What is it about fear that makes people go to such great (and seemingly futile) lengths and cost to feel safe? A story as old as (recorded) time, people have profited from the fears of others over countless centuries. It's what Naomi Klein calls Disaster Capitalism in the present-day context, and the disaster capitalists are doing quite well thanks to the mass fear mongering that has reached epic proportions as the Global War on Terror and the current Ukraine crisis have continued to escalate.
Some of you will remember the good old bomb shelter days of the bad old Cold War. Back in the 1950s many folks decided that "duck and cover" just didn't cut it for their families. Keeping up with the Joneses in the 50s often meant building a bomb shelter in one's back yard (or basement). People buried huge steel drums outfitted with at least a few of the comforts of home - beds, lanterns, canned food and water - and waited for the sirens.
Many also had a radiation detector, a nifty device with which they could determine when it was safe to go outside and try to rebuild their lives in what would have actually been a vast, radioactive wasteland had the Superpowers unleashed even a small portion of their massive nuclear arsenals (roughly 65,000 warheads at the peak of the Cold War).
Even today the US and Russia combined have 3250 "deployed strategic" thermonuclear warheads mounted on missiles and bombs that are, as a result of their combined yield and accuracy, far more devastating than much of the old, Cold War nuclear weaponry.
Well folks, if this has you waxing nostalgic for the old days, look no further. Doomsday Shelters are making a comeback. This is Disaster Capitalism at its best (or should I say worst). Some folks are evidently making good money capitalizing on people's worst fears and digging some pretty big holes in the ground and calling them "Catastrophe Shelters." And, as the mid-19th century American showman P.T. Barnum once said, "There's a sucker born every minute."
The Vivos Group has been buying up facilities originally built for the military, and making them available (as "memberships") to people desperate to survive everything you might imagine, and some you would never think of. A slick video showing a world map and displaying dots in various locations scrolls from one threat to the net, covering "HOLY WAR, EARTH CHANGES, ECONOMIC COLLAPSE, CIVIL WARS, EMP ATTACK, IMMIGRATION, MEGA TSUNAMI, MILITARIZATION, PANDEMICS, NIBIRU PLANET X, SECESSION FROM NATION, SUBMERSION, TERRORISM, WW3." Wow, did they leave anything out?
I don't want to be too critical but hey, the only historically recognized "HOLY WAR" I recall was the period of the Crusades, which were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and often directed by the Roman Catholic Church (a bunch of religious European mostly white people), and that long period of holy wars officially ended in 1699. Yet one might wonder if recent US invasions of sovereign, predominantly Muslim nations don't qualify as holy wars/crusades, considering the revelations of long-standing, rampant racism on the part of self-proclaimed [white] christian nationalists here in the good old USA). And don't forget the genocidal treatment of the indigenous [Native American] peoples of this continent and our history of slavery! And speaking of "CIVIL WARS", aside from the many civil wars on foreign soil that had - and some current wars that have - their roots in US interventions, I think it's safe to say those crazy white nationalists are itching for a fight.
As for "NIBIRU PLANET X", you might be exclaiming, WTF is that?!?!?! According to Wikipedia, "The Nibiru cataclysm[involving Mibiru Planet X] is a supposed disastrous encounter between Earth and a large planetary object (either a collision or a near-miss) that certain groups believed would take place in the early 21st century." And it gets better - "The idea was first put forward in 1995 by Nancy Lieder, founder of the website ZetaTalk. Lieder describes herself as a contact with the ability to receive messages from extraterrestrials from the Zeta Reticuli star system through an implant in her brain." Lieder states that she was chosen to warn humankind that the encounter with Nibiru Planet X will cause a shift in the poles that will destroy most of humanity. Welcome to the Twilight Zone!
As crazy as the Planet X theory sounds, the doomsday scenario that really caught my attention is "MILITARISM." What's up with that??? Although the video shows a dot in South America, and others in what appear to include China and India, they forgot to include the United States. Let's face it; we invented militarism, and the US is number two in a list of "countries with the Highest Total Gun Deaths (all causes) in 2019." Of course, we should include all the countries to which we (directly or indirectly) sell weapons (of all types); that would surely push the numbers way off the chart.
By now it militarism (and the underlying violence that causes it) has become embedded in our DNA (figuratively speaking). Instead of Onsies, the baby shower gift of choice will one day become a functioning, baby-sized assault rifle (available in a variety of pastel colors); free pacifier included. If some gun manufacturers had their way every child would have kid-sized working tactical/assault weapon (and plenty of ammunition) by the time they reach elementary school. Is that cool or what, say open-carry dads around the country!!!
