Strengths of the Billionaires
Sides are drawn by lot. If you are lucky enough to have drawn a Billionnaire identity, here’s what you get. The Rules provide every Virtual Billionaire with three virtual mansions, a virtual yacht, a private jet, bundles of money and a staff of people to help you get whatever you want when you want it: sex, power, access. However, the serious assets of the Virtual Billionaires in the Game are corporate and bank capital, legal status, control of the media, global reach and political power.
Corporate capital: As a Virtual Capitalist acting through your virtual corporations, you are are entitled to appropriate the labor of your employees, gamble with the savings of your stockholders and retirees, patent the inventions of your scientists, keep the profits, and avoid liability for any damage or loss. As a CEO corporate owner and director, you also get your share of the riches of the land, the sea, the sub-soil, the genetic code of plants, animals, and humans – even the water the suckers need to survive. You then get to sell it all back to them at a profit and start the cycle all over again.
Legal Impunity : The best part is that it’s all legit, because you get to write the laws! The Rules of the Game allow you to buy the allegience of virtual lawmakers through your campaign contributions (“free speech”). You are also entitled to see that the rules are enforced in your favor by high-priced virtual lawyers, pliant virtual judges and eventually the virtual Police to break strikes and the virtual armed forces to put down any uppity natives who get in the way of your global interests.
According to the Rules, Virtual Capital is legally entitled to dominate national and international economic institutions. Virtual Billionaires may also dictate legal contracts, regulations, laws, and international treaties in their interests. International trade organizations must give them the legal right to take over the land and the water that virtual people and animals need to survive. According to the Rules, everything the Virtual Millionaires do to win the Game is legal. Almost everything the Virtual Millions do to win the Game (e.g. strikes, boycotts) is potentially illegal.
Virtual Billionaires are entitled to dominate domestic and international marketplaces, to manipulate financial empires, to buy access to politicians, to claim as ‘intellectual property’ traditional knowledge and natural artifacts, to share in the quasi-monopoly of the virtual mass media, and if needed to call in the Virtual Police to break strikes among its employees as well as to send the Virtual Army to wipe out potential national rivals.
Media Control: The Virtual Billionaires are entitled to monopolise the media by buying up most of the radio, TV and print outlets in an area and eliminating competition and to dominate and overload the Internet with commercial media. They are then entitled to impose the following guidelines:
• Media must be attractive, seductive, invasive. The line between information and entertainment, truth and fiction must be blurred. Media must occupy the Millions’ inner space replacing both thought and communication with neighbors.
• Violent crime, sports, and celebrity stories must dominate both news and entertainment. These must stimulate insecurity, aggression and envy. Increasing personal consumption must be presented as the solution to these problems.
• Ideas must be trivialized. The audience attention span must be reduced to the length of a commercial.
• Media must promote the universal religion of Commodities, Money, Fame and Success. Wealth must be represented as merited. Poverty and suffering must be represented as either inevitable or the result of immorality and sloth.
• The lies and distortions of those in power must not be questioned. Critics of the system must be ignored, marginalised, ridiculed or slandered.
In the Game, this power over the mind of the Millions is a powerful trump card in the hands of the Virtual Billionaires.
Global Reach: The Rules entitle Virtual Capital to penetrate into every corner of the Virtual Planet, seeking out raw materials and labor where it costs least, imposing its logic of profitability, transforming all life into Commodities and Merchandise. Virtual Capital is global, ignoring international borders while creating legal barriers against the migration of workers seeking better lives, wages and conditions.
Political Power: According to the Rules, the domination of Virtual Capital is compatible with every known type of political regime. The Virtual Billionaires are entitled to rule through feudal monarchies, military dictatorships, or multi-party elective governments. Whatever the regime, the Virtual Police are prohibited from coming to the aid of strikers in any labor dispute.
The Economic System: According to the Rules, as long as the system of wage-labor is maintained, Virtual Capital can dominate, whatever the economic system. This Rule applies whether there is state property (the so-called “Communism” of privileged Party bureaucrats), a neo-liberal free market economy, or a mixed economy with nationalized industries and a welfare state. Whether the economy is liberal or state-run, Virtual Capital is entitled to live off the labor of the Billions and to have Virtual Government defend its Privileges. The Government must grant the Billionaires favorable loans, contracts, tax loop-holes, handouts and bailouts while taxing the wages and necessary purchases of the Millions. When banks and corporations pile up huge debts through unlucky speculations, the Rules permit the nationalization of these debts, so that governments can impose austerity and make the ordinary working people pay back the Billionaires’ debts to each others’ banks.
Allies on the Right: the Billionaires have the right to lean on certain Virtual Allies. These include nationalists, religious fanatics, racists, and totalitarian ideologues. The Rules allow these Allies to divide the Billions by misleading them, fanaticising them, terrorizing them, regimenting them, arming them and getting them to fight among themselves over religion and ethnicity, instead of uniting against their true Opponents—the Virtual Billionaires. But these Virtual Allies can prove to be dangerous watchdogs who sometimes turn around and bite their masters. The Rules even allow them to take power and dominate the Billionaires.
Allies on the Left: The Rules grant the Virtual Billionaires the right to other, more docile allies on the Left: Socialists, Communists, Laborites, Liberals, Democrats and business-union leaders. In times of crisis the Billionaires can depend on these false friends of the Millions to take over and demobilize popular movements that question its domination. Their job is to divert the outraged Millions into harmless channels like elections and labor-contract negotiations. Thanks to the two-party system, when the Right in power becomes truly unpopular, the Billionaires have the right to put the Left into power, the better to make the Virtual Millions swallow the “reforms” that Virtual Capital needs to promote its interests.
Drugs: The Rules entitle the Virtual Billionaires to profit from the manufacture and sale of drugs to the Billions as medical treatment and as an escape from their stress, their poverty, their despair. They may also profit from alcohol, nicotine, Valium, Prozac, and pain-killers (all sold legally) as well as contraband drugs like cocaine and heroin – the new “opium of the people.” Addicted workers skimp on food to pay for cigarettes, alcohol, hard drugs. The lucrative profits from illegal drugs, suitably laundered, enter the banking system as new capital to buoy up sagging capital markets. The War on Drugs also serves as pretext for police and military repression in producer countries. Powerful murderous drug cartels may also interpenetrate with police and armed so as to increase fear and isolate social movements.
In the virtual cities, drug trafficking introduces the war of all against all into oppressed communities, breaking ties of solidarity and collective resistance. This do-it-yourself genocide in the ghettos turns out to be more economical than either social reform or riot control.
Patriarchy. The Rule of Patriarchy entitles capitalists to purchase female wage labor at lower cost and to intimidate women workers. Patriarchy also gives the Billionaires the right to benefit from women’s unpaid labor (subsistance farming, food preparation, childrearing) providing the birth and raising of ever-new surplusses of cheap labor power for the Billionaires. The Rules also entitle the Billionaires to dominate poor, energy-rich lands cheaply via the violence of patriarchal tyrants and thugs, whether feudal, nationalistic, or religious. (See ‘Allies, dangerous’ above).