Socialism

Fun-Hating Socialist Magazine Jacobin Says PokemonGo Must Be Destroyed

Free-market capitalism, I choose you.

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Pikachu
Screenshot via Pokemon: The Movie / Nintendo / Youtube

Marxists of the 21st century (not an oxymoron; they exist) have identified a new threat to the glorious proletariat revolution: PokemonGo.

Of course, this is par for the course. The Soviet Union banned The Lord of the Rings. Leftist hero (and murderous thug) Che Guevara worked to suppress Jazz music in communist Cuba. The People's Republic of China censored Back to the Future because the regime thought that time travel undermined law and order. And on and on.

Now Marxist sympathizers at the socialist magazine Jacobin think the new Pokemon-themed iPhone app—which is currently being enjoyed by millions of people worldwide—should be "resisted."

Seriously:

For many critics, we're living out an apocalyptic scenario. This is about Pokémon Go, of course it's about Pokémon Go — how else could you describe a world in grown adults in their millions are milling about aimlessly, staring at their phones, collecting digital rats, reliving a stupid childhood, and shrinking all the while into inattentive sugar-zapped brats?

Author Sam Kriss takes care to note that PokemonGo could theoretically jibe with the Marxist worldview if it wasn't so consumerist and "indifferent to social existence." I'm excerpting a whole lot of text here, but the entire thing is really worth reading:

The power to actively impact this augmented reality belongs only to the company's executives, and the power of children's play has been subjected to another round of primitive accumulation and alienation. Our world does not become entirely other; instead, a new stratum is added to slot effortlessly into the tedium of daily life.

For the player of Pokémon Go, the injunction is to obey. Real human bodies are tamed and directed by dangling virtual lures: businesses can buy in-game items that will tempt customers into their establishments; the state could probably quell an uprising by scattering hundreds of rare Pokémon away from the central square. If they wanted to, the game's creators could send people leaping willingly off cliffs, dawdling on train tracks, running into forest fires.

It's a technology of biopolitics, something that speaks in one voice to the atomized millions and in its own small way helps to direct their lives. For the moment its injunctions are mild, but their mildness is that of the bourgeois ideal raised to an imperturbable universal.

The piece ends with a call to action:

Walk around. Explore your neighborhood. Visit the park. Take in the sights. Have your fun. Pokémon Go is coercion, authority, a command issuing from out of a blank universe, which blasts through social and political cleavages to finally catch 'em all. It must be resisted.

Ah, the juxtaposition of "fun" as the enemy of working class people, rather than something they probably enjoy (though they shouldn't—their little bouts of "fun" threaten the permanent revolution).

All joking side, Kriss's thinking here is limited in several important ways. First, he's wrong to assert that PokemonGo necessarily replaces unstructured playtime with obedience and drudgery. Kriss finds the world of PokemonGo limiting—it's just the regular world with Pokemon transposed onto it. But for a lot of kids, that will only be a starting point. They aren't going to simply go through the motions of PokemonGo for ever and ever. The app will lead them to explore new places, meet new people, and come up with new games. They won't just stare at their phones for eternity.

I'm somewhat confident in this prediction, given that I was in fifth grade last time Pokemon was really popular in the United States. It started with the Game Boy game, the television show, and the trading cards. Sure, the initial experience was scripted by the Pokemon corporate overlords. But eventually, this breaks down. At recess, and after school, my friends and I would often "play" Pokemon without any screens, cards, or Pokemon memorabilia at all. Sometimes our version of playing Pokemon overlapped with other established activities—like freeze tag, football, or hop scotch—and sometimes it blurred into totally unique imaginative games we had come up with.

And it's not just kids. My colleague Lenore Skenazy writes that playing PokemonGo for a few hours caused her to meet a bunch of different people she never would have spoken with otherwise. She reports on other adults encountering similar experiences here.

Socialists are evidently worried that PokemonGo's corporate masters have so much power to inspire people to move around, meet up, and visit local sites. If there's a good reason to be wary of this power, no one has come up with it yet.

