Socialism 101

[This example has been used before; in this retelling, I’m adding a few details to make it more interesting.]

Halfway through the Socialism 101 course, Professor Gramsci came into the auditorium, looked around the room, and began the lecture.

So far, we’ve covered the history, theory, and practice of socialism around the word. Now, we will put some of these noble ideas into practice, right here in this class.”

The students shifted uneasily in ther seats, looked at one another uncertainly. Professor Gramsci gave them a minute to settle back down.

Over the past years, the grade distribution for this course has been about 10 percent As, 40 percent Bs and Cs, and 10 percent Ds. There have never been Fs – we don’t do that here. In accordance with the socialist ethic of fairness and equality, grades will be redistributed.”

Several students put down their pencils, others looked up from their Chromebooks. Everyone’s attention was focused on Professor Gramsci.

I will take points from the A students and give them to the D students. This will raise the Ds to Cs, and lower the As to Bs.

Al around the room, hands went up. “That’s not fair!!!” “You can’t do that!!”

Yes, I can”, Gramsci said. “As professor here, I’m more qualified to interpret socialist principles than you. As for ‘fair’, is it ‘fair’ “ (he emphasised that word with little finger quotes) “that Mr Smith, in the back row, drives a Mercedes to class, while Miss Jones walks here from the dorm? Go back and read Chapter 2 of the textbook.”

Gramsci continued: “Clearly, those who got As got there through white privilege and unfair advantage. Those who got Ds were obviously oppressed and marginalised. All we’re doing is breaking down the barriers of privilege and oppresssion.”

There was some grumbling and dissent among the students, but a contingent of the Cs and Ds was finally able to convince the As and Bs of the inherent justice in Gramsci’s plan.

At the last meting of the class, Professor Gramsci made another announcement.

This has been a valuable learning experience, showing the advantages of socialism over other forms of government and economics. Next semester, we will take it one step further. Everyone will be guaranteed a B, no matter what.”

Human nature being what it is, no-one showed up for class that next semester, except Mr Wu, a foreign-exchange student from China, who used what he learned in this and other classes (but mostly, others) to build an internet startup, which he later sold for $46 billion.


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