Socialists Must Reclaim Halloween

China Mieville on gothic Marxism, the Right’s strange appropriation of trick-or-treating, and socialists’ historic defense of the flagrantly imaginary.

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The socialist fantasy writer China Mieville is no stranger to the macabre or surreal. As proponent of “gothic Marxism,” he rejects more than just capitalist exploitation — he also stands strong against the disenchantment of the world inherent under capitalism.

It should come as no surprise, then, that he is a fan of Halloween. In this talk, originally delivered at the 2013 Socialism Conference, he argues that socialists can not abandon Halloween to the Right.

Reactionary ghouls may praise the holiday as living proof of humanity’s greedy self-interest, and some socialists, like late Hugo Chavez, may dismiss it as a pageant of imperialist terror. But for Mieville, Halloween is a source of the imaginative ammunition necessary for socialist politics — a celebration of the chaotic social over the orderly individual, an intuitive solidarity with those called monsters, and a principled refusal to be afraid of the dark.