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Musk is becoming a true Caesar The Twitter Files are a weapon of the new authoritarianism

Hail Elon. Credit: Getty


December 7, 2022   7 mins

Is it okay to be authoritarian, as long as it’s in the name of the right moral values? Some “post-liberal’ conservatives would say so. America might have been founded on the liberal separation of church and state, the argument goes, but that’s running out of road. Instead, to save the American polity and way of life, church and state should once again draw together.

But if there’s one lesson we should take from the ongoing spectacle surrounding the Hunter Biden laptop, it’s not the avalanche of claims and counter-claims about censorship or bias, or the sulphurous accusation of stolen elections. It’s that polite proposals about a bit more Christianity in the public square are hopelessly behind the times. All of politics is already post-liberal, and mainstream power has already explicitly embraced a faith-based moral order.

That is: American Church and American State have already ended their three-century separation. And Laptopgate is most significant in what it reveals about the contest now on for a suitable post-liberal political regime: a battle that pits the “human” against something more like a “swarm”.

To recap, shortly before the 2020 election, a laptop was discovered in a computer repair shop which was later verified as belonging to Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Emails and other information were found on the laptop that revealed Biden fils to have been up to some dodgy stuff. The story was broken by the Right-wing New York Post, shortly before the 2020 election. It was swiftly censored on Twitter, where for some time it was impossible even to share the story via direct message.

Now, Elon Musk has released internal Twitter emails from back then to journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss. Last week, Taibbi published a lengthy Twitter thread based on this data, setting out his view of the context and events surrounding Laptopgate. And these confirm the extent to which the Biden laptop story was censored, and how flimsy the pretext was for doing so.

Needless to say, the story has reignited Right-wing grievance. Blake Masters fumed: “Any candidate who explained how Big Tech put its thumb on the scale was called an ‘election denier’ — but the simple truth is that the Hunter Biden laptop censorship put Biden into the White House, full stop”.

What is Elon Musk playing at with this intervention? He has claimed that his aim in buying Twitter was to hold it to public neutrality: that is, to the order governed by liberal proceduralism. But this can’t actually be done, thanks to the digital revolution in which Musk himself is an active, heavyweight player. I doubt Musk is unaware of this. Instead, we should read the Twitter files as an intervention in the bitter contest over the form politics should take after liberalism.

If post-liberal theorists called for a re-convergence between political power and an overt moral framework, they got their wish during the pandemic — in classic Monkey’s Paw style. For Covid-19 did indeed prompt Western governments to bypass liberal norms in the interests of a common good. The twist is that as it turns out, Christian-flavoured conservatism isn’t the only moral matrix in town. Rather, to escalating murmurs of disquiet from liberals on both Left and Right, the moral outlook that reached pandemic-era hegemony was the fusion of progressivism with the interests of technocapital whose core credos make up the now-famous “In this house, we believe…” lawn sign.

We might characterise this as progressive post-liberalism, colloquially known as “wokeism”. Its proponents, like all post-liberals, believe that authoritarian measures are just fine, provided they’re ordered to the right moral priors. Because from a post-liberal perspective, whether progressive or otherwise, some values are so existential that “neutrality” is itself a moral failure: “bothsidesism”.

This re-moralisation of power is chiefly driven by progressives, not conservatives, and constitutes the nuclear core of contemporary “culture wars”. It’s also the backdrop to the Hunter Biden story, and why that story matters beyond American electoral politics. For since 2016, Twitter has emerged as one of the most powerful digital-era mechanisms for elite consensus-formation, with a reach well beyond the United States.

Twitter leaders have justified this role with a claim to liberal neutrality — even as it has grown increasingly clear that content moderation decisions taken by the platform’s employees in fact skewed progressive post-liberal. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that the younger graduates who flock to the tech sector skew progressive — especially the graduate women who, in that sector, cluster in non-coding roles (such as, for example, content moderation). But when a platform that serves in effect as public square is governed according to an overt moral framework, what you have is something like a soft theocracy.

So is Elon just trying to end this theocracy, purge the bad actors, and make Twitter into a liberal neutral space again? Perhaps. But I think it likely he knows how futile such an attempt would be. For there’s no putting the post-liberal genie back in the bottle: it is to a great extent an effect of our transition from print to digital, a profound shift that makes key liberal ideas increasingly untenable.

For example, some censorship is an inevitability in the digital era. At the same time, the digital public square undermines trust in institutional authority — and also objectivity as such. It hollows out localism, attenuating electoral politics and virtualising “communities”, which in turn compromises: “losers’ consent”. At the material level, these shifts combine with the brute fact that the post-industrial masses are genuinely less essential to the functioning of the overall economy than industrial workers, meaning their voice can often safely be ignored.

