Reminder: When the Very Very Rich Are Done With Us, They Plan to Leave Us Behind

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Yves here. One of the many things I had wanted to do but never got done was an idea a few years back of writing a screenplay for a movie called “Point of Failure”. Three interlocking plots about super rich guys decamping to their foreign secure compounds when they decide the time has come for them and their families to go. And of course their plans wind up going awry (the one who looks to have gotten away cleanly then has a family member develop a serious medical problem that can’t be treated at his bolthole).

BTW, one vulnerability that these squillionaires obsess over is the private jet pilots. How do they make sure they’ll transport them, as opposed to dump them out and fly themselves and their families over? And I don’t see why, if I were a private jet pilot, that I’d trust them one iota. Once you’ve shuttled them over, your use to them is done. I’d expect to be shot stepping off the plane.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

The spa in the Europa One compound in Germany. Europa One spans 76 acres and has 228,000 square feet of living area — one of the many “safe spaces with amenities” being built for the rich, tailored to these Coronavirus times, according to the LA Times

For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

This is your periodic reminder that:

• After the predatory rich have extracted all the wealth they can from those of us who work to sustain their luxuries;

• After they’ve raped and despoiled the fruits of earth, turned most of it to muck, so that only the places they inhabit are habitable;

• After the chaotic wars, famines and droughts; after the cross-border conflicts and drone strikes on dangerous refugee camps to thin the herd, inflicted by those with power to stem the angry tide of those without it;

• After all the pandemics and diseases have taken their toll;

• After the world has started to go wild again, a riot of weeds in our ancient agricultural garden;

After all that, the predatory wealthy will abandon us, create a place that nurtures only themselves — they and the professional classes they can’t live without — and live there forever, leaving the wreck they left behind to us.

Consider this, from 2018 (emphasis added):

Last year, I got invited to a super-deluxe private resort to deliver a keynote speech to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment bankers. It was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for a talk — about half my annual professor’s salary — all to deliver some insight on the subject of “the future of technology.”

I’ve never liked talking about the future. The Q&A sessions always end up more like parlor games, where I’m asked to opine on the latest technology buzzwords as if they were ticker symbols for potential investments: blockchain, 3D printing, CRISPR. The audiences are rarely interested in learning about these technologies or their potential impacts beyond the binary choice of whether or not to invest in them. But money talks, so I took the gig.

After I arrived, I was ushered into what I thought was the green room. But instead of being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me: five super-wealthy guys — yes, all men — from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world. After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come with questions of their own.

They started out innocuously enough. Ethereum or bitcoin? Is quantum computing a real thing? Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern.

And what were their “real topics of concern”? How to abandon the broken world they made and leave us in the dust.

Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?”

The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.

This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from 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.

It took the author a while to get it, but he finally did:

That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology. … For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.

Despite its starkness, there’s too much forgiveness in this piece. “For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.” Not true. They’re the ones who created it.

If you think all this is speculative, consider the Covid-era luxury bunkers the wealthy are already building to “self-isolate” in comfort.

Be warned. Asking to not be prey won’t work all, and it never has. Trying to “move the corporatists to the left” is an exercise that only ends in failure — or co-dependency.

In a democracy, as fanciful as the term may be when applied to the United States — in a democracy that doesn’t survive, like Mubarak’s Egypt did, by parking tanks on street corners, the wealthy are kept in place by the people alone. They really can be removed if the people want to remove them.

Whether the process is orderly, though, depends on the Left. We already know what rebellion from the Right looks like. It looks like Trump.

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  1. Watt4Bob

    There is really no place to hide.

    I recall the story of an Irish ‘collaborator’, a traitor if you will to the republican cause. He informed on his brothers and ran away to Australia.

    The IRA sent a man to find and kill him.

    He no doubt would have swum to Australia if boat passage was not available.

      1. David in Santa Cruz

        Jonestown Guyana was a utopian bug-out exactly like these self-regarding sociopaths think that they can create. Jim Jones used brain-washing and religion to keep the workers intended to create his post-apocalypse paradise in line. Jones lost his mind trying to control his nearly thousand followers while living in a parched forest clearing hundreds of miles from civilization.

        Rep. Leo Ryan and five of his staff went to Jonestown to investigate whether constituents were being held there against their will. When Ryan’s team tried to leave with a few Jonestown defectors, they were gunned-down on the runway. Current congress-member Jackie Speier was one of the Ryan staffers on the tarmac that day; she was shot five times, but survived. Virtually all of 900-odd members of the Jonestown community died later that day in a mass murder-suicide.

        These silly bug-out fantasies are delusional and will end in the deaths of those foolish enough to attempt them. Community assures survival, not hierarchy.

    1. Robert Gray

      re: Irish informer flees to Oz

      heh heh

      Sounds very much like Lawrence Gordon Clark’s ‘Act of Betrayal’ (1988).

  2. Jos Oskam

    And then he goes and spoils it all in the last line with this tired and simplistic meme:
    “Left == Good & Right == Bad == Trump”


    1. Valiant Johnson

      I am also bored and disappointed with writers that can not get away from this Left vs. Right BS.

      1. occasional anonymous

        It literally boils down to poor vs rich. Left vs Right isn’t ‘BS’; it’s something baked into human history.

    2. Icecube12

      I understood the last line as leftist rebellion=unknown while rightist rebellion=Trump. The latter isn’t much of a rebellion in spite of all the guns and hasn’t done anything to bring the super rich down to size, only raised them up further.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        the Rightist Rebellion(TM) is the method the Machine uses to coopt the anger and despair and “damn the torpedoes”-ism that generally obtains after the Harvest and Hollowing Out have proceeded far enough downslope….lest there be room and fuel enough for an actual Lefty Rebellion, which(if allowed to go on) would appeal much more to the Masses, and for which the Machine has no answer.
        “Vote for Me, and I’ll destroy your life and that of your family…you can count on it!”—doesn’t tend to get many supporters if presented so honestly.
        Hence rampant dishonesty, innuendo and weaselwords and a complete upending of the Language sufficient to make words like “liberty” mean “Free to Die in Service of Capital”..
        Hence, also, the repeated “interventions”…against Fidel’s Cuba, or the Black Panthers, or even Hippies and the early, post Revolution Russian Civil War, or the Bookchin-ish Anarchism in Kurdistan…can’t allow an alternative to survive, let alone flourish.
        People might get ideas….
        And now comes more Mindfuck…because the Herd had to stay home for a couple of months, and the cash cows that constitute it could give no more milk(labor, velocity of $, debt services, etc)….and “They” panicked and sent out a few checks to ordinary folks(we got ours pretty quickly), and allowed Members of the Machine (like Kashkari and even Powell) to let slip the Great Secret in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Moloch: that Money isn’t real, and we can create as much of it as we need…but choose not to do so to save the People.
        all the Orthodoxy about how “We cannot Afford it!” and “…But the Debt!” now laid bare for the perfidious shell game they have always been.
        So a drawer is opened, and a Plan is retrieved and the Buttons that lie within all Humans that are labeled “I Wish” are pushed with great skill….and here they come…the People…out from their holes, to prance about and support the God of Avarice once again.
        Will it work this time?
        That remains to be seen.

        “…And in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath. In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.”-Steinbeck

        “I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.”- Debs

        “When the forces of oppression come to maintain themselves in power against established law; peace is considered already broken.”-Che

        1. DJG

          Amfortas: Thank you. Aside from the fact that the difference between the U.S. nihilist reactionary right (not The American Conservative paleos) and the U.S. left (and not liberals like Zombie Joe Biden) is a notable difference, with difference in understanding of history, of tactics, and of desired outcomes, the idea that the “left right divide is just so tired” is lazy thinking.

