A number of super-rich have bought into New Zealand in recent years. Your goal is to have a sanctuary for an end times scenario. But in his new book Survival of the Richest, US author Douglas Rushkoff shows why the survival strategies of the super-rich may be in vain.
In his remarks, Rushkoff, who teaches as a professor at the City University of New York, describes how some tech billionaires once asked him to give a lecture on “the future of technology”. For his services, Rushkoff was offered an exorbitant fee, about a third of his annual salary as a professor — along with flights and a three-hour limousine ride to a mysterious desert rendezvous as he reports to the Australian broadcaster ABC.
Preparing for the Event
The super-rich bombarded Rushkoff with a number of questions about a possible apocalypse. The rich preppers call this “the event”. In doing so, they encapsulate various end-time scenarios – an environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear war, a solar storm, an unstoppable, deadly viral disease, or a malicious computer hack that would bring everything to a standstill.
For example, the rich wanted to know how they could maintain authority over their security forces after the “event” or which would be the better place for a doomsday bunker: New Zealand or perhaps Alaska? Questions also came up about how they would pay if cryptocurrency was worthless, and whether it might not be better to use robots instead of human guards. “Most of the lesson was ‘Walking Dead’ scenarios,” Rushkoff said, referring to a popular series about a fictional zombie apocalypse.
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New Zealand secret code
It is not known who the five men who hired Rushkoff were. But it’s no secret that they’re not the only ones fearing an end-time scenario. Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel is one of the most well-known billionaires who have been preparing for the apocalypse for years. Thiel, of German origin, has been a New Zealand citizen since 2011 and is said to have bought remote properties there. In August, however, Thiel’s plans to build a bunker-like lodge were scrapped.
And back in 2017, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman confirmed to The New Yorker, that mentioning New Zealand is a bit of a secret code in Silicon Valley. “When you say you’re buying a house in New Zealand, it’s a little like ‘wink, wink,’ and you don’t have to say any more,” he said. The trend even went so far that in 2018 the New Zealand government was forced to restrict foreigners from buying houses by law in order to exclude non-locals from the real estate market due to the constantly rising prices.
Big islands have advantages
It has even been scientifically proven that New Zealand, despite earthquakes and volcanoes, is one of the better places to survive an end-time scenario. A British study last year found that New Zealand, the Australian island of Tasmania, Ireland, Iceland and Great Britain offers the best chances, at least in the event of a climate collapsen.
All five locations currently show low temperature and precipitation variability. This means that conditions are likely to remain relatively stable there, despite the effects of climate change. Also, they are all large enough to be self-sufficient in terms of energy and agriculture. In addition, all of these places are islands, making it easier to police their borders and thus limit migration.
Underground systems: “absurdly fragile”
But the real preppers don’t just rely on a cottage in New Zealand. As Rushkoff writes in his new book, “In the future of Minecraft-meets-Waterworld, as envisioned by ‘aquapreneurs,’ wealthy people are to live in independent, free-floating city-states.” , grandson of economist Milton Friedman, aims to “build startup communities that swim the ocean with a measure of political autonomy.” Underground bunkers are offered as another alternative to survive the apocalypse. The US company Vivos, for example, sells luxury underground apartments in converted Cold War-era facilities.
But for all the expertise he’s gathered over the years on the subject of doomsday prepping, Rushkoff is skeptical that any of the programs the billionaires have come up with will work. In his book, for example, he writes that the probability that a bunker will actually protect its residents from reality is very low, since “the closed ecosystems of underground facilities are absurdly fragile”. For example, if the underground hydroponic garden were to become overgrown by mold or bacteria, there would be no salvation, then you would die. Even small islands would be dependent on air and sea supplies for basic necessities, and so would seasteading – the idea of building autonomous, floating mini-states.