Taken together, this all suggests that electoral democracy may continue to grow, if not toothless, steadily less toothful. What, then, might emerge in its stead? If the front-runner for the successor moral freamework is progressive post-liberalism, the front-runner for the corresponding post-democratic political system is still undecided. And Musk’s latest contribution to the Hunter Biden story makes most sense understood as an intervention in this contest.

The Biden administration is fond of talking about “democracy” versus “autocracy”, but it might be more accurate to talk about swarmism and Caesarism. Swarmism is a kind of post-democratic democracy: a mutant form of liberal proceduralism, characterised by collective decision-making in which no one is ever individually accountable. Instead, consequential decisions are as far as possible pushed out to supposedly neutral procedures or even machines. When NGO officials whom you can’t vote out of your political ecosystem talk about “our democracy”, they’re talking about swarmism.

Caesarism, on the other hand, looks substantially the same at lower levels. The main difference is that you get named humans in key decision-making roles — complete with human partiality, eccentricity, and occasional fallibility. Twitter was, until recently, a key vector of elite swarmism. And to swarmists, such rule by a named individual, rather than a collective and some committee-generated “guidelines”, is by definition morally wrong. This core assumption oozes, for example, from this report on the takeover, with its empathetic depiction of the anonymous, collegiate collective of sacked Trust and Safety workers sharply contrasted with the autocratic, erratic individual Elon Musk.

Some defenders of Twitter decision-making over the Hunter Biden case point to the fact that the emails reveal no overt demands for censorship from the CIA or any other political agency. But this is the point: swarmism doesn’t work like that. Consensus-formation is mystified and de-personalised at every turn. The Twitter Files are explosive because they afforded a peek under the purportedly neutral swarmist carapace, revealing not just the named individuals involved in steering it but also human fallibility and political affinities.

The Hunter Biden censorship was justified by a claim of “hacking” which (according to a source who spoke to Taibbi) was already understood as nonsense excuse after a few hours. But in true swarmist style, once that policy was agreed “no one had the guts to reverse it”. This is a world in which no one is ever directly responsible for anything — even as the things that no one in particular is responsible for come to be the very nuts and bolts of politics itself.

For example, former Twitter executive Vijaya Gadde, who played a key role in Laptopgate and was reportedly behind the decision to deplatform Donald Trump a few weeks later, was subsequently whisked through the revolving door into a Biden White House advisory gig shaping policy on “disinformation”. As a relatively faceless collective, this committee itself constitutes a kind of swarm. The rules it sets in turn constrain the larger nationwide digital swarm, by setting the parameters for “disinformation”, which is to say the moral hierarchy of the tech-enabled attention politics that has supplanted “freedom of speech”. Thus constrained, then, the digital swarm then coordinates public opinion, and by extension delivers something like the successor to “democracy”: a collective hive-mind whose currents and influencers are often mystified, but which has considerable influence, for example in shaping public policy during Covid.

The Twitter Files are Musk’s Caesarist counterpunch. Their explosive power lies in the insight afforded into how that supposedly neutral, procedural, pre-political swarmist sausage is made. By publicising individual, named actors who operated under the bonnet in a crucial swarmist political stronghold, Musk pulled back the curtain, re-humanising the swarm’s supposedly impersonal manoeuvres.

And viewed close up, this reveals that there’s nothing magical or morally refined about swarm governance at all. Rather, it’s a miasma of petty bureaucrats and petty rules, coordinated by class interests and greeting-card metaphysics, plus some algorithms and a desire to look good. It’s powered by the same backroom deals and self-interest as politics since time immemorial. In its way, it’s just as arbitrary. The only thing that’s different about it is that it pretends to emerge spontaneously.

Meanwhile, the truth is that the alternative isn’t much better. It’s just more human — something made explicit by Musk’s autocratic approach to un-banning deplatformed accounts. Musk is, after all, far from being always a populist: he may have tweeted “Vox populi, vox dei” before reinstating Donald Trump after a Twitter poll, but no such amnesty has been forthcoming for Alex Jones. It’s a fairly explicit statement about what (or rather who) serves as the backstop to vox populi, under digital conditions.

Most of Musk’s Twitter interventions make sense in this light: not as a return to liberal proceduralism, or direct democracy, or even against humans merging with the machine (something Musk seems to be actively championing elsewhere, with Neuralink). Rather, it’s a play to re-normalise accepting a final human arbiter for important decisions — even if in practice that sometimes looks disturbingly autocratic from a liberal perspective.

