Elon Musk is a right-wing oligarch building his own Death Star
Nothing he's done at Twitter makes sense unless you recognize it's all about empowering authoritarians and weakening democracy.
You’re smart. So I don’t need to tell you that Elon Musk doesn’t give a shit about “free speech.” Or to be vaguer, he believes in free speech the way Donald Trump believes in “law and order.” It’s a cudgel, not a principle.
As usual, Adam Serwer put it best when he wrote that Elon’s self-declared "free speech absolution” is “mostly code for a high tolerance for bigotry toward particular groups, a smoke screen that obscured an obvious hostility toward any speech that threatened his ability to make money."
But even this delicate dissection of Elon’s free speech charade misses a fundamental point about the billionaire’s intentions — as did the second best piece on Elon’s Twitter adventure, Nilay Patel’s “Welcome to hell, Elon”.
Elon doesn’t give a shit about making money. At least, not with Twitter.
We know because we know exactly what he’d do if he cared about the app’s bottom line. He’d stop tweeting and pick a real CEO, as the site’s users told him he should. Most of the site’s big advertisers would return as soon as they could be sure he was really gone.
And if Elon really cared about all the money he’s losing, he’d sell Twitter.
He recently reported that it’s worth less than half of what he paid for it last year. His share of the losses would give him a tax break larger than he could ever make with the company.
Why wouldn’t he do this if the whole experience has been so “painful” for him, as he recently told the BBC.
But Twitter isn’t a job or an investment. It’s religious struggle.
And the religion is Elonism.
Twitter is Elon’s Death Star. It’s not fully operational — and may never be — but it’s his ultimate weapon in his spiritual quest to destroy “the woke mind virus,” which has become the functional bigot’s way of describing everything he doesn’t like as having cooties. And he’ll do whatever he can with the app to achieve that goal.
Dude isn’t hiding his politics and his affection for (and dependence on) authoritarians around the world. And like those authoritarians he both loves and hates Twitter.
He loves it because it gives him a megaphone that makes him feel important. And he hates it because the old Twitter uniquely offered a way for the rest of us break through the bottleneck that generally exists in media and culture to be important, too. It made every citizen a potential journalist just as much as it made journalists somewhat accountable to citizens.
That clearly wasn’t the plan for a site that started as an SMS chat function for a podcasting platform. But that’s how it worked out.
Now, I explained in John Stoehr’s Editorial Board, Elon’s goal is to empower rightwingers and weaken democracy everywhere – especially in the United States. If you ever wonder what he’s going to do next with Twitter, just remember that.
You could argue that given Tesla dependence on China and desire to grow into India, authoritarianism is ultimately his business plan. But if you believe that, you’ll miss how deeply invested his in his politics.
As Charlie Warzel explained December, “Elon Musk is a far right activist,” and a particularly shitty one at that.
Even his nauseating attempts at humor line up with his fashy goals. He’s either stealing moldy jokes or punching down at democracy or the journalism that enables a functioning democracy. And the point is always that he can get away with it and you’re powerless to make him even care. Like Trump yelling at cameras that his campaign insists stay on him for not showing his crowds.
So I would add for clarity that “Elon Musk is a far right oligarch who is aiming to build a fully operational Death Star.”
Will it work?
Twitter isn’t reality. Never has been. Most of America has no idea that Elon has completely shed his Phoney Stark image to become a less bony Benny Johnson.
That’s good for Elon’s image but bad for his messianic mission.
Yet Twitter is still the closest thing to a hive mind for journalism in the Western World. What happens on that dying site still helps frame reality. That’s why it’s incumbent on those of us paying attention to reject any attempt by the press to discuss Twitter like a normal business or buy into the lie that he gives a shit about free speech.
How should we describe Elon when we talk about him?
Like another fool we talk about too much. The only man on earth who has been caught lying in public more than Elon Musk — another rich divorcee who also runs a social media site that’s also a cheap imitation of the original Twitter.
Because once you start to think of Elon as Silicon Valley’s attempt at replicating Donald Trump, everything he’s doing with Twitter makes sense.
Oh my word, what a great last line!! lol
"Because once you start to think of Elon as a Silicon Valley’s attempt at replicating Donald Trump, everything he’s doing with Twitter makes sense."
It’s all a redux of 2015 when social media became weapons grade propaganda for Russian trolls in the 16 election, except now it’s Elon raising a rw Twitter army to finish the job. The end goal has always been the same: to flood the zone with bs and exhaust any semblance of non authoritarian desires. Be careful about assuming he’s “funny”, we all thought the same thing about Trump and look what happened. It’s not funny, it’s sad, and the sooner we give it less oxygen, the better.