On Reddit this week, Stalin has become the face of some very funny communist-themed wordplay. Meme creators have been taking first- and second-person singular possessives—mine, yours—and switching them to first person plurals. What was once mine and yours is now ours. They started by seizing one of the internet’s most popular means of production: the game Minecraft.
Or should I say … Ourcraft?
Explaining how this meme came to be, and how Stalin is suddenly a meme hero, requires a little background.
Memes about communism have consistently been both popular and “dank”—meme slang that basically means cool and funny—over the past couple of years. Many millennials are disillusioned with capitalism, and the hugely popular Bernie Sanders campaign brought a socialist alternative into the mainstream. Meme sources like the Facebook page “Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash” and the r/fullcommunism subreddit have humorously advocated communism, while right-wing 4chan users and various Trump supporters have created memes tearing it down.
The “Ourcraft” meme seems to have originated in r/fullcommunism, where the icon to upvote a good post is a photo of Stalin’s face. As the my/our format advanced to other subreddits, images of Stalin became a central part of the meme. What does Stalin like more than myspace? OURspace.
Stalin doesn’t care about your Mii avatar, but he’s down to play the Nintendo Wii:
Kansas is okay, but OURkansas is better:
The U.S. ArMY? Forget it. It’s the U.S. ArOUR now:
My house? Hahaha, no. It is OUR house.
Hey kids, did I ever tell you how I met OUR mother?
The Stalin meme was hugely popular on Reddit circa Saturday, Sept. 30, to the point where some were complaining about oversaturation:
But its trajectory was halted by current events. Stalin memes were suddenly overshadowed by tasteless memes about the mass shooting that killed nearly 60 people in Las Vegas on Oct. 1. The gravity of the event, and the desire to capitalize on it, was so great that the Stalin memes dwindled to nothing. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that these communism memes became a victim of meme capitalism.
Stalin is still kicking around, but his likeness has been uncoupled from the my/our jokes and has gone back to older formats that don’t have much appeal beyond niche communities like r/fullcommunism:
Don’t worry about communism memes in general, though. They’re propped up by the increasing popularity of socialism among young people in the U.S.—see, e.g., the rise of the Democratic Socialists of America—and by high school history classes. One reason historical memes are so popular is that teens tend to be the drivers of memetic trends, and they all share the common experience of learning about figures like Marx and Stalin in school. Joking about history is a way to acknowledge their shared knowledge base without explicitly talking about school, which is totally not dank, and it has the added advantage of appealing to older audiences.