I’m not cheerleading for Musk as Caesar. Just because I dislike faceless proceduralism doesn’t mean I have much appetite to see political authority gathered into the mercurial hands of a transhumanist billionaire who wants to implant microchips in human brains. But the critical thing to recognise is that none of the post-democratic options are, well, very democratic at all. And short of unplugging the internet, there’s not a great deal we can do about that.

***

Order your copy of UnHerd’s first print edition here


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

I think Musk sees what most rational, decently informed people see – virtually all the institutions have been hijacked by a small group of left-wing ideologues who are completely disconnected from the average person on the street.

Culture, big tech, media, academia, the arts, the bureaucracy, NGOs, finance, to name only a few, are all controlled by people with an identical ideology. This uniformity is dangerous for a healthy democracy – very dangerous.

Musk is simply trying to push back. He’s not a savior, but his non-conformity is desperately needed.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

True, I suppose. But only in the same way that, let’s call it “Big Money”, has hijacked our politicians and public assets. Perhaps it was inevitable but as the article concludes, it’s hard to see a way back from where are.

Ruari McCallion
Ruari McCallion
1 year ago

She made the point about “big money”, eloquently & rather chillingly :

“these shifts combine with the brute fact that the post-industrial masses are genuinely less essential to the functioning of the overall economy than industrial workers, meaning their voice can often safely be ignored.”

Well worth reading the whole lot, IMHO

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

That sentence deserves an asterisk. Their voice can be safely ignored… until they show up at the mansions of the elite with pitchforks and torches, which, if things get bad enough, they eventually will. It would be more accurate to say that their voice can safely be ignored so long as they are physically pacified by other means (bread and games will still work just as well as it did for the Caesars). Julias Caesar was the first to notice this dynamic in the ancient Roman Republic, which had decayed to the point it was more of an oligarchy controlled by ultra-wealthy elites, and he used public anger against the oligarchs to destroy them and replace the corrupt Republic with an arbitrary but slightly less corrupt empire. It bears remembering that an autocrat can be a good or a bad leader. Oligarchy is always bad for everyone except the oligarchs and the nearest servant classes.

Persephone
Persephone
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I’m not sure that they need to fear our pitchforks and torches any more, or if they still do, then it won’t be for much longer. They have robot dogs to shot us all now. The rise of the robot soldier changes that calculation profoundly and robs us of even our last tiny little bit of leverage. Welcome to hell.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Persephone

The problem is those robots are hideously expensive to produce and depend on energy that is produced by a system that is fragile and vulnerable to all manner of sabotage and interference. Furthermore, there is little actual evidence that all this technology creep actually increases the chance of real victory. We all just witnessed the most powerful military the world has ever seen spend twenty years trying and failing to destroy a small group of religious radicals (the Taliban) armed with not much more than AK-47s, surely the modern equivalent of pitchforks and torches. Modern post WWI militaries centered around high degrees of specialization, a combined arms approach, expensive technology platforms, and force multiplication are great at fighting other large, organized, armies, but much less suited to fighting asymmetric warfare. Trying to use modern militaries to fight small groups of disorganized rebels who pick soft targets, cause as much damage as possible, and then simply retreat and blend into local populations is like trying to use a sledgehammer to kill mosquitoes. I believe they do fear the pitchforks and torches. Their reaction to Donald Trump in general and Jan 6th in particular suggests they fear domestic insurrection far more than they fear any other threat. Their fear is justified.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

The Chinese version of Boston Dynamics’ famous Spot (the dog robot) is well under 20k, retail.

That’s why local government’s bought them to police the streets in places like China, or the parks and open spaces of Singapore.

The escalation curve on the sophistication of what companies like BD are producing is just insane, their humanoid robot is seriously sophisticated. And anything they can make, the Chinese can steal and bootleg for less.

:/

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

The Chinese version of Boston Dynamics’ famous Spot (the dog robot) is well under 20k, retail.

That’s why local government’s bought them to police the streets in places like China, or the parks and open spaces of Singapore.

The escalation curve on the sophistication of what companies like BD are producing is just insane, their humanoid robot is seriously sophisticated. And anything they can make, the Chinese can steal and bootleg for less.

