What’s going to happen to us?



People are getting ill and dying. Friends of mine. They’re having strokes, succumbing to cancer, developing bad stomachs, having trouble sleeping. Sure, we’re all getting older. This stuff happens. But not at the rate at which it seems, in my very unscientific study, to be afflicting us. Is this Trump’s fault? I know there’s a lot of anxiety because of him. A lot of stress. Are we going to wind up in a nuclear war? A civil war? A fascist state? A water world? A new ice age? All of these things seem increasingly possible. I know I’ve been losing sleep. It’s especially tough if you have young children. What kind of world have we brought them into? What are we leaving them?

A lot has been written, a lot said, in connection with Trump’s most recent atrocity, his refusal to stand up or speak out in a clear and forceful way about the events in Charlottesville that cost a young woman her life and left many others injured.

He’s an abomination, a clear threat to our continued survival. At the same time, I feel like we are playing right into the hands of the true enemy when we focus all our energy on Trump himself and the emotionality of “identity politics.” The “owners,” as George Carlin called the richest Americans, want nothing more than for us to focus our anger on one another. They want us to take our eye off the ball. Make no mistake about it, as despicable as neo-Nazis and white supremacists are, they’re not the real enemy. They have always existed and in all likelihood always will exist. They should certainly be called out and shunned. But our real enemy is economic inequality. The real enemy is the unfair influence of a tiny minority of society, the superrich 1%, owners of corporate America, who are stealing the rest of us blind and trying to continue their thievery while we focus our ire not on them but on each other. The symbolism of Confederate statues and flags, while offensive, is not worthy of our energy right now. As Yaphet Kotto said about the company owners in his stirring rant against them in the movie Blue Collar, “They’ll do anything to keep you on the line. They pit the lifers against the new boys, the old against the young, the black against the white—everybody—to keep us in our place.”

I don’t know how we defeat the oligarchy. The game is so rigged now – and they’ve succeeded so spectacularly in pitting half the country against the other half – that it’s hard to see a way to overcome the corruption, to elect representatives who truly represent the people’s interests and not theirs. It’s hard to see a way for the general populace to be properly educated, to have their most basic needs met, so that they’re not focused on the wrong things, on issues that don’t actually address their concerns. The owners count on ignorance and petty prejudices, emotions that they can manipulate. In this regard, Trump has been a useful foil and distraction. The greed of the Kochs and the Mercers is so large that even at the risk of the planet and of their own safety, the urge to keep acquiring drives them to keep up their unholy plunder. They build their bunkers and hide their assets in case we get wise and the whole thing tumbles down. But they hope that by the time the revolution comes, or nuclear war, or the rising of the seas, they’ll be long gone, and only their children will have to suffer.

By Peter Alson

Peter Alson is a writer and editor. Among his published books are the memoirs Confessions of an Ivy League Bookie and Take Me to the River. He's also co-authored (with Nolan Dalla) One of a Kind, a biography of poker champion Stuey Ungar, and Atlas, the autobiography of boxing trainer and commentator Teddy Atlas. His articles have appeared in many national magazines, including Esquire, Playboy and The New York Times. He has worked as a writer for People magazine, and as an editor for Playboy and for Hachette Publications. He has written screenplays for Paramount and various independent producers, and his TV pilot, Nicky’s Game, starring John Ventimiglia and Burt Young, appeared in the New York Television Festival and the Vail Film Festival. As a poker player he has finished in the money numerous times in the World Series of Poker and other events. He lives in New York with his wife, Alice, and their daughter, Eden.

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