Quite so, quite so

Is Vassa a political play, then? For Craig, it is more about family and how politics can muddy the waters. “One thing Mike and I talked about a lot is that families are mostly based on a kind of socialist structure when they work. Which is to say that everyone is considered to be equal; if people are worse off for whatever reason we help them out; there’s a leader but the leader is there to make sure everyone is elevated; we share. In a nice, good family all those things are in place, right? We don’t have favourites, there’s equity, there’s equality, and we like that in families.” In Vassa, however, the central family “have drifted into a capitalist structure, essentially. So there are winners and there are losers, and gains and losses, and they are like ‘Are you useful to me or not?’ Which is a question in the capitalist world, [and] how capitalism fucks over loads of people. So you’re looking at a family who have rejected the socialist structure. What does that do? And can you sustain it? The answer, I think, is no.”

The important point here being that the socialist structure doesn’t work when expanded out to beyond the family, to those who are not so genetically intertwined. That being the useful insight that lefties simply don’t get.

As with AG Cohen’s (hmm, might not be the right name) and his description of socialism as being like going camping. OK, great, and why not? That description rather glossing over the point that everyone who has gone on the camping trip has decided, at the start, to go off on the camping trip and do the sharing. Imposed camping and sharing works about as well as when Pol Pot tried it.

26 comments on “Quite so, quite so

  1. The socialist family is more like a welfare state as there is no equality of input. The most young kids will do is take out the trash or empty the dishwasher. When they are not students and have a job, they might pitch in a tenner for board (we brought our four kids up to expect to leave home once we’ve paid their way through their first degree).

  2. Long time lurker – first time commenter:

    Nearly there with the author: It was G. A. Cohen in his book “Why not Socialism?” with the camping analogy.

  3. families are mostly based on a kind of socialist structure [in which] everyone is considered to be equal

    Only child hogs the remote.

  4. So many people have romanticised conceptions of family life. In reality, there are some families that might work like some Chinese communal farm but I bet the majority don’t. And you can always assume that individual interests will diverge and become incompatible. Sometimes differences can be contained, in the interests of family unity and harmony but mostly people go away and do their own thing. Anyone who has witnessed the tensions that exist in family-run companies, or in other family-style structures, such as partnerships, common rooms etc will attest to this. The internal bickering can be totally poisonous. Maybe this author should look at a play set in an agrarian, matriarchal society and try to work that out in crappy Marxian terms – Lorca’s “House of Bernarda Alba”

  5. For Marxists, everything is political, which is what makes it such a useless philosophy if you actually want to understand things.

  6. Families aren’t like socialism. Under socialism people do as they’re told.

    Yes, any dissenters are shot under Socialism, so another fairly big difference.

  7. I’d seriously question the idea that families promote equality. It’s not how they seem to function. Parents prioritise the kids over themselves. A disproportionate amount of resources will be devoted to a family member with problems. Or conversely, those with exceptional talents. Families tend to optimise utility for the family, not the individual. They’re more capitalist than socialist.

  8. “The day Vassa opens, Craig begins her next job: Cinderella, the pantomine at the Lyric Hammersmith. Why panto? “I have done a lot of plays recently that have dealt in one way or another with trauma,,” (cont p.94)

    Tinuke can’t say it can she? or maybe she did and the Journo cut it out. Everyone does panto for the money and usually they’re quite open about it.

  9. Hallowed Be,
    Quite. I know a British actor famous in the 1970s and who still is a familiar name for people of a certain age. He is not one of the biggest stars of panto but three months or so of the year in panto is enough to keep him for the rest of the year, especially as he lives in a less expensive country now. Any other acting work is a bonus.
    The headliners will be making much more.

  10. “Families tend to optimise utility for the family, not the individual. They’re more capitalist than socialist.”

    Surely more communist than capitalist – for the collective over the individual?

  11. Families? Epitome of the patriarchy. Nothing good about that, in political terms. Because there is no read-across between the home and the nation.

  12. Well let’s look at some critical elements of the operation of a family that nurtures children into functioning, useful members of a wider society.

