I confess I never really got into “Monopoly”. The game struck me as long and tedious and teaching the wrong messages about the economy. Or maybe it was just my communist upbringing dominated by the militaristic “Battleships” and the rather strangely named “Chinaman”, where you race your pieces around the board against three other players, whose piece is sent back to the start when your piece manages to land on the same field – arguably a quintessentially socialist game which dictates no mercy in your own battle to survive.
So I won’t be buying this one either:
A right-wing parody version of the classic board game Monopoly mocking socialism has gone on sale, amusing and outraging those on both sides of the political spectrum.
With the tagline ‘winning is for capitalists’, the scathing game offers players the chance to contribute to community projects instead of buying properties.
Instead of the classic tokens such as an iron, a dog and a boot, the socialist version is played with a typewriter, an old-fashioned phone, a pocket watch, a phonograph, and a CRT Television.
The board game, which is being sold for $19.99 at Target, replaces iconic city locations with the ‘healthcare for all hospital’ and the ‘we’re all winners school’.
Target’s website states: ‘In the Monopoly Socialism game players move around the board working together to make a better community by managing and contributing to projects such as a no-tip vegan restaurant, an all-winners school, or a museum of co-creation. But nobody said that cooperation is easy!
‘Drawing a Chance card presents the flip side of striving for the perfect utopian society.
‘You’ll have issues with your neighbors, your DIY community projects go awry, you’re constantly voting to shake things up, and there’s always an emergency that requires dipping into the Community Fund!
Lots of socialist-friendly people are upset that the game makers parody socialism without any understanding of the doctrine itself, like this guy:
I bought a copy of Hasbro's mean-spirited and woefully ill-informed "MONOPOLY: SOCIALISM" board game so you don't have to – a thread 1/ pic.twitter.com/YhZWDjkAnj
— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) August 21, 2019
As someone with a lived experience of “real socialism” (“realny socjalizm” in Polish), my criticism is that the game is actually not realistic enough. Socialism, as a doctrine that does not work outside of textbooks, presents a creative problem for game designers – after all, who would want to play a game that doesn’t work according to its rules? Related, though far more exciting for the American market would be variants like “Monopoly: San Francisco”, where the woke techno-elites price everyone out of the market, creating their private corners of utopia, while the board gets buried under excrement, used needles and homeless tents, or “Monopoly: Baltimore” where the players can discover for themselves the joys of urban life under the corrupt Democrat Party machine, which has turned the city into a wasteland (live rats not included).
If you want to have a real “Monopoly: Socialism”, these are the aspects that have to feature in the game:
1. All the land is actually owned by the state; at best you can rent, and you have to wait a few hundred journeys around the board until you have a chance to
2. Money is scarce and worth little at the same time because there is not much you can spend it on apart from necessities
3. Price of anything is meaningless as a conveyor of information as it’s divorced from considerations of supply and demand
4. “The bank” keeps on printing money and/or borrows it from outside, but not that you get to see much of it
5. Those who are vocal about not liking the game get sent to jail
6. Construction is not conducted on rational basis such as need, demand or economic return but instead prestige, propaganda or fulfilling a central plan that rarely bears connection with reality
7. Shortages are endemic and appearance of any goods is more or less random
8. Cooperation is compulsory
9. Resources are squandered through waste, mismanagement, corruption, stupidity and wrong priorities
10. When everything is owned by “everyone” it’s owned by no one – and it shows
11. Quality is shoddy on the account of scarcity of resources and the divorcing of effort from reward
12. The state and its apparatus are the only winners in the end
And thank your lucky stars you’re not playing the version where half the board gets demolished to make room for the Leader’s mad scheme of self-aggrandisement and most players end up starving to death or sent to play “Monopoly: Gulag”.
“Monopoly” was originally designed to mock (or educate the public about the dangers of) monopolistic ownership. It’s unrealistic because thanks to human ingenuity, technological development and general progress no resource in practical terms is limited and finite, not even land. Furthermore, wealth is not constant; it gets constantly created and recreated (under the right circumstances). Ironically, the truest monopolists of the modern era have been socialist governments, while capitalism, however imperfect, has produced unparalleled prosperity and opportunity for the greatest number of people in history. There are some good games to be made out of this, but neither “Monopoly” or “Monopoly: Socialism” are it.
(Hat tip: Maria)