:/

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Persephone

Interesting point but I think you are missing the level of treachery and sabotage that nerdy subversives can bring to the table.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Persephone

The problem is those robots are hideously expensive to produce and depend on energy that is produced by a system that is fragile and vulnerable to all manner of sabotage and interference. Furthermore, there is little actual evidence that all this technology creep actually increases the chance of real victory. We all just witnessed the most powerful military the world has ever seen spend twenty years trying and failing to destroy a small group of religious radicals (the Taliban) armed with not much more than AK-47s, surely the modern equivalent of pitchforks and torches. Modern post WWI militaries centered around high degrees of specialization, a combined arms approach, expensive technology platforms, and force multiplication are great at fighting other large, organized, armies, but much less suited to fighting asymmetric warfare. Trying to use modern militaries to fight small groups of disorganized rebels who pick soft targets, cause as much damage as possible, and then simply retreat and blend into local populations is like trying to use a sledgehammer to kill mosquitoes. I believe they do fear the pitchforks and torches. Their reaction to Donald Trump in general and Jan 6th in particular suggests they fear domestic insurrection far more than they fear any other threat. Their fear is justified.

Kat L
Kat L
1 year ago
Reply to  Persephone

Interesting point but I think you are missing the level of treachery and sabotage that nerdy subversives can bring to the table.

M G
M G
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Indeed. And that’s the reason, I think, the author fails to drive her acutely insightful analysis to its logical conclusion in the last paragraph. What Musk represents is not “Caesarism” but a “swarm” that has “caesaristic” propensities. In other words, in this post-liberal political space that the author describes, the battle is between the swarm of the “small and the many” and the swarm of the “large and the few”. The reason why the latter matters is because it is truly transnational in nature – just like it’s antagonistic counterpart and because it controls most of the resources that allows the constituents of its antagonistic swarm to exist.

No, Musk is no saviour. He is the vanguard of a post-liberal theocracy of morality that is, while technophilic in its presentation, is also anachronistically Puranitical.

Chris Mackay
Chris Mackay
1 year ago
Reply to  M G

Also, The following is plain nonsense – “For example, some censorship is an inevitability in the digital era”. There is no such thing as too big to fail or too powerful to fight against (France; Russia: Chile; Spain etc.) as corruption has its own inevitability of failure. As Musk is showing the way.

Chris Mackay
Chris Mackay
1 year ago
Reply to  M G

Also, The following is plain nonsense – “For example, some censorship is an inevitability in the digital era”. There is no such thing as too big to fail or too powerful to fight against (France; Russia: Chile; Spain etc.) as corruption has its own inevitability of failure. As Musk is showing the way.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

“Oligarchy is always bad for everyone except the oligarchs and the nearest servant classes”.

Plato would disagree of course! The idea of political democracy was an anathema for 2 millennia in the West and as far as I know, unknown anywhere else in the world at any time. The Athenian democracy did not last; perhaps the specific conditions which made a kind of representative democracy and some real measure of power for ordinary people, albeit largely mediated through large class-based political parties, are now passing.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Persephone
Persephone
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I’m not sure that they need to fear our pitchforks and torches any more, or if they still do, then it won’t be for much longer. They have robot dogs to shot us all now. The rise of the robot soldier changes that calculation profoundly and robs us of even our last tiny little bit of leverage. Welcome to hell.

M G
M G
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Indeed. And that’s the reason, I think, the author fails to drive her acutely insightful analysis to its logical conclusion in the last paragraph. What Musk represents is not “Caesarism” but a “swarm” that has “caesaristic” propensities. In other words, in this post-liberal political space that the author describes, the battle is between the swarm of the “small and the many” and the swarm of the “large and the few”. The reason why the latter matters is because it is truly transnational in nature – just like it’s antagonistic counterpart and because it controls most of the resources that allows the constituents of its antagonistic swarm to exist.

No, Musk is no saviour. He is the vanguard of a post-liberal theocracy of morality that is, while technophilic in its presentation, is also anachronistically Puranitical.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

“Oligarchy is always bad for everyone except the oligarchs and the nearest servant classes”.

Plato would disagree of course! The idea of political democracy was an anathema for 2 millennia in the West and as far as I know, unknown anywhere else in the world at any time. The Athenian democracy did not last; perhaps the specific conditions which made a kind of representative democracy and some real measure of power for ordinary people, albeit largely mediated through large class-based political parties, are now passing.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago

She “rather eloquently” spouted a load of utter claptrap imo.

Would you classify Dutch farmers as post-industrial masses, and do you think they can “safely be ignored”? Canadian truckers?

