Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

The Money Diary intern is a secret revolutionary

The Money Diary intern is a secret revolutionary

The internet is outraged by her wealth but it’s failing to see the bigger picture

The internet is outraged by her wealth but it’s failing to see the bigger picture

Tim Smith-Laing | July 27th 2018

A lot of people seem to be against familial wealth. “Ach, the children of the wealthy,” they moan, “have everything handed to them on a plate. From the best schools, they go to the best internships, supported by their parents, and thence to the best jobs. Then they buy the best houses in the best places, and their children go to the best schools, to the best internships, and thence to the best jobs. And so it passes on from generation to generation. Undeserved wealth! Unequal! Inequality! One percenters!” And so on. This is why, for instance, internet people have spent the last week or so working themselves up into a viral frenzy over the money diary of a 21-year old intern scraping by in New York City like a latter-day George Orwell, down and out in LA and the Hamptons.

It is easy to empathise with Intern X’s attackers. She is, shall we say, comfortably off. From her $25 an hour internship, augmented by a monthly allowance of $1,000 from her family, her income comes to $4,330 dollars a month. Although, by the time you have added to that the rent, health insurance, phone bills and internet entertainment accounts that her parents pay for, you are looking at an actual income equivalent to $6,700 a month. Call it about $80,000 a year. Set against this are her fixed monthly outgoings: a $10 MoviePass, a $210 gym membership, and $40.76 for “one Brazilian sugaring a month”. All told these expenses amount to $3,000 a year. Which leaves her with, oh, $77,000 dollars to play with – most of which seems to go on smoothies, superfoods and wine. She is, to be sure, no Oliver Twist.

What people seem overwhelmingly to object to here is that Intern X does not earn her own money. If you find this reprehensible, look again. Damn right she does not earn her own money! Earning your own money is a capitalist con, and X is conning capitalism right back. That is the whole point, the blade that cuts to the heart of what Intern X’s critics fail to understand. Where you or I might rage ineffectually against the machine on Twitter, she is bringing it down from within. Where we are playing snap, she is playing chess. 

To take it back to basics you need to understand that “making a living” is a species of spiritual prestidigitation perpetrated upon workers by a social order in which, under the influence of a puritan morality, the idea of human worth has been conflated with the notion of merit, merit with diligence, and diligence with the willingness to sell your free time in return for tokens that will allow you to buy free time. In this way, the worker in actual fact exchanges life – hour by hour – for death. Working day by week by year, we sell our lives to Capital so that we may have the means one day to buy our lives back from Capital, only to find, when we have accumulated the means to do so, that there is no more life to buy. And thence to the grave. 

It is a system in which people are not people but “human resources” – in the same way that coal, oil, timber and ore are. They, we, are mere matter to be excavated, extracted, burned, chopped and moulded into power, money and so much waste to be pumped up into the skies or down into the seas. It is an iniquitous system. But Intern X is bucking it. 

Read correctly, her “working life” is an object lesson in how to drain capitalism of its resources, stymie its will to domination and bring it to ruin. Alert to the semantic overtones of calling sentient beings “resources”, she works in “HR consulting”. Works: hah! The first morning of the diary consists of “a small project, online shopping, and journaling”, then lunch. At 1:05 “I sit around and do nothing until my 3pm meeting”. Then, 5:01: “I leave every day at 5 on the dot.” “Working from home” the next day comprises packing for a trip to the Hamptons, acai bowls and smoothies, hot yoga and hitting the road at 2:05. 

After the weekend away, it is nose back to the grindstone, only the grindstone does not know that Intern X’s nose cannot be sharpened: like water, she resists by not resisting at all. After an afternoon spent watching France v Belgium in the World Cup, she spends the afternoon “researching podcasts for ‘living your best life’”. What she knows, of course, is that she is living hers already, and striving in secret battle that we all may live ours too. In three days Capital has paid her for 24 hours of her life, and received, as far as I can tell, nothing in return.

I do not expect people to understand that this is resistance at its finest, but it is. This is long-termism of the most ambitiously transformational kind. If you want an equal society you do not achieve it by open warfare. You do it by infiltration, undermining and destabilisation: an army of sleeper agents who have the resources of their own to bide their time, to crawl like ticks right up the trouser leg of the system and slowly drain it of its lifeblood. Only the most amateur agents of change wander round in Lenin caps, tweet about socialised healthcare, or appear on TV to shout “I’m a communist, you idiot” at Piers Morgan. The real saboteurs move invisible through the world they despise, camouflaged in Gucci and Prada, waiting for the right moment to cast their Manolo Blahnik stilettos into the cogs that keep it running.