As the collective works of our environmental scientists continue to prove correct, the resulting biodiversity collapse will alter human ideals surrounding resources and abundance for centuries. The aftermath will rapidly disrupt economies and ripple into a collapse of nation-states around the world, resulting in a great divide. This permanent expansion of a global underclass will swallow individuals and families who presently believe themselves materially secure into inescapable poverty traps. The great divide is the catalyst for a paradigm shift in human classification, splitting humanity into two distinct classes and ending whatever meager opportunities presently exist for upward social mobility. It is an end of illusions that will rapidly awaken the masses to class consciousness, emerging into the nightmare. Our situation today results from a long series of event chains spanning human history that share the common theme of extreme wealth concentration. Most of us misunderstand the billionaire class, which is critical to their power maintenance. We must expel the illusions, creating new narratives to better visualize their roles in our society and reject the structural and social value of the existence of the economic class.
We know how extreme wealth inequality impacts the power of a government to support its people in times of crisis. The United States has the most billionaires, and it is the only country where record-breaking31 election spending is growing exponentially,32 ensuring that candidates embracing corporate support and agenda have an extreme advantage. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased wealth concentration at the top while devastating the financial security of many. During the first ten months of the COVID-19 pandemic, billionaires increased their personal wealth by over 38.6 percent; the top fifteen billionaires saw gains of 58.7 percent, and some saw wealth increases as much as 500 percent.33 During this same period, 73 million people lost their jobs,34 approximately 100,000 small businesses closed,35 and 29 million adults reported being food insecure. Minor redirections of wealth through taxation, federal spending, and direct citizen compensation could have prevented mass suffering, but these options were never even considered by those with the power to implement them. This inaction catapulted the United States to number one for confirmed cases and deaths from the virus. We observe in plain sight how the systems we organize humanity within value capital above individuals. Extreme wealth concentration directly conflicts with self-actualizing in the age of crisis. It ignores the latent potential of individual time experience, betraying our obligations to nature and our oneness with others to maintain existing power structures.
Like our favorite sports team, politics and the economic policies that arise from them can be a projection of power in an otherwise powerless existence. We use the language of freedom to defend our own enslavement. Human history is full of narratives about society and resources that shape how we think about the distribution of resources today. Powerful wealth holders crafted elaborate frameworks detailing how markets should behave and then built industries around the spread and support of this knowledge. Common economic theory is propaganda, evangelized by economists whose professional objective is to maintain the power structures supporting the ultra-elite—whether they’re aware of it or not. The study of economics is not the study of economies. It is the study of theory.
The Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis shared, “The only way to make the economic model work is if we assume there is no such thing as time and space.” Through the lens of the single truth, the economic models only work if humans aren’t involved. Laws arising from these theories always favor specific groups. In our immediate present, much of economic law serves no function other than further disenfranchising poor people. Consider how fiscal penalties like fines directly discriminate against the poor in terms of relative wealth extraction. Or how credit scores, which directly impact an individual’s ability to access vital services, credit, and housing were introduced as recently as 1989. In the middle of a plague, the wealthiest country on the planet spent a year debating how little they could offer their citizens, while other advanced nations were quick to enact guaranteed basic incomes. Our struggle with the politics of the billionaire class is that long histories of conquest and propaganda have crafted narratives of money that have misled generations. Letting go of our dogmas surrounding value and wealth is vital to overcoming the age of crisis.
