Strategies of Hyper-Elites as Admired and Deprecated
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 8 Aug 2022
Exploration of Super-Rich Lifestyles and Their Contribution to Global Order and Disorder
8 Aug 2022 – There is an ever increasing number of those termed “ultra-high net worth individuals” (UHNWIs), with assets over $30 million. Their numbers rose to 513,244 in 2019 (Rupert Neate, The super-rich: another 31,000 people join the ultra-wealthy elite, The Guardian, 4 March 2020; Flora Harley, UHNWI growth forecasts: where is affluence emerging? Knight Frank Intelligence Lab, 1 Mar 2021).
Their wealth and opportunities are not however comparable to what might be termed the hyper-wealthy — those multi-billionaires of immeasurable wealth (Meagan Day, The Return of the Super-Elite, Jacobin, 18 July 2018; The Rise of the New Global Elite, The Atlantic, January/February 2011). As a class, the inequalities characterized by the wealthy are frequently cited as a primary indicator of the current problematic condition of global civilization (Just 8 Men own same Wealth as Half the World, Oxfam International, 16 January 2017). The complicity of many in sustaining their wealth is however seldom addressed.
Individuals of great wealth and power are increasingly a focus of concern, most notably in the form of conspiracy theories (David Rothkopf, Superclass: the global power elite and the world they are making, 2008; Peter S. Goodman, Davos Man: how the billionaires devoured the world, 2022; Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats: the rise of the new global super-rich and the fall of everyone else, 2012). They may well be seen as the epitome of evil — possibly assumed to have occult and satanic associations. Their elimination is seen by many to be a precondition of a just world order. Their possessions are however also a focus of admiration and envy — evoking aspiration to emulate them in some measure. National lotteries cater to this possibility.
What follows is a form of speculative thought experiment to clarify what it is that sustains the lifestyles of the super-rich and the super-powerful — as this might be understood from their own perspective. This contrasts with other more conventional critical perspectives (Luca Storti, et al, The Super-rich: origin, reproduction, and social acceptance, Sociologica, 15, 2021, 2; S. Khan, The Many Futures of Elites Research, Sociologica, 10, 2016, 2). With some of them characterized as “Masters of the Universe” (or “Mistresses of the Universe“), what can be understood as the focus of their attention in their daily lives?
The concern here is not with the many billionaires, namely those “on the way up”, or the “nouveaux riches“. The interest here is with those whose wealth is self-sustaining and beyond question, namely those who feel no need to prove themselves, or to justify themselves to the wider world — or possibly even to their peers. They have no need for any wider network of contacts, except with those who contribute to the sustainability of their condition — and typically indirectly.
There is clearly a need for some clarification in the use made of superlative prefixes such as “super-“, “ultra-“, or “hyper-“, whether applied to wealth, riches, power, influence, elites, or class. For the purpose of this argument, use is first made of “super-” with reference to issues shared with those evoking the distinctive focus here. Reference is made to “hyper-” in recognition of the complex connotations which call into question the very meaning of “super-” in relation to “wealth”, especially for those to whom it then refers.
Historically it is of course the case that similar questions might have been asked of the higher realms of the aristocracy, as identified by the Almanach de Gotha for example. The super-rich are effectively the new aristocracy, whether or not their wealth is inherited within a dynasty as “old money”. They are identified in various lists which do not however endeavour to indicate their relationships, as in the Almanach: World Ultra Wealth Report, Wealth-X, 2021; Forbes World’s Billionaires List, 2021; Global Wealth Report, Credit Suisse Research Institute, 2021). Allegedly totalling some 6,000, a selection from The Superclass List, clustered by country, is presented by Wikipedia (with links to their profiles) in the light of the study by David Rothkopf.
Rather than a conventional focus on monetary wealth and possessions, the argument here endeavours to call into question that understanding by extending its meaning to those who perceive themselves to be extremely wealthy in some manner — potentially including a radical recognition of “inner wealth”, as cultivated by some spiritual traditions. The question is then the nature of the distinctive worldview of the “hyper-wealthy”. How do such people think and behave after what could be understood as a successful quest for the Holy Grail — potentially to the point of having achieved a form of immortality? This offers a sobering reminder that most who deem themselves to be relatively impoverished are held to be “rich” by many others — even “super-rich”,
Use is made in what follows of the hypothetical existence of extraterrestrials (and future contact with them) as potentially exemplifying engagement with the hyper-wealthy — perceived otherwise. This is reminiscent of the encounter of many indigenous peoples with early colonists seemingly endowed with relative sophistication. Such encounters are now rendered in media dramatisations of “first contact”, with some then recognizing the relatively impoverished condition of humanity and its bizarre understandings of possession — of little significance from the “universal” perspective of ETs. Hyper-wealth can then be addressed in the light of emerging interest in hyperobjects and hyposubjects, as articulated from the perspective of object-oriented ontology (OOO) by Timothy Morton (Hyposubjects: On Becoming Human, 2021).
Any perception of relative wealth may then usefully merit consideration from the documented experience of a reality distortion field — potentially fundamental to experience of the hyper-wealthy, and to experience of them. Does everyone have the potential capacity to engender a reality distortion field — and the right to do so?
Anthony Judge is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and mainly known for his career at the Union of International Associations (UIA), where he has been Director of Communications and Research, as well as Assistant Secretary-General. He was responsible at the UIA for the development of interlinked databases and for publications based on those databases, mainly the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, the Yearbook of International Organizations, and the International Congress Calendar. Judge has also personally authored a collection of over 1,600 documents of relevance to governance and strategy-making. All these papers are freely available on his personal website Laetus in Praesens. Now retired from the UIA, he is continuing his research within the context of an initiative called Union of Imaginable Associations. Judge is an Australian born in Egypt, a thinker, an author, and lives in Brussels. His TMS articles may be accessed HERE. (Wikipedia)
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