In 2017, The New Yorker published an article by Evan Osnos on the post-apocalypse arrangements of the wealthy, and Simon and Schuster published a book by Garrett M. Graff on the U.S. government’s own survival plans.
It’s comforting to know that the same people who cause the apocalypse will be the ones in charge of managing it.
People are up in arms just because the wealthy are doing such a wonderful job of figuring out how to survive in luxury in case of social collapse, and I can’t understand why. Some people seem to think that it’s wrong for the great and good to ensure that they will not only be safe but also comfortable in their luxury condo bunkers in the Arizona desert when the world comes to an end. This attitude is so pre-apocalyptic!
Sure, today we have a right to expect those who are most capable of preventing the end of days to do something about it, but when Armageddon actually arrives won’t we cheer for the survivors? I, for one, will be glad that some of the living are secure while I kick and scratch other survivors over scraps at the local dump.
Even more perplexing is some people’s indignation at the government’s arrangements to save itself from annihilation. Some people fail to realise just how reassuring it is that the American government has made plans to save itself from the nuclear armageddon it will have unleashed.
Again, it’s necessary to see these things from the appropriate—post-apocalyptic—perspective. It should be reassuring to know that you won’t need to venture out of the relative safety of your refugee camp in order to find out if the post office has already registered your dead loved ones. The survivors will need strong functioning government, with free reign to round up and kill dissidents.
It is a matter of accountability. Since the American government has armed itself with four thousand nuclear warheads, then we should be glad that they have also given some thought to dealing with what will happen if they actually use them. It would be irresponsible not to!
Maybe then, in the brief time in which you roam a post-apocalyptic wasteland fighting off marauding gangs before succumbing to radiation poisoning, you will understand that it is for the best that the secretary of the interior and his staff are in a safe site in West Virginia. Only a sociopath would wish for the world to end with them, so why wouldn’t you be cheered by the knowledge that at least a few hundred government officials were helicoptered to offshore armadas? The onus is on the powerful to plan for the future , and, in the age of nuclear weapons and climate change, planning for the future means ensuring that whichever general or secretary destroyed the world will be able to survive the end of it.
Maybe it is the potential conflict of interest posed by a president’s knowledge that he and his nephews will be safe and secure aboard Air Force One, should he ever be tempted to start a nuclear war, that worries people. If so, then their fears are unfounded—the responsibility of the executive is the reason his survival must be ensured, as well as the reason we can trust that his personal invulnerability will not interfere with his judgment. He and his staff are honor- and duty-bound to put aside any consideration of self-interest when considering whether or not to doom billions to a fiery death, and to make their decision for the greater good.
The only reason I can think of why anyone would be bothered by the immunity of the powerful is that they have come to see the apocalypse as a kind of revenge-fantasy. Summer blockbusters have nurtured the idea of the apocalypse as the great leveller—the ultimate fulfilment of the American dream. In the apocalypse, anyone with enough grit and gumption can become the last man on earth; king of all he surveys; a Robinson Crusoe.
How disappointing must it be, then, to know that the world order will go on for those who end it for everyone else? It always does. From the first world war, to the financial collapse, catastrophes come and go and the perpetrators never pay. Destruction only makes us more dependent on the powerful who unleash it. Why should judgment day be any different?
There’s nothing special about the end times. The end of the world will be ruled by the same people that ended it. The fate of humanity depends on it.