          In the US of A, the right, especially the reactionary / feudal right, which is now a large part of the Republican wing of the Monoparty, has always insisted on its monopoly on violence.

          Have we all forgotten that one of the largest, consistently violent, and still erupting aspects of the U.S. right has been the long-lived Ku Klux Klan?

          So the last line of this post, and its call for the left to act responibly and to consider what must be done to offer benefits to all, is hardly a nostrum.

          Meanwhile, somehow, the Liberation Army of Capital, with its local branches, the rogue state militias, are not violent? And aren’t rightwingers?

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            as ive said, i get along pretty well with the “paleo right”…or small-c conservatives…or Russel Kirkians…or whatever.(think Wendell Berry)
            i have known very few actual Lefties in real life,though, given where i’ve been. I get along with them online for the most part…except for the more doctrinaire Marxists.
            like Yoda said, “the IdPol, PMC Pseudoleft clouds everything!”
            ….and…our words for all such things have been utterly corrupted, on purpose:
            “Raphèl mai amècche zabì almi!”
            –a purposeful confusion of tongues, to make it harder for us to get our shit together.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      they always misspell “rich vs poor”, even when it’s what they clearly mean

    4. False Solace

      I’m not sure what’s changed, but lately we seem to have an influx of (new?) commenters on NC who issue complaints about posts without providing any detail or argument to support their position. I’ve even seen comments where the writer openly admits their ignorance of facts that could be rectified by 15 seconds of googling… yet they proceed to opine anyway. (Even worse, this is usually on life or death topics like COVID.)

      The comment section is one of the best things about NC. Our hosts put a lot of effort into keeping it that way. I can overlook one-liners in Links or Watercooler where banter is part of the fun. Elsewhere it comes across as disrespectful and a waste of everyone else’s time and attention. I’m probably just being oversensitive but I hope for better things from people who participate in the NC community.

      1. Antagonist Muscles

        Spot on. Perhaps Covid-19 stay-at-home orders and the overwhelming amount of information and misinformation about Covid-19 has adulterated the comments here. It is also possible well-funded propagandists are trying to influence public opinion. Philip Morris certainly has new and “numerous” voices comment whenever some media outlet posts an article about the dangers of cigarettes. Please keep your comments sharp. We don’t want to over-stress our tireless hosts and comments moderators.

        On the rare occasion that I comment, I always try to give some practical advice about whatever I have knowledge of. On topics like the current post, I can offer little practical insight since I lack the relevant experience with the super rich. But I was expecting to read about the misanthropic nature of the super rich, how to identify them, and how we as a society can thwart their goals. Instead, I found mostly exasperation even though Neuberger subtly concludes that we should direct our emotions at ourselves for tacitly allowing our overlords to continue oppressing us.

        One notable problem is this form of communication among commenters is publicly accessible, unlike the underground (and very strong) coordination among anti-vaccine proponents, which Lambert flagged yesterday.

    5. m sam

      “Left v. right,” I guess I don’t see the problem with this. People seem so mad here about “all this left v. right BS.” Personally I think fascism is a large and growing problem in the US of A. Are you thinking there could be some sort of alliance there? Should the DSA and the Clan embrace or something? Like I should stand up and applaud those fascist militias tromping up and down the Michigan and Wisconsin state houses, and proclaim better times are on the way?

      Just as rightwing terrorists killing abortion doctors and bombing their practices means pro-choice and anti-abortion are irreconcilable, so are broad positions of the left and the right irreconcilable, and moreso, seem to only lead to violence. And personally I am with Woodie Guthrie on this one. Fascism is making strides in this country and they must be stopped.

      1. flora

        You mistake the notion you’re objecting to. It’s not an indifference to real and serious left or right ideas; it’s a weariness over having any idea on either side instantly dismissed without thinking about the merits simply because it comes from the other side. If anything, it’s another way of expressing “I don’t want to limit my consideration of ideas to only ideas that come from or are officially approved by the left or right thought bubble.” I might in the main disagree with conservatives and the right, but I’m interested in their ideas because I think some of them are good ideas, and I’ll make common cause with conservatives where we agree. My 2 cents.

        to quote Talleyrand:

        “Surtout, pas trop de zele” – Above all, not too much zeal

        Better cool headed reason than emotional enthusiasm in deciding important matters.

        1. m sam

          Well, I can’t say entirely agree with your take (at least I don’t see it reflected very well in what several commenters have voiced above, and in other places). But I can, at least, agree with the logic of temporary alliances in the face of a common threat, so to speak.

  3. Amfortas the hippie

    Just finished Chapter 7 of EP Thompson’s “the making of the english working class”(obtained it just prior to the covid, too)
    the words of the Elite/PTB of the day, quoted at length, are identical to what we’re hearing today…as are the grievances of the– then and now– nascent working class….and as are the tactics used to suppress any mass epiphany wherein the People notice their chains, and endeavor to cast them off.
    It’s my current Parking Lot Book(I’m finding actual books difficult of late…chaos, and i need new glasses), and my new neighbors in the parking lot of the oncology clinic(many more hanging about than before), look at me askance, bare feet out the window, laughing at loud at the absurd connections and consistencies between then and now.
    The entire counterrevolution, since the New Deal(or Reconstruction, or…), has been predicated on making us unable to awaken to class consciousness…to seeing our numerous commonalities, and instead teaching us, like so many oxen or dogs, to suspect one another and divide ourselves.

    From Thompson:

    “……class happens when some men, as a result of common experiences (inherited or shared), feel and articulate the identity of their interests as between themselves, and as against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs. The class experience is largely determined by the productive relations into which men are born—or enter involuntarily. Class-consciousness is the way in which these experiences are handled in cultural terms: embodied in traditions, value-systems, ideas, and institutional forms. If the experience appears as determined, class-consciousness does not. We can see a logic in the responses of similar occupational groups undergoing similar experiences, but we cannot predicate any law. Consciousness of class arises in the same way in different times and places, but never in just the same way. “

    1. norm de plume

      Thanks ATH for introducing me to yet another Book I Will Have to Read.

      ‘the words of the Elite/PTB of the day, quoted at length, are identical to what we’re hearing today…as are the grievances of the– then and now– nascent working class….and as are the tactics used to suppress any mass epiphany wherein the People notice their chains, and endeavor to cast them off’

      Noticing the chains is one thing; the course of action that follows is just as important.

      Recently a friend (hat tip Sean) put me on to an estimable chap named James Connolly, a genuine Working Class Hero from a century ago:

      I had the night before listened to an episode of former Congressman Mark Painter’s excellent History of the 20th Century podcast, which featured Labour Party founder Keir Hardie. Hardie’s approach was to join them in order to beat them, whereas Connolly was more ‘beat them in order to beat them’. He said:

      It’s not a Labour party the workers need. It’s a revolutionary party pledged to overthrow the capitalist class in the only way it can be done by putting up barricades and taking over factories by force. There is no other way.

      Of course it’s not a new problem for progressives. Like the vanguard vs mob debate, it is eternal, and there is evidence to cite for the efficacy and the limitations of each. Parties become henhouses easily raided by foxes, who set up shop in there (as Blairites for example), and revolutionary cells become fodder for ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ comparisons.

      Right now, although the characterisations of our mad rush to ‘snap back’ as capital desperate to get the wheels of profit turning again is right, it is at least as important to the 1% that we don’t have sufficient time to ‘to awaken to class consciousness’…

  4. timbers

    Wow. I read Atlas Shrugged long ago. This is it, with nuance, a twist, in reverse…not sure what word is best to describe it.