To borrow (and modify) a popular phrase from the Pokemon universe: Free-market capitalism, I choose you!

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107 responses to “Fun-Hating Socialist Magazine Jacobin Says PokemonGo Must Be Destroyed

  1. could theoretically jive with the Marxist worldview

    jibe

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    2. I’m making over $15k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. Go to website and click toTech tab for more work details…Now this Website… http://www.Trends88.com

      1. I’m making over $15k a month

        Yes, but what level is your Pokemon?

        1. Now, that’s kind of a personal question, isn’t it?

    3. Excuse me stewardess, I speak jibe.

    4. Oh stewardess, I speak jibe.

      1. Damn squirrels.

  2. Hey, I finally agree with them on something.

  3. grown adults

    It’s ok if midgets do it though.

  4. Reason! Free Market. Period.

    Whether it is a capitalistic one or not is not a libertarian principle.
    And Reason only invites distrust by trying to state that is its view.

  5. The Pokeman Go thing (and Ingress, of course) reminds me of Rainbows End, which is my least favorite Vinge novel that I have read.

    1. I missed The Children of the Sky. Have a purchase to make.

      A zones of thought novel I havent read? How did that happen?

      1. I actually took Ranbows End off the shelf as a prop talking to the father-in-law about this over the weekend.

        Re: Children of the Sky. Prepare to be disappointed. It’s half a book.

        1. Second. I found with Children of the Sky that many of the character’s decisions did not make sense in the context of their motivations and previously displayed behavior.

    2. Yes! This whole thing has been reminding me of that book. The future is here.

  6. Che Guevara worked to suppress Jazz music in communist Cuba.

    There was always something about that fucker that *rubbed me the wrong way*.

    1. You who else worked to his suppress jazz music in the country he ruthlessly ran?

  7. I’m excerpting a whole lot of text here

    And I’m guessing it’s no different than what you’ve quoted: a whole lot of words saying nothing.

    1. It’s a clusterfuck of emotional language.

      and the power of children’s play has been subjected to another round of primitive accumulation and alienation

      Get that? Accumulating wealth is for the unenlightened primitives. And somehow meeting people is alienation.

      1. I think what you meant to say was accumulating privilege.

  8. [Fun?] fact: The pokemon world as portrayed in the anime is a utopian socialist society. Everyone does what they’re best at, there’s no shortages, and there’s no money needed. Pokemon centers and food and all that are all free.

    1. “Pokemon centers and food and all that are all free.”

      Pokemon centers?? Sure, I guess that’s socialist free veterinary services.

      Food?? I remembering having to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a bottle of water in one game. The hell are you talking about??

      1. “I remembering having to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a bottle of water in one game.”

        That was a black market beverage shop that sprung up because the government nationalized the beverage industry.

    2. Nope, still has currency and the stores still sell things, but it’s only got Pokemon-related foods and products (*insert Venezuela joke here*).

      Pokemon battles are effectively gambling matches, with the loser providing cash to the winner.

      Also bikes are stupid expensive for some reason.

      1. That’s the game. I’m talking about the cartoon, which my daughter is currently obsessed with.

        1. Well that’s just lame.

        2. I wanna be
          The very best
          Like no one ever was…

  9. Pok?mon Go is coercion, authority, a command issuing…

    Let me get this straight…
    Doing something because you think it’s fun, that’s coercion.
    Doing something because you have a gun pointed at you, that’s post-capitalist utopia.

    1. Yes. I suspect what’s really up this dipshit’s ass is the fact that people aren’t asking permission and taking orders from the government, but they voluntarily do so in this game because it’s fun. The horror… the horror…

  10. “War is peace”, “freedom is slavery” and “PokemanGo is coercion” Amirite?

  11. For many critics, we’re living out an apocalyptic scenario. This is about Pok?mon Go, of course it’s about Pok?mon Go ? how else could you describe a world in grown adults in their millions are milling about aimlessly, staring at their phones, collecting digital rats, reliving a stupid childhood, and shrinking all the while into inattentive sugar-zapped brats?