Why is it that despite the overwhelming evidence of extreme wealth concentration, there is not a more fervent resistance among the general populace? We see social unrest increasing around the world, but it still lacks support from those whose participation would significantly tip the scales in favor of reorganization—the middle and upper-middle classes. Their inactivity often results from apathy or illusion. Apathy because they simply cannot be bothered to focus on the greater good. They believe their personhood and that of their loved ones to be secure, that they might somehow be able to leverage their small fortunes to secure themselves in the event of global collapse. It is an illusion most often built upon generations of privilege coupled with the convenience of ignorance that allows individuals within these time experiences to remain blind to their surroundings. Perhaps they simply choose not to believe the severity of our circumstances; it’s much easier to stay the course if one pretends they are not headed into the stormy chaos on the horizon. If the age of crisis is left unchecked, the middle class will be decimated. In an exponential universe, humanity’s linear thinking leaves individuals ill-equipped for rapid change. We have no alternative frameworks for thinking about the world outside of extreme wealth concentration because it is all our species has known since the advent of agriculture. This inheritance encourages our mindless embrace of systems we know to be inadequate for overcoming what awaits. Like a long line of dominoes caught in the momentum of collapse, when a threshold of destabilization is reached, many who are presently looking the other way will face an intense storm of consequences.
Consider also that extreme wealth inequality has tangible impacts on the human condition. As income inequity rises in communities, we can observe direct correlations to decreases in trust between individuals,36 declines in mental health, increases in mental illness rates of community members,36 increased drug use,36 increases in obesity rates,369 and decreases in youth educational performance.36 The fallout of a crisis will have negative impacts primarily on poor and marginalized communities around the world. Supply chains will break down as the crisis of extinction rapidly reshapes food and water resources worldwide. The dramatic rise in the prices of vital goods ensures that basic survival goods become significantly more expensive. As we might expect, civil unrest will grow.
An individual or family struggling with having enough food to eat is not going to respect past philosophies of law and order from a time experience no longer relevant to them. How the global poor will be treated during the crisis will not surprise anyone paying attention. The events will be used to further politicize and demonize social support programs by political puppets looking to create a new artificial enemy to capture the majority’s attention. Now more than ever, people see through these narratives, but is there enough time for this shift to have an impact? At this moment, it is still unknown. For the wealthiest living high above the clouds, not much will change; the crisis will only serve to further consolidate their wealth and power. When the environmental crisis reaches its threshold, these individuals will retreat into their walled gardens. Stockpiled with food, resources, and mercenaries, they will attempt to ride out the storm of anger and desperation that will envelop the majority struggling to make sense of the new world. The age of crisis threatens drastic shifts in how we define the haves and the have-nots in society, a narrative crafted by the few to ensure misery for the many.
This moment in history is unique because we have all the tools and resources necessary to solve these problems. Radical redirection is both possible and plausible within the existing resources and productive capacity of humanity right now. What we lack is imagination and willpower spread throughout the collective consciousness. The age of crisis exists and will continue to exist because of our inability to see beyond what is—unless we choose to change. No individual or group is to blame for our moments, but history will reflect poorly upon those who actively resisted the empowerment of collective humanity in order to further their selfish fantasies. To be born into dynastic wealth is not a sin; all of us are subject to the inheritance of a specific time experience. However, the individual misaligns themselves with the single truth and the relational universe when they assume the mantle of narratives they know to be true or just. You can have wealth and power while simultaneously understanding how luck and social frameworks have empowered you over others. You can invest your money in organizations, people, and causes that create genuine good in the world or squander it on vanity and luxury. What separates those embracing the single truth from others is what they do with the knowledge. Do they act in accordance with oneness, or do they sow seeds of division for the sake of greed? To deny the need for individual and collective reorganization in alignment with the single truth furthers the crisis.
Understanding how the crisis will rapidly accelerate wealth disparities helps illustrate the severity of outcomes that await humanity if nothing changes. Now we turn our attention to a more structural framing of the billionaire class. If we consider the time experience of the individual billionaire, we can better understand the realities they inhabit. Billionaires today exist in a universe of cosmopolitan information inputs. They are largely unburdened by the nation-state and operate beyond the scope of law imposed on the global majority. It is not uncommon to see those with immense capital, such as private hedge fund managers, intentionally break laws because the penalties the government will impose on them will pale in comparison to the revenues to be made. Rules and laws that apply to others are simply not applicable to the individual billionaire. Each individual must ask themselves, is this the justice they desire? Our present systems allow people to opt out of our laws through an economic engine promoting labor exploitation. Unsurprisingly, those who succeed in capturing immense resources in the American financial scheme are often unconcerned with the crisis and its impact on others. The economic ecosystems guiding our behavior encourage viewing the individual as a widget whose value is measured in the form of productivity.
