Monopoly is Anti-Landlord Propaganda -

Monopoly is Anti-Landlord Propaganda

Tom Nicholas
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A video about Monopoly, landlords, propaganda and one of the most devious acts of intellectual property fraud of all time.

Written, presented and directed by Tom Nicholas.
Edited by Georgia Burrows.


00:00 Monopoly: A Story of Board Game Propaganda
05:17 Part One: Lizzie vs. the Landlords
06:33 Part One (a): The Slightly Weird Economics of Henry George
14:44 Part One (Redux): Lizzie vs. the Landlords
18:39 Part Two: Open-Sourcing Monopoly
24:06 Part Three: The Man Who Stole Monopoly
29:50 Part Four: The Monopoly Monopoly
37:44 Part Five: Lizzie’s Legacy


You can find an annotated bibliography for this video on my Patreon, here:

*Some Copy About this Video for the YouTube Algorithm*

Monopoly is very likely the most popular commercial board game of all time, having sold more than 275 million copies since it was first retreated in 1935. Come the holidays, families and friendship groups worldwide will around their dining room tables and do their best to bankrupt one another. Until, that is, someone inevitably snaps and flips the board.

Monopoly and its associated iconography including “Mr. Monopoly” (or Rich Uncle Pennybags as he was once officially called), the “Go” corner, “Go to Jail” and “Boardwalk” (or “Mayfair” in the UK edition) is iconic. And, those icons are often presented as a celebration of contemporary capitalism; such as when they’re used in the regular McDonalds Monopoly partnership.

But, what if I was to tell you that what we today know as Monopoly was actually created as a critique of capitalism rather than as a celebration of it? That Monopoly was in fact designed as an ingenious piece of anti-landlord propaganda?

In this video, we’re going to explore how an activist from Oregon called Lizzie Magie was inspired by the economic and political theories of Henry George to create The Landlord’s Game. And how a salesman called Charles Darrow got rich by stealing her invention.

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If you’ve enjoyed this video and would like to see more including my What The Theory? series in which I provide some snappy introductions to key theories in the humanities as well as video essays and more then do consider subscribing.

Thanks for watching!


Select footage courtesy of Getty
Board Images courtesy Thomas Forsyth:

#Monopoly #BoardGames #Propaganda


  1. It's such a shame that the feeling a work inspires is often believed to be a mistake or an accident.

  2. As someone who just bought thier first property in 2020. I fond it appalling that I could turn around and rent it out for a price higher than my mortgage. It just feels so wrong to me. I belive the landlord should only be allowed to charge the exact price of mortgage and no more. My mortgage is 1k a month. Amd I could easily rent it out for 1500 to 1800 a month. That's just plain wrong.

  3. You look like a younger discount trotsky

  4. The irony of criticizing monopolies while posting a video on a platform that has a quasi-monopoly in the video sharing platform market. I guess he coulda posted on Vimeo lmaooo!!!

  5. Landlords are anti-landlord propaganda themselves, they don't need a board game to show the world how evil they are.

  6. Now I'm wondering which oppressive societal power Scrabble is meant to teach us to oppose. The horrifying, frustrating experience of playing that game has to have some purpose.

  7. You just know that there's a special hatred when even Adam Smith is writing about how he hates you.

  8. Asked friends once if we could play it as I never had – within moments I realized why everyone looked apprehensive as I remained broke af clueless how to get ahead (vocally comparing it all to our realities) and we watched the person who is a literal landlord clean up…. It made for a deeply miserable evening & I never wanna play monopoly again lol

  9. I'd watch this video 5+ more times rather than play one game of monopoly, at least all that time wasted would be on something entertaining.

  10. My family didn't use the free parking rule until a friend taught us. Then later I read that one shouldn't use that house rule, because it just makes the game go on for many more hours.

  11. Okay I absolutely love the fact that Monopoly was designed to make you hate it that is genius.

  12. My friends burned to death because of their landlord

  13. By the way, it's extremely advantageous to go to jail in Monopoly after a certain point, because you don't get to land in other squares, and therefore you're less likely to have to pay rent. In the same vein, it's more profitable to own the squares where people are more likely to land after leaving jail.

  14. Bit of an offshoot but I when I was reminded about Henry George and the his economics there is what feels like a glaring flaw but I can’t find anyone talking about it. What about farmers? That would shift the majority of the tax burden to farmers specifically and that would just be a mess right. Surely farmers would have to be exempt from those taxes or something, how do Georgists approach that? Farming is barely profitable when our taxes straight up fund it can’t imagine if that was the source of taxes

  15. Ya know I feel the same way about landlords that I do about cops. They might be a good person but they’re still a piece of shit landlord.

