The Billionaires among us

During a profoundly interesting discussion on power between Yuval Noah Harari and Russell Brand, Mr Harari said:

“Certainly in the modern world, for a couple of centuries, one of the main functions of power is to conceal power.”

He goes on to speak on what he calls, ‘the law of history’ and what this looks like; when you don’t have a lot of power compared to when you do.

When you don’t, he says you are most likely to exaggerate your power. He uses the metaphor of monarchies centuries ago who would display their power by ordering the beheading of an enemy or wearing their ‘power’ externally, bearing a crown and jewels.

Mr Harari compares the monarchy to modern day government.

Government he described as a highly powerful institution, concealing its power i.e. wearing ordinary clothing and blending in with society.

This disguise is so effective, that it can almost make the government seem more accessible than they actually are.

The same goes for the billionaires among us, who are reaching record breaking markers in wealth every single day.

According to the Hurun rich list 2021, the world currently has a record breaking 3,228 billionaires.

Yet, the report went on to say;

‘China and the USA make up over half of ‘known’ billionaires in the world.’

This implies that despite the record breaking figures, there may be billionaires in this world that we currently have no idea about.

This made me think about London, known for its “Billionaires Row” where many of its residents walk no further than their street. Here, you can easily slip into being an unknown.

I questioned whether the point of many billionaires coming here was to avoid attracting attention and fading into the background of the hustle and bustle, where nobody stares long enough to identify who you actually are.

Many of these ‘secret Billionaires’ don’t have the notoriety or star power that many celebrities would have. Therefore many are as good as unrecognisable to the average joe on the street.

Yet, in the media, we see the opposite narrative of the quintessential Billionaire being this big boastful male figure, living outlandishly and speaking to the press on climate change, healthcare and politics.

With one of the richest men in the world, Elon Musk doing interviews, dating actresses, boasting an unconventional approach to life and business and sharing his gems of wisdom on Twitter, to the public, this is a ‘Billionaire’.

To the media, he is the spokesman of all billionaires as is, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and many others who stay within the limelight.

But their public status and the scrutiny they face as businessmen can essentially affect their business. We have seen the instant ramifications of this when Elon Musk posted on Twitter that his company’s shares are priced “too high” then Friday this same week, his stocks plummeted.

Maybe this is the reason for Billionaire secrecy, because behind closed doors, there is no scrutiny, no public opinion and business commences as usual.

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Journalist. Writer. Producer

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