Pulling the ladders up all the way
July 24, 2018 11:28 AM   Subscribe

 
Oh, this hasn't been posted here yet? It's horrifying, and reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's advice from thirty years ago:


1. Reduce and stabilize your population.

2. Stop poisoning the air, the water, and the topsoil.

3. Stop preparing for war and start dealing with your real problems.

4. Teach your kids, and yourselves, too, while you're at it, how to inhabit a small planet without helping to kill it.

5. Stop thinking science can fix anything if you give it a trillion dollars.

6. Stop thinking your grandchildren will be OK no matter how wasteful or destructive you may be, since they can go to a nice new planet on a spaceship. That is really mean, and stupid.

7. And so on. Or else.

via Open Culture
posted by mecran01 at 11:34 AM on July 24, 2018 [102 favorites]


It is the nature of life to be unsatisfactory.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:36 AM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I thought it had been posted before, but I believe I was thinking of the original Medium piece which was linked in a comment in a megathread.

I think it's notable that this version doesn't include the ending of the Medium piece, and in fact ends right before this part:
When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now. They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family. And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an “event” in the first place. All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.

They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it. They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone. For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future. They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves — especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.
posted by cardioid at 11:39 AM on July 24, 2018 [72 favorites]


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.
Seize every single one of their assets and put them in fucking jail for the rest of their lives.
posted by schadenfrau at 11:41 AM on July 24, 2018 [115 favorites]


> Seize every single one of their assets and put them in fucking jail for the rest of their lives.

Fuck a jail. I think the way we avoid the Event is by bringing the Event to these folks specifically, as soon as possible.

Like I'm not normally a fan of homeopathy, but a carefully targeted homeopathic version of the Event just might be the cure we need.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 11:47 AM on July 24, 2018 [34 favorites]


I think, it's times like this that we need to return to the Prophet Douglas Adams, who suggested putting all these useless people in a ship and just sending it randomly into space. Maybe they'll land somewhere nice. It could happen. But let us send them and see what happens.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 11:49 AM on July 24, 2018 [24 favorites]


> Seize every single one of their assets
Fully agreed but

> and put them in fucking jail for the rest of their lives.
The state will not be using its violence against the people it works for any time soon.
posted by ReadEvalPost at 11:49 AM on July 24, 2018 [16 favorites]


The hedge fund billionaire whose compound I’ll protect after the Event will have a simple choice to make: Share the combination to the food supply, or become the food supply himself.
posted by ejs at 11:50 AM on July 24, 2018 [13 favorites]


We are all doomed. What the actual fuck.
posted by greermahoney at 11:53 AM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Please contribute to my new kickstarter:
Uber, but for guillotines
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:54 AM on July 24, 2018 [122 favorites]


hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,”

Imagine being so wealthy, detached, and cynical that "who rules Bartertown?" becomes an actual pressing concern in your life.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 11:54 AM on July 24, 2018 [31 favorites]


a seat on the rocket to Mars

Oh please let them all go try to live on Mars. The rest of us could probably do with some schadenfreude after the apocalypse.
posted by sfenders at 11:57 AM on July 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Disciplinary collars won't work. What you need is an army of War Boys who worship you as a god, and who yearn to die spectacularly so they may enter Valhalla, all shiny and chrome.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:57 AM on July 24, 2018 [64 favorites]


Capitalism teaches people that the human-created and human-directed world acts like a force of nature. "Markets" "move", business has "cycles". Everything about how the world works is described as though it were a weather pattern, and not the outcome of individual human decisions. The individual can only seize opportunities, take advantage of "market forces", protect themselves against adverse events with insurance policies, etc. As to the whole of it, we're taught to believe we don't have control. As if the entire apparatus was not a human creation, subject to human will and human reason, if we wanted it to be.

Is it any wonder that the most powerful people in the world, confronted with the oncoming disaster, can't imagine that they hold in their hands the power to avert it?

Civilization is going to go down in flames because of a simple lack of imagination.
posted by dis_integration at 11:58 AM on July 24, 2018 [34 favorites]


Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival.

I wonder if Octavia Butler thought she was writing fiction, or if she knew she was a prophet.
posted by lunasol at 11:59 AM on July 24, 2018 [24 favorites]


The state will not be using its violence against the people it works for any time soon.

It was just Bastille Day, so I’m feeling optimistic

And...guillotine-y
posted by schadenfrau at 12:01 PM on July 24, 2018 [15 favorites]


These are the guys who could STOP "the event." Do they WANNA stop The Event? No, they wanna know "what app can I use to control the machine gun turrets I'll use to defend my sex robot and my silo of Cheetos?"

Once again I am reminded of the immortal words of Commander Adama: "It's not enough to survive. We have to deserve to survive."
posted by Sing Or Swim at 12:02 PM on July 24, 2018 [31 favorites]


What gets me is just how dumb their schemes are, how obviously unworkable, and how they ignore the obvious solution for surviving in the absence of government—although Rushkoff does get it. You look at what drives societies where formal laws and regulation don't really exist: it's a whole lot of direct personal loyalty, plus family relationships. Since you can't really create that many more family members (unless you want to go the Duggar/Quiverfull route, I suppose), Rushkoff's advice is spot-on: if you really did think civilization was toast, you should be doing everything you can to build relationships—build trust—with the people who are going to help you survive, and make it clear that you're going to help them survive.

There's no historical model, at least that I can think of, for what they seem to want (with the weird combination locks and stuff; i.e. direct, personal, coercive power over the entire population from the Head Honcho down). That leadership style isn't going to last long; probably not longer than it takes for the first security guard with an ounce of charisma to get annoyed and convince the other security guards to renegotiate their labor arrangements, perhaps with some fingernail-removal or waterboarding to make sure there's nothing being held back.

I don't think what these hedge fund types really want is survival. What they want is the preservation of their right to be shitty to other people, which presently only exists because they're taking advantage of the apparatus of our civilization to enable themselves to be crass. Apparently to them, survival where they have to be decent to other people is no survival at all.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:03 PM on July 24, 2018 [129 favorites]


> Once again I am reminded of the immortal words of Commander Adama: "It's not enough to survive. We have to deserve to survive."

also we probably should have taken his advice w/r/t networking the computers.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:07 PM on July 24, 2018 [55 favorites]


managing a hedge fund certainly gives one the skills and aptitude for administering a post-apocalyptic stronghold with a security force staffed by people who probably would have beat you up if they had had the money to go to your private high school.

the whole Event/Xmageddon/poxyclypse might be worth it if I could stick around long enough to see the look on some of these fools faces when they realize how comprehensively they are fucked. but honestly i am meat within a week of the Happening.

hopefully they are meat much faster.
posted by logicpunk at 12:09 PM on July 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


Metafilter knows there's nothing I love more than a let's-mock-the-preppers! thread. These guys can do multi-variate calculus in their heads but they're every bit as dumb as the Realtree army and if there's a collapse, they'll be eating termites with the rest of us. If they're lucky.

