Santa Claus the Classist

By John Gillespie and Jake S.
Capitalist Santa enjoys a sip of Coca-Cola while overseeing his Elvish workers / Jacobin 

Christmas is coming [1]. The feeling of joy mingles with the smell of fresh desserts and the air is stained with the spirit of festivity. People listen to classic carols recreated by this year’s pop stars. Wobbly shopping carts are stockpiled with presents for the world’s well-behaved children. Cashiers stand in angst as they wait for their nightmare shifts to end, and the world anxiously waits for the jingle bells to ring, and the flying caribou to assist Santa Claus the Classist down the chimney of the world’s worthiest. Tis the season to be jolly, holy, excited, and/or blessed depending on how religious one's views are, but even more depending on the amount of money in one's pocket. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of capitalist exploitation. Truly, regardless of the origins of Christmas, the holiday teaches children where they stand in our classist society.

Put yourself in the shoes of an impoverished child and consider the story of Santa Claus, who on Christmas Eve visits each house in which a child sleeps, leaving behind gifts for the good children or a nasty lump of coal for the bad. When Christmas morning comes and that child finds nothing under the family tree, he might naturally think "perhaps, I’ve been bad. Perhaps, I have to try to be better next year.” Then next year comes and Santa skips their house again. The child may ask their parents if Santa has their address. They can only swallow their pride and suggest St. Nick will visit next year. But he doesn't. The literally-minded child may conclude that s/he is some sort of criminal. Or, more likely, the myth of Santa Claus is shattered early. However, a key lesson is retained.

The Santa Claus story creates an equivalency between wealth and goodness. When Santa ignores the poor (bad) children, the implication is that the poor deserve their destitute circumstances. This idea is reinforced when winter break ends and children return to school. Inevitably the wealthier students will brag about what they got for Christmas, while the poor remain silent, embarrassed and afraid of ridicule. Through this process we learn that material possessions are a barometer of moral uprightness in our commercialized society. Parents buy the most expensive gifts they can afford for their children, in order to demonstrate to their children, their neighbors, and themselves that they are in that twisted Christmas sense "worthy."

Of course, no child should be mocked for their paucity of presents, and no parent deserves to be judged for their inability to match extravagance of their neighbors. In contradiction to the Claus-ish morality, the poor are working and living as best they can, longing for the same opportunities that the wealthy enjoy. The Santa Claus tale plays a significant role in shaping the self-perception of the poor by encouraging an understanding of poverty as a personal problem and the result of individual choices. Abolishing the Santa Claus narrative is an important and necessary first step towards building an unashamed class consciousness.


[1] Editor's Note: Use your imagination.

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Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)