Christmas is a time when friends and families gather together to share time and food. In addition to singing and acting out charades, a popular activity at these times is playing board games. Most of these are of the 'zero-sum' type: there is a winner, and the rest are losers. And of this type Monopoly is perhaps the most well-known.
First marketed in 1935 by Parker Bros. in the US, Monopoly has entertained, or driven to boredom, generation after generation of youngsters. At the same time, the playing of the game has promoted the philosophy of self-interest that underlies corporate capitalism. Less well known is the fact that Monopoly was pirated from a series of 'Landlord's; Games' drawn up in Quaker households across the US and elsewhere. The purpose of the original games was to discuss and explore local 'win-win' alternatives to the one-size-fits-all corporate economy. Maggie McGee is put down as the sole inventor of the original Landlord's Game. This was in no way the case. A little research will reveal many versions of the game were created in many different towns and cities over the course of the first two decades of the 20th century. Many sought to explain the economist Henry George's Single Land Tax proposals, whilst others explored the work of other economic philosophers. .
See, for example, Brer Fox 'n Brer Rabbit a version of the Landlord's Game marketed in Scotland as a children's game in 1913. See my article Towards a Threefold Commonwealth New View Issue 98 Winter 2020-21 for a link to this game.
The challenge is to focus attention on Monopoly, as it is played in these present, troubled times.. Where does the money come from? Who makes it? Who holds it during the game of Monopoly? In real life? How might every community have its own public bank?
Plenty of food for thought as the year ends and we sail into 2023.