Self-actualization in the age of crisis requires redefining wealth and power because our present systems actively resist equal access to agency and opportunity. Is there any hope of instilling class consciousness in the general population? Yes, if we can create the right language. Facts are not enough—that much is evident to anyone paying attention. We need something better, a way of thinking about billionaires that is more than just numbers. By crafting a better story, we can help others understand why our current laws support the destruction of human beings around the world.
One of the first myths we have to dispel is that being anti-billionaire is the same as being anti-luxury. For the vast majority of humanity, there is no apparent difference between a million and a billion dollars. Either amount would allow them to fulfill their wildest fantasies; the desire for anything more is created only through having extreme excess. It’s a mental block reinforced by the narrative that we’re linear beings in life, death, and earning. For many, the time spent laboring has a direct relation to income. For the average individual, the exponential increases in wealth that billionaires experience is hard to relate to. When someone with a linear perspective of labor and earnings thinks of a billion dollars, it translates into the ability to access things they need and want without worry, something we all desire. They might then project this same framework of labor and earnings onto the billionaire. The idea is that we should all be free to reap the rewards of our labor, no matter our present circumstances. This logic fails within the context of exponential growth and compounding capital returns that place the billionaire’s fortune far beyond any achievable amount of material luxury.
Over 88 percent of billionaires possess fortunes of multiple billions.37 Some quick math shows us the impossibility of billionaires having any concerns related to wants or needs. Imagine you could spend $1000.00 per hour on material goods. If you never slept and bought things every hour of every day, it would take you one million hours to spend your first billion. Divide that by twenty-four hours per day, and it will take 41,116 days to spend that billion. Divide that by 365 days, and it would take 114 years of spending $1000.00 every hour—without sleeping—to spend your first billion dollars entirely. We’re not even counting the interest earned on the money each year. The fact is that they simply could not spend that amount of money on themselves even if they tried. Material needs are something for petty millionaires to worry about.
Billionaires live far beyond the realm of material needs and wants. This, in itself, is no crime. As a collective, we should believe in and work toward bringing every individual beyond basic material needs. By removing survival-related barriers, we free up tremendous amounts of creative focus and energy for billions of people. At present, this level of material security is something the vast majority of the population can only dream of.
The historical narrative of work is that effort equals security and prosperity. Work hard; do well. It’s something we were taught by our schools, media, and parents alike. We’re surrounded by information streams reinforcing beliefs about a meritocracy that never truly existed. Unsurprisingly, one of the most common responses defending the billionaire class is “People should keep what they earn.” Our earlier example demonstrates that applying a linear relationship between work and prosperity cannot accurately be used when describing the billionaire. Their relationship with money is exponential; their capital radically expands itself through legal and financial instruments inaccessible to the majority of humanity. We want our traditional narrative to be true, and in some respects, it is, but not for the billionaire class. It is perhaps the most common misunderstanding about the capitalist system of production. Anyone working to earn money, even the small business owner, is not a capitalist. A job that trades focus and energy within the time experience for money is just selling labor. A capitalist is an individual who generates capital through their existing monies in the form of assets and investments.
The delusion that we can all be capitalists is one of the biggest lies the American narrative relies on to keep a struggling population docile. It is a powerful belief that convinces many in lower and middle economic classes to defend billionaires. We want to believe that one day, through hard work and dedication, we too can be free of material scarcity. Linear wealth creation is often associated with manual labor, but it bleeds into almost every position in every major organization. We often hear pundits describe distinctions between unskilled and skilled labor as a catchall to contrast types of work, but in reality, all labor exerts some form of skill. We’d all prefer that our houses be built by expert construction workers, our pipes fixed by plumbers, our teeth be fixed by credentialed dentists, and that our medicines be developed by those with advanced understandings of chemistry and human physiology. Even the most commonly targeted professions, such as entry-level labor or food service, require a great degree of time management and sociability.
