cover image Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires

Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires

Douglas Rushkoff. Norton, $26.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-393-88106-6

Media theorist Rushkoff (Team Human) presents a fascinating and distressing account of how the very wealthy prep for doomsday. His premise is that über-rich individuals are operating with “The Mindset,” or the belief that with enough wealth and resources, they can “insulate themselves from the damage they are creating” and survive an event that decimates the general population. Rushkoff introduces readers to the purveyor of multiple “residential farm communities for millionaires” designed to provide safety for the upper class in the future; the concept of “seasteading,” the creation of “independent, free-floating city-states” in the ocean; and “prepper construction companies” in Texas that offer million-dollar luxury bunkers outfitted with bowling allies and pools. He also argues that supposedly innovative solutions to climate change that focus on the crisis as an opportunity for continued economic growth are only going to make the rich richer at the expense of everyone else. It’s all rather intriguing, even if a couple of chapters feel somewhat tangential (one is a brief history of how the internet went from an ethos of “serving others” to a source of profits). This is an eye-popping look at some outlandish visions for the future. Agent: Mollie Glick, Creative Artists Agency. (Sept.)