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Monopoly’s 3 new tokens further obscure the game’s anti-capitalist roots — or do they?

Hasbro Announces New Monopoly Playing Figure Photo illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

The next time you sit down with your family to a nice game of Monopoly — and to determine which of your siblings is secretly a cold-blooded sociopath who would shiv you in your sleep for Park Place — you will no longer have the option of dueling to the death over who gets to be the thimble, the wheelbarrow, or the boot.

Monopoly owner Hasbro have tossed them all aside like so many redundant employees in a gig economy, and are replacing them with the winners of an internet poll: a Tyrannosaurus rex, a penguin, and a rubber ducky.

Now, it might seem that the new consumer-pre-approved tokens are just another step in Monopoly’s long history of turning what used to be a brutal critique of capitalism into a celebration of it. Monopoly, first called “The Landlord’s Game,” was invented by radical progressive Elizabeth Magie to demonstrate the moral evils of capitalism — and then Parker Brothers scooped it up and tweaked it slightly to demonstrate how fun it is to make lots of money and bankrupt your friends. (In keeping with that theme, they tossed Magie a measly $500 for the rights to her game and told her that it was probably worthless, anyway.)

The original tokens all fit into the theme of capitalism and its discontents: the railway baron’s top hat, the worker’s thimble, the boot with the strap by which to pull one’s self up, and so on.

Which means — one might cry out indignantly — that Hasbro is trying to obscure Monopoly’s ideological roots even more than they already have! They’re trying to get us all to forget the real meaning of the game!

Not so, say I. It took some digging, but I have at last determined the true symbolic meaning of the new Monopoly tokens.

The Tyrannosaurus rex

This one’s easy: The T. rex stands for the inherent predatory nature of capitalism. When you use the token, you’re saying, “Behold, I devour all that stands before me, just as capitalism devours the rights of the workers.”

The penguin

The penguin, with its connotations of ice and the Antarctic, carries a double meaning. It stands for the coldness of Wall Street, and also for the profit-driven destruction of the polar ice caps.

The rubber ducky

Oh, the delightful insouciance of the rubber ducky! It seems to say, “Much like water off of this duck, the inhumanity and decadence of late capitalism just rolls off my back.”

The updated Monopoly — with its new, verifiably anti-capitalist tokens — will go on sale this fall.

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