Language matters in an informational universe; it influences our thoughts and feelings about circumstances. In our efforts to realign humanity around the single truth, we should avoid classifications that diminish one group for the benefit of another, especially when the majority within these groups have more in common with each other than they do any billionaire. More ultra-wealthy individuals built fortunes from work in the new knowledge economy than from any other industry in human history. In the past, strong unions supported and protected manual laborers, ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources throughout organizations. Through effective political propaganda and a never-ending supply of politicians willing to sell out their constituents, the power of unions within the immediate present has eroded significantly. Today, job security is an illusion, replaced by corporate layoffs to support big executive bonuses. Our old idea of work broke its promise to the people, and with it, the idea that time and earnings correlate consistently.
Defending the billionaire class through the idea of wealth incentivizing progress is another concept we need to lay to rest. In A Short History of Progress, Ronald Wright, summarizing John Steinbeck, wrote, “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”38 It is a self-defeating narrative reinforced through vague notions of patriotism, justice, divinity, and plenty of propaganda. The idea that Americans are blind to class narratives would help to describe the political agendas of the past fifty years, but it isn’t true.
In his book Class Attitudes in America, author and professor Spencer Piston wrote, “The belief that most Americans do not support downward economic redistribution is one of the defining myths of our time.” Evidence drawn from twenty-five years of election surveys strongly suggests that the general populace favors wealth redistribution through programs like universal health care, Social Security, and even means-tested programs such as Earned Income Tax Credits. Consider the popularity of political candidates like Bernie Sanders, whose campaigns highlight the immense disparities between the ultra-wealthy and the rest. Spencer concludes that the American public consistently fails to understand who will come out on top of new proposals and laws. Ambiguity about who benefits from policies dramatically reduces support for the programs. Politicians predictably use the confusion to redirect popular attention and continue the work of their wealthy sponsors. The idea that we have large sects of our population actively voting against their best interests is both true and false. No one is intentionally voting for self-harming policies, but our political and information systems deliberately deny individuals the information necessary to make informed decisions.
Wealth commodifies our shared time experience. Capitalism, a primary form of organizing society, treats human beings as something to extract value from. It is a system created by those with wealth for those with wealth, and it’s dishonest to pretend that the majority can participate. For the majority, capitalism is a system of siloing. It forces the individual to express mastery in a direction they may not prefer and creates jobs that add no value to society outside of spreading the system’s influence over our lives. When we view our time experience through the lens of the single truth, we understand that capitalism is more than an economic system; it is a framework of information inputs that warps individual realities to fit a specific narrative. It shapes desire and consumption alike, encouraging behaviors that are widely acknowledged as poor foundations for the self-actualizing individual. By centering ourselves around ideas of access and agency that fetishize individuality, we remove reliance on collaboration that has historically been proven to be the greatest source of human ingenuity. Participating in these systems brings us no closer together; more often it drives us apart. At their worst, these systems shape a vision of humanity that is always wanting, buying, and upgrading—avatars of waste.
The digital era brought with it the idea of users as products. You can use the service for free in exchange for the gradual manipulation of your beliefs and preferences. Consider the cancerous nature of the advertising industry, growing at all costs and unconcerned with the destruction left in its wake. Individual time experiences take shape in accordance with others. Prolonged exposure ensures that young and old alike adopt characteristics promoted by the philosophy of consumption, such as vanity, greed, and desire. To be born into this world is to be bound to its institutions; the individual cannot escape if they lack the means to remove themselves altogether. Economics and the culture of exchange attempt to leverage capital to build trust between individuals, but money is a poor social glue. Our relationships with others are primarily transactional in a system where the individual is rewarded by creating surpluses with their transactions. In other words, the most direct pathway to progress under these institutions is to extract value from others. Binding the ideal of generating a surplus to the majority of human interactions limits the scope of our creations. We prioritize that which can be capitalized over that which might make the most significant contributions to our individual and collective lives. It is a framework of exchange that is antithetical to the single truth and our oneness with the relational universe.