    1. Bsoder

      Ok people may not like left v. right, but there’s no getting away from evil v. good, and one doesn’t need to appeal to g0d to make that argument. We are or we aren’t. My life is about dealing with those ‘that aren’t’. Ayn Rand, is almost pornography of thought. It leads only place to a delusional fever dream that In action leaves nothing standing, it’s an ELE – a extinct level event -ours. If one studies the human sociology and anthropology of humans over the last 250k years and in particular the last 14k, no matter what the rich do within 3 generations they are all dead. As Yves says ‘na ga happen’. Many² have tried all have failed. Great Post.

      1. Carolinian

        no getting away from evil v. good

        So you don’t believe in God but you do believe in the devil? I wonder how many evil acts have been committed in the name of “good.” Self-righteousness doesn’t cut it with me.

        1. Sacred Ground

          Where are you getting god and the devil out of that comment? I mean, yeah, good vs. evil, ok, but you know those concepts, aka morality, exist independently of theology, right?

        2. Sacred Ground

          The only thing more annoying then left v right is people who can’t read what’s there, read something that isn’t there, and respond to what they imagined someone thought rather than what someone actually wrote.

          I mean, I can assume from your comment that you like to fellate farm animals, even though you said nothing about that. Because I can imagine that’s what you think, that must be what you’re thinking. That’s how this works, right?

          1. Carolinian

            people who can’t read

            I think that would be you. There was a question mark at the end of that sentence.

            And actually, I don’t agree with you. I think Manichean beliefs of “good versus evil” are indeed religious concepts and certainly not based on science which sees us as part of nature, “red in tooth and claw.” Of course maybe “evil” is here meant metaphorically but I don’t get that impression. Perhaps the original commenter can speak for himself (and answer my question).

            If you want to know what I do think I’ll spell it out for you. The great human struggle is between the rational and the irrational–our instinctive drives versus our intelligence and reason. So there is a metaphorical good versus evil but it’s not a supernatural belief that some people are just bad people. This struggle exists within everyone and therefore “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” is good advice. Even religion can be a struggle between the rational and the irrational.

            1. mary jensen

              J.G. Ballard:

              “The advanced societies of the future will not be governed by reason. They will be driven by irrationality, by competing systems of psychopathology.”

              1. Anarcissie

                In any case human beings are certainly not rational now. Rationality — ‘reason’ — is a rather late development and is still not observed much among humans. Perhaps it does not conduce to survival, since if it did, one would think it would have appeared much sooner in Evolutionary history.

                1. mary jensen

                  Do you mean to say that rationality is not necessary for survival? If so, I agree with you but only up to a point. Irrational violence, be it in the form of war of all types between all peoples/lands; against women; against ‘the other’; against familial affiliations; ‘religious affiliations’…and the list goes on and on, has ‘disposed’ of so many millions and millions of human beings and their attending animals over the so very recent past that one may well ask oneself: Why the hell am I even alive anyway? The answer isn’t pretty. It’s ugly. It’s completely irrational, or is it?
                  The ‘Age of Reason’ was only yesterday in the long now. Ultimately, water has been understood as a vector of disease. Blood and sex as well. I have been vaccinated against polio and a few other of the most virulent diseases to have surfaced: thanks very much to reasonable medical science these diseases have been reasonably understood and reasonably vanquished with vaccine. Not prayers and shamans and burning animals. My parents saw first hand the dangers and wanted their children protected and so we were. This latest “Wuhan Filth” begs all reason, historically, its origins beg all reason and now we are living/dying with it. I’m in Western Europe. The total lockdown was utterly shocking but it was reasonable. It had reason and we respected that. The masks we are being asked to wear on public transport and in public shops are reasonable, we are wearing them – for the most part. I personally wear a mask, it bothers me not. The unreasonable person who won’t but who also won’t stop talking on a phone in the enclosed space of a ‘Metro’ car is unreasonable. Who will become ill in such a situation? Who might be contaminated? Both must wear a mask, one won’t. Both must keep their mouths shut, one won’t. Let’s be reasonable and protect each other instead of just masturbating ourselves, otherwise known as being a complete wanker. And by the way cats, female cats, the big and the small, are proven to be altruistic.

                  This is what American “tax dodging” (philanthropy) used to ‘give back’:


                  I’m certain many here will be awestruck by the sheer time dislocation. We are losing/have lost what it took a very, very long time to gain. Please: loose and lose are not the same word. Just say them out loud to yourself when in doubt… and you should never even be in doubt about it anyway.

                2. Librarian Guy

                  Agreed, it is a late development and little observed, just as you say.

                  It is a useful tool in the toolkit, though not the only one.

                  Rather than all the bombast above regarding Left v. Right, I think one could semantically refer to communitarian or ethical beliefs and practices (generally “Left”) of the sane, who realize humans have always practiced mutual support for survival, v. the Sociopathic, insane beliefs of Right Wing Libertarianism (“whoever dies with the most stuff wins” as the Reagan-era bumper stickers said) that will doom all but the Billionaires, in their fever dreams . . .

                  And of course what amfortas said, the “Liberals”/PMC are not remotely “left” or communitarian. Like the wonderful Liz Warren said, they are “capitalist in their [my] very bones” and would destroy the majority of humanity in order to validate their bizarre ideology.

                  Yep, we are not a very rational or even reasonable species, thus far in our development.

                  1. Amfortas the hippie

                    there was a book laying around the house when i was a kid, “Chalice and the Blade”, Rein Eisler(sp-2).
                    a fine(and quite readable) example of feminist anthropology from the 80’s.
                    In it, instead of anything like Left vs Right…since she was talking about prehistory, which we have to guess and infer about using limited data…she called the main division Cooperater vs Dominator.
                    for all the hippy dippy earth momma utopianism regarding the pre-Kurgan Old Europe, it’s stuck with me ever since as a pretty good breakdown of the competing teams…of course, shorn of all our fecund variety.
                    another x vs y is squarely in tinfoil land…”Sign of the Times” website…aliens and High Weirdness.
                    Laura Knight ZSCH^&%(polish name i can never remember) says the primary division is Psychopaths…vs Everybody Else.
                    There’s some science behind this…but it’s “controversial”…likely because it makes some upper level PMC Types who still have a vestigial soul uncomfortable…because they observe their elite bosses at close quarters, and don’t like to be reminded that they work for demons.
                    in a nut: system is built by psychopaths, and thus selects for psychopathy. Psychopathy is an adaptive trait, so if you want to get ahead, you must either be one…or pretend to be one.
                    This is, of course, a generalisation, and subject to the same criticisms as hating on the Boomers.
                    I like the cooperater/Dominator better…because that’s rooted in Praxis…Right Action…not Doxy…Right Belief.

    2. Edward

      I think in Rand’s books the Masters of the Universe are the worthy people. All production in society, anything of value, is due to their efforts. Most people are freeloaders living off their labor. In the essay above, it is the finance people that are parasites.

      1. mary jensen

        Ayn Rand? Oh dear oh dear. Oh dear.

        Is she still “taught” in US schools? Oh well. I suppose it depends “how” she is taught. If so, I hope the classes begin with something such as: “Ok, anybody can write anything especially if enough little white pills are provided by an MD…” Of course all the students will understand what that implies, right? Or?

        One can always watch A. Greenspan-Rand at Cspan for post disaster testimony. The mind still reels. Gives me a nasty headache just thinking of it all. And the stink!!