Also:
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?
I mean, Jesus. If we're going to leave our trash for the next generation, let's upload Dr. OZ and Deepak Chopra while we're at it.
posted by klanawa at 12:10 PM on July 24, 2018 [17 favorites]


These people are deluded parasites. They’d literally rather stroll to the apocalypse than be kind and generous to others.
posted by supercrayon at 12:10 PM on July 24, 2018 [23 favorites]


putting all these useless people in a ship and just sending it randomly into space
These people aren't merely useless, like telephone sterilizers. They're actively destructive.
posted by adamrice at 12:19 PM on July 24, 2018 [14 favorites]


let's upload Dr. OZ and Deepak Chopra while we're at it

At least Ray Kurzweil had a past life as an actual inventor. If you want text-to-speech in the post-apocalypse, he might be your guy.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:19 PM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


This I guess is the real divide between the rich and the rest of us, because if I had billions of dollars, I'd be frantically trying to save everything, even aside from the whole basic-human-empathy thing. Do we need all those coral reefs? I don't know, but I haven't personally seen them all yet and I might want to see them later, so I mean, we'd better, hadn't we? I might actually spend the rest of my life watching television, but I would want there to still be pandas and Micronesia and good barbecue and art museums and all the infrastructure those things need to exist just in case at some point I felt like it. Are they really that bored with everything that exists that they're fine with it ceasing to?

It seems like a Time Enough At Last kind of scenario, where you ensure you can survive only to wind up in a world where you can't enjoy any of the stuff that makes the world worth surviving in.
posted by Sequence at 12:22 PM on July 24, 2018 [66 favorites]


Well I know how to kill a chicken and knit socks, so guess who's gonna be the technical elite then, eh? not mister create-value-for-shareholders I betcha.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 12:23 PM on July 24, 2018 [94 favorites]


These guys can do multi-variate calculus in their heads

lol no they can't. mostly the quants don't end up running things, just the sociopaths and narcissists.

i guess occasionally they're the same, but let's not give them more credit than they've earned
posted by schadenfrau at 12:24 PM on July 24, 2018 [53 favorites]


> We are all doomed. What the actual fuck.

From birth, even. It's pretty much a bum deal.
posted by davelog at 12:39 PM on July 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


also we probably should have taken his advice w/r/t networking the computers.

Oh god yes.
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on July 24, 2018


I think, it's times like this that we need to return to the Prophet Douglas Adams, who suggested putting all these useless people in a ship and just sending it randomly into space.

If that happens, I'm giving up telephones.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:42 PM on July 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


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?

Something history, something repeating, blah blah.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:44 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


These are the guys who could STOP "the event." Do they WANNA stop The Event?

No, because they think they'll be the post-event winners, they'll come out on top and be rid of all us annoying proles.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:44 PM on July 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


let's not give them more credit than they've earned

Look, I'm just trying to be generous, here. They'll taste the same roasted over a fire, regardless.
posted by klanawa at 12:46 PM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


They’re all stupid-ass libertarians, stopping “the event” is a collective effort and therefore bad, but making escape plans is individualistic and therefore wrong.

It’s why Elon Musk can conceive of fixing Flint by everyone getting filters (which didn’t scale and won’t work) but actually fixing the pipes would be beyond him.

Oh and half these fuckers ARE The Event.
posted by Artw at 12:48 PM on July 24, 2018 [46 favorites]


the rocket to Mars

They're not really planning to go to Mars, they're planning to effectively take over New Zealand, gambling that it's far enough away and sufficiently "nice" (white) to suit their purposes, with a small enough population that they can reshape it if necessary and most of that population has never been directly affected by their depredations so they're substantially more likely to just sorta avoid the spotlight.

They're going to do it too -- Thiel broke essentially every requirement for NZ citizenship, but ah well, what are rules really for anyway? You gonna get on a boat, post-Event, and sail all the way down to NZ to roast Thiel?
posted by aramaic at 12:51 PM on July 24, 2018 [12 favorites]


>They're not really planning to go to Mars, they're planning to effectively take over New Zealand, gambling that it's far enough away and sufficiently "nice" (white) to suit their purposes, with a small enough population that they can reshape it if necessary and most of that population has never been directly affected by their depredations so they're substantially more likely to just sorta avoid the spotlight.

New Zealand? What's New Zealand? Are you talking about Aotearoa? Cause I'm pretty sure the people of post-Event Aotearoa will know what to do with guys like Thiel.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:54 PM on July 24, 2018 [26 favorites]


Their question is, "How do we return to slavery?"
posted by clawsoon at 12:55 PM on July 24, 2018 [36 favorites]


You gonna get on a boat, post-Event, and sail all the way down to NZ to roast Thiel?

Watch me.
posted by lydhre at 1:01 PM on July 24, 2018 [55 favorites]


Uber, but for guillotines
Tag line: Disrupting the Event
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:02 PM on July 24, 2018 [14 favorites]


This all ends with a besieged WETA lab.
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on July 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


hopefully they are meat much faster
become the food supply himself
They'll taste the same roasted over a fire, regardless.

Then we're all in agreement.
Eat the rich.
Do it now.
It's either that, or start hoarding the antacids for later.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:04 PM on July 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


So is this legit?

The account felt more like a parable than reportage. The demands on the author were too pragmatic, too detailed for these titans; normally they'd hire people to settle them.
And why do this knowing that Rushkoff would write publicly about it?
posted by doctornemo at 1:04 PM on July 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


Isn't this a double? I have a feeling we had this conversation recently
posted by infini at 1:08 PM on July 24, 2018


On preview, I'm not the only one feeling this way... so it has come to this. We must now begin to talk about this seriously. We need alternative worldviews and futures, not just this technobubble robot future running us plebes into the ground.
posted by infini at 1:09 PM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


my sex robot and my silo of Cheetos

my utopia!
posted by supermedusa at 1:13 PM on July 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


the endgame result of vicious abstractionism.
posted by nikaspark at 1:19 PM on July 24, 2018


So, what I'm hearing is that a bunch of rich white dudes have decided that rich white dudes are losing control, so this is the end of civilization?

