A cluster of musings around the word ‘class.’
Got into a discussion with a conservative person on Twitter regarding that person’s perception of “Marxist” tendencies in Van Jones (who became political collateral damage when Glenn Beck targeted him as such, and the Obama administration cut him loose from his Green Jobs Czar position). People have a really poor misunderstanding of what Marxism is, versus socialism, versus communism. When I questioned this conservative twitterer more closely, his three examples of socialist countries were China, North Korea, and Cuba.
Frustrated, I tweeted: People seem to think that socialism is any group of people who band together their resources for a united goal. No. This is Costco.
Hmmm, China’s stock exchange is red-hot profitable and the condo my parents bought in Shanghai has appreciated 400%, I told him.
As for North Korea and Cuba? Are we afraid of them? One ruled by a nutjob dictator who starves his own people and the other ruled by an anti-democratic political dynasty presiding over a tiny island nation that’s too small and too poor to really harm us?
He claimed socialism endangered democracy. I said, Look at Iran and their adulterated elections. It wasn’t socialism that endangered that election, it was theocracy and corruption. Just like theocracy and corruption endanger democracy in our country too.
How irrational, eh? Socialism/Marxism/communism is so scary it can be found in really only two examples out of all the countries on the planet, and yet it could take over our own.
Of course, it isn’t really about Marxism, is it? Because while Van Jones may no longer be a Marxist and instead is an eco-capitalist, he’s certainly still black. And that seems to be the problem for a lot of people.
After being indirectly accused of being a Marxist myself by this twitterer (because I defended Jones and you know how guilt by association works…), I thought it was ironic that in daily life my son is hugely enamored with that uber-capitalist game, Monopoly. We’ve played Deep Sea Creature Monopoly and Pokemon Monopoly for hours at a stretch, with some games lasting for days. It’s gotten to the point where I should’ve been bankrupt several times in many games thereby ending them, but my son the moneybags spots me a hundred or tells me I don’t have to pay him rent when I land on his properties.
Early on in this kick, Hiro Protagonist lost a few rounds and I could see his eyes well up and his lower lip tremble. It hurts to lose. I told him, “Monopoly’s a game of chance, not skill. See how we roll the dice? Everything depends on your luck. Sometimes it’s with you, other times against you.”
Now he’s a total board game pro. He shrugs off loss. When winning, he likes to flaunt his spoils. I have pointed out to him that in one respect, Monopoly’s a lot like life: if you get some good breaks and own expensive real estate, chances are you’ll build on that fortune. I.e., it’s good to be a landlord. W00t for passive income!
I do have to say, that child has incredible luck. I’ve watched him clean up the “lunch” money pot (you pay a small amount then go “have lunch” instead of going to jail in the younger kids’ version) with lucky rolls of the die time and time again. If I weren’t watching carefully I’d say he was cheating–but no, it’s true luck. In keeping with his Ladies Love Little Guy persona, Lady Luck also loves him. I think our plan to have him skip college and become a pro poker player might just work.
Also, his counting, adding, and subtracting skills have really improved; he can add 3 +5 or 6+ 4 in his head and move the appropriate number of spaces on the game board. He loves adding up his money.
In short, this pseudo-Marxist parent has a way capitalist son. I don’t think the twitterer trying to red-bait me would’ve seen the humor or the contradiction.
Recently some friends of our from Hiro’s old school had a terrible thing happen to them: they were out of town and some people broke into their house, had a party, and ended up burning down the living quarters of their beautiful old Spanish-style house. (I say house, but it was really a compound with a separate pool house. You get the drift.)
Their son and ours got to best buddies. We had playdates with them, we attended each others’ kid’s birthday parties. They’re very nice people and wear their good fortune lightly though it’s undeniable that they and we live in totally different social-economic strata. It’s not something they lord over people, nor is it something we try to dwell on either. It just is.
Mutual friends of ours immediately got together toys, clothes, and other donations. The family literally had nothing with them except what they’d brought on vacation. I thought long and hard about what to donate. Finally, it occurred to me that I could give them something they’d lost and that only I could give: pictures of their child with mine. Because if substantial parts of their house burned down while they were away, chances are all the mementos of their three kids were lost too.
I heard from the mom. Indeed all of their baby pictures were consumed in the fire. She wept when she found out what we had for them.