        1. Edward

          Her books sound to me like bad propaganda. Rand was a screenwriter, and she probably uses writer’s tricks to convince her readers, rather then proper arguments. She has a crude, self-indulgent philosophy, and she creates a fantasy world in her novels which vindicate her views. That is cheating; you don’t get to reach the conclusion without an argument.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            I think her books are especially appealing to the teenage mind. Almost everyone who cites her as an idol was exposed to her as a youth. I know I had one SS teacher in high school who tried to foist her on me. Wasn’t assigned class-wide but on the list of choices for those “pick-your-own” assignments.

            1. Edward

              This wouldn’t surprise me; rejecting the social rules of behavior does seem immature.

      2. rob

        I am also not any kind of authority on ayn rand…and I don’t want o paint the readers with the same brush as the author, but…
        Ayn rand was just a fruitcake who couldn’t see that her admiration for william hickman(the guy who killed/dismembered/wired eye lids open to pretend she was still alive so he could get ransom from family of little girl ) was really a sign that SHE was a bad person.
        So then she writes books making the main character “free from other peoples values”,…. just like herself…. She was seemingly trying to give herself a “pass” and make her perverted mind seem rational…
        As far as a book… I don’t care… they were just literature…
        As far as the segment of society who “feel” understood…. and justified….?WTF? This is just one slice of the “conservatives values” they are always claiming is so important to them….Which is just one reason they seem so clueless.This kind of logic is so fragmented,it is feeble.

        1. Edward

          I have never read her books either. They sound like an exercise in narcissism and hypocrisy. Many people have enough self-awareness and self-doubt not to indulge themselves like this, but not everyone, apparently. Some Libertarians such as Ron Paul or the people at, who are decent and intelligent people, are fans of hers, which has always puzzled me.

          I think part of her appeal is that conservatives/capitalists want an ideological standard bearer, and she is the best they can come up with.

          1. Bern

            I’ll save you the time. She is simply among the very worst writers ever published. Unreadable word rubble.

  5. Don Utter

    “We don’t seem to live on the same planet” was a joke, but this article describes people heading off to a new planet.

    The French polymath, Bruno Latour gave a talk at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard which he called a fictional planetarium, a tale of 7 planets. They are described in an article linked below and the video of the talk is on the web.

    The first planet he calls “globalization” which was the promise that everyone in the world could have the same standard of living as the US.The second planet is called “anthropocene” to describe that resources are limited and the earth is no longer a stage but an actor.

    The third planet “Exit” sounds like this article.

    “On planet EXIT, the plan is that it will soon be possible to download our mortal
    bodies into a mix of robots, DNA, clouds, and AI, thereby situated as far as possible
    from the humble and limited earth. Technology is transcendence. It needs no earth
    except as a provisional platform before new adventures begin. On to Mars! In case
    those accelerations evaporate as so much hype—if, for instance,the terraforming of Mars takes more time than anticipated—it might be wise to buy a gated community
    or underground bunker somewhere, preferably in New Zealand, a real, material,
    well-protected terroir down on old, already-terraformed earth.
    13 Wherever the gated
    community ends up being situated, the great difference between the planets
    GLOBALIZATION and EXIT is that there is no longer any project for the billions of
    humans who are explicitly now left behind or,to use a cruel but frank adjective, have
    become supernumerary. Civilization, in the narrow sense of a project invented in the
    eighteenth century, is now abandoned for good.”

    You will have to read the article to find the other 4 planets.

  6. SD

    The last story in Cory Doctorow’s “Radicalized” is about this very situation, i.e., a rich, Silicon Valley-type guy decamping to a luxury bunker with unforeseen problems and consequences. Maybe it’s time to dust off that “Point of Failure” outline.

    1. Susan the other

      Sounds like a good satire all around. Europa One is kinda pricey looking. Over 200,000 square feet on 76 acres… that’s not just pricey, that’s ongoing and relentless high maintenance. We need a new genre of movie: Hubris Comedy. It could be filmed on location ;)).

  7. Wukchumni

    I’ve had decades to find hidden away camping spots off-trail where you would have a hard time finding us there, a bit of a on the cheap do it yourself escape hatch. I’m the pilot and passenger on this flight of desperation, should it come to that and polite society is but a memory of times past.

    Sounds good and all, but there is really nothing to eat in the Sierra Nevada aside from thimbleberries @ around 6k to 8k in mid August, and much scarcer wild strawberries in July.

    …there’s always a hitch in these escape hatch fantasies

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Sorry, Wuk, but the Sierras are full of food.

      Just need a hook, an arrow, a snare or a firearm.

      1. Susan the other

        Have archeologists found the remains of vegetarians before the agricultural revolution?

        1. mary jensen

          The remains of ancient vegetarians have been found all over the globe but I don’t think any of them are “human”. How does one distinguish which remains were vegetarian or not? Is it determined by chemistry and/or the state of the teeth and jaws? Perhaps someone can elucidate?

          1. Anarcissie

            I’ve seen wear patterns on teeth given as arguments that a given category of protohumans were, or were not, vegetarians, omnivores, or whatever. Another source of information has been the remains of garbage left in caves.

            1. mary jensen

              Thank you, yes of course ‘cave garbage’. Bones strewn about the place…but had they been stripped of fresh meat killed by protohumans or merely collected by them after fierce animals had eaten other animals and thus it was scavanged meat left on the bone? Dumpster diving perhaps?
              Another question: why is it universally assumed that all cave paintings/”art” had been done by the male of the species? Weren’t the wily females perfectly capable of teaching the little’uns about their world by painting illustrations of it for them? Cave school. Cave creche. Kindercave.

              1. Anarcissie

                I have seen illustrations of imagined cave-painting scenes where some or all of the artists were women. Evidence for the supposition is given by the size of the handprints which some cave-painting artists left, perhaps as a sort of signature.

                The teeth of humans suggests that they evolved as omnivores, lacking prominent fangs like dogs and cats and most other carnivorous hunting animals.

        2. periol

          Fair, but that was also before humans had changed the world with industrial animal meat. There was a study a few years back that humans and human livestock now comprise something like 96% of all the mammal biomass on earth. It was also before those animals were raised exclusively in cages, stuffed full of hormones, and some folks (like myself) have spent significant time with the animals in their care, learning that each one has unique character and personality.

          I believe in the circle of life. Just not the way it is practiced in our culture.

          Back to the subject of this essay, the rich treat livestock the same way they would like to treat us, and right now they are definitely showing their stripes. Personally, I feel solidarity with the cattle stuffed into feed lots, chickens stuffed into cages and pumped full of hormones, the pigs raised in absolutely brutal and inhumane conditions – all to speed up their trip to the executioner. Because markets, go die.

    2. Bsoder

      Ya, like Global Warming giving you a 1200 yr drought. To be self sustainIng a minimum number of people Are required, 40 or so of different genetic background. And you have to be able to farm. Hunting-Gathering isn’t go to cut it.

      1. Paradan

        50, and they have to be selected by a thorough sequence analysis. If you just go by lineage, like nothing closer then 2nd cousin, 500 will do.

    3. bulfinch

      What a perfectly dour & bloodless way to exist. It would seem it’s an increasingly thin dividing line that separates self-preservation from self-destruction. What is the point at that point — when the only engines to inspire survival are legacy and propagation?

      In the event of a truly apocalyptic incidence, even if I could scramble off to a hidden compound on a deserted island with a cohort of other like-minded psychos, I think I’d much rather lie down on the floor and evaporate.

      I’d be curious to know what was the image that formed in most readers minds of these five vulgarians plotting their escape. I saw a cross between Patrick Bateman and Lex Luthor dressed in a rattlesnake.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “I’d be curious to know what was the image that formed in most readers minds of these five vulgarians plotting their escape”

        lots and lots if Grasshoppers.

