Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Here's Monopoly: Socialism, a primer on socialism by dipshits, for dipshits

Photo: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

The people who own Monopoly, a board game that everyone plays and nobody really seems to like all that much, are always trying to find ways to broaden its appeal. Hasbro has, in the past, allowed the internet to vote on new game pieces, tried to get a board game musical going on Broadway, occasionally says stuff about making a movie, and puts out themed versions of Monopoly that range from harmless pop culture tie-ins to ill-conceived junk like Monopoly For Millennials.

Not content merely to release the millennial version (whose box features the Monopoly Man wearing a participation ribbon above a tagline that reads, “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway”), Hasbro has one-upped itself with something even worse: Monopoly: Socialism.

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Historian Nick Kapur has fallen on our collective (collectivist?) sword by running down a detailed list of the officially-licensed, braindead parody in a long Twitter thread that does a great job of pointing out the myriads ways in which it sucks.

Kapur sets himself a big task by trying to identify the head-spinning misunderstanding of socialism Hasbro has put forth here. He mentions how it draws on old-fashioned, Cold War-era iconography, denigrates universal health care, and, for whatever reason, veganism and environmentalism, and models “socialist” tax collection and social benefits as processes wherein people pay into a meager community fund and spend on taxes that go to the bank rather than back toward the public.

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There’s a lot to go through, and Kapur seems to hit most of it with an appropriate level of bewilderment. For instance: Minimum wage increases that players send directly to the bank and chance cards where voting is implied to be something socialists do to fuck with private enterprise.

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He also hits on the bizarre turn of events that’s now seen Monopoly, a game whose roots lie in a satire of capitalism, having ended up, in 2019, trying and failing to parody socialism.

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Though billed as a parody, the game is pretty inept at doing much else than updating Red Scare propaganda for a modern audience. Not having been designed with much or any knowledge about what socialism actually is, it’s not so much a cutting counterargument as it is a bizarre artifact-in-waiting of how socialist economics and policy are willfully misunderstood in the modern day by people who are probably still worried about what Stalin is up to over there in the evil empire of Russia.

That said, we’re sure Fox News hosts will think it’s hilarious satire, so Monopoly: Socialism’s got that going for it at least.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.