Designating wealth generation as our primary transactional function also leads to the all-too-familiar trend of institutional decay. A start-up, full of energy and imagination, creates new public behaviors through new ideas, efforts, and inventions. After a long journey, the founders are ready to move on. The only viable options today are going public or selling, opening up access to company shares and exponentially increasing personal wealth. The most common result of the rapid expansion of investors is that companies stop innovating and start financializing. Making public offerings the most direct path to group economic freedom ensures that the most successful pieces of our social puzzle worsen over time. Wealth cannot be the pinnacle of human pursuit; it is unworthy of the effort. A self-actualizing society must reshape human incentives. We should make it clear that the journey of systemic actualization is not attempting to take away any person’s ability to live comfortably and securely, nor is it an attempt to deny individuals the ability to create and distribute their innovations. It is not an effort to remove an individual’s ability to pursue excellence. Systemic actualization is embracing that our collective powers can only be enhanced as far as the systems governing our lives will allow.
We have reviewed wealth from the perspective of luxury and understand that all billionaires exist in a time experience far beyond needs and wants. Now we will explore how we can best visualize the concept while being far removed from it. The best way to think about billionaires is by comparing them to medieval kings. Kings inherited large land estates generating taxation revenues. On the king’s land, their language was law, binding the fate of everyone around them to their whims. Their legitimacy was spread through the narrative of the divine right of kings, the idea that the hereditary passing of the crown took the process of selecting a supreme leader out of human hands and left the decision to a god. Kings, therefore, had no responsibility to represent the will of the public, nobles, or any others. While the collective majority no longer believes in the divine right of kings, many happily defend the billionaire as if they were different. We cannot frame the billionaire only as a holder of extreme amounts of capital. Billionaires are individuals who have the legal rights to large productive networks within society. We can think of them as a small group of unelected kings, each with a high degree of control over a specific vertical of society. Present examples include owners of digital town squares, scientific agriculture, material distribution networks, weapons, and energy production. These unelected kings have the final say in decisions impacting societal verticals, including who may access them and when. Where kings of the past were limited to currencies of precious metals—and therefore finite in their generation and accumulation—the billionaire owns a limitless fiat currency that multiplies itself. Their ability to spend and leverage capital allows for the expansion of economic and political power limited only by their imagination. What was true for kings remains true for billionaires: extreme wealth concentration provides tremendous power to direct society undemocratically.
The concept of kingship is rooted in a distant time experience. Compared to today, most peasants lived a brutish life of toilsome labor and no available social systems to better themselves. They were confined to work their lord’s land by legal bindings they had no say in crafting. Escape or resistance from these systems was often met with death. Similar to the present-day state, the power of kings primarily resided in their monopoly on legal violence, extreme wealth concentration, and hereditary ownership. Power structures were absolute and uncompromising.
The most significant risk to the stability of entrenched powers was the plotting of other wealthy nobility, as the speed of information was slow enough to prevent a large-scale peasant revolution. Changes in power were often due to extended military campaigns and only resulted in a new figurehead claiming divine privilege. When we consider the economic power of kings and billionaires, we must take into account that medieval wealth concentration would be comparably worse than today because so many living in poverty died young. Humanity has evolved somewhat as many countries presently provide suites of social safety nets. Today we dismiss the idea of monarchy as an effective form of government and realize that assigning absolute power through birth lottery has proven to be a disastrous choice for empires. Yet the billionaire still exists and has plenty of defenders within the peasant classes. We have traded one king for many, each who can dictate specific aspects of our lives.
The poor and the rich alike are subject to the law of attraction; individuals tend to group with those of like mind and status. Kings of all ages were tightly networked with other rulers, extending their power far beyond capital. It’s easy to forget that World War I began as a feud between three ruling cousins. King George V of Great Britain, Czar Nicholas II of Russia, and Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany were related, sharing the United Kingdom’s Queen Victoria as a grandmother. Over fifteen million people died in this familial dispute, a steep price to pay for the whims of nobility attempting to change lines on a map. Just as the relationships of these kings were unknown to their subjects, so too are the relationships and actions of present-day billionaires hidden from the majority of humanity.