  8. Sound of the Suburbs

    Their most cunning plan ever.

    The USP of 1920s neoclassical economics – It concentrates wealth.
    Let’s use it for globalisation.

    Mariner Eccles, FED chair 1934 – 48, observed what the capital accumulation of neoclassical economics did to the US economy in the 1920s.
    “a giant suction pump had by 1929 to 1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing proportion of currently produced wealth. This served then as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied themselves the kind of effective demand for their products which would justify reinvestment of the capital accumulation in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When the credit ran out, the game stopped”

    The economics of globalisation has always had an Achilles’ heel.
    The 1920s roared with debt based consumption and speculation until it all tipped over into the debt deflation of the Great Depression. No one realised the problems that were building up in the economy as they used an economics that doesn’t look at private debt, neoclassical economics.
    Not considering debt is the Achilles’ heel of neoclassical economics.

    The economy runs on debt until you get a financial crisis.
    At 25.30 mins you can see the super imposed private debt-to-GDP ratios.
    1929 – US
    1991 – Japan
    2008 – US, UK and Euro-zone
    The PBoC saw the Chinese Minsky Moment coming and you can too by looking at the chart above.

    How could they get dodgy old 1920s neoclassical economics back into the mainstream again?
    They stuck some complex maths on top so it could be passed off as new and scientific.
    They wrapped it in a new ideology, neoliberalism, so no one would notice the dodgy old economics lurking underneath.

    The ideology was really clever and attracted liberals to right wing economics as they had bolted on identity politics.
    This cunning ploy left them free to increase inequality.

    Inequality exists on two axes:
    Y-axis – top to bottom
    X-axis – Across genders, races, etc …..
    The traditional Left worked on the Y-axis and would be a problem as they wanted to increase Y-axis inequality.
    The Liberal Left would work on the X-axis.
    They could increase Y-axis inequality while the Liberal left were busy on the X-axis.

    The economics was always rubbish though, and the global economy would get loaded up with debt and all those debt repayments would drag down growth as they have in Japan since 1991.

    Debt repayments to banks destroy money, this is the problem.

    1. Sound of the Suburbs

      The old problems naturally re-emerge.

      As a CEO, I can use the company’s money to do share buybacks, to boost the share price; get my bonus and top dollar for my shares.
      Share buybacks were found to be a cause of the 1929 crash and made illegal in the 1930s.

      What lifted US stocks to 1929 levels in 1929?
      Margin lending and share buybacks.
      What lifted US stocks to 1929 levels in 2019?
      Margin lending and share buybacks.
      A former US congressman has been looking at the data.

    2. Bsoder

      Single bullet theory, eh? I don’t believe it was that simple. There were many moving parts. One might asked why frugal Yankees became so fond of debt. The impact of the industrial revolution, sight unseen was – as in you only manage what you measure, was going to implode the whole ‘way we live’ paradigm. As to a tipping point, Goldman’s mutual fund that held as assets another mutual fund that held as assets In another mutual only holding as assets in the first, like all Ponzi schemes went bust and took many in the middle class with it. Goldman’s day job has severely hampered which was a repo business where they supplied cash to business and banks at the end of the day to keep the books balanced and in the case of banks meet their capital requirements. The old saying stands recessions are caused by man, depressions by god.

    3. Susan the other

      If repayment of loans to banks destroys money (on the books) then why do they make debt an asset (on the books)? Because it’s just business – an income stream. Oh, I forgot, they do that so they can use it as collateral and, if need be (?), even re-pledge that same collateralized debt as new collateral…. right? Interest on debt is income… is that like saying interest on income is debt? Never mind.

  9. Wukchumni

    If the .01% escape with their gotten gains, doesn’t public ire just move down to the next tempting target, the unfortunate .02%’ers who didn’t get away?

    1. Carolinian

      There’s no getting away. If the rich swan off to their desert islands who will they have to boss around? It’s really what they live for.

      Things will calm down eventually. Covid will go away. Indeed for those of us who grew up with the threat of nuclear annihilation this virus is small potatoes. To me the hysteria over all this shows the real way we, with our zeal for “safe spaces,” are different from Roosevelt times. When Roosevelt said that “fear itself’ is the real enemy he was pronouncing a great truism. Just being alive takes a certain amount of courage.

      1. Susan the other

        Cover-19 is orders of magnitude more dangerous than the fantasy of nuclear annihilation.

        1. JBird4049

          Pffft. COVID-19 is very bad for all of us, but the nuclear arsenals of the 1980s would have obliterated planetary civilization in an afternoon. However, our collective responses to the pandemic might be almost as destructive just taking longer to do so.

        2. Carolinian

          It didn’t seem like much of a fantasy at the time. There were people in the Pentagon who actively planned for preemptively destroying the Soviet Union. There are also accounts of the “failsafe” system very nearly failing and leading to a nuclear exchange.

          And if you want to pull back to the Cold War in general the dead number in the millions.

      2. Fritzi

        They were obsessed with escaping long before the Virus came along.

        It is not primarily the virus they are terrified of, it is us.

        They are mostly afraid that the Virus crisis could cause the mechanisms they have used so long and successfully to keep us in check to finally fail.

        They are afraid of what people will do once the health crisis has fully exposed just how rigged and rotten the system truly is.

        1. Philip

          For any system to survive it requires acceptance by a majority of the population, that acceptance is eroding very fast. The USSR’s response to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster had so exposed the failures of the USSR that even it’s Generals during the 1991 coup refused to save it leading to the USSR’s collapse. I think the remaining faith in the USA’s system will be broken by the response to and consequences of COVID 19. The USA is not going to fall tomorrow, it will limp on for a number of years, until the next crisis. Then elite will call for help and nobody will come. USA R.I.P.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      the speed at which the next 0.9% of the 1% will be willing to turn on the top 0.1% will approach the speed of light itself

      In my experience those who hate the rich the most are the slightly-less-richer-than-the-rich-you’re-currently-talking-about

  10. The Rev Kev

    They won’t be able to wait in their shelters until the pandemic is over, you know. They will demand their old lives back again with the parties, social gatherings, restaurant meals, the gatherings in all the best places and there will be Coronavirus – still waiting for them. And if they insist on having staff come in to do their hair, serve their meals, take care of their kids, etc. they may not have so long to wait. It is all in the nature of the beast. It is what they are entitled too.

    There was a crappy film called “2013” that epitomized the thinking behind these people. With a cataclysm bearing down, massive arks are built to save humanity. But the only ones being saved are those who can buy their way aboard so the billionaires, royalty, government functionaries and the like are the ones being saved (with a strong security contingent). Sounds like Douglas Adams could have written this. The rest of humanity is left to die and those that helped in this effort are never told that it is time to leave.

    Even the “heroes” trying to get aboard are psychopaths as they see millions die in LA as it goes into the ocean and Hawaii covered in molten lava without a skerrick of emotion. And they all lived happily ever after. The End. Tough luck for the other 7 billion people though.

    1. Mel

      Ben Elton did a kinda comic novel on the theme, titled Stark. Didn’t focus on the denouement much, mostly the process. I liked it.

    2. timbers

      Zombie movies touch on what the haves and have nots do in situations like this. Land of the Dead. A fortified inner city Mall/resident complex for those who can afford it, serviced by lessor folk and surrounded by still lessor street folk. Surrounding abandoned towns are stripped of canned goods & anitbiotics. Problem in paradise starts when hired folk servicing the complex save up and want a n but are told there is a waiting list (they are worthy). Everyone & everything becomes dispensable, throw a way. And of course eventually the zombies aquire reasoning skills and take matters into their own hands with an apocalyptic ending.

