Monopoly – Stalin Rules!


Last weekend, I went to a book reading at the Elliott Bay Book Company. The author was Sunil Yapa and the book was Your Heart is a Muscle the size of a Fist, which is about the longest title that I’ve seen since Fiona Apple.

I was interested because the novel takes place during the Seattle WTO riots in 1999. I remember it vividly. It started off with young hippie types dancing around in turtle costumes, peacefully marching and blocking intersections. Anarchists (from that dreaded town, Eugene, Oregon) all dressed in black began to commit acts of vandalism. The mayor at the time, Paul Schell, himself an ex 60’s protester, tried to keep a lid on things but finally the police came in riot gear and tear gas, and rather brutally shut it down. The WTO meeting itself was cancelled.

So, the subject matter interested me. I first took a look at Yapa’s web page. It lists him as an MFA, a prestigious award winner and research assistant to a couple of writers, among other things. I kind of came in expecting a slightly pretentious ivory-tower elitist. He actually turned out to be a down to earth guy with a passion for social justice. It was an enjoyable evening.

His passion for public service obviously comes from his parents. His mother is a nurse and his father is a Marxist Geography professor, which I did not know was even a thing.

It goes without saying that he grew up in a very progressive home. He mentioned that they did not have the Monopoly board game, but actually had a Marxist version of Monopoly named Class Struggle.

I had never heard of this, so I determined that I must investigate. I did so and I did confirm that such a board game actually once existed!

Here are some highlights:

  • There are no players, only classes.  If you play with only two players, one player must be the worker class and the other must be the capitalist class.  There are other classes (ie farmers, students, small business owners, and professionals), but their primary role is to align with one of the two primary classes.
  • You cannot choose your class.  You’re assigned your class by throwing the luck of life die.
  • The game is rigged for the capitalist class.  For example, that class gets to roll first.
  • There is a nuclear war square. If the capitalist lands on it, the game is over.
  • There are revolution squares and general strike squares.
  • Throughout the game, the various classes acquire assets and debits. If one of the primary classes lands on the revolution square and calls for a confrontation, then all assets are added and all debits are subtracted for each class and their allied classes and whoever has the highest total wins.

Alas, they stopped making this game in 1984. Ironically enough, it’s still available on both eBay and Amazon (at the time of this writing) for hundreds of dollars.

The perfect kitsch gift for that retro commie in your life!


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