I’ve no idea if this is a true story, or a bit of self-publicity by a pundit: https://medium.com/s/futurehuman/survival-of-the-richest-9ef6cddd0cc1
If a true story then you probably need, once you have got over your anger, decide whether you need to do anything about it – it is, after all, a direct threat to you.
But what if it is not literally true? What then?
Well if it is not literally true we could see it as a parable (a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson) which might contain a useful truth, or we could just ignore it as a bit of fluff stroking our prejudices about the super-rich.
Nonetheless there is a problem with the super-rich. In a world where both sources and sinks for human activities are overloaded they are certainly part of the problem, even if only as a mere symbol of a system that naturally produces such an outcome. There are many reasons why people may become extremely rich, but there is no excuse for the self centredness that leads them to maintain that position. The token offsetting by some with charitable works and “good” deeds can not even compensate for their continued lifestyle no matter the costs borne by others from how they got to that position. Having acquired wealth beyond reason the only good deed possible is to dispose of it by any means.
Come to that our own continued search for success that allows almost anyone who reads this to be leaving the ecological system of which we are a part in a less healthy state when we exit it that when we arrived is also a big problem.
So whether or not Douglas Rushkoff really was summoned by five rich guys to provide an edge to their escape plans for “the event” is beside the point. The super rich undoubtably do exist and they undoubtably are a problem. They are our problem in that it is the attention we give them as exemplars of what it means to be a successful human that allows them to exist and the vast majority of people to think “yes that would be nice if it was me”. Of course it would be nice, wouldn’t it. Or so it seems if we don’t dig too deep into the implications.
About a year ago a friend wrote a piece on here which he wanted to publish anonymously. It attracted some comment here and elsewhere. Chris Jones in particular raised a question:
Given that the sooner collapse comes the lesser will be the burden of damage to the environment would it be ethical for us to actually work to precipitate that collapse? And if so, what would be the most effective and ethical way of doing that?
Putting that question with Douglas Rushkoff’s piece we can start to see a human, not humane, answer. I have heard similar stories elsewhere about a segment of the super rich buying up out of the way places likely to be least affected by whatever their pet fear-du-jour is and constructing plans to be able to occupy them as a haven just before TSHTF.
Whether or not Rushkoff’s story is true it does seem reasonable that having made your pile you might take a look around and realise that the world is in a pretty bad state for the future of current human civilisation and you could use some of your ill-gotten gains to protect yourself. Given that the super rich are apparently using their wealth to construct personal lifeboats for what they see as an inevitable “event” then we either need to stop them or to praise them. Since to praise them would be tantamount to giving up and dying then they need to be stopped.
There is, of course, another well known group who are taking a similar approach at a more personal level – the so-called ‘preppers’, mostly in the US, who stock up on canned food and ammo and prepare to sit out the “event” in a cabin in the woods or hills. Possibly they are less of a problem and can safely be ignored. On the other hand they also illustrate the massive futility of the super-rich approach. At the end of the day how exactly will they stop their own guards taking over.
Initially a direct attack on them is not likely to be either successful or productive, we need a less direct approach. And this is where Chris Jones’s question comes into play.
Ethics are a human construct, and faced with the collapse of an eco-system of which we are a mere part I don’t think that human ethics even enter into the considerations. The only question is whether it would be effective to precipitate the collapse of global capitalist human civilisation in order both to minimise the damage to the eco-system that sustains us (Chris’s concern) and to preserve some worthwhile aspects of human society (Rupert’s concern)(well since he presented a version of the paper he published here at a philosophy conference in UC Berkeley last September, subsequently published under his name on Hans Sulga’s I may as well call him by name now).
Human collapse is unlikely to be either simple or quick (as John Greer frequently points out). It is a slow-motion affair that proceeds in a series of steps. Some may seem dramatic and sudden, other just a slow worsening of the conditions of life. There is unlikely to be an “event” which will trigger the super-rich to retreat behind their walls. Or if they think one has happened then after a few months they may scratch their heads and wonder as the rest of us get on with making do.
Perhaps what is needed is to trigger a “false flag” collapsette, just enough to make the super-rich take fright and finally nail their colours to the mast allowing the rest of us to see them for the parasites that they are. Once we stop seeing them as somehow the best that humanity has to offer and start to recognise them as the enemy within, then perhaps the whole edifice would start to crumble and the revolution (in the sense that Kahn uses the word) against global capitalism could get under way.
Suppose a group of 20 to 50 motivated people undertook to shut down the UK motorway network (fairly easy to do – if you were tasked with closing a section of motorway for a few days I’m sure you could come up with a few highly effective ways of doing it) rapidly followed by closure of the dozen biggest airports – again quite easy if you think about it. Forget the movies and fantasies of terrorists; no weapons needed – moving on to shutting down chunks of the communications networks and so on. Given 50 people and a week i reckon you could paralyse economic activity for a month or more, which coupled with the other stresses should ratchet things along nicely. Those of us in the above-ground arm of the movement (using the above-ground//below-ground model developed by DGR) need to be prepared to speak out trenchantly in support of those taking action.
In the meantime the best preps you can make are to make sure you know how to produce food (I don’t mean know in your head, I mean wisdom from doing), how to work with systems, build a network of human and non-human interdependence in your life, and find ways to store and pass on your personal knowledge and wisdom. Remember Fahrenheit 451 (the book, not the film) – there’s a clue there.