    3. Bugs Bunny

      I actually paid good money to see that film because I’m a sucker for disaster movies. The ending and the construction of the arks got me hoping for a comeuppance that never really happened. At least it gave the Chinese a somewhat more dignified role than in other movies.

      It’s called 2012 though –

    4. Susan the other

      Difficult to buy your way out of anything when everyone realizes that money never had any value in the first place. All that “value” resided in people.

      1. Kevin Hall

        Thank you for this – that is exactly what money is, a belief system. Would it have any value at all if everyone stopped believing it did?

        And yet look at how much misery, destruction, and pain that this belief does to us.

    5. Paulo_UK

      Elysium is also sort of the same kind of plot. The rich live in their space station, whilst the rest of us toil away on a broken earth. Not a great film but the idea was interesting.

  11. Alex morfesis

    Running from people or running from themselves… The earth has swallowed thousands of terribly important civilizations who were built and led by folks who worried about their own “event”… Humans adjust and the “event masters” finally realize, they might have gathered enough resources to “buy” some fun or attention… But they in the end own nothing… At best their oversized living space eventually turned into a museum no one visits or demolished for some working class housing or car dealership…or repurposed as a cemetery… Life goes on and the earth turns the important into the unimportant, forgotten and never mentioned on a regular basis, where some self appointed self crowned clown might become a fifth graders book report on the name of the Street they live on one day…maybe…

    1. Watt4Bob

      Or, you may end up like George Pullman, so afraid of the people you oppressed that it requires extraordinary measures to safeguard even your eternal resting place;

      Fearing that some of his former employees or other labor supporters might try to dig up his body, his family arranged for his remains to be placed in a lead-lined mahogany coffin, which was then sealed inside a block of concrete. At the cemetery, a large pit had been dug at the family plot. At its base and walls were 18 inches of reinforced concrete. The coffin was lowered, and covered with asphalt and tarpaper. More concrete was poured on top, followed by a layer of steel rails bolted together at right angles, and another layer of concrete. The entire burial process took two days. His monument, featuring a Corinthian column flanked by curved stone benches, was designed by Solon Spencer Beman, the architect of the company town of Pullman

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      grandfather toldll me, upon being asked how he remembers his role in WW2: “For every Charlemagne, there’s 10 million guys named Charlie.”

  12. JTMcPhee

    Don’t forget another planet(oid) in the set of tales, “Elysium.” Given the impacts of radiation and weightlessness and other effects of space travel, and what humans would experience trying to live on Mars or the Moon, a big orbiting parasitic construction with spin gravity seems more likely. And of course it would not be the squishy flabby democracy portrayed in “WALL-E.”

    Another possibility if the Methuselah Projects on extending rich folks’ lives and Kurzweil’s hoped-for essence transplants don’t work out, is the “Soylent Green” endgame scenario.

    I tend to the opinion that the Fermi paradox is a real thing and that species death is encoded into our telomeres.

    Rich sh1ts are a cancer. What’s the treatment if not the cure?

    And there’s a military adjective they apply to the rest of us: expended.

  13. Merf56

    I am a bit of an apocalypse junkie. I enjoy finding the flaws in ‘the plan’ to survive. They are almost always predictable and gaping. We have been watching the series on TV – The 100 starting its final season soon. If you are into the apocalypse scenarios I highly recommend it as if really covers each and every flaw in such survival plans – personal, community, technical, and natural world…
    On a personal note I wish I could be there to watch when these bolt holes are overrun and Mr and Ms Richiepants are finally on the receiving end……not death do I wish for them but a brutish lifelong enslavement and the knowledge that that is the future of their offspring as well… .

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      aye. Hawt Genocidal Teens keep justifying Bad Decisions with “we don’t have a choice!”.

      and in most of the more recent post-apocalyptic flicks, what’s up with all the candles burning in the daytime? where do those come from, and are they so cheap that you can waste them like that?

      its the same in a bunch of the medieval flicks, too…torches and little watchfires litter the place…even outside in the daytime…as if fuel and materials are abundant.

      this always leaps out at me, since i’ve spent a not small portion of my life without electricity.

  14. DHG

    Your only hope is to abandon man as leader and turn to God and his son Jesus Christ. There is no other choice. Gods promises of a paradise Earth will not go unfulfilled, this system is ending in short order that also is a promise from God.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      :::begins humming “so long and thanks for all the fish” from Hitchhiker’s Guide:::

    2. JTMcPhee

      Somehow that notion always turns to have people like Jerry Falwell Sr. and Jr. and Oral Roberts and progeny telling us that God wants an Israel-sited Apocalypse and how we are supposed to make “faith offerings” of all our money to them.

      Nice thought, along with that Golden Rule. How’s it working out?

      Believe what you want. I’m not buying it.

      1. Wukchumni

        Yes, parishioners have had to resort to watching Korean baseball while waiting out the rapture back home.

    3. Librarian Guy

      Poor Rabbi Yeshua (if that person even existed, seems to be a composite figure) promised his followers “the Kingdom of Heaven”, there and then in the Canaan of 2 millenia ago, and for all I know, he showed or provided it to some of them at the time– before his (again, possibly real or not) reported Crucifixion.

      All the Apocalyptic jibber-jabber from the likes of John of Patmos, tripping balls on mushrooms or ergot, or whatever, are great fabulistic sci-fi, but nothing more. Only hucksters (like Falwell, cited by a commenter) of those with very low IQs use the Bible to explain history or predict how civilization will end 2,000 years after all the scriptural texts were produced with their own agendas.

      1. eg

        Hudson’s latest, “And forgive them their debts” interprets Jesus’ mission as a call for the Jubilee year.

        His ending was consistent with the oligarchic response to any such challenge from below …

  15. Steven

    a movie called “Point of Failure”

    Sounds interesting but I couldn’t find it on Netflix and the only thing Google could come up with was a YouTube video. Any suggestions?

    1. kurt neff

      There is no movie called “Point of Failure” on Google, Duckduckgo, Yahoo, Imdb. Yves is either wrong about the title or confusing it with something else.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      No, no, no. Please re-read the intro. I was planning on writing a screenplay as outlined with that as the title but never got around to it.

      1. Steven

        Whoops! One of these days I’ll learn how to read.

        P.S. When can we expect the movie?

  16. Jeremy Grimm

    The world might be a better place if the super rich did run off to their bunkers. While they worry about internal control over the minions they take along those of us above can set about making sure they are well sealed into their bunkers. In the future the contents of these bunkers will be valuable museums of some of the technology from our time. I believe it is important to have examples of some items which may be impossible to replicate in the future.
    I have always liked the concept of hell in Sartre’s play “No Exit”. Most of these super-rich are ‘difficult’ people to be around. Can you imagine several of them bunker-ed together sealed in with their luxuries and their loathsome bunkermates? If the help doesn’t kill them they will probably kill each other.

    1. Acacia

      Continuing with the movie thread here, there’s a pretty great scene in Ikarie XB-1 (1963) that shows how the über-rich escape plan plays out.

    2. HotFlash

      A passel of ruthless amoral super-predators sealed up in one place, looking to take advantage of the other, and each sure (with reason) that the others are thinking the same. I imagine it’ll be a lot like the Sea of Monsters from Yellow Submarine. Who will be the Vacuum Monster?

      Or perhaps, (she said piously) they will take it as an apportunity to learn the value of cooperation.

  17. sd

    Have the 1% ever truly escaped? The wrecks of their fortunes lie strewn through out the world, castles, palaces and monuments, abandoned and melting back into the earth. Sooner or later, someone slits their throat. Time is never kind to them.

