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Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Game With No Winners

I love monopoly. I love weeding out my business-savvy relatives from the bleeding hearts, weaseling my way into deals and trades in the name of property acquisition.

When I saw the headline for 'Queue', the "communist monopoly" game, I became excited. As one article reads:
"Officials at the Research Institute in Poland have come up with the concept, which will see players tasked with buying a list of essential items like bread and toilet paper. Rather than try to force other players into bankruptcy, though, Queue will encourage them to line up in an orderly fashion to get into state-owned shops.

Still, the game's creator Karol Madaj believes it will be a valuable educational tool - and fun too... probably. 'The game not only makes players understand shopping in Poland under communism. It also teaches them what queueing is like - something people seem to have forgotten,' he said. .... Instead of Chance and Community Chest, players will draw wild cards that can be positive - getting them sent to the front of the queue because of a Communist Party connection - or negative, such as seeing a shop closed down for 'decadence'.

The concept is clever, I get it. Though it doesn't sound like much fun, after all - under communism - nobody was really a "winner." There is a problem with the way my generation remembers communism (see also: the 'Ostalgie' phenomenon in Germany) and a way to rectify that would be.... optimal. However, much as I did not learn about the nature of capitalism from playing a simple board game (I know many a statist who I'm sure owns a monopoly set), and I don't think a kitschy take on communist living through plastic pieces will convey the terror and misery affiliated with collectivism necessary to "bring home" the message. (Unless it is played with a gun to one's head.) For that, I would read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's ... anything, Anne Applebaum's 'Gulag: A History,' Koestler's 'Darkness at Noon', watch 'Das Leben der Anderen', etc. etc.

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  1. Just another game. Probably not as bad as some of the video game stuff.
    As for 'terror & misery', that, IMO,
    is a result of totalitarianism. Consider the success of some of the European socialist societies, esp.
    the Nordic places. They are democracies with an advantage totalitarian states don't have....
    free elections...free to change to
    laissez faire systems, should they
    become victims of 'terror & misery.

  2. And, for those who don't read much, but who still might like a snapshot of what it was like under, say, the Stasi in the GDR, watch "The Lives of Others" . . . "Das Leben der Anderen.

    The year was 1984.

    Perhaps,as some have said, there really could have been no Wiesler, but . . .