Mary Thomas
Mary Thomas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Sullivan

Think of the Yellow Vests too

Mary Thomas
Mary Thomas
1 year ago
Reply to  John Sullivan

Think of the Yellow Vests too

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

That sentence deserves an asterisk. Their voice can be safely ignored… until they show up at the mansions of the elite with pitchforks and torches, which, if things get bad enough, they eventually will. It would be more accurate to say that their voice can safely be ignored so long as they are physically pacified by other means (bread and games will still work just as well as it did for the Caesars). Julias Caesar was the first to notice this dynamic in the ancient Roman Republic, which had decayed to the point it was more of an oligarchy controlled by ultra-wealthy elites, and he used public anger against the oligarchs to destroy them and replace the corrupt Republic with an arbitrary but slightly less corrupt empire. It bears remembering that an autocrat can be a good or a bad leader. Oligarchy is always bad for everyone except the oligarchs and the nearest servant classes.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago

She “rather eloquently” spouted a load of utter claptrap imo.

Would you classify Dutch farmers as post-industrial masses, and do you think they can “safely be ignored”? Canadian truckers?

Ruari McCallion
Ruari McCallion
1 year ago

She made the point about “big money”, eloquently & rather chillingly :

“these shifts combine with the brute fact that the post-industrial masses are genuinely less essential to the functioning of the overall economy than industrial workers, meaning their voice can often safely be ignored.”

Well worth reading the whole lot, IMHO

David Harris
David Harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

So basically I’m f…d, you’re f…d, they’re f…d. We’re all f…d.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

A good sign is that Musk certainly has his faults and his shortcomings, but he is not driven by money in and of itself i.e. only what the money can do to pay for his goals.
His goals are success in the pursuit of new ideas to save humanity. Now that sounds dubious coming from a billionaire – after all they all mouth their high-minded soundbites, but he truly is extraordinary – he doesn’t buy luxury properties and his biggest luxury is his jet which he uses in the main to work extraordinary hours.
Another thing is that he is on the spectrum and has admitted to Aspergers – that means you get lots of unfiltered comments, but oh so much less manipulation and fewer lies.

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago

Musk is a CIA Creation who is only in business because of CIA support.
He has never made a nickel from his incredible exploding cars that pollute more, not less than ICE cars.
The whole thing is just drama, with all the flunkies he fired, the head of the censors, who banned Trump is still a member in good standing of the Twitter organization.
I never posted there or on Facebook, I saw them coming.

Stephen Gill
Stephen Gill
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

FACTs: Electric vehicles typically have a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline cars, even when accounting for the electricity used for charging.
Electric car batteries will not end up in landfill sites – they are too valuable for that. Today, the batteries often get a new life in the power system to support the phasing in of wind and sun power. After that it will pay to recycle them because they contain valuable materials.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51977625

Jim Stanton
Jim Stanton
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Gill

This is simply not true and referencing a site by a State owned media outlet should tell you everything you need to know.

Paul Boizot
Paul Boizot
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Stanton

Portugal beat Switzerland 6-1 in the World Cup – or maybe not, as I read it on the BBC – https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/63789753

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Boizot
Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Boizot

Wouldn’t know – not really interested. However, I would fact check everything the BBC says these days.

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Boizot

Wouldn’t know – not really interested. However, I would fact check everything the BBC says these days.

Paul Boizot
Paul Boizot
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Stanton

Portugal beat Switzerland 6-1 in the World Cup – or maybe not, as I read it on the BBC – https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/63789753

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul Boizot
Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Gill

EVs contain 5x more copper than petrol-powered vehicles. That fact alone should give you pause for thought. How much carbon is emitted in the mining, refining, shipping and manufacturing of all that copper?

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago

I’m glad you’re so concerned about the environment, personally I don’t really care, I just think my EV(not a Tesla) is a better car, its a pleasure to drive and has lower running costs
worrying about copper is a new one, usually is something about Lithium or Cobalt maybe

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago

I’m glad you’re so concerned about the environment, personally I don’t really care, I just think my EV(not a Tesla) is a better car, its a pleasure to drive and has lower running costs
worrying about copper is a new one, usually is something about Lithium or Cobalt maybe

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Gill

“Facts” lol.

Sure they are.

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Gill

What is a car’s “carbon footprint”?

Jim Stanton
Jim Stanton
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Gill

This is simply not true and referencing a site by a State owned media outlet should tell you everything you need to know.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Gill

EVs contain 5x more copper than petrol-powered vehicles. That fact alone should give you pause for thought. How much carbon is emitted in the mining, refining, shipping and manufacturing of all that copper?

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Gill

“Facts” lol.

Sure they are.

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Gill

What is a car’s “carbon footprint”?