    1. Philip

      Yup, and its usually either by a family member, or an agent from a rival of their own class! Historically it’s rare for the plebs to turn on and kill their employer. There are so many other ways to have petty revenge while still earning a living from them!

  18. flora

    The paranoid, apocalypic fantasies of the destructive rich are not new.
    This from episode 4 of the Mayfair Set, a 3 minute snippet about James Goldsmith’s attempt to build his private Xanadu in Mexico to escape the problems he and his asset strippers created. Snippet starts at 23:08 with a newspaper headline. Click off at 26:15. The the episode proper is about neoclassical ‘free markets’ destructive force, money, and politics, not about Xanadus). This short snippet is an example of the ultra wealthy who made their money destroying companies and govt power becoming themselves subject to a kind of madness: apocalyptic thinking and the desire to escape the world they’ve made.

    1. flora

      adding one idea: they’re more afraid of the other equally wealthy and predatory ultra rich – now that they’ve destroyed the govt’s power to regulate and legislate in the public interest.

    2. Librarian Guy

      That was a fascinating clip, thank you.

      I guess “smart” as Goldsmith was, he evidently knew nothing about ecology or biomes. In Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel he covers the health and hygiene dangers of living in the jungle, with far higher #s of biota than other environments– exactly the challenges the clip showed Goldsmith got hit by. I don’t think Diamond’s books were out in the 80s when Goldsmith designed his little failed utopia, but some consultation with biologists or anthropologists before selecting a Mexican jungle for Paradise could’ve saved him some wasted effort.

      1. eg

        Golden was a complicated character. But I think he got it mostly right in “The Trap.”

  19. ShamanicFallout

    John Michael Greer has written pretty cogently and persuasively (used to be the Archdruid Report and now his site is Ecosophia) about people’s delusion about sudden collapse. And that is, there will not be a sudden collapse. It has never been like that. Why would it be different this time? There are crises, points of relative stability, more crises etc., etc.

    But there is never “an Event”. It’s a utopian fantasy. It’s just a slow slog down, or whatever direction you think we are headed at any given time. People thinking that this ‘pandemic’, or perhaps some imminent environmental catastrophe is going to lead us to either the collapse of capitalism or some new world on the other side should probably brace for the reality that we will see just basically more of the same. Unless of course there is a comet heading our way

    1. Local to Oakland

      But there are relatively sudden historic transitions. Jack Whyte’s book the Skystone set in Roman Britain explores what it took to live through such a time.

      A single family, even in the best bunker aren’t likely to do well.

    2. False Solace

      JMG grew up in the nuclear age and somehow doesn’t believe in sudden collapse. Yet things are even worse today, now that unemployed engineers can concoct a deadly brew with machines they buy on eBay.

      Looking at the history of a species that survived until now with yesterday’s technology in yesterday’s environment says nothing about its chances tomorrow. Feel free to read Taleb on this subject.

    3. rob

      it is crazy that since people have had the ability to write their history… they have been writing about “the coming end” of time….. NONE have been right yet.
      The early followers of jesus never wrote down anything.. because they all thought the world would end in their lifetime…. supposedly… since the only ones writing about them as anything special didn’t start for a few hundred years after that… and now we have people who still feel everything is going to end… so why save our planet…. that is insanity…
      If only there was an event horizon. we could pace ourselves…. but we are prisoners of life…. and life finds a way to go on. So there is nothing coming to “save” anyone or anything. We are all born to die.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      “Why would it be different this time?” I think it’s fair to say there is more complexity and there are more frailties and instabilities built-in to our Society than any time in the past. I think there are ongoing signs of Collapse right now — but nothing sufficient to bring an end … yet. So the collapse is moving slowly as John Michael Greer proposes. There aren’t Barbarians at the Gates yet. But problems are joining other problems and building pressure. It could take a while for the pressure to reach a breaking point. The middle of this century looks very ominous. And this is not apocalyptic prophesy or prophesy of supernatural punishment and reward but something closer to accounting prophesy of failure based on a study of cash flows and ongoing and pending liabilities. A small business fails slowly over time but crashes when there isn’t enough cash to make the payroll. I think the ‘Event’ that will mark Collapse will be when the diesel for the backup generators runs out and electric GRID goes off and doesn’t come back. One disturbance — Corona — is pressuring our Society and causing strains. What happens when we are hit with multiple disturbances at the same time? The chance of that grows year by year. What will happen when the Arctic pole melts and the already chaotic weather becomes more chaotic? What happens as the sea level rise accelerates to the rates the paleoclimate suggests happened in other eras?

      1. rob

        That is a possible scenerio…IMO
        This virus, will have the effect in the next year to make everywhere on earth,,, “punchdrunk”.. like a fighter shaking off the last direct blow… and if we are lucky.. there will be time to “shake it off”
        But with the weakness that will be going forward as “the masters of the universe/wall st” tie the worlds hands politically and factually around their enrichment schemes… we all just hover., getting our feet under us again. Which means our eyes are off the ball… then if an actual disaster or two; were to strike… something from above or below.,…things could become bleak. and we could be “knocked down”.
        At least we have the space force now; to save us.

  20. L

    The always interesting David Frum at Interfluidity posted the following which I think of as a good counterpoint for the rich: Segregation cannot set you free. A key point he makes is:

    But the segregation that so often protects affluent America this time cannot free it. Remember how herd immunity works? If R0 is 3 and more two-thirds of the population is immune, then an infected infects less than one replacement and the virus dies out. But that assumes a uniform draw: the three people a new case would have infected are randomly chosen from the population, and at least two of them turn up immune (on average). But if the population is segmented, segregated, stratified, that won’t be true at all. Herd immunity might be achieved in the Bronx, but over in Manhattan, most of the privileged will remain immunologically naive. If you want to ride out the epidemic without exposure, it’s not enough to be in the top 25% to 33% of the most diligent isolators in the United States, or even in New York City. You have to be one of the top 25% to 33% of diligent isolators in your own community, among the people you interact with.

    He makes many other very good points about society as a whole but I have found that libertarians even “Christian Libertarians” and the simply money mad never respond to arguments about the sancitity of life or the health of others so this might be more persuasive.

  21. Edward

    These plans remind me of the end of Dr. Strangelove, where the leadership plans to survive underground, while everyone else dies. The caves will need more women then men, so the population can recover more quickly.

    During the new deal, the ideology of capitalism was less entrenched, and people were skeptical of the rich. This awareness was lost during better economic times, before the Great Depression or after WWII. Does this mean the only time the public really monitors capital is in times of economic stress? If America gets out of its current mess, will it end up repeating its mistakes decades later, when the public again becomes complacent and programmed? I feel like our current problems were solved during the New Deal, but that consciousness and the solutions were forgotten.

  22. Wukchumni

    I say we take the illionaires and put them all on a small island that had previously served as a tax haven, now home to the most craven.

    ‘Lord of the Fi’s’

  23. Michael McK

    When people talk about prepping I always point out that all the gold in the world will be useless and threats of force are counterproductive, especially if your technology will wear or run out or if you need laborers to provide it. What is needed is knowledge of the local environment and it’s food and medicine plants, heirloom seeds, and a community of friendly, cooperative people around you who share that knowledge.
    In a short term sense the rich people at the keynote speech described in the piece would have been better off going to a Primitive Skills Camp.
    Of course their only real hope is to become radical anti-Capitalists and use their wealth to protect lands, strengthen traditionalists in Native communities and throw wrenches in their former workplaces.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I agree that: “What is needed is knowledge of the local environment and it’s food and medicine plants, heirloom seeds, and a community of friendly, cooperative people around you who share that knowledge.” But I do not feel that’s sufficient. We have much much more useful and challenging knowledge which must also be preserved into the future.