    Well, I’ve seen this sentiment reflected, more or less, right here in the comments section, so maybe Jacobin isn’t so far out of touch with modern-day libertarians.

    1. Half the people I’ve heard bitch about it IRL are ones who last month would have been bitching that kids just sit around playing games all day and never go outside.

      1. Good points. The common theme is technophobia.

    2. *checks Lenore’s thread*

      It’s another fad that American sheep-geeks immerse themselves in because they are told to.

      Huh. Thought you were exaggerating.

  12. Poke Mongo…heh heh —

    No, no, not you Warty! Oh God! SWEET JESUS NOOOO!!

  13. Free-market capitalism, I choose you!

    Free-market capitalism used PRICING SIGNALS. It’s super effective!

    1. Maduro-chu used price controls! It left everyone with poopy buttholes.

  14. You really are trolling us, aren’t you?

  15. That picture of the pokemon looks like somebody came on it’s face.

    1. Dude.

      1. You know I had to google “pikachu bukkake.” Yep, rule 34 is real.

  16. For many critics, we’re living out an apocalyptic scenario. This is about Pok?mon Go, of course it’s about Pok?mon Go ? how else could you describe a world in grown adults in their millions are milling about aimlessly, staring at their phones, collecting digital rats, reliving a stupid childhood, and shrinking all the while into inattentive sugar-zapped brats?

    Hmmm, so my choices are between:

    1. People reliving their nostalgic love of a goofy anime video game.
    2. People reliving their nostalgic love for regimes that murdered their political opponents and ushered in nothing but death, destruction, and mayhem?

    Tough choice.

  17. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the idiot hipster millenials who both play this game and read this irrelevant commie magazine will choose to keep playing after learning that they’re wreckers and kulaks for doing so. And by interesting I mean “not interesting in the least.”

    1. stop waving your cane and get back in bed grandpa. youre just mad that your social security check is late this month.

  18. Oh no, people doing stuff that they want to do. It must be stopped.

    1. KKKORPORASHUNS!!!

      They will then turn around and “Voxsplain” why it’s necessary for the government to threaten you to do something “for the greater good.”

      Fuck ’em all.

      1. Gotta fuck ’em all!

        1. Nice.

  19. Socialists are evidently worried that PokemonGo’s corporate masters have so much power to inspire people to move around, meet up, and visit local sites. If there’s a good reason to be wary of this power, no one has come up with it yet.

    Those socialist fuckers really are stupid.

    But they’ll jack off whenever Michelle Obama or some other statist uses government force to be your master.

  20. [i]I’m excerpting a whole lot of text here, but the entire thing is really worth reading:[/it]

    1. welp. I tried.

      1. You gotta use the greater than and less than symbols. A for effort, though!

  21. It’s always apocalypse somewhere.

  22. If they wanted to, the game’s creators could send people leaping willingly off cliffs, dawdling on train tracks, running into forest fires

    I think its a convenient distillation of the socialist worldview that they always assume that

    – a) people are mindless idiots and can be ‘ordered’ to do anything
    – b) business has some suicidal instinct to murder its own customers and ultimately destroy itself. that capitalism always “exploits” and never creates value.

    the idea that the business (‘pokemon’ in this case) is actually “enabling” people to do what they want in new and more interesting ways is never even considered as a possibility.

    Its funny how socialists always pretend to a very sophisticated intellectual-ideal, but are in essence very very shallow, juvenile people. many conservatives, by contrast, find intellectuals/intellectualism distasteful, but still regularly resort to arguments that require a certain degree of intellectual depth.

    1. Well they are socialist. They believe that people can be guided to the perfection of man by a small committee

  23. For the moment its injunctions are mild, but their mildness is that of the bourgeois ideal raised to an imperturbable universal.

    I was starting to wonder if they had included an attack on the “bourgeois” in their idiotic navel gazing word salad. I figured that was rule number 1 in the Marxist asshat writing style guide.