Meanwhile, people are evidently signing up for "memberships" to get a piece of the Vivos dream. Think of it as the ultimate pre-catastrophe timeshare. When I first looked them up in 2010, you could buy a share for $50,000 per adult, and just half that for kids. The website currently lists a price of $35,000 per person for a "turnkey shelter." And you can shell out as much as "$110,000 to $120,000 for a fully built out bunker" at Vivos xPoint, touted as the "largest survival community on Earth." What a bargain!
When something really nasty is about to go down, you just head over to your designated shelter and, assuming there isn't a massive, angry, heavily-armed mob also trying to get in, pop inside and wait out the worst (and wait, and wait, and wait...). Is that a great deal or what??? Of course, I won't ask how they are going to guarantee up to "five years with food, power, water and filtered air", not to mention how they will keep out the masses of post-apocalyptic ZOMBIES!
All kidding aside, the people behind this trend deny that they are profiting from people's fears. As Robert K. Vicino, Founder & CEO, a disaster denizen and founder of the Vivos Global Shelter Network, says:,
"You don't think of the person who sells you a fire extinguisher as taking advantage of your fear," he says. "The fact that you may never use that fire extinguisher doesn't make it a waste or bad... We're not creating the fear; the fear is already out there. We're creating a solution."
I'm not so sure about the fire extinguisher analogy, but I can agree with him on one point; they are not creating the fear. Of course that is simply a matter of semantics. They are building (massively) on existing fears, and are doing a pretty good job of burying what is left of the Social Contract. This is the quintessential Naomi Klein vision of a Disaster Capitalism-plagued world where only the wealthy are saved.
As for Vivos' claim that they are "creating a solution," I think a more productive (and socially conscious) solution, particularly from the standpoint of nuclear weapons, might be to learn to address conflict nonviolently, stop invading other nations, support and strengthen the United Nations, and abolish nuclear weapons. The terrorist nuclear threat has been overblown; the greatest threat from nuclear weapons currently is, and always has been, that of nuclear war. And currently there is a very real threat of the use of nuclear weapons between the US and Russia should conventional war break out over the Ukraine crisis.
And now for the question of who gets to play? The Vivos website touts one of its shelters, Vivos xPoint, as "an epic humanitarian project the size of a city." WOW!!! How does a private, membership-only, survival shelter "with accommodations for more than 5,000 like-minded survivalists to ride out 'the event' and the aftermath to follow" qualify as a "humanitarian project"??? This no public works project; money speaks volumes here, and buys access. This NO humanitarian project, and I'm guessing with all their doublespeak about how to not become "a victim of the marauders during the aftermath following a large scale cataclysm or catastrophic event" is coded language for "white people only!" Just saying.
The people at Vivos are seriously working this thing to the max. playing up the End Times big time. Talk about some serious fear mongering; these folks are too much. First they tug at people's white nationalist heartstrings:
"Vivos is not just a shelter company. It is a network of communities of like-minded people, supporting each other for the best chance of surviving virtually any disaster."
And then further down the home page comes the End Times pitch:
"Be ready for the doomsday events predicted in the Bible and by prophets over the ages. If you believe in the Biblical predictions of Armageddon, or the prophecies of Nostradamus, the Third Secret of Fatima, the visions of Edgar Cayce, or all of the current signs of attack by North Korea, WW3, a pandemic, an EMP power outage, Yellowstone's eruption, the increase threats of an asteroid collision, Nibiru/Planet X, widespread global radiation, major earth changes, or even a sudden pole shift, then it is time to prepare for your family's survival!"
Meanwhile back in the shelter, assuming that people don't go totally nuts after being cooped up underground for such a long period of time after a nuclear holocaust (let's face it; how many times can you watch The Day After before wanting to end it all), once they see what they are returning to they just might wish that they had spent that $35,000 (and more) on one huge pre-Armageddon block party.
As for me, I am spending my money and energy on nonviolent conflict resolution and nuclear abolition.
Biden and Putin - You have been warned! Time to ditch the nukes AND the militarism; why don't you both just grown up!!! And We The People must resist the fear mongers at at levels and seek collective, inclusive, nonviolent solutions to ALL the threats we face (many of which are initiated and propagated by the greed of a small number of people in power and the lower-level opportunists who take advantage of people for their own selfish gain.