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

Tesla has made a profit, Musk has foolishly invested billions of his Tesla shares in Twitter, dumb move IMO, I don’t understand the Worlds obsession with Twitter
SpaceX makes very large profits, Starlink will make huge profits
He’s not a creation of the CIA. He got lucky in the dotcom boom, made aprox 150million and used the ,money to start SpaceX and Tesla. when he stared SpaceX and Tesla, there were other start ups in the same areas, most failed, for example the only reason Blue Origin still exist is because Bezos is willing be spend $1 billion a year keeping it going

Persephone
Persephone
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

100%

Stephen Gill
Stephen Gill
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

FACTs: Electric vehicles typically have a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline cars, even when accounting for the electricity used for charging.
Electric car batteries will not end up in landfill sites – they are too valuable for that. Today, the batteries often get a new life in the power system to support the phasing in of wind and sun power. After that it will pay to recycle them because they contain valuable materials.
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-51977625

D Walsh
D Walsh
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

Tesla has made a profit, Musk has foolishly invested billions of his Tesla shares in Twitter, dumb move IMO, I don’t understand the Worlds obsession with Twitter
SpaceX makes very large profits, Starlink will make huge profits
He’s not a creation of the CIA. He got lucky in the dotcom boom, made aprox 150million and used the ,money to start SpaceX and Tesla. when he stared SpaceX and Tesla, there were other start ups in the same areas, most failed, for example the only reason Blue Origin still exist is because Bezos is willing be spend $1 billion a year keeping it going

Persephone
Persephone
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

100%

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago

That’s it. Aspies are nothing if not honest. If only there were more of them in politics, and fewer psychopaths.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

Presumably Guardsman 33 Joy, you are one yourself?

James P
James P
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

I worked for an aspie engineer once. His relationship to the truth was tenuous at best.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

Presumably Guardsman 33 Joy, you are one yourself?

James P
James P
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

I worked for an aspie engineer once. His relationship to the truth was tenuous at best.

Richard Webster
Richard Webster
1 year ago

‘………..but oh so much less manipulation and fewer lies.”
You must be joking.He’s manipulator and liar in chief, up there with Donald Trump.A high achieving snake oil salesman…….namely, at actually selling snake oil to members of the gullible cult which follows him.
All his so called “achievements” are down to the actual originators, creators and developers of innovative technologies which he has managed to wangle his manipulative way into control of.Nothing is down to him apart from a constant flow of lies and a successful skill in always getting himself secured in the forefront of the media’s attention.
Really a case of “Caesar” has no clothes or more accurately the “Wizard of Oz”.
Hope he fails and falls to earth and out of our consciousness.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

Speaking as someone with Asperger’s, it isn’t that we’re incapable of lying, but we struggle to do it credibly as we struggle with most social situations. Speaking personally, I’m just as capable of deception as anyone else, probably better than most, but I almost never lie. Because social situations, and conversation in general, is something of a performance for me, I can simply carefully choose what to say and what to leave unsaid, like an actor in an improv sketch, in order to steer the conversation, and people never suspect anything because, as I said, I almost never lie. Crafting a public persona is a bit trickier but the impersonal nature of the internet helps. If Musk is similar to myself, then his entire public persona is likely a carefully constructed fiction created to serve his purpose, whatever that might be. Asperger’s makes me doubt his public persona more than I would an average person, because anyone with Asperger’s who becomes successful in a position with extensive public interaction like Elon must necessarily be excellent at what we call ‘faking normal’ and that entails, by necessity, a considerable amount of deception. Even the decision to reveal he has Asperger’s was probably calculated because autism is now widely known and tends to generate sympathy rather than fear/anger/etc. as opposed to say… schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, which may generate sympathy but also fear, which is rarely helpful. That’s a small sample as to the Machiavellian machinations that the Asperger’s mind is capable of, and it just came to me off the top of my head. I wouldn’t get in the habit of trusting people with Asperger’s or any other form of autism further than anyone else.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Jolly
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Hmm… interesting. I’m enjoying your posts Steve, and couldn’t care less about whether you have Asperger’s or not, but if you have, that’s a useful insight.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Thanks. I don’t expect you to take my word for it of course, but I don’t particularly use the types of deception I describe often anymore, nor do I particularly enjoy them. These days I prefer to just avoid group socialization entirely. I can easily imagine the tactics to build a public persona, and could probably do it if I wanted to and make it seem like basically anyone you could name, but I’m lazy and have no compelling reason to go to the trouble. Elon pretty clearly is not lazy and because he is on the spectrum, I doubt he would put forth so much effort into his public front if he didn’t have a pretty serious purpose behind it. I am unsure what his agenda is, but I’m nearly certain he must have one. It may be as simple as that it’s something that fascinates and entertains him personally (many aspies get hung up on odd hobbies or fixate on subjects), or it could be something he has deemed necessary to build and keep his fortune, but then again, it could also be almost anything else. We aspies do not lie well, but we possess a natural advantage in keeping all manner of secrets.