In the United States, 78 percent of multi-billion-dollar companies share at least one board member with another company on the list.39 These power networks dramatically enhance the reach of the individual billionaire, who can influence the fate of many social verticals through connections. We can consider the merits of these power alliances by asking ourselves a simple question. Is it possible that an extreme minority of the population, holding a disproportionate majority of global society’s wealth, might act to preserve their personal interests, even if it means causing harm to the majority? We’ve explored how billionaires have been funding misinformation about the crisis of extinction for personal profits. We have a single concrete example that provides an answer. Our present systems of meaning and value encourage some to resist the necessary changes for human transcendence in order to maintain personal wealth and power.
Consider also the dominant role billionaires play in controlling information streams. Today we struggle with the perpetual consolidation of our media in the hands of increasingly fewer controlling entities and individuals. Information is curated and manipulated to elicit specific reactions and responses from the general populace, bordering on blatant propaganda. We see them stoke fears and anxiety regularly, openly favor specific political candidates and policies, and actively avoid discussions of substance regarding individual and collective transcendence. Perhaps most vile, these outlets serve as effective tools of division. They understand implicitly that a population turning upon itself is blind to the puppet masters pulling the strings. The billionaire, like the king, seeks primarily to maintain their influence. But, unlike kings, billionaires operate from the shadows. With much of the public remaining clueless about their involvement in funding various anti-public well-being advocacy groups, they are free to promote whatever disastrous ideas they support. In a world of cooperative billionaires, the nation-state is powerless to help its people. It becomes nothing more than another system of influence manipulated by those with means.
Past and present monarchies have always been supported by religious reference. Egyptian Pharaohs framed themselves as the embodiment of Ra, the sun god. Theodosius made Nicene Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire in 380 CE with the Edict of Thessalonica.40 The tradition of churches supporting kings and kings supporting churches continued throughout the medieval era, creating two distinct types of political powers in the world. The monotheistic salvation religions are inherently hierarchical. These spiritual technologies center around the worship of an omnipotent being whose influence and judgment remain beyond human comprehension. They frame the individual human experience as lacking the divinity and wisdom necessary to fully recognize their latent infinity.
Under the influence of these systems, humanity has programmed itself to believe that the universe and creator are separate entities. Over millennia we have made a false connection true. Now we bear the burden of rejecting a widespread concept that directly contradicts the single truth and our oneness with the relational universe. Religious and spiritual hierarchies pave the way for mortal hierarchies. Centering a spiritual technology around a distant, omnipotent being naturalizes the injustices of extreme wealth inequality, a power so great yet so unreachable that the average individual must simply obey. Connecting political dominion to religious dogma naturalizes the arrangements people are born into, corrupting our time experiences and stifling our power. In a world of abundance, it is divine will to have the majority born into abject poverty. Just as the divine right of kings claimed supernatural intent in birth lottery, so do the present politics of religious organizations seeking to end collective social investments. Here we identify the need for spiritual transcendence as a means of self-actualizing in the age of crisis. The philosophies of meaning and value available through the popular religious organizations of the past actively support the organization of society in such a way that drives us toward crisis through the hierarchical nature of their beliefs.
Today, many understand that the billionaire is no more divine or righteous than the peasant. We could easily interpret their actions to be less so if we judged their efforts through the lens of the greater good. Still, the nature of hierarchy persists as a natural force in our minds. Some might argue that hierarchy is natural and necessary, citing examples within distant forms of animal life in an attempt to demonstrate the biological significance of these structures, the idea being that humans will always be subject to rigid hierarchies of organization and the best we can hope for is to grow and excel within them. It is accurate to claim that hierarchies exist in nature, but it is intellectually dishonest to ignore the plentiful examples of practiced egalitarianism in animals41 and humans.42 Humanity has been organizing itself around collaboration for much longer than it has a hierarchy.
