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Playing Monopoly using the Theories of Class Struggle by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Updated on December 5, 2015

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are both well known for their bourgeoisie ideals and how those ideals play out in modern society. With that said, their theories can be directly paralleled, not only in the modern world, but in the modern game of Monopoly, as well. To that end, a round of Monopoly has been played, and the results will be analyzed in regards to the theories of Marx and Engels based upon their essay, “Class Struggle.”

The Round of Monopoly

The game of Monopoly began with four players: Player One: Ru Fang, Player Two: Jose, Player Three: Me, and Player Four: Reynai. In the beginning, each were given different starting amounts, Player One received $2,000, Player Two received $1,500, Player Three received $1,000, and Player Four received $500. During the game, $40 was taken from Player Four and Player Three and given to players Player One and Player Two. Then, Player Two and Player Four were told to switch properties. By the end, Player One ended with $4,030, Player Two with $2,442, Player Three with $1,319, and Player Four with $1,024. Player One was named the ultimate champion. But, was the game determined from the very beginning? The player that started with the most funding, ended with the most; and the player who started with the least, ended with the least. Never did any break free from the confines of positions one through four. Even more, when additional elements were added to the game (the transfer of funds and property), still, none of the players were able to rise out of their given positions.

The Class Struggle Theory of Marx and Engels

In the essay, “Class Struggle,” a theory is discussed which implies that the “history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (Lemert, 37). Essentially, the authors are saying that the class-based society that exists today can be based purely upon the history of how those classes were formed and the struggles that transpired as a result. Indeed, even now, two classes exist: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Essentially, these terms break down to signify that there is an eternal struggle between the rich (the bourgeoisie) and the poor, or working class (the proletariat). The essay itself focuses on the ideals in which the bourgeoisie brought feudalism to its knees, and, in essence, “called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons—the modern working class—the proletarians” (41). However, the proletarians can never rise above their class based upon the very conditions that give them work, for, as Marx and Engels say, the minute a working man gets his wages, “he is set upon by the… the landlord, the shopkeeper, [and] the pawnbroker” (41). And, it is because of this that the working class is always living paycheck to paycheck, never able to make enough to move above the station they have been given.

Outcome of the Game was Predestined

As for the real-life game of Monopoly, much can be said about the way in which a class-based society determines the ultimate outcome of a situation. If players One and Two were of the bourgeoisie and players Three and Four were proletarians, the outcome of the game was arbitrarily destined before money was even handed out.

Basing an analysis of a real-life game of Monopoly upon the class-based rules of “Class Struggle” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels has shown that the confines predetermined before life (or game) begin sets in motion the destiny that will be carried out. Further, even if Player Four had gained more finances than Player One, there would have been some random event in which he had to give over half of his money (for rent, for food, etc) simply because that is the way of class systems. And, based upon this study, the order in which a working man (or player) is set, ultimately determines his final value.

Reference

Lemert, Charles. Ed. Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999.

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      Old Poolman 

      2 years ago

      I found this interesting reading, and food for thought. I believe the monopoly game as you described is pretty much just the way it is. There are a few exceptions who are able to break out of the class they were born in and rise above, but for the most part they are stuck where they are.

      This was a really good way to describe the game of life.

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