Selfish, goddamn fucknuggets.
posted by Sophie1 at 1:21 PM on July 24, 2018 [21 favorites]


Well I know how to kill a chicken and knit socks, so guess who's gonna be the technical elite then, eh?

I'd like to join your commune, Mary, because left to my own devices I'd probably try to knit chickens.

Also, yes: band name for sale.
posted by rokusan at 1:21 PM on July 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


> Isn't this a double? I have a feeling we had this conversation recently

Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, January 2017: Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich
Some of the wealthiest people in America—in Silicon Valley, New York, and beyond—are getting ready for the crackup of civilization.
Fantastic article, highly recommended. And discussed previously.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:24 PM on July 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


AFTER The Event is obviously way too late. You know when I began thinking about "Eating the Rich"? The first time I heard of "Trump Steaks".
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:26 PM on July 24, 2018 [10 favorites]


It's always been a curious side-effect of the fact that we modeled our economic system after natural selection, that the people who "win" at our capitalist economic system think they're gonna "win" at actual natural selection as well. Nature has veeeeerry different criteria for "the fittest", and IMO it's way more likely to be your local homeless veteran that makes out like a king, post-"Event", than any of these guys.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:32 PM on July 24, 2018 [16 favorites]


It's just too bad that seasteading has gone out of vogue. It'd be perfect: it'd absorb billions of dollars, move the richest people in the world to a place where it's legal to rob them and the whole thing will eventually sink to the bottom of the ocean after bankrupting its owners.
posted by suetanvil at 1:33 PM on July 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


Imagine the sort of mind which considers trying to colonize Mars or whatever a more desirable and practical plan for the continuation of the human race than, you know, trying to fix problems here on Earth. Good luck, rich dudes.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:41 PM on July 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


I've been pondering this for a while and if we agree this is a tangible problem I think I have a tangible solution.

Create contemporary contracts to kill these people if preventable disasters happen. Include GPS coordinates, local maps, maybe missile coordinates.

If the problem is that the rich are justifying current exploitation by hiding in self-centered visions of the future, you can address that directly by entering into and breaking that selfish vision. A real life Inception mission.

As the point is to kill a vision, not necessarily a person, the contracts don't necessarily have to be "real". It just needs to inspire one vision (if the morally repugnant vault people exist, target them) that kills another ("I can be a contemporaneously exploitative future-vault person!").

I kind of genuinely want to create contract artwork on this subject.
posted by tychotesla at 1:42 PM on July 24, 2018 [9 favorites]


The whole article reads like pizzagate-level conspiracy mongering. But I guess when you're feeding the rabble what they want to hear, anything goes.
posted by dodecapus at 2:07 PM on July 24, 2018


A close relative of mine -- generally not known to be delusional -- once insisted that her therapist had told her that the very rich in Manhattan had special plans to exclusively evacuate in case of an Event. That any non-rich-people boats in the rivers would be sunk, and any non-rich-people aircraft would be shot down. It seemed like a plan that would take a lot more love for the rich combined with secret-coordination skills than NYC government functionaries ever have. Glad* someone's working on the problem though!


*not glad
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:12 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


my sex robot and my silo of Cheetos

my utopia!


Until the sex robot is clogged up with Cheetos dust.
posted by lagomorphius at 2:16 PM on July 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


Create contemporary contracts to kill these people if preventable disasters happen.

Build a series of underground shelters in geologically-stable places, comfortably furnished and stocked with all of the supplies you could possibly need. Each is sealed and can only be opened with the severed head of someone from this list of billionaires.

I could see this being the project of a sufficiently grumpy rich guy.
posted by suetanvil at 2:17 PM on July 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


Uber, but for guillotines

beHeadr
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:28 PM on July 24, 2018 [61 favorites]


When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after “the event,” I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now. They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family. And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an “event” in the first place. All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.
I'm almost done with Mike Duncan's excellent History of Rome podcast, and it's striking how much this reflects what happened to the Roman Emperors. As the Empire wore on and problems arose, the Emperors came to rely more and more on the protection and might of the Praetorian Guard to maintain power. But the Praetorians quickly realized that the people keeping the Emperor from dying also had control of his life, and so they began dominating, appointing, and assassinating Emperors, even literally auctioning off the position at one point.

And Rushkoff's solution was exactly the one the rich and powerful used as the Western Empire disintegrated: develop a web of reciprocal alliances and allegiances with the local forces that evolved into the feudal society of the Medieval period.

It seems like the smart inhuman billionaire would pursue a similar policy, showering his protection forces and their families with money and benefits and guaranteeing them their survival in exchange for them protecting the billionaire's fief, and form bonds with other billionaire fiefs to protect each other from revolts or external threats.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:32 PM on July 24, 2018 [16 favorites]


Not a one of these Randian Ubermenschen will do a damn thing to stop The Event if it means the surrender of a single 0 from their tax-sheltered bank accounts.

But we are many, they are few.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:34 PM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Obligatory self link.
It´s getting a little late in the day, but it kind of feels like the the 1930's to me.
I wonder what the trigger will be?
When you’re in a group you are, psychologically, not the same person you are when you’re alone.
posted by adamvasco at 2:41 PM on July 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


In the middle ages poor people were much less tolerant of unearned privileges and the arrogance of the filthy rich and staged themselves truly scary (to the aristocrats) versions of The Event in response.
posted by talos at 2:48 PM on July 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


I doubt it’s exaggerated much, if at all. I have met some extremely rich people in the Bay Area through work and my writing, and I can assure you that this kind of talk is not wholly unusual in certain circles.
posted by adrianhon at 2:53 PM on July 24, 2018 [12 favorites]


we need to fake the apocalypse - they'll all fuck off to their safe places and we'll have the world to ourselves
posted by pyramid termite at 3:04 PM on July 24, 2018 [14 favorites]


I'm amazed there isn't a better prison-to-boardroom pipeline. And vice-versa.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 3:19 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


So a while ago I was at a happy hour meetup thing and came up with (what I thought was) this very clever icebreaker, "what skills do you have to contribute in the event of an apocalypse?"

And then a couple weeks later, at a different gathering, with an entirely different group of people who were not at the happy hour, someone else asks the exact same question I had thought up.

