Satire — August 8, 2018, 10:12 am

The Festivals of Full Communism

The fate of fêtes: practical proposals for post-revolution jubilees

The abolition of capitalism and the emergence of full communism will inevitably lead to new forms of celebration. It will take some time for this new culture to flourish. You may have ideas of your own, and I encourage you to do what you like—a big part of full communism is doing whatever you think is best. I simply wish to share some of my favorite celebrations that will take place under the new regime.

Bank Holiday

On each Bank Holiday, children are asked to perform certain collective chores. In exchange, they receive souvenirs of old bank notes or coins. Storytellers recount folktales to kids about how people used to have to work for money, as opposed to working only because they felt like helping. After these spooky stories, children have a special feast in memory of class society.

Border Week

At the start of Border Week, each city is divided into color-coded districts. You are expected to wear purple in the purple sector, for instance, and blue in the blue sector. These colors represent different countries, which people now believe were once like families that were angry at other families. If you are a purple person and you wander into the blue sector, people will gently tease you and tell you that you belong elsewhere. No one takes it too seriously. At the end of Border Week, everyone gathers for big feasts to celebrate the end of borders.

Children’s Parliament

At the start of one month, all the children in a city can vote for which of their friends will go to Children’s Parliament. In an old government building, these kid representatives dress up like politicians and make some funny laws. The laws are things such as: “All grown-ups must bow before any child they see on the street.” Adults who refuse to follow the laws for that month are teased and called bad sports.

Work Week

In the lead up to Work Week, friends make elaborate preparations to avoid doing any chores for the duration of the holiday. For seven days, most people simply lounge and play. Complicated contraptions, usually involving conveyer belts, are set in motion to provide a mobile buffet. If I’m lucky enough to live in full communism as an old man, I am most looking forward to Work Week.

Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, society takes a moment to pause and remember the horrors of war. No one living in full communism remembers war, however, so the whole thing is fairly confusing. War seems to have involved punching others out of anger, or something like that. Except they fought with tools and vehicles. It’s all a bit strange. It seems respectful to hold Memorial Day anyway, although no one is quite sure why.

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“The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip,” Ronald Reagan said in 1989. He was speaking to a thousand British notables in London’s historic Guildhall, several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan proclaimed that the world was on the precipice of “a new era in human history,” one that would bring “peace and freedom for all.” Communism was crumbling, just as fascism had before it. Liberal democracies would soon encircle the globe, thanks to the innovations of Silicon Valley. “I believe,” he said, “that more than armies, more than diplomacy, more than the best intentions of democratic nations, the communications revolution will be the greatest force for the advancement of human freedom the world has ever seen.”

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[caption id="attachment_271890" align="aligncenter" width="690"]True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images. True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images.[/caption]

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A multiple-exposure photograph (detail) taken every hour from 1:30 pm on December 8, 1965, to 10:10 am on December 9, 1965, showing the sun in its orbit above the South Pole, Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station © Georg Gerster/Panos Pictures
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The prepositions you’re most likely to encounter after the title of a poem are “for” or “to” and sometimes “after”—“for my daughter”; “to Bobby”; “after Pound”; etc. They signify dedication, address, homage, imitation. In the recent poems of Fred Moten, we encounter “with,” a preposition that denotes accompaniment. The little difference makes a big difference, emphasizing collaboration over the economy of the gift, suggesting that the poet and his company are fellow travelers, in the same time zone, alongside each other in the present tense of composition. (Given Moten’s acclaimed critical work on jazz, the “with” is immediately evocative of musical performance, e.g., “Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins.”) Not all “withs” are the same—there is a different intimacy in the poem “fifty little springs,” which is “with aviva,” Moten’s wife’s Hebrew name (which means springtime), than there is in “resistances,” which is “with” a critic and an artist, interlocutors of Moten’s. (The poem “13. southern pear trees” has no preposition after the title, but is excerpted from another responding to the work of Zoe Leonard, and so is still a work of fellowship.) The scale of that “with” can be small (“with aviva, as if we were all alone”) or vast (“with everybody we don’t know”), but either way the poem becomes an instance of alongsidedness instead of belatedness; the poems request, with that subtle prepositional shift, that we think of ourselves as participants in the production of meaning and not mere recipients of someone else’s eloquence.

“Untitled,” 1989, by Zoe Leonard © Zoe Leonard (detail)

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