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Our Weirdo Techbro Elites

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Reading about these freaks really makes you wonder why anyone assumes they would be intelligent human beings, not to mention the kind of people who should, say, be consulted on how to revive the Newark school system. These people are just the weirdest goddamn people.

Look, for example, at Mark Zuckerberg. In December Wired published an in-depth report detailing how the Meta CEO has been constructing a 5,000-sq-ft underground shelter on his 1,400-acre compound in Hawaii. Very normal! Very cool! According to planning documents reviewed by Wired, the compound will be completely self-sufficient with its own food and water supplies. The price tag for the entire project is over $270m. It’s also shrouded in secrecy and people involved with the project are bound by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). “The only other time you see that is when you’re doing secure military installations,” one local construction industry official affiliated with the site told Wired. “For a private project to have an NDA attached to it is very rare.”

Because of all the secrecy around Zuckerberg’s shelter it’s not clear exactly what sort of dystopian mechanisms are in place to ensure that plebs can’t break in. However, Al Corbi, president of Strategically Armored & Fortified Environments (Safe), a Virginia-based bunker company, recently told The Hollywood Reporter (THR) that his clients have been coming up with cunning way to ensure their luxury apocalypse retreats can’t be breached by the great unwashed. One of the projects Corbi is working on (for an unnamed business mogul) is an island fortress with a flammable moat. Try and breach it and it bursts into flames.

“We wound up literally building a 30-ft-deep lake [around the compound] skimmed with a lighter-than-water flammable liquid that can transform into a ring of fire,” Corbi explained to THR. “The only access to the island is a swing bridge.” And, of course, there are also backup water cannons to keep the poors out. Corbi enthusiastically noted that the cannons can also be used for recreation as well as water-boarding invaders: they can generate waves for a fun game of flag football on jet skis.

Is all this bunker-building a sign the 1% know something we don’t and are preparing for end times? Podcaster Christina Randall, who has over 1.58 million subscribers, thinks so. Randall recently observed that Zuckerberg’s reported bunker is one of approximately 15 end-of-days projects being undertaken by billionaires worldwide and said the Biblical Book of Revelation, which predicts the end of the world, is being fulfilled. “Revelation 6:15 says that the kings of the Earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains,” Randall said.

I’m not sure the Book of Revelation is a particularly authoritative source. But, even disregarding that, there are lots of prophets of doom out there and plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the state of the world. There’s a famous quote in tech circles, often attributed to William Gibson: the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. That’s true of disaster as well. While billionaires worry about an upcoming dystopia, people in Gaza are living it. “Gaza has become a death zone,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director-general, recently said at a press briefing in Geneva. The children starving to death in Gaza don’t have underground bunkers to run to. As the 1% create full-scale hospitals in their just-in-case bunkers, people in Gaza are dying of malnutrition and easily-treated diseases. While the rich stockpile food in luxurious shelters, more than half a million in Gaza are at a high risk of mass starvation. And the US government, which could stop all this suffering very quickly, is shrugging its shoulders.

Watching the collective punishment being wrought on Gaza should horrify every one of us. Not just because innocent people are dying terrible deaths that are being funded with US taxpayer money, but because we are watching the destruction of international law. “Although there were rehearsals for events in Gaza that showed extreme disregard of international law, the war there may well signal a curtain call,” Agnès Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International recently wrote in Foreign Affairs. “The rules-based order that has governed international affairs since the end of World War II is on its way out, and there may be no turning back. The consequences of this abandonment are all too apparent: more instability, more aggression, more conflict and more suffering.” The war in Gaza may not affect you personally but the destruction of the rules-based order and international humanitarian law affects all of us. It makes all of us less safe. Add in the climate crisis to the erosion of the rules-based order and things start to look even more dire – even if you’ve got a survival bunker with a flammable moat at your disposal.

Zuckerberg has decided that a flammable moat is a better way to deal with the world than solving any world problems with his unearned billions.

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