      For the super wealthy men who paid to question the author of this post I think they should be confronted with at mirror and asked to study the lines of their face and the faces of the others [not sure how this would work if they all have had facelifts]. George Orwell quipped “At 50, everyone has the face he deserves.” These super wealthy should be forced to take a hard look at their portrait they keep behind a curtain in their attic.

  24. Chauncey Gardiner

    This is a parasitic symbiotic relationship in which a few very, very wealthy individuals benefit while the host is harmed. Some parasites live on the surface of their host. Others live inside their host. But none can live without their host. So unless a new host can be found, the key for them is to keep their host alive and sufficiently healthy that the host is able to provide them with what they need or want; but not strong enough or sufficiently well-organized to trigger an effective anti-body response, or even aware of the damage being inflicted by the parasites that the host can reject them. Virtually all members of this very small segment of the population derive their enormous wealth either directly or indirectly from financialization of the real economy through government-subsidized financial markets and the hosts disregard of the social costs of the parasites’ actions. Over time, both will kill the hosts.

    Telling that one of the questions posed by the five individuals with whom Neuberger interacted pertained to what they would use for “money” in their new locations, as the money of their former host would likely be worthless. Reminded me of the lyrics to the song “More, More, More” by the aptly named Andrea True, who found herself in a country where the new government had imposed capital controls:

    “More More, More…
    How do ya like it?
    How do ya like it?”…

    Regarding the narrative about their private jet pilots in Yves’ intro, I also find it interesting that their Professional Managerial Class (PMC) is seeing their relative share of the pie decline. Could become problematic as the size of the pie is significantly reduced from the economic effects of the pandemic.


  25. deplorado

    >> But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless?

    Yes, that is part of a bigger problem. Living in a bunker is not like living in a larger society that can give currency its value. The wealthy patron cannot recreate in a bunker (however large) the legal, cultural, political, monetary, economic structures keeping the serving classes in place. He is forced to reduce the entire societal structures generating and protecting his unearned wealth (which he probably takes for granted) to mere one-on-one relationships based on threatened violence or mutual extinction. It is very obvious that is unworkable – because on a one-on-one basis the billionaire is just as vulnerable, if not more, than the average Joe who knows how to scrape by, and especially against trained professional staff.

    That right there should sober up some of those self-involved plutocrat a***oles who are driving the world towards the precipice. But, sadly, it’s kind of obvious that they don’t and won’t get it.

    I think though, some plutocrats, smarter ones, like Bezos, have a different vision. Where the Earth is a park preserved for the wealthy, and the rest of the much reduced humanity is toiling in space. Kind of like a gated community but the entire Earth, or the best parts of it, being that.
    I personally think that this is more likely in some form than “bunker” civilization. It can happen a lot more unnoticeably (happening already) and there are societal structures to make it happen and explain it away. And they dont even have to send people in space.

  26. sharonsj

    Their best bet would be an $8 million per apartment in the (former) underground missile silos in our Midwest. These complexes are self-sustaining but drawbacks would be (1) the medical section would not have all of the really expensive machinery needed for severe cases and (2) the complex still needs specialized workers to keep the place running.

    I would not recommend a fortified mansion in New Zealand; too hard to control security and NZ has three volcanoes which I believe are active. Alaska has heaving permafrost, which makes building a secure location difficult and you still have to worry about earthquakes and tsunamis. However, Alaska is pretty close to one of the last areas on the planet where scientists say humans can survive after Earth’s temperature rises five more degrees: the Arctic Circle. The other is Antarctica.

    1. periol

      I mean, as long as you’re going to point out the flaws everywhere else, there is the potentially catastrophic New Madrid fault in the Midwest USA. Plus there’s that small chance Yellowstone is going to blow out flyover country. And out of all the places you’ve listed, the Midwest is definitely the most vulnerable to future temperature spikes from climate change. It’s already rising quick, and the seasons are getting weird – go ask the farmers who’ve been there a while.

      And to top it off, it’s the only location on your list the hoi polloi can get to relatively easily. Gonna take some serious work keeping the mobs away in Kansas.

      1. sharonsj

        People can get to it but, from what I’ve read of the detailed descriptions, getting in is very hard to do. The covered dome supposedly can withstand a nuclear blast. And aside from a five-year supply of food, they have a very large agricultural area to produce fresh food. If you really want to talk more planetary catastrophes, there’s always a pole shift (crustal displacement), but we might have to wait for Nibiru to cause that….

  27. rob

    I wouldn’t worry about what the “rich” think they are going to do…. They are screwed. But until anything changes… they won’t know it. they can buy their luxuries, and pretend they have value.
    But really everything happens like rushing currents. Anything can get caught in a rushing current. And even the tiniest of seeds can land somewhere safe.. It is really about luck… any preparation still requires luck… and then time moving forward forces one to always have to be lucky….
    “you can’t win, but you can try and keep the table”

  28. GettingTheBannedBack

    To solve this problem of the selfish and greedy rich, we need to look at the problem differently.
    Over 50 years ago an experiment shook the US. Kids were assigned to groups depending on their eye colour (blue or brown). The brown-eyed group were told they had more melatonin so were much smarter than the blue-eyed group. They also got privileges. It didn’t end well.
    This experiment showed what happens when people think they are better than others. Smarter. More virtuous. Harder working. More Deserving.

    We are born with privileges or not. We are born with intelligence or not. We are born healthy or not. We are born with individual characteristics. We are born into supportive environments or not.

    We cannot take credit for where and to whom we are born. But people do. These days most people who say they got to the top by virtue of hard work ignore the luck of their birth. One or more of. Good food, good healthcare, access to good education, good social connections, good intelligence, good social skills.

    The problem is that the lucky people wilfully ignore their luck. Luck is blind, and luck doesn’t signal virtue. I was lucky in some ways, unlucky in others, in my background. But my good luck enabled me to have a good education.

    The solution to the wealth gap. Find a way of showing everybody that the deserving wealthy and the deserving professionals owe a lot of their good fortune to blind luck. Not innate superiority and virtue.
    My guess is that anyone with some cred and a coherent argument along these lines will be treated as the worst whistleblower, and a traitor to their class. They would have to be prepared for that, just like the great religious leaders who fought against tyranny (eg Bornhoffer etc)

    It would be good to see a saying from years ago come back into fashion. There but for the grace of God go I.

  29. RBHoughton

    “Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive”

    Delightful picture of private pilots leaving the squillionaire’s family at an intermediate port and taking his own rellies on to the idyllic tropical island in the deep blue sea. We have known since the Romans that the financial / economic system we prefer does not permit trust. It was one of Julius’s constant complaints. Now the destruction of society that Reagan and Thatcher engineered is leaving Western society cheating each other with aplomb and style. We don’t even keep it secret any more – theft of Libya’s and Venezuela’s gold, PPE supplies taken off the runway, silly explanations for administrative failure. Who cares. Its all falling to bits, get yours before its all gone.

  30. KFritz

    Also relevant to the plans of our oligarchs is how to handle their “goon squad,” the formidable armed men (and even an occasional woman) who will guard them from the teeming masses. They’d do well to read Dashiell Hammett’s “Red Harvest,” reputed to be the basis for “Yojimbo” and “A Fistful of Dollars.” It’s the story of a Montana mining industrialist who hires several groups of gangsters to rid his town of a left wing labor union, and then loses control of ‘his’ town to them

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