This is what Germans really think about capitalism

Jörg Luyken
Jörg Luyken - [email protected]
This is what Germans really think about capitalism
A 2011 anti-capitalism demonstration in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Despite the turbulence of the Weimar years, Germany has followed a steady capitalist economic model since the end of the Second World War. But that doesn’t mean people like the idea, a new study shows.


Contrary to the US, where belief in capitalism is as entrenched as hot dogs and baseball, Germany has always had a more complicated relationship to the philosophy of competitive markets. This is after all the country that gave us the founding communist thinkers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

And a study published by Statista and YouGov on Tuesday shows that only 16 percent of Germans believe capitalism to be something that is on the whole positive. At the same time, 27 percent of Germans have an ambivalent attitude to the economic model, while 52 percent see it as a bad thing.

Six in every ten respondents said that they believed that capitalism is a system whereby the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer. Similarly 41 percent said that capitalism involved the exploitation of the poor. Twenty-one percent of respondents also believed that unfair competition was intrinsic to capitalism.

But there were some positive attitudes expressed towards the economic model.

Some 32 percent of Germans said that capitalism gave people with good ideas the opportunity to become rich. Meanwhile a quarter of respondents said that capitalism provided a country with economic opportunities.

The scepticism of the Germans towards the means of production lying in private hands is hardly reflected in their voting choices, though. Of the five parties currently represented in the Bundestag (German parliament), only Die Linke (The Left Party) are staunch critics of capitalism. Die Linke, while the official opposition, only hold 64 seats in the 631 seat chamber.


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