Doomsday shelters

The enigma of billionaire Doomsday shelters: Accelerationism unveiled?

In the ever-evolving story of billionaire lifestyles, a peculiar trend has emerged that transcends traditional notions of opulence and extravagance: the construction of elaborate Doomsday shelters.

These fortified bunkers, equipped with cutting-edge technology and luxurious amenities, have prompted speculation about the motives behind such grand preparations.

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While conventional reasons such as global instability, wealth protection, and family legacy preservation offer plausible explanations, there’s an intriguing perspective that suggests these Doomsday shelters may be part of an accelerationism agenda.

Doomsday shelters and the accelerationism agenda

The accelerationism agenda

Accelerationism, in its broadest sense, is the belief that societal, economic, and technological progress can be hastened by deliberately intensifying existing processes. Some proponents of this ideology argue that accelerating certain trends, even those that might be considered destructive or destabilising can lead to a more rapid transformation of society, ultimately paving the way for a new and improved order.

Billionaires building Doomsday shelters may, in part, be motivated by an accelerationist mindset. By preparing for extreme scenarios, they may believe that accelerating the collapse or transformation of existing structures will expedite the emergence of a more resilient and adaptable world—one where their wealth and influence can be better preserved.

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Embracing technological experimentation

The construction of Doomsday shelters is not only about survival but also an opportunity for billionaires to experiment with advanced technologies. These bunkers often incorporate state-of-the-art innovations in renewable energy, sustainable living, and self-sufficiency.

From underground farms to energy-efficient systems, billionaires may be using these shelters as experimental environments to test and refine technologies that could be applied more broadly in a rapidly changing world.

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Protecting assets in times of radical change

Accelerationism suggests that radical change is inevitable, and by building Doomsday shelters, billionaires may be positioning themselves to protect their assets in such upheaval.

Whether anticipating economic collapse, geopolitical shifts, or the consequences of technological advancements, these shelters serve as secure retreats where the ultra-wealthy can weather storms and emerge on the other side with their financial empires intact.

Secrecy, security, and acceleration

Privacy concerns and personal security have always been paramount for billionaires, and the construction of Doomsday shelters aligns with these imperatives. Accelerationism, in this context, may involve a desire to navigate radical shifts away from the public eye.

These shelters provide an environment where the ultra-wealthy can operate autonomously, shielded from external scrutiny, and potentially accelerate their trajectories of influence.

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Why are billionaires choosing New Zealand for their Doomsday shelter?

Deep in New Zealand’s peaceful, beautiful land, some ultra-rich folks are building hidden shelters for the end of the world. Far from busy cities, New Zealand has become a quiet escape for the wealthy, ready for anything bad that might come. Why are they doing this?

Maybe they’re scared of everything going wrong, or maybe they just want to keep their money safe. Or maybe they think the world will change totally and want to be ready for it. Whatever the reason, it’s a mix of fear, privacy, and wanting to feel safe in a world that never stops changing.

Perceived advantages of New Zealand:

  • Remoteness: New Zealand’s isolated location provides a sense of physical distance from potential threats like pandemics, social unrest, or global conflicts.
  • Stability: New Zealand enjoys a strong democracy, low crime rates, and a relatively stable economy, offering perceived security advantages compared to other regions.
  • Natural resources: Abundant clean water, fertile land, and renewable energy resources make New Zealand an attractive option for self-sufficiency.
  • Investment haven: Some billionaires view New Zealand as a safe haven for their wealth, anticipating potential societal or economic upheavals elsewhere.
Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires by Douglas Rushkoff
Five mysterious billionaires summoned Douglas Rushkoff to a desert resort for a private talk. The subject? How to survive the “Event”: the societal collapse they know is coming. Rushkoff argues that these men were under the influence of The Mindset, a Silicon Valley–style certainty that they and their cohort can escape a disaster of their own making—as long as they have enough money and the right technology. Rushkoff traces the origins of The Mindset in science and technology through its current expression in missions to Mars, island bunkers, AI futurism, and the metaverse. Through fascinating characters—master programmers who want to remake the world as if redesigning a video game and bankers who return from Burning Man convinced incentivized capitalism will prevent environmental disasters—Rushkoff explains why those with the most power to change the world have no interest in doing so. He argues that the only way to survive the coming catastrophe is to ensure it doesn’t happen by rediscovering community, mutual aid, and human interdependency. Anticipating the mass layoffs and institutional collapse that have recently rocked Silicon Valley, Rushkoff’s Survival of the Richest is “a necessary and timely read” (Los Angeles Review of Books) with a prophetic message about the future of tech and our human community.

