Little kingdoms

The rich are getting ready.

Rather than even make vague attempts at avoiding the disaster itself, the ultra-wealthy are devising ways to protect themselves from the consequences of the environmental collapse that they assume will usher in violent anarchy for the rest of us.

They’re building compounds in isolated places, stockpiling food, and hiring private armies.

Now, please don’t think, as a person earning over six figures, that you are part of this. You are either their enemy or their staff – rid yourself of the notion that because right now, you’re earning enough not to notice rising food prices as anything more than a newsbrief annoyance, that you are in any way protected or on that side of the economic fence. Unless you can afford to buy a 500-acre ranch in New Zealand, you aren’t part of this deal.

And maybe that’s a good thing, because these people are so used to hiring personnel to do almost everything for them, their survival, over the long haul, is probably much smaller than yours.

The really rich don’t actually know how to do anything, and they don’t really understand anything about how the world, when stripped of both servants and technology, actually works.

Just suppose someone decides that the best place to build their refuge is Alaska (one of the many places they think of as isolated enough to be safe). Or in their urban bunkers? Or their gated suburbs?

How to grow food, once the store-rooms have been depleted, how to fix the inverter when the solar collection system goes down, how to treat illnesses without a fully-equipped hospital – they don’t know how to do these things. They certainly don’t seem to understand where the new supplies would be coming from.

And their kids will be even worse, because what their parents don’t know how to do is all the stuff that would need to be passed on but can’t be.

Oh, they might think, in a short-term way, about these things, and build a first aid room and fill it with equipment, and hire a doctor or three, and maybe a nurse or two as well.

What happens if there’s an accident or illness those people aren’t really trained for occurs? What happens when they die? Who would take their place? Their untrained children?

Their hired armed guards face the same problem: how and who will they train?

Most of the articles detailing the plans for hunkering down and riding out the calamities don’t look past the original group’s survival, and they say nothing about taking care of their guards’ or servants’ families, so once these former Navy Seals or whoever age and die off – who does the job then? Who trains the next generation of slaves?

What happens when the ammo runs out? When there are no more spare parts?

Given that the group of “owners” is small (I mean, that’s sort of the point), and the need for underlings is therefore going to be big, and assuming the people in charge think past a decade or so of being housebound – well, this isn’t Mesopotamia of 5000 years ago, and it isn’t Europe of the 1200s.

This is now, and people aren’t quite as powerless or uneducated as they used to be.

Sure – lots of people will sell their souls and their bodies to escape in some small way by working for these people.

But since they don’t need all of us, and since they can’t take away all the guns, or hire all the retired army personnel, and because there will always be more of us than them, their survival is actually less assured than anyone else’s.

We are used to doing things for ourselves. We are used to picking up the pieces. Some of us will survive because we are used to adapting to changing conditions.

It’s almost a certainty that the human race will adapt, if conditions enable us to.

The rich almost inevitably will not – they don’t understand that the world makes us, and not the other way round.


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