The Spike or Victoria College Review 1942
Now, you learned economists, professors emeriti, aesthetic dabblers, and rabid revisionists, gather round, and I'll tell you all about a lovely game that you can play. It is called Aunt Marxengels. A peculiar name, you say? Ah, but it is a peculiar game. Aunt Marxengels is a very great improvement on the older game of Aunt Sally, on which it is based. In Aunt Sally, as you will all be aware, there is a large wooden head which stands above a ledge, some five feet from the ground, and you take a ball and throw it, and try to knock the head down, getting as a reward For your labours gifts in the shape of chocolates, coconuts, and cigarettes. Now this game, although very pleasant to play, has a number of very grave defects. In the first place, the head is usually made a bit too small so that you miss it more often than not, which is very wounding to your vanity especially if there are ladies present, and, if continued long enough, may cause very grave psychological ills to the organism. Secondly, Aunt Sally caters purely to the Death Impulse in mankind, manifested in the love of destruction shown by the player, and this tends to produce severe neuroses.
But Aunt Marxengels is a much nicer game. In this game, you build up the head yourself before you knock it down. And naturally, you make it pretty big so that unless you're a real dud you won't miss. So, in Aunt Marxengels, both the Death Impulse and the Life Impulse are provided for, and the psychological ailments resulting from the prolonged playing of Aunt Sally do not appear.
Let me explain a little more fully, in case some of you cannot understand. You take a piece of three-ply, and make out of it the rough shape of a head. You then get some paint, and put the likeness of features, hair and beard on it. And here is the opportune time to expound to you the first and perhaps the most important rule of Aunt Marxengels. You must on no account make the face look like the real Marxengels. If this rule is not very carefully followed, you won't be able to play the game at all.
What's that, Professor? Oh yes, there was a real Aunt Marxengels. Just as there was probably a real Aunt Sally, many years ago, before even you were thought of. She was a dangerous old lady, and her portrait is kept locked up among the State archives. It is, of course, because she was dangerous, that we use her likeness as a figure-head in this wonderful game.
('Frederick Engels . . . held the innocent notion that the (housing) problem would be solved eventually for the proletariat by a revolutionary seizure of the commodious quarters occupied by the bourgeoisie. This notion was . . . fantastically optimistic . . . extremely naive . .. an impotent gesture of revenge . . .'—Lewis Mumford, 'The Culture of Cities.'
'As it is not our task to create utopian systems for the arrangement of future society, it would be more than idle to go into the question (of the housing problem) here. But one thing is certain, there are already in existence sufficient buildings for dwellings in the big towns to remedy immediately any real "housing shortage," given rational utilisation of them'.—Frederick Engels,'The Housing Question.')
At this stage you might find a difficulty arising—indeed, I notice a few of you looking a little blanker than usual. I said that the first rule was that you should on no account make the face like that of the real Marxengels. And you're asking, in your customary pertinacious manner—how can we carry out this rule if we don't know what the real lady looked like? How can we avoid the dreadful danger of making a face by chance that just looks like her? Well, you needn't worry—that danger is easily overcome. When you're making the face, don't go right into it without a little thought. Don't give your imagination full play, but go around the fair-ground, and have a look at the Aunt Marxengels side-shows. You'll find they're all somewhat similar, the same beard, the same nose, and so on. Just stick to the general type, and you'll be all right. They've been play page 19 ing this game for a long time now, you know, and they've learned all the tricks.
('He (Marx) did not foresee the creation of a new white collar middle class'.—Arnold Lunn, 'Revolutionary Socialism'.
'In countries where modern civilisation has become fully developed, a new class of petty-bourgeois has been formed, fluctuating between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and ever renewing itself as a supplementary part of bourgois society'.—Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, 'Communist Manifesto'.)
And now you must learn the second rule of Aunt Marxengels, a rule which is almost as important as the first one, and infinitely more attractive. When you're constructing the face, make it as ugly as possible. The nose should be askew, the eyes should squint violently, the brow should be abnormally low, you need not worry at all about verisimilitude, because those who're going to watch you play know even less about the real lady than you do. And, after all, it's only a game, after all. Making the face deformed and twisted has a very wholesome psychological effect on the player. He feels within his Inner Self, or Psyche, that by striking something which is hideous, and knocking it down, he is assisting to wipe out some of the evil and violence which stalk through this world of ours to-day.
('When we come to look at history in detail, we find that its fits very ill into the ready-made framework of the (Marxist) . . . theories ... A thousand cross-currents deflect the stream . . . personal intrigues . . . love of power . . . religious enthusiasm . . . party strife . . . play a part in determining events.'—C. E. M. Joad, 'Philosophy of Morals and Polities'.
'The determining element in history is ultimately the production and reproduction in real life. More than this neither Marx nor I have ever asserted. If therefore someone twists this into the statement that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms it into a meaningless, abstract, and absurd phrase.'—Frederick Engels, 'Selected Correspondence of Marx and Engels'.)
The next rule is now to be learned. (Come on, now, listen to what I'm saying, and put that "Scruting" away.) It is rather a delightful rule, and attracts many people to the game. When you're throwing the balls, there is no real need to stand outside the prescribed barrier. You may, if you like, go inside the barrier, and fire at point blank range. This, of course, greatly enhances your chances of success. You can also, if you wish, use your neighbour's balls as well as your own, and you will find that he won't mind in the least. This sharing of resources, this socialisation, as it were, of the weapons of attack, conduces greatly to the popularity of the game, and infuses into it a spirit of cameraderie and good-fellowship which is stimulating in the extreme. (Please attend—that noise in the distance is only a bus.)
('There have been Marxian parties which seemed to have thought . . . (that) the victory of the workers ... is independent of our actions . . . Their attitude, although unreasonable, was probably quite strictly Marxian'.—Raymond Postgate, 'Karl Marx'.
'The philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways; the point, however, is how to change it'.—Karl Marx, 'Theses on Feurbach'.)
The last rule of this great and noble game is this: always look behind you before you throw the ball. (That bus does make a noise, doesn't it?) There are a number of malicious people who might try—I'm sorry I can't shout above that noise—its getting louder—where are you all going—God Almighty, it isn't a bus at all!
Ronald L. Meek