I'm a little concerned with how in the air this shit is.
posted by mostly vowels at 3:28 PM on July 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


So they all read Brave New World and consider themselves the defacto Alpha's .. is that right?
posted by Faintdreams at 3:31 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Gentlemen, I suggest you prepare to join the Romanovs..."
posted by jim in austin at 3:35 PM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Cliff: Little known fact there, Normy, Noah was himself a hedge fund manager. That's, uh, that's why God chose him to save the human race.
Norm: They're still going to kill you in your sleep Cliff.
posted by Cris E at 3:42 PM on July 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


hopefully they are meat much faster
become the food supply himself
They'll taste the same roasted over a fire, regardless.

Then we're all in agreement.
Eat the rich.
Do it now.

I just signed up as a monthly supporter of Metafilter because this kind of discourse is welcome here, and it's getting people suspended/banned on Twitter & Facebook (while the nazis harass people freely in both places). Aside from all the good Metafilter has brought to my life, we're gonna need a platform for comment threads where we can plan the revolution, and that's worth actual money to me.
posted by 100kb at 3:48 PM on July 24, 2018 [32 favorites]


plan the revolution? organizationist pig!!
posted by pyramid termite at 3:50 PM on July 24, 2018 [9 favorites]


where we can plan the revolution

"How do you do, fellow kids revolutionaries?"

He's a narc!
posted by klanawa at 3:58 PM on July 24, 2018 [21 favorites]


"How do you do, fellow kids revolutionaries?"
He's a narc!


:(
*she
...and I write in a strange, overly formal way bc I'm an alien in a human suit. Just popped by to say that the galactic community supports the human proletariat struggle. *tentaclebump*
posted by 100kb at 4:03 PM on July 24, 2018 [41 favorites]


Wait, are we eating the narcs too? This is exactly why we need a plan!
posted by ejs at 4:04 PM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Well, if the aliens are on our side, maybe we should encourage the billionaires to relocate to another planet. I always loved fireworks.
posted by klanawa at 4:07 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


The problem with developing family-like relationships with your security people is that it very quickly develops into a quasi-early-Medieval system of kingships and retainers. This is not feudalism, which codifies these relationships into a formal system of land-tenure and military service, and achieves a certain level of stability by that means (while still being rather fraught).

This is the kind of system we see with the Anglo-Saxon kings, early Franks, Old Norse, and other groups in Europe before the establishment of Salic law. It is highly dependent on two elements:

A culture of mutual honor and respect between a king and his retainers, usually dependent on martial prowess and military success; and, a system of feasting and gift-giving (also highly dependent on the material products of military success), wherein a king is constantly feasting his picked men, and providing them with wealth, but also at various times, feasting the regular freeholders and peasantry who make up the bulk of his armies during the fighting season.

Without either of these elements, the king's authority very quickly breaks down, as ambitious retainers form their own war-bands to challenge the king, and as peasants refuse to fight for him.

Considering that there is not much that most of these people can do to earn the personal respect of the former soldiers and security contractors whom they plan to hire (and who have their own informal system of respect based on their status as combat veterans); combined with these billionaire's stated unwillingness to share their toys, I don't see their authority lasting particularly long. What's Peter Thiel going to do when some former Special Forces dude gets fed up and decides that it's just easier to shoot him?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:10 PM on July 24, 2018 [25 favorites]


are we eating the narcs too?

At least we know the meat will be drug-free.
/hamburger
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:11 PM on July 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull: The problem with developing family-like relationships with your security people is that it very quickly develops into a quasi-early-Medieval system of kingships and retainers. This is not feudalism, which codifies these relationships into a formal system of land-tenure and military service, and achieves a certain level of stability by that means (while still being rather fraught).

I was just thinking about the late-Roman villa system's evolution into manorialism, and how it might apply here.

Unfortunately, I don't know enough about it to say anything intelligent.
posted by clawsoon at 4:14 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would not be entirely surprised if, should the apocalypse come, the new baron and warlord class arises from from big-deal entertainers, particularly touring performers. Think about it: they have enough money to take meaningful steps to protect themselves and consolidate their position for as long as the Old Economy remains relevant. They are used to having hundreds or thousands of people personally economically dependent on them. The best performers are extremely conscious of that fact and strive to act as good patrons (in the Roman sense). They already have managers, roadies, butlers, and so forth in place to become the nucleus of their ministries — to say nothing of their bodyguards. Every last one of them has a heck of a lot more charisma than nearly all of the hedge fund mangers and tech titans... combined. They can inspire their followers — or at least keep them entertained.

And besides, who would you rather follow? Thiel or Beyoncé?
posted by metaquarry at 4:22 PM on July 24, 2018 [42 favorites]


metaquarry has solved it! Queen Bee!
posted by Mogur at 4:26 PM on July 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


"These tales of impending doom allowed the Golgafrinchans to rid themselves of an entire useless third of their population. The story was that they would build three Ark ships. Into the A ship would go all the leaders, scientists and other high achievers. The C ship would contain all the people who made things and did things, and the B ark would hold everyone else, such as hairdressers and telephone sanitisers. They sent the B ship off first, but of course the other two-thirds of the population stayed on the planet and lived full, rich and happy lives until they were all wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone."

http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Golgafrincham

That's Adams' point about getting rid of people who seem to be useless.

A possibly relevant song: Digwell Carol.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 4:29 PM on July 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


I've always thought that I'd prefer to die quickly in the event of societal collapse, but watching these guys inevitably get butchered or enslaved by the help just might make it worth surviving Beyond Thunderdome for a while.
posted by ryanshepard at 4:32 PM on July 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


The transition to manorialism works differently in different parts of what was the Western Empire (the Eastern Empire is a different matter entirely). In some places, cities continued, and new elites gradually appropriated the civil and bureaucratic structures of the former Empire. These elites could be remnants of the old Roman aristocracy, more recent arrivals (like the Visigothic kingdoms in France and Spain), or the Church. Often, they were elements of all three.

It was places like Britain and Northern Gaul where a much more dramatic collapse of Imperial authority (and economy) led to the sort of warlordism that eventually became the model for Medieval kingship. Here you had the most effective war-leaders gradually expanding their territories, primarily through military adventure (although later, somewhat through dynastic marriage). As military success accrued, and territories were expanded, it provided two things: an immediate source of resources (torques, armbands, rings, fancy weapons, as well as grants of personal land) with which to reward one's senior warriors; and in the longer term, a series of estates under the personal control of the king (and maintained by stewards) to which the king and his leading men could travel to throughout the year, and which were dedicated to producing resources to support the continuous feasting this system required.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:33 PM on July 24, 2018 [9 favorites]


I'm always endlessly amused by these people who assume their entertainments will somehow work in perpetuity. Even things built to last 20-30 years get a gnarly cruft if there's any airflow, and even without airflow, solder degradation from sloppy manufacture (and the reoccurring issue of tin whiskers) is a real problem.

