"Communism doesn’t work because people like to own stuff."
- Frank Zappa
If I were forced to choose the one single attribute that I admire most in my children, an attribute in the common thread of our family vine, irrespective of any DNA that we might or might not share, it would be their stubborn individualism. For example, Anna is convinced that aliens from distant galaxies continue to visit and inhabit this planet, regardless of my belief that no alien in their right mind would care anything about a planet such as ours, that to them we would be less exciting than a snail race. Juan cares nothing for literature, philosophy, or anything serious enough to require skepticism, he believes that the human race can fix itself if they just lighten up and have some fun; I am pretty sure at this point that our purpose on this planet it to destroy it. Sharon believes in the supernatural, ghosts and what not, while I am far too cynical to seriously think that the spirits of the dead enjoy roaming the planet and scaring the crap out of the living.
Even Joshua, in the course of only a couple of days, has managed to convince me that my kids have done a good job of forming their own unique opinions about the nature of everything. We were talking last night between other diversions, including the rain and the loud fireworks, and arrived at the topic of capitalism, socialism, and communism.
"Communism can only work on a global scale," he told me.
"How’s that?" I asked, surprised by the statement more than anything else.
"Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in communism or anything, but if the entire world embraced communism, then it could work, but only if everyone would commit themselves. Otherwise, it would fail as it always has," he said.
"I completely disagree," I told him.
I began too specifically, and abruptly stopped, opting for a more simple explanation that could work up to specifics.
"Communism goes completely against human nature," I said.
Joshua wasn’t interested in having his mind changed, rather than understanding my statement. I told him that in communism, the individual has no place in society, that there is no uniqueness. People are not truly equal, and while communism might acknowledge and account for the ways and means by which people are not equal, it contradicts itself by demanding that unique individuals must take a back seat to the collective entity. Even Bob the Communist, however Marxist he claims to be, isn’t likely to give up his brand new Yugo just because the State has told him that some beet farmer from Georgia needs a way to get from his collective farm to his State issued apartment in a distant city. Eventually, enough people get pissed off and start hiding their eggs from the State tax collector, and before you know it, you’re right back somewhere in-between the dark ages and the renaissance. Corruption is the only way to save your Yugo, and the truly poor can’t even afford toilet paper.
The black market is the only place where anyone can purchase items other than what the State wishes them to have. And the black market is capitalism at it’s finest, supply and demand set the prices and the Government has no say in how any of it runs. If communism on any level is supposed to be an alternative to capitalism, then it defeats its own purpose because eventually communism will spawn capitalism to fill the voids that are caused by human nature. I went on and on.
"Capitalism can be ugly," I said. "So can human nature."
"Sure," he nodded. "So what about socialism?"
Everyone is still asleep. I woke up at seven and turned on the radio, made some coffee, and turned on this machine. The rain has stopped, and the crisp of the morning makes its way into my robe if I turn the wrong way from the space heater at my feet. I’m thinking about yesterday, when I took Joshua and Juan up to eat some tacos de birria, at one point while we were enjoying our tacos, the taquero turned to me as he pointed to my sons.
"Hermanos?" he asked.
They look nothing alike, these two, and even as I nodded to affirm that they were indeed brothers while not bothering to mention that Juan and Joshua have two entirely different sets of parents by blood, it occurred to me that they act like brothers. The long lost kind of brothers.
Even now, from this keyboard I peer into a bedroom and can see Joshua’s sleeping face on the bottom bunk and Juan’s feet on the top bunk, and I wonder if they are dreaming the same dream. How can two young men be separated since childhood and within two days become the brothers that I had always hoped that they would become? How is it possible that my sons could have come from such different circumstances and reunite ten years later, only to discover that their difference is reason to celebrate and their past distance can be made up over something as simple as a beer and a taco?
Maybe Sharon has a point about the supernatural. Maybe Anna’s aliens have something to do with this.
Or maybe I am just one lucky bastard.
Juan is going out tonight, to the Tijuana nightclubs with his friends. He wants to take Joshua.
"Dad, it’ll be okay, I can get him in," Juan pleaded last night.
"I know," I said. "But look, he’s seventeen. Next leave, you two can go clubbing every night if you want to. He’ll be eighteen by then, I’d rather it be entirely legal."
"Actually, he can go if I go with them," Rocio chimed in, in English.
Everyone laughed. Juan conceded defeat, Joshua will stay here with us.
While Juan is out, me and Joshua can use the time to discuss the drawbacks of socialism in the twenty-first century.
Or else, maybe we’ll play Monopoly.