From the Hellfire Club to the Illuminati, the Freemasons to the Knights Templar, and the Bilderberg Group to the Trilateral Commission, people sometimes develop the delusion (yes, a delusion, or maybe a fantasy or product of wishful thinking) that the super-rich are working shoulder to shoulder, plotting and directing the fate of the world.
Based on extensively researching and working with the exceptionally wealthy, I find that these grand conspiracy theories make good bedtime stories, and more profitably, exciting novels and movies. However, they lack substance.
While it’s easy to see the super-rich selectively looking for ways to cooperate and benefit from their wealth and position, it’s more often a matter of them leveraging their close professional and business relationships. In amassing their great fortunes, they look to work with other people—some of them also exceptionally wealthy—to become ever more successful and amass greater wealth, and even to be smart about giving their wealth away. The intent is not to form an impossible-to-coordinate cabal.
One of the self-made super-rich pointed out that almost all the world’s nations are kakistocracies—governments run by those least qualified to do so. She firmly believes it’s impossible to effectively manage such unwieldy structures, in which governmental bodies are perpetually at war with each other and themselves. In her view, it’s ludicrous to imagine a small group of individuals, no matter how great their genius, cleverness and determination, actually administering such a morass.
A researcher who knows quite a few super-rich people explained that while they are all egomaniacs to some degree, none of them suffers from theomania. Many of them are interested in increasing their financial and political stature, he notes, which doesn’t leave a lot of opportunities for the type of long-term cooperation required for ongoing world domination.
When considering the possibility of a vast cabal of super-rich manipulating the world, it’s crucial to recognize that they don’t have much consensus among themselves on a wide-ranging array of political and philosophical issues, save for the idea that creating great personal fortunes is a good thing—at least for them. Billionaires, for example, readily line up on all sides of the political spectrum, and they put their money behind their beliefs.
Occam’s razor better explains the seeming coordination among the super-rich than an absurdly and farcically complicated conspiracy theory that proposes they are deviously plotting in Davos, Switzerland, or the Bohemian Club, or better yet, at some fortified secret chateau nestled high in the mountains, reachable only by gondola or helicopter, or some well-guarded private island accessible only by seaplane or submarine.
Logic notwithstanding, the belief in the world-dominating cabal is not going away. In fact, some see the dearth of evidence as proof of its existence: It proves just how cunning and devious the super-rich can be.
In my dealings with the super-rich and those on their way to the financial pinnacle, I haven’t seen a shred of solid evidence of such a conspiracy. Then again, if the super-rich were to meet at a secret mountaintop castle to determine the fate of humanity, and I was at the proceeding, would I—and could I—share that information?