The key to understanding this whole carious election is INHERITANCE, alongside its accompanying closest-thing-remaining-to-an-emotion, ENTITLEMENT.

I used to work for a tutoring agency on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, one of the zillions that popped up in the wake of charter schools and the test-them-to-death crazes sweeping the nation, catering to the gormless spawn of the ultra wealthy. These agencies are like the Wild West – there’s literally no regulations at all, they come and go as quickly as ‘herbal marijuana’ formulas, and there’s nothing but admin marketeering to rope the kids into their crappy ‘schools’ (which are just empty offices with no heat or internet). The one I was at paid $40 per hour, while the admins pocketed a whopping $200 per hour for work they didn’t do (though the parents assumed the tutors ‘followed the curriculum’, there was none, and tutors were expected to wing it at best or work around the admins’ impractical or downright dangerous random advice at worst). I bring this up not just to snitch on how ramshackle and shady the operations are that the ultra wealthy throw their kids at (to the tune of approximately $1500 a day, five days a week, for at least a full semester), but also to mention the mutated emotional apparatus the child-inheritors of the ultra wealthy grow into. Many of these kids were third-generation money – that is, no one in their homes worked for a living besides the frequently-multiple maids, cooks and dog-walkers. Homework, classwork and tests were OPTIONAL – it depended on how they felt that day, and if they did nothing there was to be no consequence. On several occasions the tutors were criticised by the kids for their off-brand clothing, made fun of for their lack of vacation experience, or told their appearance was just underwhelming. (‘Why are your teeth so yellow?’ one precocious six-year-old asked me. ‘I eat a lot of yellow food,’ I confided.) These kids are trained from birth how not to relate to anyone, but how to jockey for attention and priority of service based solely on their family’s possessions (which for them have always been there, and never required even the slightest thought of work). They have no skills and develop no talents beyond the dark arts of presentation and accumulation. They are INHERITORS, and in case you haven’t noticed, in the twenty-first century they’re rapidly coming to own the earth.

I bring this up for two reasons: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Clinton wasn’t born to ultra wealth the way that Trump was, but her time as a member of Washington royalty and the election ‘stolen’ from her (goddamn democracy!) eight years back leaves her squarely ENTITLED. The Donald is far more dangerous, tho: he has all the hallmarks of inheritors, which is to say, in the lingo, sociopathic narcissism. Like the kids at the tutoring ‘schools’, he’s taught from birth that he can do no wrong, that the world exists purely to serve him, and that world leadership is just the position he DESERVES. There’s no point at all discussing his ‘real’ opinions or beliefs, because the surface is all there is, just pomp and hurt and want and warp and woof, a reality TV incarnation of Pa Ubu himself. From the perspective of ultrawealth, the world’s less-than-wealthy people are basically cartoon versions of animals, who require orders and proper herding to do what wealth demands. That’s only an extension of the neoconservative logic of placing money before people, making capital the subject and workers ITS object. But it’s a terrifying extension, like Pinocchio’s erection, because its object relations remove any chance of empathy ever getting in the way. When you’re born and raised with no connection to real productive life, you are never in danger of seeing the masses as more than raw materials.

The moment of organised action was squandered in the previous century. In this century, the revolution will probably not be organised. But it still must be, or we’re what’s next on the disgustingly expensive menu.

Trump’s primary innovation was noticing that American politics was less entertaining than pro wrestling, and that, in the wake of Rupert Murdoch, the most entertaining person wins the news (and leverages the buzz into money and power). The disenfranchisement of American workers over the course of decades, combined with the destruction of education and the constant lack of truthful information on even the most basic facts of American economics, politics and society have left the nation dangerously close to the cartoon version of a zoo that Trump very obviously sees it as. There’s literally no difference at all between the cartoon racism of, say, Piper’s Pit and Trump’s preposterous Twitter face-offs with the president of Mexico. Like Rowdy Roddy Piper, Donald Trump (also a stage name) has no racial politics whatsoever ‘in real life’ when it comes to his moneyed cohorts – he’s literally just as happy doing deals with sheiks and mullahs as he is with any other billionaires or warlords with golf clubs.

The only major problem about his stage-show offend-o-rama is that, unlike in pro wrestling, people actually do get hurt. There is a real life, even in America, just beyond the bumper ads, and the people who are hurt or killed are not cartoons and won’t be fine in time for the next gag. The world of humans may be scarred irreparably by its exploiters and oppressors – it may be generations before true knowledge and meaningful action can be recovered from the pit they’ve been buried inside, entirely deliberately – but it’s still the only life that counts. Your life and the lives of fellow workers are worth fighting for, and indeed, you have no other choice – leaving your lives up to billionaire inheritors or neocon vultures will kill you in the end, fast and cartoonishly, or slightly slower and more bureaucratically corporate.

You know this moment is very brief; you know in every major ‘developed’ nation at present there is war, mass incarceration, and fascism on the horizon, the likes of which have never been seen or even imagined. There’s never in living memory been a time of greater lock-down, of workers fighting against each other instead of against their actual exploiters, of poor people voting against their own interests, of ignorance and misdirection and sheer desperation. This ‘election’, the joke at the end of the tragedy, marks a penultimate moment in world history, like Nero picking up his favourite torch, or Garth Brooks deciding he can do an Australian accent. Nothing good can come of this. No matter who wins, we all will lose – tho of course we lose much more if it’s the inheritor who wins than the just plain entitled. There’s never been fewer schlemiels in history in charge of spilling soup on so many schlimazels.

The moment of organised action was squandered in the previous century. In this century, the revolution will probably not be organised. But it still must be, or we’re what’s next on the disgustingly expensive menu.

Michael Tencer
minutes to go
Nov 2016