Agricultural society and the hierarchies that arose from it represent about 4 percent of the existence of modern humans. Our reliance on farming tied us to the land, bringing with it the possibility of good and bad harvests. Surpluses allowed communities to specialize and militarize members of their society, which came in handy during years of scarcity when raiders would be more tempted to attack. For the vast majority of our existence, the human time experience has been highly cooperative in both individual relationships and collective organization. Hierarchy and specialization are examples of individual and collective adaptability to circumstances. As we have in the past, humanity must embody a more expansive imagination of the possible in order to meet the needs of the moment.
To argue that any system of organization is ideal and not subject to change is also false. The single truth teaches us that nothing supports the idea of a static universe of ideal states. Strict economic hierarchies have brought the crisis to our doorstep but are proving inadequate in helping us to overcome it. The self-denial of our ability to change and adapt when necessary is a rejection of our power. By surrounding ourselves with these arrangements before birth and after death, we give grossly unequal power structures the same legitimacy as universal laws.
Today we recognize kingship for what it is: a method of assigning absolute power based on luck. Nothing is more out of our control in the universe than being born. We can only ever be where we are. While a comparative few are born into extreme means, the majority enter the world lacking a secure familial ledger. Propaganda channels keep us believing that their hard work is a path to freedom, but for the majority, no amount of effort will ever compare to being born lucky. That is not to say that the individual is incapable of transcending circumstances; quite the opposite. But if we’re going by the numbers, it is no secret that being born into a network of wealth radically reshapes the possibilities available. There is no more significant impact on an individual’s life than being born. The role of class and caste systems have always defined human capacity throughout history. We have always had, and always will have, groups of insiders and outsiders. It is the nature of our gathering together. What is not natural is the degrees of disparity. To that end, we reject luck and birth lottery as a viable form of social organization.
The debate over whether or not billionaires should exist is the same question as whether or not kings and queens should be the de facto rulers of the world. The similarity of these questions explains why the extreme wealth of the moment doesn’t receive a much more radical opposition from the majority. The human time experience exists within a long history of ultra-concentrated resources. The governing systems have legally, morally, and spiritually justified most of it. It is not unfamiliar to us for others to have much more. While times have changed, many themes surrounding human organization remain the same.
Because kings controlled swaths of land and people, they could exploit value through natural resources within their control. The changing nature of time and information eliminates the physical boundaries that would otherwise limit billionaire power. Today, billionaires typically control verticals of society through direct ownership, indirect ownership through large shareholdings, purchasing politicians, or the fiscal sponsorship of nonprofit and political action groups pushing agendas that would further the billionaire’s power. A king had two methods of obtaining the title: birth or conquest. They made rules and laws to leverage their relationships in order to solidify power over time. Billionaires come to be through a variety of circumstances. Some create real value for global societies by solving big problems, providing great services, and more deeply connecting us to one another. Others obtained their wealth without contributing to the productive agendas of society, such as through high finance or birth inheritance.
How the billionaire obtains their wealth is of little relevance to overcoming the age of crisis. Like kings, the billionaire possesses the power to leverage their capital to bribe and coerce those who seek to limit their power. We can recognize the value of individuals creating great wealth through innovation while still rejecting the political and legal power of being a billionaire. To accurately classify the billionaire class, we judge humanity not as a story of individual competition but as a collective effort toward progress. Today, many industries exist as independent parts of a whole, all controlled by individuals with personal agendas. Core social verticals such as energy, housing, health care, and others move in different directions at different speeds. It’s a way of organizing society that allows independent groups to dictate how society will progress. Given that most mature organizations exist in a state of financialization, profit always demands a higher priority than innovation and service. Like a body where every organ makes its own decisions, the collective systems may accomplish their objective, but they will not be as effective as they would be by collaborating. Vital verticals of national and global society are under the control of unelected individuals whose influence and decisions are independent of any nation-state. The age of crisis forces us to question if they should be. Figures 4A and 4B illustrate why forcing collective human progress into the singular format of private control creates artificial stagnation. Specific progress pillars cannot advance without the advancement of others. The prioritization of private and independent control of vital social verticals denies humanity opportunities for advancement.