Laura Kelly
Laura Kelly
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I’m a diagnosed aspie, and I can lie quite well if I have a moment to think about it. What I’m completely unable to do is to lie spontaneously, without thinking, which is something normies seem to be excellent at from the cradle.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Laura Kelly

Well, I sometimes can and sometimes can’t. My attempts have yielded somewhat inconsistent results, so I avoid lying. As you point out, time is a critical element. I can do most social things if the environment is relaxed and comfortable enough and I’m not rushed or stressed or distracted in some way. I can appear almost normal if I care to. I can fake normal for a few interactions but I doubt I could successfully fool someone who was around me every day for more than about two weeks. In a hectic situation or under stress, I will clam up and say exactly as much as minimally necessary and no more, and I don’t handle stress well, which is where the majority of my problems reside. I avoid lying directly because I’ve been told I am bad at it, and I have zero idea how to assess my own believability. Other aspies are different, hence I cautioned the original comment about assuming things regarding our honesty. As you say, compulsive and instinctive lying is totally alien to me as well.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Laura Kelly

Well, I sometimes can and sometimes can’t. My attempts have yielded somewhat inconsistent results, so I avoid lying. As you point out, time is a critical element. I can do most social things if the environment is relaxed and comfortable enough and I’m not rushed or stressed or distracted in some way. I can appear almost normal if I care to. I can fake normal for a few interactions but I doubt I could successfully fool someone who was around me every day for more than about two weeks. In a hectic situation or under stress, I will clam up and say exactly as much as minimally necessary and no more, and I don’t handle stress well, which is where the majority of my problems reside. I avoid lying directly because I’ve been told I am bad at it, and I have zero idea how to assess my own believability. Other aspies are different, hence I cautioned the original comment about assuming things regarding our honesty. As you say, compulsive and instinctive lying is totally alien to me as well.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Jolly
Laura Kelly
Laura Kelly
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

I’m a diagnosed aspie, and I can lie quite well if I have a moment to think about it. What I’m completely unable to do is to lie spontaneously, without thinking, which is something normies seem to be excellent at from the cradle.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Thanks. I don’t expect you to take my word for it of course, but I don’t particularly use the types of deception I describe often anymore, nor do I particularly enjoy them. These days I prefer to just avoid group socialization entirely. I can easily imagine the tactics to build a public persona, and could probably do it if I wanted to and make it seem like basically anyone you could name, but I’m lazy and have no compelling reason to go to the trouble. Elon pretty clearly is not lazy and because he is on the spectrum, I doubt he would put forth so much effort into his public front if he didn’t have a pretty serious purpose behind it. I am unsure what his agenda is, but I’m nearly certain he must have one. It may be as simple as that it’s something that fascinates and entertains him personally (many aspies get hung up on odd hobbies or fixate on subjects), or it could be something he has deemed necessary to build and keep his fortune, but then again, it could also be almost anything else. We aspies do not lie well, but we possess a natural advantage in keeping all manner of secrets.

Alvaro 6
Alvaro 6
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

“autism is now widely known and tends to generate sympathy” and, as shown here, trust!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Hmm… interesting. I’m enjoying your posts Steve, and couldn’t care less about whether you have Asperger’s or not, but if you have, that’s a useful insight.

Alvaro 6
Alvaro 6
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

“autism is now widely known and tends to generate sympathy” and, as shown here, trust!

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
1 year ago

It may be that people in general prefer an autocratic individual to an autocratic faceless committee. The first is something people believe they have a chance of understanding and, perhaps, influencing; the latter is perceived as an impersonal threat. They may both be threats, but the latter, I think, seems worse to most.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Erik Hildinger

I’ll take that a step further. An individual can be friend or foe, ally or enemy. A faceless bureaucracy on the other hand, has been an enemy to most of humanity for most of history, a necessary evil at best and an oppressive apparatus of control at worse. Also, it is exceedingly hard to pin down and exact any punishment or accountability from that sort of enemy. This is collectivism’s most nefarious trait. It allows individuals to dodge accountability by diluting the blame among several, perhaps many hundreds or even thousands of people, like, for example, a multinational corporation.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Erik Hildinger

I’ll take that a step further. An individual can be friend or foe, ally or enemy. A faceless bureaucracy on the other hand, has been an enemy to most of humanity for most of history, a necessary evil at best and an oppressive apparatus of control at worse. Also, it is exceedingly hard to pin down and exact any punishment or accountability from that sort of enemy. This is collectivism’s most nefarious trait. It allows individuals to dodge accountability by diluting the blame among several, perhaps many hundreds or even thousands of people, like, for example, a multinational corporation.