    1) the parents are in charge
    There may be discussion, and the parents may elect not to make too much of a fuss, on this occasion, about teenage girl going out “dressed like that”, but on balance they are in charge.

    If there arises a really serious difference of opinion about something, the parents will enforce their will.

    2) there is little democracy
    See 1) above. the parents are in charge. They are not elected by the family. The parents may ask for suggestions in many cases (what to have for supper, what film to watch at the weekend), but for really fundamental things, they decide. The younger the children, the less say they have.

    3) spongers suffer social approbrium
    Children help with clearing up after meals etc.
    As teenagers, their feet are held to the fire about homework and the need to get good grades to ensure they have options for later life.
    Once grown up, they have to make their own way. They may well get support from the “bank of Mum And Dad”, but if they draw from that source and then let the property decay or they crash their car, they will not be looked on favourably for help with being bailed out.

    In short, so far as families are socialist in nature, they are also heavily authoritarian. Who knew?

  13. In a nice, good family all those things are in place, right? We don’t have favourites, there’s equity, there’s equality, and we like that in families.

    These are those middle-class families where the kids are uncontrollable when young and substance abusers in their late teens. They then become ‘journalists’ and inflict their hell upon the rest of us.

  14. good on him, a good position to be in. I go to the local amateur one but its still the same deal… it funds the whole of the rest of their season.

  15. In a nice, good family all those things are in place, right? We don’t have favourites, there’s equity, there’s equality, and we like that in families.

    Middle-class woman in supermarket, talking to four-year old: “Do you want this for dinner tonight? No, OK. What about this? No? Hmm. This then? Come on, darling, please”

  16. @The Pedant-General

    approbrium? With an “A”?

    You risk being sent back to the ranks of pedantry for that!

  17. @PF “Surely more communist than capitalist – for the collective over the individual?”

    I’m not sure there are major differences of the two systems at certain levels. Communism doesn’t necessarily imply socialism. Certainly doesn’t in any worked examples. Capitalism doesn’t necessarily imply liberalism.or individualism
    Capitalism is more likely to produce liberalism & individualism. But it’s not the purpose.

  18. The only similarity between the family and socialism is that they both require a well functioning free market capitalist society around them in order to function and prosper.

  19. TMB,

    I was about to write that I am such a failure, but that wouldn’t be true: it’s my parents’ fault. 🙂

    Oddly enough, I did actually spot that smelling pistake the second the comment was submitted and displayed (I think there is a corollary to Muphry’s law about that), but of course by then it was too late.

    So it’s also our genial host’s fault for failing to provide a comment edit function. 🙂

  20. “Which is to say that everyone is considered to be equal;”

    Well, to start with, that is absolutely not true.

    Mommy and Daddy are not, at a minimum, rotating who gets the master bedroom with the private bath among the family members. The kids might get a say in what’s for dinner but its still the parent’s who are making the decision. And if mom or dad need to move for their career the kids are moving – – period. No discussion, just flat out being told this is happening.

    So families are communes, collectives, and if someone wants to call them ‘socialist’ it should only be if they recognize that socialist cultures have strict hierarchies and class systems.

  21. families are mostly based on a kind of socialist structure when they work. Which is to say that everyone is considered to be equal

    Bollocks, children are not equal to adults in family – unless it’s a dysfunctional family where children are pandered to/exploited; Greta & the Thunbergs

    Don’t see much socialism in a pride of lions

    Greta Thunberg without a script is stumped when asked what her message is
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGW5jW_WpVg

    I think this clip show very well how this girl is being used and abused and it should be called out.

    Greta sock puppet?

    .
    @TinChina October 9, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Thanks

    @The Pedant-General October 9, 2019 at 11:24 am
    @Rob October 9, 2019 at 11:27 am

    +1

    @Rob October 9, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Middle class Leftie woman

  22. ‘Are you useful to me or not? Which is a question in the capitalist world, [and] how capitalism fucks over loads of people.’

    A human attribute. Has nothing to do with economic system. No one, not even communists, want to work with a fuckoff or an idiot.

    Bridget Minamore doesn’t give a crap about families . . . she brings them up because YOU care.

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