How much access are they planning to have to common capacitors? Resistors? Are they planning to lay in a lifetime of iron tips, solder wire, flux, and someone who can use them? How about wire itself and copper's oxidation problem? How about the fact that half their wires probably have an exposed internal to save on factory costs that means any damage to the external insulation introduces oxygen to bare, untinned, unprotected copper which then has to be replaced? How sure are they of the actual manufacturing quality of their shit?

You know what inevitably happens in day to day life, let alone an apocalypse? Damage to wire insulation, inside and out!

Even if you have the power supply, the expertise, and the materials - all this shit is still going to be by hand. All of it. Screws, tinning, removing and replacing components, and someone will have to do it and it all generates a shocking amount of trash that has to go somewhere.

Also there is some truly specialised shit in goods we think of as every day - once they lose access to rare earth mining, do you think they're going to be able to replace or repair the internals of a smartphone even guaranteed everything else? lol no, you can't even take apart a smartphone without specialised tools these days, and the process is engineered to be incredibly destructive to avoid unauthorised modifications because something something ip something something patents something something trade secrets.

They can try to realise this fantasy, sure, is my point, but all the food supply and slavery and power generation in the world, even the very best case scenario, won't stop them from crying over a busted/crufted up usb drive that, sob sob, somehow doesn't work anymoooooore, sob sob.

You know what you say to these bozos? You tell them they're fucking dreaming.
posted by E. Whitehall at 4:38 PM on July 24, 2018 [31 favorites]


The obvious solution to "how do I keep my guards in line" is to not have an Event. Civilization is arguably a technological solution to that very problem.
posted by surlyben at 4:41 PM on July 24, 2018 [30 favorites]


But hey, you can also open the hungry maw of injustice and eat them. I'm not judging.
posted by E. Whitehall at 4:41 PM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


You know who's going to survive the apocalypse? Tight knit groups that are small enough to feed everyone but big enough to maintain division of labor. And who can have commercial type relationships with other groups without going to war with them. Hillbilly clans, blue water sailers, firehouses, cartels, tribes, nuns.

Tech bros are going to murder each other over bottled water supplies within 6 months and never survive to see the power grid restored a year later and life go back to normal. Hopefully they stream it.
posted by fshgrl at 4:46 PM on July 24, 2018 [29 favorites]


> ...and I write in a strange, overly formal way bc I'm an alien in a human suit. Just popped by to say that the galactic community supports the human proletariat struggle. *tentaclebump*

hypothesis: metafilter is very, very gradually turning Posadist.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:59 PM on July 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


They’d literally rather stroll to the apocalypse than be kind and generous to others.

Well, yeah; if they survive the apocalypse, they get to feel like Randian heroes without making their own sacrifices. That's a lot more fun than being kind and generous to others (i.e., real heroes), which requires actual sacrifice and doesn't always come with a direct ego-inflating payback.
posted by davejay at 5:19 PM on July 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


I would not be entirely surprised if, should the apocalypse come, the new baron and warlord class arises from from big-deal entertainers...They can inspire their followers — or at least keep them entertained.

The uber-wealthy would give large amounts of money and privilege to entertainers as figureheads in order to placate the masses and retain their power...and that's different from today how?
posted by davejay at 5:21 PM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


"You look at what drives societies where formal laws and regulation don't really exist: it's a whole lot of direct personal loyalty, plus family relationships."

I lived in Qatar for two years. This is sort of their model.
posted by mecran01 at 5:35 PM on July 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Has it been canonically explained what sort of hedge fund Immortan Joe managed before the Event?
posted by acb at 5:36 PM on July 24, 2018 [23 favorites]


Libertarian preppers: the flaws and blindspots in their models of society, economics and their own success make their plans woefully misguided, incomplete and counter-productive.

Hippie/commune Preppers: the libertarians will make sport of ruining your otherwise functional societies even as they are dying. The religious will nuke you to meet their gods and foresake this world.

The purge will be chaotic and non-meritocratic; the radiation will build and spread. None of these preppers have plans to stabilize or contain the radioactive fuels and wastes that we have concentrated and enhanced in a century of techno-optimism. The neglect of high-tech facilities thousands of miles away, unknown to these earstwhile fools will leak enough Ceseium or whatnot to poison their seas, foul their air etc. We built the 20th century on ecological timebombs of fossil fuels and nuclear weapons, no one will long survive when we default on those facilities.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 5:43 PM on July 24, 2018 [9 favorites]


You gonna get on a boat, post-Event, and sail all the way down to NZ to roast Thiel?

Yes

I mean, if "the event" happens, there's nothing to stop me from finding everyone who contributed to it and making them really, really regret it
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:44 PM on July 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


That is basically the plot of The Punisher: The End.

I think Frank Castle has some good points.
posted by Artw at 5:49 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also I disagree with the idea that a formal, clear, announced "event" is what will happen to trigger their preparations instead of the chronic downward pressure of a long emergency and a series of stop-gap measures. All those US counties with declining lifespans, all those wildfires, all those suicides, and mass shootings, all the hollowing out, the events are happening, the point of no return was a dozen years ago, these guys are sitting around as if the climate, the ecosystem , agriculture, and the economy are functional and working and productive and not gliding on momentum and canabalizing themselves.

The event will be them celebrating how good their pets taste and congratulating themselves on the foresight of having had pets in the first-place.
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 5:54 PM on July 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


*You gonna get on a boat, post-Event, and sail all the way down to NZ to roast Thiel?

**we need to fake the apocalypse - they'll all fuck off to their safe places and we'll have the world to ourselves

You all do realise that some of us are already here, right? But yeah, I have a rough idea where Thiel lives. If I can somehow get across Cook Straight I've got no problems walking there and helping set up a perimeter around his house, deny all food going in until we can starve him out.
posted by Pink Frost at 6:04 PM on July 24, 2018 [12 favorites]


Think less "Event" and more "Jackpot" (after William Gibson). It will be a gradual concatenation of things that affects some places in very extreme ways, and leaves other places alone.

