Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

The socialism of the toothbrush

A certain brand of socialist is obsessed with refuting the purported right-wing claim that socialism would socialize your toiletries, forcing you to share your toothbrush. I’m not sure any opponent of socialism has ever actually made such a claim (from what I can find, it appears to originate with 19th-century socialists attempting to distance themselves from communism), but given the craziness of arguments advanced against socialism it’s not entirely implausible.

But the coincidence of the Twitter NHS love and the latest communique from the Socialist Lavatory League got me thinking.¬† There’s an interesting similarity to the socialism of the public toilet and the NHS, in that both involve the coincidence of public provision and a very particular bodily intimacy. This is actually quite uncommon, though other examples might include¬† soviet communal apartments, collective canteens, and Dominic’s proposed nationalized strip clubs. I wonder if this socialization of biological need isn’t a kind of zero-degree of socialism. The need to defend against imagined socialized toothbrushes would then be a sign of a deep anxiety about socialism itself.

I’d forgotten to include public nurseries and care homes as sites of a bodily socialism. I’ve long thought that the employees of the latter, in particular, are true heroes of socialist labor.