Criticisms and concerns:

  • Ethical questions: The idea of wealthy individuals escaping potential crises while leaving others behind raises ethical concerns about inequality and privilege.
  • Sustainability: Building secure, self-sufficient shelters can be resource-intensive and environmentally damaging, potentially exacerbating the very problems they’re meant to solve.
  • Community impact: Large-scale land purchases by affluent individuals can impact local communities by driving up property costs and potentially displacing residents.
  • Symbolic value: Critics argue that billionaire Doomsday shelters can symbolise a pessimistic and insular view of the future, undermining efforts to address global challenges collaboratively.

Nuances and considerations:

  • Not all billionaires in New Zealand are building bunkers: Some may simply be attracted to the country’s beauty, lifestyle, and investment opportunities.
  • Motives beyond the apocalypse: The desire for privacy, security, and a life off the grid can also motivate the wealthy to purchase property in New Zealand.
  • Complexity of motivations: Individual billionaires likely have a combination of personal, financial, and ideological reasons for their choices.

Overall, the issue of billionaire Doomsday shelters in New Zealand is a complex one, with valid arguments on both sides. It highlights broader societal anxieties about the future and prompts questions about responsibility, resource allocation, and the ethics of preparedness in the face of potential global challenges.

Survival of the Richest: How the Corruption of the Marketplace and the Disparity of Wealth Created the Greatest Conspiracy of All by Donald Jeffries, Naomi Wolf (Foreword by)
A Fresh Look at Economic Inequality in America Updated with a Postscript by Donald Jeffries and a new Foreword by Naomi Wolf, Survival of the Richest scrutinizes how the collective wealth of America has been channeled from the poor and middle class into the hands of a few elites. American industry has been gutted, with wages and benefits stagnant or reduced, thanks to a disastrous trade deals, outsourcing, and the crippling of unions. The Occupy Wall Street movement, and the presidential campaigns of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, reveals how more and more people who are struggling understand that the system is rigged against them. While Americans have been trained to direct their scorn at welfare recipients and the poor in general, a tiny handful of plutocratic elites have profited on an unfathomable scale through corporate welfare and other perks. Unimaginable salaries and bonuses for the One Percent, contrasted by layoffs and reduced pay for the majority of the workforce, along with increasing calls for austerity measures and lowered standards of living, has become the “new normal” in America. Donald Jeffries argues that this record economic inequality is more than an unintended consequence of globalism. In Survival of the Richest, he shows how the consolidation of wealth may well prove to be the greatest conspiracy of all.

A brief history of Doomsday shelters

The recent New York Post article “How the World’s Billionaires Are Paying to Escape Global Disaster” highlights the growing trend of wealthy individuals investing in luxurious Doomsday shelters. While this may seem like a new phenomenon, the desire to escape potential catastrophes has a long and fascinating history.

Early shelters and cold war fears:

  • Medieval Europe: The bubonic plague in the 14th century prompted some wealthy Europeans to retreat to isolated castles or fortified manors, hoping to escape the deadly disease.
  • World War I and II: During these periods of global conflict, governments and wealthy individuals alike built bomb shelters to protect themselves from air raids and other attacks.
  • Cold War era: The fear of nuclear war during the Cold War led to a surge in shelter construction, both private and government-funded. Some billionaires, like Howard Hughes, even built elaborate underground shelters on their own properties.