    1. And yet they can’t seem to manage to make it sound as menacing as they’re hoping for.

      “the bourgeois ideal raised to an imperturbable universal”

      I mean, that’s great, it sounds like something you would print on your business cards.

  24. how else could you describe a world in grown adults in their millions are milling about aimlessly

    Socialism- grown adults milling about is just a euphemism for “bread line”.

  25. Socialists are evidently worried that PokemonGo’s corporate masters have so much power to inspire people to move around, meet up, and visit local sites.

    I go back to my theory that Socialists want to convince people that the bleak, gloomy and joyless life in a Socialist society is a feature and not a bug, as the earlier promises of a great material abundance came to naught.

    I would ask Socialists everywhere why is it that you bemoan material abundance today, especially consumerism, while at the same time you propose increases in the minimum wage, ostensibly to allow laborers their just participation in the material welfare that we are creating (i.e. a ‘living wage’ and all.) How do you reconcile these two completely-opposed ideas? Just what do you expect workers to buy?

    1. This. Me thinks they hate themselves and are miserable

      1. They HATE seeing other people have more toys than them.

        1. Crab bucket syndrome

  26. Where are the articles about the fact that millions of people are obsessed with a game the point of which is to catch wild animals and make them fight each other? Maybe Mike Vick should come out with a virtual dog fighting game. I’m working on a virtual cock fighting game myself. Wait until people are trying to catch Super Red Rooster with bonus spurs!

  27. I look forward to the Reason print cover featuring Pikachu and – I don’t know – Chris Christie battling it out for, um, the surveillance state or whatever. This would be the October 2016 edition, of course, when Pokemon GO is what-was.

    1. I would pay good money to see that.

      1. Christie vs. Snorlax?

  28. So, Pokemon isn’t commie enough?

  29. See this right here is why your mother and father told you to be nice to that quiet kid and invite him to play with you. Now he’s grown up into a bitter marxist who hates all the fun everyone is having.

  30. iPhone app

    It’s played on Android as well.

    1. #AndroidPhonesMatter

  31. Why is anyone giving this idiot an outlet, or paying attention to him at all?

    1. I would like to tell him it bothers me people waste their time reading the magazine instead of helping the poor

  32. Author Sam Kriss takes care to note that PokemonGo could theoretically jibe with the Marxist worldview if it wasn’t so consumerist and “indifferent to social existence.”

    No, Sam Kriss, you commie moron. In a socialist existence, Pokemon wouldn’t. Neither would smart phones, and instead of writing that drivel, you’d be standing in line to get your next ration of government gruel.

  33. So Robby spent bastille day drinking at work and trolling the commentariat? He might be worth saving after all.

    1. He trolls us because he loves us.

  34. For many critics, we’re living out an apocalyptic scenario. This is about Communism, of course it’s about Communism ? how else could you describe a world in which sheep in their millions are working for the state aimlessly, waiting in lines for toilet paper that doesn’t exist, eating rats, living someone else’s Utopian nightmare, and shrinking all the while into helpless obedient zombies?

    The power to actively impact this augmented reality belongs only to the Vanguard, and the power of living has been subjected to another round of primitive oppression and alienation. Our world does not become entirely other; instead, a new stratum is added to slot effortlessly into the tedium of daily life.

    For the victim of communism , the injunction is to obey. Real human bodies are tamed and directed by guns: the state can use storm troopers to force the sheeple to do whatever they’re told; the state could probably quell an uprising by murdering hundreds of workers in the central square. If they wanted to, the State could send people leaping unwillingly off cliffs, transported to death camps, marched into forest fires.

    1. It’s a world of violence, something that uses violence on the atomized millions and in every way directs their lives. It’s injunctions are are always a deadly threat, and the threat is that of the progressive ideal raised to an genocidal universal.

      Walk where your told. Do what your told. Live how your told. Die how your told. Never have fun. Communism is coercion, authority, a command issuing from out of the end of a gun, which blasts through social and political cleavages to finally catch ’em all. It must be resisted.

