Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How I Became a Communist and Then Nearly Unbecame One Again, But Didn't

Goes to the cradle of free-market enterprise and becomes a filthy red? Mad, eh?

So here's what happened: after prancing around in the Washington Square Park fountain in a state of partial undress for some time, I became sombre, and felt an unquenchable desire to foster my oft-ignored intellectual side. As Alex, Katie and I shuffled damply out of the park, I spotted a crazy old hippie/Vietnam vet with a book stand on the street. He had a spectacularly well-chosen selection. It wasn't labelled, but it had clearly been chosen and arranged by someone with a broad and deep knowledge (must have done UCD Horizons). It's a bit tragic that a guy who appears to have had a higher-than-degree-level education now has like four teeth and no haircuts ever.

I bought Utopia by Sir Thomas More and Lady Chatterly's Lover (not really appropriate for reading behind the desk at work, I discovered today) by DH Lawrence. Utopia is named for the ideal society that the text details. In it, there are no property rights; no-one owns anything. Everyone does six hours work a day, at the level they are capable of working, and takes what they need. Nobody does stupid pointless shit (the examples of jewellers and bankers are given), so with all the extra labour directed towards useful production, there's a surplus of the necessities even though no-one works excessively hard. People are educated from their youth in the values of the society: no value is placed on status symbols. Everyone shares, has enough, gets along, and we all have a fun time.

I know it's easy to throw up counter-arguments to this: "Yeah, the USSR was deadly, let's have that again", "Without higher pay, what motivates the clever and hardworking to compensate for the stupid and lazy?"; that kind of stuff. I accept that there are imperfections to the idea, but it's such a good idea; it would be so much better to live there, that we should actually do it. I guess setting up communes that people can join voluntarily would be a good way to start. I think good will and enthusiasm would get us over a lot of the problems. In a city where some people have five serfs doing their laundry (see last post), while other people say they're going to use the social welfare payment increase to buy more detergent (NY Times last week), I think that radical ideas like this should be given more of an opportunity to work.

Then, on the way to work, I popped in to Tom Ford (across from Juicy and Chloe, one down from Prada) and it was gorgeous. Now, I don't consider myself one to be easily overawed by shops - I can take BT or leave it - but this place is opulent. I felt like I should have been tiptoeing around. Every shirt, every bow tie, every alligator skin (really) was luxurious, tasteful and beautiful. The store was designed by gods and staffed by angels. I realise that in Commieland, places like this won't exist, because we'll all have the good sense to realise that it's just a shirt, it doesn't do anything, it's not - in any meaningful sense - better than one that costs 10% of the price.

So there was a touch of internal conflict, but I've decided that I'd rather live in a society where everyone has a bit of sense, and enough stuff to get them up Maslow's Ladder, than the one we live in now where the poor are strangled by a lack of resources and the priveleged are blinded by a surfeit.

No comments:

Post a Comment