Again, using the example of the collapse of the Western Roman Empire: some places were invaded, and even looted, but recovered and even prospered. Other places that had once been central to the economy gradually declined, while new economic centers popped up. In many areas, things fell apart slowly, over multiple generations. Infrastructure gradually fell apart, so while there was still food, it became harder to travel from place to place, and you had to start bringing water by hand from a well, because the aqueducts no longer worked

In places on the periphery, the decline was more sudden and more extreme. As Robin Fleming points out, once the military left Britain, the economy collapsed completely. Whole towns were totally depopulated within a single generation, and some areas even became "aceramic" for more than a century. That is places that had produced pottery , sometimes even on a mass scale for export, now no longer produced pottery. Of course, then a bunch of people with fancy steel knives started turning up, and things continued along.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:14 PM on July 24, 2018 [14 favorites]


The best thing about this is that there's never going to be "The Event."

Civilization is like a cockroach, and it's going to be just fine. There will be adjusting to A) a new economic order B) a new political order and C) some land loss due to global warming, but it's not going to collapse like some hollywood film.

Which gives further clarity to just how stupid these men are: they don't even invest in the likely future, but instead they're putting their resources in "savings" in a model that is the one thing guaranteed to change.

One can only hope that their idiocy bleeds them sufficiently.
posted by weed donkey at 6:24 PM on July 24, 2018 [13 favorites]


You gonna get on a boat, post-Event, and sail all the way down to NZ to roast Thiel?

I think it's good if he believes this will happen, so yes, let's form the society and put up the web page. Anyway, it's a good of a plan for the end of the world as any.
posted by fleacircus at 6:52 PM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


I agree with all the above, but do the Guardian editors know the difference between hedge funds and tech? And yes, I am drawing a distinction between the VC crowd and the actual tech crowd.
posted by sabraonthehill at 7:27 PM on July 24, 2018


I think it's actually canon that Immortan Joe was the head of a private mercenary army corporation. So like, Erik Prince crossed with Dick Cheney?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:53 PM on July 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Digwell Carol is mentioned above, and Leslie Fish had another song that's relevant to this topic.

I am endlessly amused by rich white men pondering how they'll pay their security guards, while failing to realize that "cook in a woodstove oven" is a specialized skill and they may not have hired anyone who can make bread.

I also wonder what they have planned for medical staff. Modern doctors and nurses aren't trained to work by candlelight, especially the ones willing to join a "survive the apocalypse and everyone else can fuck off" bunker crew.

... do they have anyone who can make candles? Or a supply of wicks and oil? Or do they have a storage shed full of lightbulbs and some solar charging panels, and believe that'll last them for their remaining few decades?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:57 PM on July 24, 2018 [5 favorites]


Metafilter post-apocalypse suggestion list:

1. Everyone go to New Zealand.
2. Find somewhere still run by The Man, so we can stage a revolution.
3. Seek out the sex robots, for where they reside there are bound to be silos-full of Cheetos.
4. Everyone converge on Peter Thiel
5. Church of the Children of the Atom
6. Revive the Roman Empire
7. Stuff your track suit full of leaves
8. Kill chickens and knit socks
posted by sfenders at 7:59 PM on July 24, 2018 [23 favorites]


9. WITNESS ME!
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:00 PM on July 24, 2018 [14 favorites]


I am digging the idea that Metafilter will become the real life Roko’s Basilisk, in that in the future we’ll all be dedicated to punishing the people who could have prevented this future but chose not to.
posted by ejs at 8:05 PM on July 24, 2018 [13 favorites]


Metafilter post-apocalypse suggestion list:

1. Everyone go to New Zealand.


I think it's time to level up our long-term survival strategy.
posted by maupuia at 8:10 PM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


That's our survival strategy - they won't be able to find us because their maps will say we can't exist.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:17 PM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


And why do this knowing that Rushkoff would write publicly about it?

Because it's not enough to survive the apocalypse. You have to Show Everyone that you were so much smarter and Right All Along and they should have listened and blah blah blah. It's not enough to be right in the privacy of your own head. What use is a victory without an audience?
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 8:26 PM on July 24, 2018 [6 favorites]


Elon Musk is never going to Mars. He can launch as many rockets as he wants and talk up colonisation until the cows come home. At the end of the day, there is no way he is leaving his 22 million twitter followers and incredibly luxurious lifestyle to go live in a habitat which will smell of farts after the first week with people who have no time for his shit. Elon Musk is not going to Mars.
posted by um at 11:45 PM on July 24, 2018 [11 favorites]


the new baron and warlord class arises from from big-deal entertainers

if beyonce wanted me to hunt down her enemies like the most dangerous game i'd do it without a second thought so yeah prolly
posted by poffin boffin at 11:47 PM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Some of the wealthiest people in America—[...]—are getting ready for the crackup of civilization.

this has always been happening
posted by philip-random at 12:12 AM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


1. Everyone go to New Zealand.

except I heard they ruined it, turned everything into Lord of the Rings
posted by philip-random at 12:13 AM on July 25, 2018


Build a series of underground shelters in geologically-stable places, comfortably furnished and stocked with all of the supplies you could possibly need. Set the price of entry to something like a billion dollars each, something that the members of the elite could afford yet also expect. Then announce that the Event is about to hit, that you've had prior warning, but only a day or so's notice, so there's no time to waste. On arrival, they're handed a glass of expensive champagne, and directed to the main hall for a secret inaugural meeting, no servants or underlings of any kind allowed.

Then, when they're all in, fill the complex with cement.
posted by Grangousier at 1:38 AM on July 25, 2018 [13 favorites]


All of this talk of The Event reminds me that you should please remain indoors.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:54 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]




I wonder how different the conversation would be if our dominant narrative of the collapse of elite power wasn't the end of Roman rule in northwestern Europe, but instead was the overthrow of Chinese dynasties by peasant rebellions. The technology isn't going away; the ability to organize isn't going away; it'll just be in different hands, and there'll be no difficulty in tracking down the old elite and destroying their bunkers.

Anyway, I wouldn't worry about these guys if it all falls down. Few of them have any organizational or personal qualities beyond the ability to game the current system. Instead, I'd worry about the U.S. Armed Forces going all Campus Crusade for Christ on us.
posted by clawsoon at 6:12 AM on July 25, 2018 [6 favorites]


The real concern is that it's on all of us to prevent the Event, because as people have pointed out, the rich aren't actually interested (and/or able to do anything).

It's on regular people to make the changes needed to avoid disaster. The wealthy are the ones standing in the way.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 7:10 AM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


Instead, I'd worry about the U.S. Armed Forces going all Campus Crusade for Christ on us.