  35. The power to actively impact this augmented reality belongs only to the company’s executive(‘)s…..customers

  36. I’d like to capture this fracking commie in a pokeball and flush it down the toilet.

  37. Typical capitalist pigs. Everyone knows that Digimon is the anime of The People.

    1. I bet you were a GoBots fan, too.

  38. “Sure, the initial experience was scripted by the Pokemon corporate overlords. But eventually, this breaks down.”

    I think you’re right. This is similar to what I argued in https://reason.com/archives/2004/04/01/free-play:

    “For those so inclined, it will always be possible to glue a dramatic collectivist veneer over a rigged simulation. But like Stallabras’ chrome, this facade warrants little worry. It may take some ingenuity, but free minds eventually break through fake dungeon walls to explore their potential and live their own stories.”

    Complex, sophisticated arguments (the more rarefied the better) are certainly needed to make the case that these seemingly fun and harmless activities are actually terrible, corrosive regimes. Otherwise, this just sounds silly.

  39. How else could you describe a world in grown adults in their millions are milling about aimlessly, staring at their phones, collecting digital rats, reliving a stupid childhood, and shrinking all the while into inattentive sugar-zapped brats?

    How else could you describe a world in (which) grown adults in their millions are standing in line aimlessly. staring at their phones, unable to buy toilet paper, reliving every stupid childhood dream of a socialist utopia for the last 100+ years, and shrinking all the while into starving repressed peasants.

    (Hint! It’s called Venezuela)

    1. How else would you describe a world where grown adults in their millions are milling about aimlessly from queue to queue, staring at their swollen-belly children, dodging real rats, never having a stupid childhood, and shrinking all the while into grey little psuedo-men as they wait to find out if there’s any bread today?

  40. . . . Pokemon-themed iPhone app . . .

    Uh, Ser Soave – that shit’s on Android too.

    *walks away mumbling something unflattering about ‘damn kids these days’*

  41. . . . the state could probably quell an uprising by scattering hundreds of rare Pok?mon away from the central square. If they wanted to, the game’s creators could send people leaping willingly off cliffs, dawdling on train tracks, running into forest fires . . .

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! What? That wasn’t a joke? He’s serious? Well then:

    1. If the state could quell an uprising by scattering some rare Pokemon away from the ‘central square’ – WTF is this anyway? Is this guy living in the 19th century? Nobody has ‘central squares’ in their cities outside of communist countries – the it wasn’t much of a fucking uprising. Those people weren’t serious, so fuck ’em.

    2. If the game’s creators could send people leaping off cliffs/train tracks/forest fires – then we’re better off if those people actually did that. They were too stupid to live comrade. They could never, ever, pay back the state in labor and obedience, the existence debt they owe. Better to write them off than keep them on the books.

    1. the state could probably quell an uprising by scattering hundreds of rare Pok?mon away from the central square

      And I’m just guessing here, but from what I’ve seen “people who play Pok?mon” don’t tend to be “people who join large anti-government demonstrations.”

      What I hear in their article is, “Dammit, why aren’t our programs ever this popular?”

  42. Hillary is holding a campaign event at a Pokestop:

    “Join us as we go to the Pok?stop in Madison Park and put up a lure module, get free pok?mon, and battle each other while you register voters and learn more about Sec. Hillary Clinton!!! Kids welcome!”

    I guess criminals really are targeting victims via lures.

  43. So, in other words, Sam Kriss is Team Rocket.

  44. Didn’t the last Jacobins perish in an orgy of Jacobemon Go in Thermidor of the Year Four?

  45. “Pok?mon Go is coercion, authority….”

    Hello pot, meet kettle. There really is no surprise here. It’s the usual assertion that they know what these people who play are thinking, what their attitudes are toward playing this game, and with their all seeing crystal ball, know what social destruction awaits us if we indulge. Naturally, they are here to correct us. And they’d make a law to stop it if they could.

  46. Why does anyone want to associate themselves with people who take their ideology to such unpleasant extremes?

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