Modern concerns and technological advancements:

  • Nuclear non-proliferation: While the Cold War threat of nuclear annihilation has lessened, anxieties about nuclear proliferation and potential rogue states have kept the idea of Doomsday shelters alive for some.
  • Climate change and environmental disasters: The increasing threat of climate change and natural disasters has also fuelled interest in disaster preparedness and self-sufficiency measures, with some billionaires investing in high-tech shelters and sustainable technologies.
  • Technological advancements: Advancements in materials science, engineering, and renewable energy have made it possible to build more sophisticated and self-sufficient shelters than ever before. This has opened the door for even more luxurious and expensive Doomsday bunkers aimed at the ultra-wealthy.

Ethical concerns and broader issues:

  • Inequality and access: The affordability and accessibility of these high-end shelters raise ethical concerns about inequality. Critics argue that the resources used to build these bunkers could be better directed towards helping vulnerable communities prepare for and cope with disasters.
  • Environmental impact: The construction and maintenance of these shelters can have a significant environmental impact, potentially contributing to the very problems they are meant to escape.
  • Focus on individual escape vs collective solutions: The focus on individual survival through Doomsday shelters can distract from efforts to address global challenges collectively and build more resilient societies.

The Doomsday preparations of the super-rich

  1. Peter Thiel:
    1. Former managing director of PayPal and early investor in Facebook.
    1. Purchased a 477-acre piece of land in New Zealand for $13.5 million.
    1. Planned to construct a 10-bedroom bunker compound, facing environmental protests and rejection.
  2. Sam Altman:
    1. CEO of OpenAI and a friend of Peter Thiel.
    1. Expressed intent to hunker down in New Zealand in case of catastrophic events.
    1. Openly discussed preparations, including stockpiling guns, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, and gas masks.
  3. Mark Zuckerberg:
    1. Influential billionaire constructing a top-secret survival compound in Hawaii.
    1. Features a 5,000-square-foot underground bunker on a 1,400-acre piece of land purchased for an estimated $270 million.
    1. Secrecy surrounding the project has led to speculation about its purpose.
  4. Sam Bankman-Fried:
    1. Founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange.
    1. Faced a lawsuit with accusations of planning to acquire the entire nation of Nauru as a post-apocalyptic haven.
    1. Lawsuit sought $1 billion in damages and revealed plans for a bunker shelter.
  5. Douglas Rushkoff:
    1. Media theorist who met with five of the wealthiest men in the world in 2022.
    1. Provided advice on surviving environmental or political disasters.
    1. Ultra-wealthy stakeholders were primarily interested in self-preservation, asking about the best locations for building survival complexes and logistical details for bunker construction.
  6. Jeff Bezos:
    1. Owns the 10,000-year clock buried deep within a Texas mountain.
    1. Costing $42 million, the clock symbolises humanity’s enduring legacy.
    1. Ticks once per year, with the hour hand progressing once every century and a cuckoo appearing once every thousand years.
  7. Elon Musk:
    1. Notably absent from discussions on doomsday preparations.
    1. Focussed more on colonising Mars as a potential solution to ensure humanity’s survival.
    1. Emphasis on interplanetary colonisation.
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While the motivations behind billionaires building Doomsday shelters remain complex and multifaceted, the lens of accelerationism adds an intriguing layer to the narrative.

Whether driven by a pragmatic response to global uncertainties, a desire for technological experimentation, or an accelerationist agenda, these underground fortresses embody the enigma of the ultra-wealthy’s quest for survival and influence in a world that seems destined for transformative change.

As we ponder the implications of these shelters, the intersection of accelerationism and billionaire aspirations invites us to contemplate the role of the super-rich in shaping the future of our rapidly evolving society.

This scenario raises ethical questions about the responsibility of the ultra-wealthy and their lack of faith in current systems to address global challenges. The disparities in access to resources and the pursuit of diverse solutions, from bunkers to interplanetary colonisation, prompt a call for ethical conversations and a comprehensive approach to global problem-solving.

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