally (87%) and in Australia (89%) also believe that free healthcare is a human right. Russians*, Serbians and Mexicans (at 96%) are the most likely to think this way. South Koreans (74%), Americans (72%) and Japanese (47%) are least likely to agree.
  • Asked whether every resident should have the right to an unconditional basic income, 69% of all respondents agree. On this measure, Australians show greater agreement at 79%, placing us in the top five behind Russia* 95%, Turkey* 87%, India* 83% and Serbia 81%. Swedes (56%), Argentinians (53%) and the Japanese (38%) are least likely to agree.
  • Only one third of respondents globally (33%) and in Australia (35%) think that the working class is well represented in the political system in their country. The statement finds most support in Saudi Arabia* (64%), India* (63%) and China* (60%). The French (19%), Mexicans* (19%) and Serbians (14%) are the least likely to agree.
  • More than half of the people worldwide (62%) believe that their opinions are different from the opinions of others. In Russia* (81%), Romania (77%) and Turkey* (74%) most people think that their opinions are different from others. In Chile* (51%), Great Britain (50%) and Australia (47%) around of half of the respondents regard their opinions as distinct.

Commenting on the findings, David Elliott, Director, Ipsos Social Research Institute - NSW said: “These latest findings show that both globally and locally there is an appetite for greater adoption of some key socialist ideals, particularly in regards to education, healthcare, and better distribution of wealth.  However, at the same time, most distinguish the ideals from the system, as evidenced by a similar proportion agreeing that that socialism is a system of political oppression, mass surveillance and state terror.  Further, many across the world and in Australia also see positives in free market competition, individual freedom, and the ability to earn higher wages.

“In an overall sense, this study shows that while many around the world are positive about their country’s sociopolitical view, they believe that the adoption of some socialist ideals could improve their country.”