The relationship between king and billionaire begs the question, are luck and divinity different? If they are different, then we must stifle the power of the billionaire class. We believe luck is a weak foundation for global security and social organization. Reimagining the laws governing stakeholdership and stifling the power of capital become the only logical path forward, not because the billionaires are inherently bad people, but because our current laws prioritize a modern kingship that disregards the majority in favor of an extreme minority. The philosophy supports the view that the universe is our shared experience. Together we empower ourselves more than any single visionary can. Therefore, social organization that gives thousands more power than billions is incompatible with self-actualization in the age of crisis.
If they are the same, then everyone deserves to be exactly where they are. After all, it is undeniably true that every moment since the big bang has led to this very word. Our experience is one of absolute present, creating futures moment by moment. If all luck is the act of or influenced by a higher intelligence, then there can be no questioning our current conscious coordinates. A convenient logic if you’re free from need, but it fails to take into account the squandering of human potential that occurs when we allow birth lottery to determine individual access and agency. This belief is most often rooted in dogmas surrounding outmoded ideas about divinity. Our error is in trapping universal intelligence in a static historical perspective. Those believing that luck and destiny are the same will support the present wealth disparities as the natural order.
As always, there is a third alternative. Luck and divinity can be both different and the same – the same because our current laws make it a reality. The United States is entering an era of wealth inheritance that would make kings jealous. Rules the significant majority have had no say in crafting force us into dominated states, denying the majority access to their higher selves. As we explored, billionaires are above the law as the layperson experiences it. We have the political power to dismantle the billionaire class, but our elected representatives lack the will and are often captured by the interests we seek to overcome.
Luck and divinity are different when billionaires exist under separate reality frameworks than kings, just as the rest of us do from medieval peasants. Their success is not wholly luck-based, and some have made positive contributions to our general welfare and species advancement. At the same time, many of our greatest changemakers have reaped the benefits of birth lottery as well, having parents who could provide them with start-up capital inaccessible to the majority of the population. In an ideal world, the billionaire is a product of a system that rewards creativity and focus, qualities we should encourage and reward in society. In reality, those with extreme means prioritize their personal interests above the health and well-being of the collective. It is possible to reward imagination and innovation while simultaneously limiting the power success provides.
Ultimately, the separation of luck and divinity is necessary to fully embrace the single truth. Aligning ourselves with the nature of the universe requires maximizing empowerment for all individuals so that they possess the access and agency to seamlessly change the direction of their lives. It will be impossible to reorganize national and global societies to the ideal degrees without wealth and power redistribution. The single truth and our oneness with the relational universe exist in direct conflict with the idea that some omnipotent force determines our place in the immediate present and we should therefore embrace it without question. To deny our power to change is to deny the divinity we know to be true. So long as the billionaire class exists in a positive feedback loop of wealth and power building (more wealth builds more power builds more wealth), billions of people will remain unable to fully express their latent imaginative potential.
The solutions we’ll explore to overcome the billionaire god-king’s dominion of the present revolve around combining decentralized social institutions alongside new forms of personal practice and belief. Given our history of power and resource concentration, we understand that breaking its hold over society extends beyond redistribution. Individually, we must adapt and spread new philosophies of meaning and value that reject the levels of wealth and power concentration presently apparent as morally wrong and an affront to collective humanity. Economic redistribution is the most commonly cited solution, but by itself it’s a bandage too small to address the wound. The realization of systemic actualization as an integral part of our individual actualization aligns us with the single truth and lays a foundation for unleashing our latent potential.
Billionaires, like kings and gods, are always what we choose them to be. Ultimately, a more transcendent form of living requires individual choice. We change the universe by changing ourselves. Our technological prowess has laid the communication and information networks to move beyond what was. We can never truly be free within the global caste of economic class. Like the gods and kings of the past, billionaires will become historical relics, and humanity will be better for it.