The New Yorker has published a fascinating article about Silicon Valley tech titans who are buying up property in New Zealand as they prepare for the apocalypse. The super rich are worried about the poor grabbing “pitchforks” to overthrow the wealthy, and it turns out these elites aren’t just buying homes. Some, like Peter Thiel, are even getting citizenship.
Today, The New Zealand Herald is reporting that Peter Thiel has citizenship in New Zealand, a fact previously unknown to most in Silicon Valley. The revelation only came after the newspaper started to investigate a 477-acre property that Thiel had purchased in the country in 2015. The newspaper had inquired about why Thiel hadn’t gotten official approval to buy the property under foreign ownership laws. The paper was told that Thiel didn’t need it because he was a citizen.
The New Yorker story is somewhat lengthy and definitely worth your time. It begins:
Steve Huffman, the thirty-three-year-old co-founder and C.E.O. of Reddit, which is valued at six hundred million dollars, was nearsighted until November, 2015, when he arranged to have laser eye surgery. He underwent the procedure not for the sake of convenience or appearance but, rather, for a reason he doesn’t usually talk much about: he hopes that it will improve his odds of surviving a disaster, whether natural or man-made. “If the world ends—and not even if the world ends, but if we have trouble—getting contacts or glasses is going to be a huge pain in the ass,” he told me recently. “Without them, I’m fucked.”
Huffman, who lives in San Francisco, has large blue eyes, thick, sandy hair, and an air of restless curiosity; at the University of Virginia, he was a competitive ballroom dancer, who hacked his roommate’s Web site as a prank. He is less focused on a specific threat—a quake on the San Andreas, a pandemic, a dirty bomb—than he is on the aftermath, “the temporary collapse of our government and structures,” as he puts it. “I own a couple of motorcycles. I have a bunch of guns and ammo. Food. I figure that, with that, I can hole up in my house for some amount of time.”
Survivalism, the practice of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.
According to the above-linked piece, mega-wealthy tech titans also belong to secret Facebook groups where they share tips on what to do when things devolve to a status they call “WROL” – without rule of law.