Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Mansions in a Cluster

Finally, when all capital, all production, all exchange have been brought together in the hands of the nation, private property will disappear of its own accord, money will become superfluous, and production will so expand and man so change that society will be able to slough off whatever of its old economic habits may remain.
     [Friedrich Engels, Principles of Communism, Section 18, link]

The definition of “communism” as a social system based on collective ownership predates Engels’ writings by a few years, but in Engels’ hands that thought is expressed in a much more fulsome manner.

Today’s “The New York Times Magazine” features a brief article with pictures titled “Let A Hundred McMansions Bloom.” The big spread shows more than 60 huge mansions clustered tightly together in a relative small wooded area near Shanghai. The mansion all look alike; to be sure, some have red and some have grey roofs. The biggest cost around $1.5 million and have 6,300 square feet. Roughly half are as yet unsold, others are used as second homes. This link might work to show the picture.

This reminded me that at right regular intervals one must make a conscious effort to redefine the meaning of words when applied to specific situations. It’s certainly erroneous to speak of China as a “communist” country merely because it is ruled by an elite that calls itself the Communist Party.

Some years ago now, when we were looking for a new house in the general area where we live now, we encountered a very similar development. The mansions, to be sure, ranged in price from $500,000 to about $1.2 million. They were tightly packed, cheek to jowl. These were virtually all occupied so that we saw lots of people. They were predominantly of East Indian backgrounds. Curious.

The longer I live, the more the world morphs—perhaps to make departure much less painful, I suppose.

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