From Admiration to Animosity: Why We Despise the Super Rich

Unmasking the super-rich’s obsession with self-preservation and the public’s growing ire

Benjamin Sledge

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Photo by Ron Lach | Pexels

In the summer of 2018, I read Douglas Rushkoff’s seminal article, Survival of the Richest. The article alarmed most readers as Rushkoff had been invited to attend a secretive Silicon Valley retreat, where “five super-wealthy guys… from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world” sought advice to secure their futures in the event of an apocalyptic scenario. Rushkoff uncovers the disturbing priorities of the super-rich, who prioritize security measures and escape plans over solving the systemic issues resulting from their wealth. Throughout the article, you get the impression that the ultra wealthy have an obsession with self-preservation, as opposed to human flourishing. At one point, a hedge fund manager wonders aloud how they can ensure their security teams don’t stage a coup and take over their empires during a disaster scenario.

To be (somewhat) objective, the ultra-wealthy are asking one of the right questions: How do I maintain power? But if history and pop culture are any form of prophecy, their demise would appear inevitable. In a world where money no longer carries value, power is the ultimate currency. In fact, within the US military special operations communities, we have a slogan: “Speed, Surprise, and Violence.” During my time in Afghanistan, we repeated a form of this mantra prior to combat operations by reminding each other, “Any plan executed with sufficient violence is bound to succeed.” In a dog-eat-dog dystopia, those who wield power have no qualms with violence to maintain their authority. The purpose of these mantras in military communities is to emphasize the importance of swift action when the enemy is least prepared, coupled with the use of force to eliminate the threat, ultimately to ensure mission success.

Now consider the super-wealthy and their lifestyle. Chances are you’re a soft hedge fund manager in lower Manhattan used to Egyptian cotton sheets, manicured fingernails, fine suits, and underlings you can berate because they want to keep their jobs. In an apocalyptic scenario, these guys are toast. It’s a trope and warning we’ve seen played out in every hit television show within the last decade. Only…

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Benjamin Sledge

Multi-award winning author | Combat wounded veteran | Mental health specialist | Occasional geopolitical intel | Graphic designer | https://benjaminsledge.com