A valid concern. This is why we have to radicalize the troops with leftist podcasts, AnCom memes, and LaCroix.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:04 AM on July 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


Elon Musk is never going to Mars.

Shades of Heinlein's "The Man Who Sold the Moon" and "Requiem," where the man who made travel to the Moon practical wasn't allowed to make the journey himself. I suspect that even if he was willing to put up with the smell and other tribulations, and pitch in and be a useful member of the colony, his insurers and those who have invested in his companies would prevent him from taking the trip.

The technology isn't going away;

I beg to differ: if there is a nuclear war aspect to "The Event" then most of it is, in fact, going away. Every nuclear exchange starts with an EMP to screw up communications, as a side effect every non-hardened piece of electronics will fry, every long piece of wire will melt and burn, every transformer and generator destroyed, and most likely every major library and place of learning burned to the ground along with the cities they reside in. Oh, if we have a plague or zombies other leaves-the-buildings-standing type collapse the pieces may still be in place for a recovery, but even then I wonder if any major nuclear power, seeing their own civilization collapse, wouldn't be fatally tempted to make sure the other guys suffer the same fate themselves via EMP.
posted by Blackanvil at 8:37 AM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


Fair point about the nukes.
posted by clawsoon at 8:50 AM on July 25, 2018


Not to mention plain old resource depletion will make climbing out of a collapse difficult without any nukes.
posted by Artw at 8:54 AM on July 25, 2018


The EMP thing is debatable. I mean, if there's an actual nuclear exchange, plenty of infrastructure will melt, but it will be due to all the nuclear blasts, less than EMP effects.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:01 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


From the article TedW shared: "The president carries with him a little sealed index card that he would break open that's designed by the NSA, and that card and the codes that are in it would identify him to the military command structure as the president. And then, from there, he would be able to launch nuclear war whenever he was."

Oh man, the President can time travel now? We are so. fucked.
posted by Grither at 9:52 AM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh god, also from that article, this is hilariously depressing: "Those plans were always predicated upon the idea that the person giving the launch order is the most thoughtful, most intelligent, most sober-minded individual that you could possibly imagine atop the nuclear command and control system."
posted by Grither at 9:53 AM on July 25, 2018 [8 favorites]


*gibbers in ALL CAPS*
posted by infini at 10:13 AM on July 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


The president carries with him a little sealed index card that he would break open that's designed by the NSA, and that card and the codes that are in it would identify him to the military command structure as the president.

Yeah, well, if the card is printed and requires reading, we're probably safe.

While him having access to nukes is a serious concern, if his staff is struck by a last-minute bit of conscience, all they have to do is not help him figure out the instructions. This is a guy who can't get through a security briefing without ultra-simplified Powerpoint charts - I have my doubts that he can navigate a phone list or accurately read off security code numbers.

(I know this isn't much, but I'm holding on to whatever fragments of hope I can find.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:16 AM on July 25, 2018 [10 favorites]


The ubercapitilist mantra of "What's your moat?" gets literal.
posted by srboisvert at 11:03 AM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


And besides, who would you rather follow? Thiel or Beyoncé?

I'd sooner walk into the initial blastwave.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:27 AM on July 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


Every nuclear exchange starts with an EMP to screw up communications, as a side effect every non-hardened piece of electronics will fry, every long piece of wire will melt and burn, every transformer and generator destroyed, and most likely every major library and place of learning burned to the ground along with the cities they reside in.

This is..... not quite accurate. Mini EMPs happen every time there is lightning or a big solar flare and shit happens, but it's pretty well localized.

EMPs aren't magic. They are just a wideband electromagnetic disturbance. How that affects the electronics in question depends on a ton of variables and is difficult to predict in the general case.

A high altitude EMP could reach a long ways theoretically, but the energy density of that wave front diminishes with the square of distance, and the cube of the volume affected. That means the biggest effects will be highly localized.

Point is, it's a fun plot device for a sci-fi apocalypse thriller, and its entirely possible to overstate their effectiveness.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:07 PM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


> I'd sooner walk into the initial blastwave.

If watching Threads as an impressionable teen in the 80's taught me anything, it's that the center of the big red X is the place to be when the bomb falls.
posted by davelog at 2:14 PM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]


The only habitable bubble of atmosphere in the known universe in which humanity can survive is under threat. The acidification of the oceans, the acidification of the atmosphere, the mass extinction event currently underway, the methane leaking out of arctic permafrost, the heat that comes with releasing millions of years worth of CO2 and energy from fossil fuels in just a couple of centuries... none of this is theoretical. It's happening. It's measurable.

We're pinning our hopes on technological solutions. We've convinced ourselves that somehow we'll manage to navigate the transition to clean energy, we'll figure out how to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, we'll de-acidify the oceans, and everything will be fine. But the scale of the problems is incredibly vast, and the efforts that would be needed to put these solutions into place would, if it's even possible at all, be global. As in, we'd need an entire planet to collaborate on getting things fixed to where they're just barely survivable.

So, we'd need world peace. All the nations of the Earth, working together. Some sort of global enforcement of zero-carbon emissions, global taxes to fuel the carbon-suckers and oceanic de-acidifiers, global pooling of resources and technology. If it's not global, any nation that gives up fossil fuel use is simply putting itself at the mercy of its neighbors who don't. A solar-powered military isn't going to stand up to a petroleum-powered one for very long.

World peace isn't something you base long-term plans on; it's something you wish for when confronted with a genie. Absent any genies, it's a pretty good bet it's not happening anytime soon.

We're not making the effort we'd need to save the biosphere. If we were, we'd have grounded all the planes by now, we'd have sunk every container ship that depends on highly-polluting fuel, we'd have limited automotive travel to emergencies, we'd have... well, we'd have changed the lives of every single human being on the planet, in massive ways. Instead, we've got a global multi-billion dollar public relations campaign dedicated to minimizing awareness of the issues, and a ruling class grabbing all the resources they can for themselves. It makes me think that, at the highest levels, people have figured out that there's nothing they can do to save the planet.

And I think they're right. Worse, I think they may be our only hope.

If humanity is going to get through the upcoming population bottleneck, we need to figure out how to live without the planet on which we developed. We'll need to learn to build massive complexes, sheltered from the elements, in which hundreds or thousands of people can have the air, water, food and power that they need to survive. We'll need to figure out how to generate breathable atmosphere, reliable food supply, how to deal with power and light, how to secure a supply of potable water. And we'll need to do so in a way that allows the residents to replace or repair everything within the habitat, using materials and tools at hand.

