Don’t try to tell me that some power can corrupt a person,
you haven’t had enough to know what it’s like.
– Nine Inch Nails
“How much is enough?” We wonder.
We see a banker earn more money in a month than most of us will make in ten years, and we wonder what the hell the point is of working more than a few years. They could retire to a life of luxury, and even their grandchildren’s grandchildren would live off of the dividends of their investments. Why do they keep exploiting poor people to make more money, when they already have more than they could ever use up?
There’s a whimsical element to the question as well. We imagine what we would do with that wealth – yachts, charities, travel, going to the moon, threesomes with models, buying an islands…
I used to think the question itself was plebeian. To my thinking possessions and life experiences were so readily available to the multi-billionaires that, obviously, something else that drove them.
Sure, there’s something to be said for essentially keeping busy, because pure hedonism gets old and we want to be productive; but I imagined they’re driven by power. If currency is power, then enough money means godhood. If everyone works for what you decide they’re worth, then everyone obeys you.
You’d share a financial Olympus with the other gods, competing for corporate ascendancy. You’d be motivated by the competition, and honestly, I think it sounds thrilling. You’d be a true creator, starting businesses and employing experts to make your visions come to life. You’d watch the success of your equals and decide on how to innovate and outdo them. Money would be the lever you pull to decide how people would spend the next forty years of their lives working for.
For me, it ended there, until today. There’s a level above it. When buying stock on the market is below you, you privately buy controlling shares in businesses. After that? What’s the next tier?
You invest in regime change.
You have a vision, and money becomes the matter from which you shape reality. You decide which side wins a conflict because you fund the one with money you take from the other. You put puppets in place to push your policies. Maybe you’re just curious about what could happen. Maybe you have a specific idea in mind, and from the ashes of a broken country you’ll shape something new, amid the unintended fanaticism, refugee crises, and perpetual war. You clap your butterfly wings and summon the hurricane.
I wonder what modern democracy might have looked like had Socrates being sovereign, or had Marx been an archduke. What world would Žižek sneeze out?
The truth is, a few people know what all this feels like. A few people grow up around dinner tables where their parents would discuss a politician – and what they felt like doing about it. People are too ready to bring shadowy conspiracy into it. I believe the reality is much more human than a shadowy group of omnipotent puppeteers ruling the world. I think these supposed Illuminati could be stupid or ignorant or rash or impulsive. They would only be people (unless they were reptiles or whatever people think now).
Given that power, what would you do? How would you spend your decades of deity?
Here’s my design:
- methods toward extreme longevity
- machine learning;
- terraformation technology; and
- space travel.
- Build a new ark to travel into space
- Take a community on board in cryogenic stasis while machines tend to us and search for a habitable planet
- Once on the new planet, have the machines terraform, and wake us upon it being livable
- Rule as absolute dictator with an army of machines as muscle
It would be a benevolent dictatorship where I would either live forever or, failing that, transplant into a robotic body and have a society in perfect egalitarianism, only moderated when it would stray toward conflict or systems of exploitation.