Subashini Navaratnam
Dear We-Need-Communism-Now,

Thank you for writing in to A Spectre is Haunting Us. Your question regarding when is the best time to know when to give up on one's dreams of a better world that isn't dictated by the owners of the means of production is a hard one. And it cuts deep, like the time I sliced open my own chest in search of Rama within. (Still looking.) I've been mulling over your question before you even asked.

They tell you to go for your dreams but taking that seriously meant I flew too close to the sun. I have paid the price for a changed face ever since. If this seems like hyperbole to you, let me make it clear: I have the face of a monkey. I still remember how the sun hung in the sky, a glowing fruit that was ripe and ready for the taking. It seemed natural to me that everyone, if they wanted, could take a bite out of it.

Who is the "they" who tell you to go for your dreams? Not us, certainly. We minor gods would laugh in your face at such advice. How would you go about going after your dreams without the means of achieving them? That is the greatest scam of the ruling class. But humans cling on to their hope without the means of change. If nothing else, living under the whims of the gods, I've come to learn that even the sun and the stars are prohibited, closed-off territories that only the powerful have access to.

You can understand now why thinking is dangerous. Dreaming, too.

You write to me for advice as though I brim with expertise. But I'm just here to do the job, to help usher in a new world. Just me and this cadre of minor gods, trying to install common ownership of the means of production. This is probably why, as you might have realised, it has not caught on. Even gods need ideological weapons, and ours-ours have been usurped by the ones with blue skin or multiple arms, the ones feted and fed by the labour of the religious.

Ganesha and I-we just want free time to play. I try to make this an important part of my worship, but humans take prayer much too seriously. No historical awareness, as I say to Ganesha over and over again. But even he sometimes tires of me, rolls his eyes."What about that greed and ignorance of yours when you flew towards the sun thinking it was a giant fruit you could shove into your mouth?" he asks me, constantly. He doesn't understand that greed is not what makes us fly close to the sun. It's the sense of wanting the sun to become a part of you, absorbing that light-to shine with the fullness of the world.

This is probably why I have to tell you to give up on your dreams, especially of other people, especially old friends, and gods you grew up with as children. Give up on the friends and gods who have become a habit you can't break.

The past is something that I try to keep locked deep inside the territory of my body. Trespassers not welcome, as it were. The logic of private property has invaded my dreams, but it's hard to remain stalwart in the face of memories, memories of a vision of another world I once knew. Bright, shimmering rays of a gold and tender sun falling on the dewy grass, my mother's soft melodic hum as rubbed oil on my body before giving me my daily bath. A world of abundance. Fruits like opaque gems hanging low from trees, magic and knowledge dripping from its leaves. A sky so blue the eyes watered in the face of its enchantment. The stars tumbling out in haphazard array, all in play. The universe as a matter of serious revelry.

But then blood begin to ooze from the soil and the trees were walking wounds, bereft and angry. What cold depths of civilisation could have dreamed up the slaughter of the mountains and glaciers and clouds? A human one, as it turned out. Led by gods in its own image.

Now I move around, looking like you, imitating you, and absorbing the depth of human experience and recognising its dark core for what it is: the power to colonise. Maybe you want to ask me what it is like, being able to change shapes to adopt the physical features of any human I wanted to be? It's like being homeless, or not being able to remember where you came from. I feel it like an ache, a dull, thudding pain. To have an empire in my heart is like a bullet in my chest that cannot be dislodged. To tell you the truth, I want none of it.

I am sorry for getting carried away. To answer your question and cut a long story short: I have no advice. Dreams are only as good as the material conditions from which they arise. Seize the means of production of life and your imagination. The point is not to interpret your dreams; the point is to change the world so that dreams are your life.

What else is there, after all? The sun hangs low for us: it is within reach. I have some hope for us yet.

To each according to his or her ability,