Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires (Hardcover)
Named One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2022 by Kirkus and Literary Hub
The tech elite have a plan to survive the apocalypse: they want to leave us all behind.
Five mysterious billionaires summoned theorist Douglas Rushkoff to a desert resort for a private talk. The topic? How to survive the “Event”: the societal catastrophe they know is coming. Rushkoff came to understand that these men were under the influence of The Mindset, a Silicon Valley–style certainty that they and their cohort can break the laws of physics, economics, and morality to escape a disaster of their own making—as long as they have enough money and the right technology.
In Survival of the Richest, Rushkoff traces the origins of The Mindset in science and technology through its current expression in missions to Mars, island bunkers, AI futurism, and the metaverse. In a dozen urgent, electrifying chapters, he confronts tech utopianism, the datafication of all human interaction, and the exploitation of that data by corporations. Through fascinating characters—master programmers who want to remake the world from scratch as if redesigning a video game and bankers who return from Burning Man convinced that incentivized capitalism is the solution to environmental disasters—Rushkoff explains why those with the most power to change our current trajectory have no interest in doing so. And he shows how recent forms of anti-mainstream rebellion—QAnon, for example, or meme stocks—reinforce the same destructive order.
This mind-blowing work of social analysis shows us how to transcend the landscape The Mindset created—a world alive with algorithms and intelligences actively rewarding our most selfish tendencies—and rediscover community, mutual aid, and human interdependency. In a thundering conclusion, Survival of the Richest argues that the only way to survive the coming catastrophe is to ensure it doesn’t happen in the first place.
About the Author
Douglas Rushkoff is professor of media theory and digital economics at Queens/CUNY. Named one of the world’s ten most influential intellectuals by MIT, he hosts the Team Human podcast and has written many award-winning books, including Media Virus, Program or Be Programmed, and Present Shock. He lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.
Dark and revealing… Rushkoff provides a powerful critique of the attitudes and technologies that enable these deceptions.
— Washington Post
Survival of the Richest reveals fascinating tidbits about the elite tech crowd’s postapocalyptic survival strategies and the niche solutions being marketed to them.
— Carolyn Wong Simpkins - Science
[H]arrowing and illuminating.
— Chris Barsanti - PopMatters
A devastating portrait of the cultures and logics underlying big tech. Rushkoff is going to make you mad enough to fight back. A vital, lucid, and enraging read.
— Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
Survival of the Richest is more than a primer on a soulless worldview pervading all aspects of life. Defying fantasies of escape—from each other, from earthliness, from Earth—Rushkoff offers something at once more realistic and more imaginative: mutual regard, responsibility, and flourishing. In so doing, he mounts an impassioned defense of everything and everyone marked expendable in the fanatical pursuit of a blank slate.
— Jenny Odell
Douglas Rushkoff has always been a singular observer and thinker. Embedded near the epicenters of the digital revolution, he has never flinched from honestly delivering fresh, radical, humane critiques of the emerging world. There are plenty of books decrying the horrors of twenty-first-century monopoly capitalism, but none quite like Survival of the Richest.
— Kurt Anderson, author of Evil Geniuses
Beyond eye-opening, this book is eye-popping. A master storyteller, Rushkoff brings to life perhaps the greatest challenge of our time. A must-read.
— Frances Moore Lappé, author or coauthor of twenty books, from Diet for a Small Planet to Daring Democracy
Rushkoff gives us a sober, scathing oddsmaking on the recursive wager of the ultra-rich.
— Cory Doctorow
[Rushkoff’s] report is both fierce and amazed in the face of capitalism’s delusions; I for one am sharpening my pitchfork.
— Jonathan Lethem
Douglas Rushkoff’s keen eye as a seasoned media analyst, combined with his flair and wit as a writer and a performer, shine in this book.
— Marina Gorbis, executive director of Institute for the Future
A hilarious and lacerating look at the elite sociopathy wrecking the world, and a call to arms for how the rest of us can fight it.
— Molly Crabapple, author of Drawing Blood and coauthor (with Marwan Hisham) of Brothers of the Gun
With razor-sharp insight, Rushkoff unwraps the dazzling facade of the technological dream, revealing the alarming Mindset that underlies promises of planetary salvation.
— Jeremy Lent, author of The Patterning Instinct and The Web of Meaning
A scary, true and unsettling look at what happens when money causes people to lose their humanity.
— Seth Godin
Numbing and mind-blowing in equal measure, Survival of the Richest reveals how tech billionaires are planning to survive a global apocalypse.
[A] thorough and authoritative condemnation of tech worship.
— Kirkus Reviews
A shocking account of how the very wealthy prep for doomsday [and]…an eye-popping look at some outlandish visions for the future.
— Publishers Weekly