  16. Capitalism may have stolen Monopoly, but me and my leftist mates stole it back during OUR Russian class. We made communist Monopoly, which was a parody of badly managed authoritarian socialism. Money was potatoes and instead of a cop sending you to jail, Stalin sent you to gulag.

  17. I love to just watch a Monopoly game purely because the rage it induces in the players is cathartic to watch with a dash of schadenfreude.

  18. Monopoly was initially designed to be a game that highlights the irrationality of capitalism

  19. Monopoly was initially designed to be a game that highlights the irrationality of capitalism

  20. Ah so 30 means 30 and “or so” means 16 minutes and 39 seconds good to know

  21. I have only ever played it on the Wii and I can say that I am so glad it has a forfeit option… Except that it repossesses all of your property to another player usually.

  22. Wait a sec… The Free Parking pot is a house rule?!?!

    TIL I don't think I've ever actually read the rules to Monopoly. The rules of the game have become family tradition passed down through generations like a fucked up capitalist game of telephone…

  23. 6:01 You won't believe what a grin I had on my face when Henry appeared.

  24. Pls do a collaboration with ordinary things

  25. People are waking up and looking a little deeper. This isn't the end yet for Maggie's legacy, I hope

  26. If you're playing a board game willfully over and over, you are choosing to engage in the activities therein. To some degree, you accept this behaviour is believable, and likeable enough that you will willfuly engage again. Thus a boardgame is actually desensitising and grooming people towards landlorship, not discouraging them 🤣

  27. I hate the money at free parking. The game is already a frustrating snorefest when you're losing. That money in the middle takes the game from an agonizing 60 minutes to 3 hours of "I'm going to die anyway." Although, maybe it reflects late-stsge capitalism better. The "I'm not starving yet, but I sure as hell am suffering and I even stopped buying Avocado toast and star bucks"

  28. I love how you point out these ´down and out’ bussinessmen have enough money to start a bussiness. 😂😂😂 I always feel like this is glossed over in these stories.

  29. You note that the rent increases due to buildings do not follow Georgist economic analysis. However, I think it does, if you look at the rent the right way. Rather than paying to stay in the house or hotel sitting on that property, you are actually renting an empty lot on that street, let's say, for your RV (or caravan, as you Brits say).

    Start by noticing that the property buyer/owner isn't buying just ONE lot – they are buying the whole street. So you buy the entire length of Connecticut Avenue, not just a part of it. But what players who land there are renting is a SPACE on that street where they park their RV. Rent on a vacant, undeveloped street is pretty cheap. But as lots get developed with homes or hotels, the remaining lots cost more to rent. In fact, Monopoly even recognizes the rise in rent due to what is happening on nearby streets – such that if you own Oriental, Vermont, and Connecticut, your rental income on any of the vacant streets is doubled due to you now having a monopoly on that whole neighbourhood. And the development-related rent increases can ONLY happen IF you own the whole 2- or 3-street neighbourhood.

    Having to pay specially for water or electric also makes sense if you are living in an RV/camper/caravan, where you need periodic paid hookups.

    This interpretation is supported by the Free Parking space. Because unless you are paying for parking everywhere else, what is the benefit of free parking anyway? If you are renting a house or staying at a hotel, it usually includes free parking already. (Well, not downtown hotels in big cities). So the only reason that free parking would be so notable is if you are paying for parking on each other space. And if the rent is for parking, it makes sense that you are living in your vehicle.

  30. Land value tax is a great idea but its not enough, it needs to be added on top of other measures

  31. 401k subscribers? I predict in some years that your force will shrink. I'm neither a prophet nor a seer, but I hope your force will crumble, your intelligence is false, and your audacity to twist the harmony is unwelcome. But well done of making a dunce of yourself.

  32. This has nothing to do with the video, but I just had to tell you, that you look like nice, friendly little brother of Ramsey Bolton 😂

  33. Monopoly can be fun if you initiate a Geomutualist takeover of the economy.

  34. MATE! Those chapter titles are incredible! Top notch production and I always appreciate the time and effort you put into your content. Many thanks for a 46 minutes well spent 🙂

  35. Fun fact: the variation of monopoly we play in Denmark has a circular board! 😀

  36. History seems to be repeating itself yet again with Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast and DnD/TTRPGs

  37. Theres a monopoly version for my specific college at the library here

  38. Monopoly was quite literally made to show the ’horrors’ of capitalism

  39. I usually find myself fizzing with rage because my brother insists on cheating every single chance he gets!
    So the game is realistic in that respect too!

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