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It is no longer a secret: the ultra-rich are looking to protect themselves from the coming collapse. They are the first to be informed when finance falters, but they are also the first to run away when everything goes wrong.

Two worlds. The first is composed of an arrogant minority that monopolizes wealth, leads an unsustainable lifestyle and spoils the world of others(1) The second is this humiliated — and very heterogeneous — majority that sees inequalities growing and the quality of its environment deteriorating dangerously. 

Faced with this observation, this majority seems to be showing some signs of awakening. The Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, los Indignados or Nuit Debout are the most important protest movements of the last years. And the most mediatized, because far from the spotlights, the population grumbles… According to the « World Protests » report published by Columbia University’s Policy Dialogue Initiative(2), we are living in the most turbulent period in modern history. With more than 843 riots between 2006 and 2013, our era is more « inflamed » than the springs of 1848 or 1968! 

All this is not without concern for the ultra-rich. It has long been known that more and more of them are barricading themselves in « gated communities », those luxurious and highly secured residential enclaves that protect them from « undesirables »(3). But what is less well known is that many of them leave the big cities altogether to take over the good land in remote places, or reserve their place in high-tech bunkers. Just in case… 

Last year, for example, 3,000 millionaires left Chicago, 7,000 fled Paris and 5,000 chose not to live in Rome. While it is true that some of them are primarily concerned with evading taxes, others are genuinely anxious about tensions between communities, terrorist attacks or the anger of an increasingly precarious population(4).

In 2015, at the Davos Economic Forum, Robert Johnson, ex-director of the Soros Fund (the notorious billionaire), publicly admitted that many hedge fund managers were buying up farms in remote countries like New Zealand in search of a « Plan B »(5). At any moment, their private jets would be ready to take off and take them there! You have to understand them, a misfortune happens so quickly… 

Another « trendy » fad among the wealthy is the construction of gigantic, luxurious underground bunkers, comparable to yachts, but bigger(6). These shelters are said to be able to withstand the worst of disasters and would have sufficient resources to house and feed entire families for many years. 

We now know: a certain part of the economic elite has a very good idea of what is happening and is taking the measures they think are appropriate. But is this the right attitude? Isn’t it precisely the building of walls that exacerbates tensions and promotes inequalities? Perhaps, but how can we break out of this vicious circle and nourish an imagination based not on fear but on trust and sharing? Come on, at this point, we don’t have much to lose, let’s try the « live-together-the-catastrophe » trick, right? Another end of the world is possible! 

Pablo Servigne & Raphaël Stevens 

Notes et références
  1. Lire à ce sujet le best-seller d’Hervé Kempf, Comment les riches détruisent la planète, Seuil, 2007.
  2. Isabel Ortiz et al., « World Protests 2006–2013 », Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University, New York, 2013.
  3. Pour une analyse approfondie du phénomène de « Gated Communities » en relation avec l’effondrement, lire l’excellent livre de notre ami collapsologue Renaud Duterme, De quoi l’effondrement est-il le nom, la fragmentation du monde, Editions Utopia, 2016.
  4. New World Wealth, « Millionaire migration in 2015 », mars 2016.
  5. Alec Hogg, « As inequality soars, the nervous super rich are already planning their escapes », The Guardian, 23 janvier 2015.
  6. Parmi les nombreuses sociétés qui proposent ce type de service, voir par exemple

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