Again and again, Knowles’s stories attest to a money machine devoted to nothing but its own perpetuation. She cites “no less a figure than UK Financial Services Authority Chairman Adair Turner”, who has described banks as engaged in “‘economically and socially useless activity’.” Big finance is a closed system designed by bankers to redistribute money among themselves. And to what end? The way Knowles tells it, having loads of money is not much fun at all. Jean-Paul Sartre described being rich as an “inherently nervous condition”; the plutocrats Knowles meets, along with their stay-at-home wives and spoilt children, are paranoid, bored or prima donna-ish to the point of mental breakdown. A Colombian woman who organizes VIP services in top-end London hotels tells Knowles that she once had to turn down a request to refloor a suite with turf: “the guest was bringing their dog and the dog would only use the toilet on real grass”.
Money begets purposelessness, particularly in the case of inherited wealth. An assistant to a billionaire’s son notes the “suffocating vacuity” and “emptiness” of lives spent making social occasions – invariably with other, identically aimless members of the super-rich – “last and shape the day”. Parties become an entirely recursive – and exhausting – means of establishing and maintaining one’s status. The spectre of transactionality – are they just after my money? – engenders a profound isolation, entrenched by security arrangements that are as extensive as they are largely absurd. London is not Iraq or Afghanistan. Former SAS soldiers are hired to drive the super-rich to their hair appointments or to carry out “pre-location sweeps” at fancy restaurants. “Spontaneous travel” is discouraged because it causes “severe security concerns”. Like so much in the world of the UHNWIs, security is self-perpetuating, seemingly provided for no other reason that, apart from propelling the CEOs of the security companies to UHNWI status themselves, it stands as a marker for the vast wealth it purports to protect.
Private tutoring operates in much the same way….
— Mark Storm (@marksstorm) July 1, 2022