the doomsday plans of the rich and fabulous
Usually, when the wealthy were worried about the fate of their country, they bought a second citizenship by moving some money to a new potential home nation’s financial institutions and investing in local ventures. Some well-off Americans are already doing that now, much like so many wealthy Russians did during the prolonged implosion of the Soviet Union. When those with the means to flee are packing their bags, it’s wise to start thinking about your next move. But what do you do when the elites are preparing for the world as we know it to end?
It seems increasingly obvious that a world-as-a-factory model working on the assumption that everything from population, to employment, to widget output, to imaginary tokens of stock values must grow forever regardless of the cost to people and the environment is completely unsustainable for any species having only one planet. Vast swaths of ordinary humans accept this fact, and now it seems that those running the world do too. But their reaction isn’t to try and fix the problems but to wait for a total catastrophe and try again.
However, their problem lies in thinking that one’s wealth in today’s world will matter in the next one. As long as at least a few million of us survive, new civilizations will take only a few generations to appear, and some random emaciated former tycoon’s claim to be worth billions will be as laughable as a vagrant’s plea that his Ferrari is in the shop, and he left his solid gold bullion is his other pants. With today’s stock markets gone, over $105 trillion of assets will be less valuable than toilet paper, bread, and batteries overnight.
why all the money in the world won’t save you
Now, to give the global elites credit where it’s due, they very much realize this is what awaits them on the other side of an apocalypse and they’re consulting with experts on what to do if they’re underground for years, waiting for the worst of the collapse to boil over. Where they do seem to be failing is in recognizing the problems but refusing to listen to solutions in which the core approach is “maybe make sure that civilization doesn’t implode just so you can claim just a little more money that you know will be worthless.” Instead, this is where they seem to stand…
They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from raiders as well as angry mobs. One had already secured a dozen Navy Seals to make their way to his compound if he gave them the right cue. But how would he pay the guards once even his crypto was worthless? What would stop the guards from eventually choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers – if that technology could be developed “in time”.
The answer to their dilemma? Once you have a group of well trained, heavily armed people in a bunker with you, you are now under their control, not the other way around. As soon as those blast doors shut, all your money means nothing and you better hope they won’t see you as a burden because if they do, or if you demand they put on disciplinary collars, your brain will be promptly splattered all over the locked doors of the food supply they’ll use plasma cutters and other tools needed for basic maintenance to pry open.
you can’t eat money, but they’ll certainly try
So, they can summon notorious hippie futurist like Douglas Rushkoff, who wrote a whole book on his stint consulting as a post-apocalypse planner, groan like kids told to eat their vegetables when he asks “isn’t letting a doomsday happen a bad idea for the exact reasons you outlined?” but that message doesn’t seem to sink in. In some ways, their greed has become a pathology. Even knowing full well that it will almost certainly destroy today’s civilization given our current trajectory, and that all their cash piles will be utterly useless, they can’t stop themselves.
How else do you refer to a psychology in which someone worth billions seriously considers the prospect of being locked in a concrete catacomb with heavily armed killers who could turn on him in the blink of an eye with no consequences, and then ask “okay, but how much more can I make before that happens?” instead of “how do I avoid this?” But it is consistent with studies that show just how corrosive unchecked wealth and power are, and how they shut off rational decision-making and empathy while supercharging narcissism and self-deception.
When the most powerful voices on Earth today believe that death in their gilded living tombs is preferable to going one fiscal quarter without a dividend or paying a little more in taxes so the poors don’t lose all hope and revolt, the air and water don’t turn to poison, and our blood isn’t full of our garbage as our cities crumble under the strain of climate change, fully knowing that this is exactly what will happen if nothing changes, what else should we call it but a pathology, and worry gravely about our immediate future?
the dark plan to save the oligarchy
Of course, not all billionaires are resigning themselves to wealth and luxury until the moment it all comes crashing down, determined to go down with the ship as world leaders they propelled into power play model UN at the actual UN. Some, like Peter Thiel, have a rather different plan. In their preferred future, concepts like individual rights and democracy are discarded for what is said to be the good of the unwashed masses, replaced by tycoons and their pet tyrants to make the “correct decisions” for those who refuse to simply go along with their plans.
Having “stabilized” society through an iron fist, they will push doctors and scientists to develop life extension technology and mind uploading, so they could one day live forever as rulers of a galactic human empire powered by ruthless capitalism, as detailed in the tech mogul religion of Longtermism. Yes, this does sound like the basic premise of Warhammer 40,000 mixed with Cyberpunk 2077 and The Handmaid’s Tale, but as crazy as it seems, this is exactly the future currently being planned for us by right wing opportunists.
Even more absurd is that people who seem most upset by the idea of a totalitarian government led by a bizarre New Age cult telling them what to do, also tend to be the ones most inclined to vote for this future, baited by professional culture warriors in the employ of our aspiring rulers for eternity. And when you consider the fact that they’re actively donating and fundraising for a dystopian vision, it’s almost like watching chickens paying foxes to eat them, waving banners featuring steaming drumsticks as they do.
what happens to all the little people?
All right, that was a wild ride through the minds of the wealthy and neurotic or despotic, but at this point you may be wondering where that leaves us. Every day it’s becoming more and more evident that the global 0.1% lives in a very different universe than we do. They know full well that the current state of the world is incredibly unstable and millions will die in the coming set of radical readjustments, but it’s a chance they’re willing to take if their stock portfolios remain intact in the end.
In their minds, many wealthy aristocrats survived other ends of the world like the Black Death and their descendants are still loaded. Surely, they can survive another apocalypse by hiding in the shadows and waiting until it all blows over or seizing control of societies and continuing to ruthlessly squeeze them for profit without all those pesky voters or the annoyance of criticism from political activists. And us? The commoners without eight or nine figure stock portfolios? We are nothing but cannon fodder for their dream of watching the green line go brrr.
It’s one thing to acknowledge that inequality and injustice will always exist in any society, and that the best we can do is make sure that our basic quality of life allows the typical person to become a healthy, productive member of society, and meet their essential needs. And it’s fine for people to make a tremendous amount of money and get respect for it. But where we cross the line is when we’re being sacrificed at the altars of the stock market during a pandemic and an unfolding climate catastrophe comparable to the worst event in Earth’s history.
And when your lifestyle and priorities include what are in effect daily blood offerings of your fellow humans, and your level of acceptable collateral damage is “everyone who isn’t me or I want to work for me,” it’s time to talk about said lifestyle and priorities not as the rewards of success, but as tremendously self-destructive game of chicken with causality.