And if that sounds impossible to you, well, why do you think we can fix the entire planetary biosphere with the same technology? It's a much larger, much more complex problem.

I desperately hope that all the billionaires of the world aren't as stupid as people here seem to think they are. I hope that some of them have been looking at the evidence, and have realized that the crisis we're facing could literally be the end of humanity. I hope some of them have figured out that, in order for humanity to survive, we'll need to colonize our newly-hostile planet as if it were an alien world. One with an atmosphere we can't breathe, one with temperatures we can't bear for long. And that's in an optimistic scenario where we don't lose control over multiple nuclear reactors or get into a nuclear war.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope that someone, somewhere is working on a wonderful solution to all the problems we're facing right now, and it'll all turn out okay. But it seems like a pretty weak hope to pin the future of humanity on.

We need to think about what happens if we can't fix our planet. We need to plan for the worst case. We need to learn to live without the fragile little bubble that's allowed us to survive for so long. Because the environment we used to know is already gone, and we have no idea how long we can survive in the one that it's becoming.
posted by MrVisible at 3:05 PM on July 25, 2018 [9 favorites]


The neglect of high-tech facilities thousands of miles away, unknown to these earstwhile fools will leak enough Ceseium or whatnot to poison their seas, foul their air etc.

This. You get about 90s days until the reactors start to melt down at every nuclear facility in the world. So lots of people who think they are safe-- aren't.
posted by fshgrl at 8:34 PM on July 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


Civilization is going to go down in flames because of a simple lack of imagination.

It's not a lack of imagination, it is mistaken understanding about how human beings work on the micro scale. At the large scale, behavior can be predicted quite accurately, and all their folderol about markets moving and whatnot is accurate enough in that domain. As has been noted, things work much differently in small groups, as would be found after societal collapse, and as are found today in the upper echelons of dictatorships and other relatively small and insular groups.

Their macro understanding has served them so well, they assume the same basic rules will apply when they most decidedly will not..
posted by wierdo at 6:00 AM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Kadin2048: There's no historical model, at least that I can think of, for what they seem to want (with the weird combination locks and stuff; i.e. direct, personal, coercive power over the entire population from the Head Honcho down).

My first thought was similar to Sangermaine: And Rushkoff's solution was exactly the one the rich and powerful used as the Western Empire disintegrated: develop a web of reciprocal alliances and allegiances with the local forces that evolved into the feudal society of the Medieval period.

But TheWhiteSkull sounds more informed than I am on all this -- The problem with developing family-like relationships with your security people is that it very quickly develops into a quasi-early-Medieval system of kingships and retainers. This is not feudalism, which codifies these relationships into a formal system of land-tenure and military service, and achieves a certain level of stability by that means (while still being rather fraught).

This is the kind of system we see with the Anglo-Saxon kings, early Franks, Old Norse, and other groups in Europe before the establishment of Salic law. It is highly dependent on two elements:

A culture of mutual honor and respect between a king and his retainers, usually dependent on martial prowess and military success; and, a system of feasting and gift-giving (also highly dependent on the material products of military success), wherein a king is constantly feasting his picked men, and providing them with wealth, but also at various times, feasting the regular freeholders and peasantry who make up the bulk of his armies during the fighting season.


Which sounds like a lot of work for the currently wealthy, who didn't get wealthy through feats of combat and feasts for their pseudo-serfs (though in some economies, their feats of business prowess or luck are lauded like combat wins, and there are lavish rewards given when the company is doing really well).

And that brings me to my other thought: brutal dictatorships. Rule through fear, which is dosed out by armed minions who get some power and prestige. But if you don't trust them and you want to give them shock collars ... well, that just shows how little they trust anyone who isn't themselves.

Anyway, I've said it in a politics thread or two and I'll say it again - if post-apocalyptic zombie movies have taught me anything, it's that you survive by sticking together, and brutal dictator-types might survive for a while, but when you're outnumbered, the odds are not in your favor for long. (I know, those movies aren't real, but they're interesting hypothetical or fictional character studies that ring rather true.)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:07 AM on July 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Brutal dictators can only take over an existing society, they cannot and have never created one. The stupid writers of the Walking Dead can't seem to understand that.
posted by fshgrl at 2:25 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


New Zealand. Dang, I'd be pissed if I were a New Zealander.

These very rich assholes want to be assured of having power and wealth no matter what. It's the pinnacle of assholer-y. If there is an Event, I would rather have friends, help each other, share resources.

My despair about the human race just keeps expanding. Rich People are a pox.
posted by theora55 at 3:36 PM on July 26, 2018


hmmm, cheetos and sex robots. Come the bad times, I've always figured that having the means to build a still makes sense, plus the ability to grow grain, apples, or other distill-ables. Solar-powered toys. I occasionally check out prepper sites and I believe this particular need is not provided for. My presentation for venture capital is gong to be popular.
posted by theora55 at 4:08 PM on July 26, 2018


we need to fake the apocalypse - they'll all fuck off to their safe places and we'll have the world to ourselves

There’s an episode of Mission Impossible where they convince a rich guy with that he’s survived nuclear war, so that they can fuck him over while he’s holed up in his bunker. It was satisfying before, but I bet it’s even more enjoyable now.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:29 PM on July 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


Governments being prepared for the Apocalypse?
*makes popcorn*
*gets ready to observe how Brexit plays out*
posted by BlueHorse at 10:30 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


fwiw...
peter thiel: "There are these essays by a person called Michael Anton. They are all written pseudonymously because he felt it was too dangerous to write names. One of them was titled 'The Flight 93 Election'... that the country had been taken over and it was on a catastrophic trajectory... that the United States – the western world as a whole – are not progressing in the direction they should. We have a center-left establishment in both Western Europe and the US that mainly glosses over all the short- and long-term problems in our societies. And if something is not done, at some point it becomes too late to fix things." (for varying cases of 'the western world')
posted by kliuless at 7:54 AM on July 29, 2018


Heh. How strange that a Nazi would find the problem to be “too much center-leftism”.

Alternate hypothesis: if you se a vampire drive a stake through its heart, stuff it’s head full of garlic, bury body and head at separate crossroads and douse both areas with salt.
posted by Artw at 8:05 AM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I just...what. The. Fuck. I know Peter Thiel is one of the worst famous people alive but I can’t even. This is the point where I’ve run out of evens.
posted by LizBoBiz at 12:59 PM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


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