When I made my list of keywords in mid-December 2017, I swiftly forgot the vast bulk of them. “Fantasy” is one of the words I forgot. Now I am going: what was I thinking? What do I have to say about “fantasy”, even if it is only a mere 500 words? The first thing that came to mind for me when I think of “fantasy” is the lottery.
How many people have thought about winning the lottery and precisely how they would spend the money? I have thought about it many times. I told my therapist once about my fantasizing about winning the lottery. She asked me a simple question: “do you play the lottery?” My meek reply: “Well, no…” So my fantasizing about the lottery is fantasy in the truest sense of the word because there is literally zero point zero [0.0] chance of me winning. Be that as it may, lottery-winning is my favorite fantasy.
If I won mega-millions, I would immediately quit my job and I would buy up multiple properties on both costs and in vacation spots in the Caribbean and Europe. I would travel for 1-2 years straight, first-class all the way, eating in the best restaurants and shopping in the most exclusive stores. When I was good and ready, I would start my own foundation to fund the issues that I care about and give myself a job with a dedicated staff. I would switch from the self-involved to the altruistic to use the money to do the most good that I possibly could while staying true to my own values.
In some ways, I am embarrassed to admit that my ultimate fantasy is to win the lottery. Because here’s the thing: I absolutely despise capitalism. I am a socialist and I believe that the very core of capitalism is based in brutality. But I still would not mind winning a huge windfall of CA$H. The reality is that being rich is easier. I hate it when people say that money doesn’t buy happiness. My response: I’d like to find out if that is true for myself, thank you very much! Being working-class and economically challenged, as I am, is stressful, exhausting and depleting. If I didn’t have this constant money anxiety, I could probably accomplish a lot more AND be more content. It seems to me that we can hate the current system while also acknowledging that if we occupy the dominant class position that life is a lot easier.
Fantasy is the act of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable. We all engage in it. It seems to be a basic human activity. Perhaps if we lived in a utopia where everything was perfect we would have no need to fantasize. But we don’t live in such a world, not by a long shot. And so we fantasize to step out of our status quo reality. It makes us feel better. It also makes us imagine what has not been in our lives. I will almost certainly not attain my lottery-winning fantasy and all that goes with it, but I can see some of the things that I want more clearly and see if I can attain even a fraction of them through other means.
On the downside, fantasy can be one of the “opiates of the masses.” Working-class people spend huge amounts of money on the lottery and often invest lots of time in the rags-to-riches fantasy. The reality is that only a small minority of people raise substantially up the economic ladder. The lottery can deter people from becoming woke, from sharpening their working-class consciousness and from participating in social movements. It can function as an opiate by numbing people to the reality of their oppression, by anesthetizing them to the brutal class conditions of vulture capitalism and all the misery that goes with it.
The problem I have with this analysis is that often comes off as victim blaming and inhumane. Before the dawn of the great revolution, people need to do little things to feel better. If buying a lottery ticket does that, or fantasizing about how they would live if they won, I don’t see the harm. In the final tally, fantasizing is neither inherently positive or negative. It is simply a very human activity that we all engage in for fun, for diversion, and for dreaming of possibilities.