Communist baby gift
April 19, 2016 11:24 AM   Subscribe

I have friends that are expecting their first child. He is an intellectual Marxist and runs a communist/socialist intellectual magazine. What would be a really witty baby gift?

This person is not a jerk about his political/social views. He kindly debates with others and doesn't judge anyone for their views or lifestyle. This couple leads a fairly normal capitalist life. But everyone (including me) regularly, and with love, teases this person about his Marxism - like those Communist Valentines, etc. And he takes this ribbing well.

But note that this couple lives in a former Soviet state, so Lenin/Stalin references or faux Cyrillic messages won't go over well.

I'm trying to think of some sort of symbol or quote that I could have put onto a onesie or a bib (if that would be more appropriate). He speaks English, German, Russian, and Turkish, but I assume that English would be best.

I will also send them some more practical/traditional gifts, but I'd like to wow them with some sophisticated humor.
posted by k8t to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How about a little baby hat with a wee knit Karl Marx beard?
posted by phunniemee at 11:27 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

I assume you've already found a red diaper?
posted by suelac at 11:27 AM on April 19, 2016 [18 favorites]

Addition: I do not know the gender of the child yet and won't in time to get this gift to them.
posted by k8t at 11:28 AM on April 19, 2016

I would track down someone on etsy (or elsewhere) to knit you up a custom plush sickle and hammer.

If you'd like a recommendation of someone who could do work like that, memail me and I could see if they'd be down.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:30 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Red diaper baby
posted by jamjam at 11:32 AM on April 19, 2016 [5 favorites]

I once saw a baby in a Wobblies onesie. Their Strike Cat would also be cute, if the logo itself wouldn't resonate enough.
posted by teremala at 11:35 AM on April 19, 2016

Keep the ideas coming! Note that American-centric references probably won't resonate. I will get a red cloth diaper cover for fun, but I will have to print out the Wikipedia explanation.
Soviet references are probably not going to go over well.
posted by k8t at 11:38 AM on April 19, 2016

The first thing that popped into my head is the saying, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." So, what do they actually need? Can you choose a useful and helpful gift that is something that will meaningfully contribute to their new family? If you have deeper pockets than they do, is there something you could provide that they otherwise wouldn't have access to?

To me, as someone with communist leanings, all the stuff of babies and showers and bourgie conspicuous consumption and socially obligated gifts is bullshit. (I mean, aside from the really useful stuff people actually need, of course.)

Or, if you just want to do the "socially obligated baby gift" thing, red onesie with a hammer and sickle printed on it, obvi. On the other hand, you say they're in a former Soviet country, so that sounds like it might not go over, or that American signifiers for "communism, lol!" won't translate.
posted by Sara C. at 11:41 AM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

Here you go. (Click on the "Babies" tab for the onesie version.)
posted by dywypi at 11:43 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ugh, reading more closely, this is exactly what NOT to give. Sorry about that.
posted by dywypi at 11:44 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

The children's book Red is Best has a perfect witty reference for a title, and is ultimately not related to communism at all, so you may claim innocence after the fact.
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:45 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

A pun on labor? "Reclaiming Our Labor," "Labor Theory into Fact"...? Someone with a better grasp of Marxism might be able to run with that better.
posted by lazuli at 11:58 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Justseeds has a cute new "Exhausted by Capitalism" onesie.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:00 PM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

What about a custom (Cafepress or similar) baby item with a more obscure marxist on it? You might even be able to find a hero from your friend's particular marxist tradition.

Something I did using only Photoshop, my native wits and a button-maker owned by a friend: I made sets of buttons of marxist and anarchist writers/artists/heroes. Maybe you could make some buttons and get them a nice diaper bag which could be ornamented with the buttons?

The buttons I made had people like CLR James, Audre Lorde, Lu Xun and so on - I just used archival photos from the internet and did photoshop things to them.

Or maybe something with red stars? Everyone loves red stars! Maybe a custom baby blanket? Or if you wanted to get them something ornamental for fun, how about this string of red star lights?Or a custom made plush red star? If you're at all handy with a needle, you could do that yourself.

Or why not make some laminated place mats with classically marxist images? You could do some fun ones with Chinese space program images* or serious ones with Great Heroes of Marxism like Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.

*Normally I don't like to use marxist kitsch of this nature, but I feel like the "let's go into space! adorable babies in space!" aspect is more utopian-marxist than anything else.
posted by Frowner at 12:01 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's not communist per say, but Click Clack Moo is a very cute board book about worker organizing (and mainstream -- it won a Caldecott, so wouldn't just be a gag gift).
posted by veery at 12:02 PM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

a bib with the inscription Karl Marx Stadt ? (= Chemnitz). They also have onesies.

I found it here:
posted by 15L06 at 12:08 PM on April 19, 2016

For a onesie or tshirt: NOT A COMMODITY
Maybe a set of burb cloths, diapers, bottles, etc. tied together and labeled "MEANS OF PRODUCTION"
posted by melissasaurus at 12:12 PM on April 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

Almanac Singers (w/Pete Seeger), Talking Union. Virginia Lee Burton, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.

These are just great things to have on hand for parents & tots of any political persuasion, and they may be useful ways to open up conversations about labor & such when the kid’s ready.
posted by miles per flower at 12:31 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I googled "communist baby gear" and got some hits that might be helpful?
posted by foxjacket at 12:39 PM on April 19, 2016

How about a onesie with Groucho Marx? It wouldn't be hard to embroider "Marx" on it.

The reason I think this could fly outside of the US is that after the fall of communism, the government of Abkhazia rather famously issued a stamp with Groucho Marx and John Lennon.
posted by FencingGal at 1:20 PM on April 19, 2016

Fight The Power! from Nippaz With Attitude
posted by patricio at 1:27 PM on April 19, 2016

My friend's kid has grown up with one of those Little Thinker dolls (Freud, actually), and now genuinely loves it and has asked for his Freud the same way he asks for his Grover doll.
posted by a sourceless light at 1:33 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

How about a custom board book of excerpts of the Communist Manifesto or something? I know there are services that do this (not sure how good the final product looks). If you're creatively inclined, you might be able to use some royalty-free stock photos or do your own illustrations, put some text on there, and done
posted by Hoopo at 3:52 PM on April 19, 2016

Great. Thanks all. I ended up doing the Communist Party onesie, the Justseeds exhausted by capitalism onesie, a red cloth diaper, and the books recommended. Thank you!
posted by k8t at 6:17 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

For 1st birthday, perhaps A is for Activist? Or a Child's Guide to Anarchy?
posted by Toddles at 8:11 PM on April 19, 2016

"From Each According To His Ability" would make a great diaper cover.
posted by darksasami at 8:27 PM on April 19, 2016

Farmer Duck is kind of a retelling of Animal Farm (but with a happy ending!)
posted by low_horrible_immoral at 2:21 AM on April 20, 2016

A onesie with QUESTION AUTHORITY and a photo of the parents on it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:49 PM on April 25, 2016

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