Alvaro 6
Alvaro 6
1 year ago

Successful high-functioning Aspergers individuals learn to “act normal” to get by in the world. Let me say that again. “Learn to act”. Specially in fields like entrepreneurship and politics, impeccable performance of a character is a must.

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago

Musk is a CIA Creation who is only in business because of CIA support.
He has never made a nickel from his incredible exploding cars that pollute more, not less than ICE cars.
The whole thing is just drama, with all the flunkies he fired, the head of the censors, who banned Trump is still a member in good standing of the Twitter organization.
I never posted there or on Facebook, I saw them coming.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
1 year ago

That’s it. Aspies are nothing if not honest. If only there were more of them in politics, and fewer psychopaths.

Richard Webster
Richard Webster
1 year ago

‘………..but oh so much less manipulation and fewer lies.”
You must be joking.He’s manipulator and liar in chief, up there with Donald Trump.A high achieving snake oil salesman…….namely, at actually selling snake oil to members of the gullible cult which follows him.
All his so called “achievements” are down to the actual originators, creators and developers of innovative technologies which he has managed to wangle his manipulative way into control of.Nothing is down to him apart from a constant flow of lies and a successful skill in always getting himself secured in the forefront of the media’s attention.
Really a case of “Caesar” has no clothes or more accurately the “Wizard of Oz”.
Hope he fails and falls to earth and out of our consciousness.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

Speaking as someone with Asperger’s, it isn’t that we’re incapable of lying, but we struggle to do it credibly as we struggle with most social situations. Speaking personally, I’m just as capable of deception as anyone else, probably better than most, but I almost never lie. Because social situations, and conversation in general, is something of a performance for me, I can simply carefully choose what to say and what to leave unsaid, like an actor in an improv sketch, in order to steer the conversation, and people never suspect anything because, as I said, I almost never lie. Crafting a public persona is a bit trickier but the impersonal nature of the internet helps. If Musk is similar to myself, then his entire public persona is likely a carefully constructed fiction created to serve his purpose, whatever that might be. Asperger’s makes me doubt his public persona more than I would an average person, because anyone with Asperger’s who becomes successful in a position with extensive public interaction like Elon must necessarily be excellent at what we call ‘faking normal’ and that entails, by necessity, a considerable amount of deception. Even the decision to reveal he has Asperger’s was probably calculated because autism is now widely known and tends to generate sympathy rather than fear/anger/etc. as opposed to say… schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, which may generate sympathy but also fear, which is rarely helpful. That’s a small sample as to the Machiavellian machinations that the Asperger’s mind is capable of, and it just came to me off the top of my head. I wouldn’t get in the habit of trusting people with Asperger’s or any other form of autism further than anyone else.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Jolly
Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
1 year ago

It may be that people in general prefer an autocratic individual to an autocratic faceless committee. The first is something people believe they have a chance of understanding and, perhaps, influencing; the latter is perceived as an impersonal threat. They may both be threats, but the latter, I think, seems worse to most.

Alvaro 6
Alvaro 6
1 year ago

Successful high-functioning Aspergers individuals learn to “act normal” to get by in the world. Let me say that again. “Learn to act”. Specially in fields like entrepreneurship and politics, impeccable performance of a character is a must.

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

All of this, including the article, is just silly.
Musk is Klaus Schwab’s boy all the way.
WEF Young Leader 2008 Musk is an advocate for the Death Jab, transgenders, and China
Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

Who is the hero: Brutus or Ceasar? All college kids answer “Brutus.” The difference is that, now days, so do their professors. The spectacle of human greatness, virtuosity on the political stage, is to be feared only. The word “authoritarianism” wrongly assumes that there is no such thing as authority. “For to live in a political realm with neither authority nor the concomitant awareness that the source of authority transcends power and those who are in power, means to be confronted anew, without the religious trust in a sacred beginning and without the protection of traditional and therefore self-evident standards of behavior, by the elementary problems of human living together.”

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

‘Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss.’

Who might you be referring to?

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

Interesting that you spell your christian name starting with a lowercase j. Very telling!

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

Who is the hero: Brutus or Ceasar? All college kids answer “Brutus.” The difference is that, now days, so do their professors. The spectacle of human greatness, virtuosity on the political stage, is to be feared only. The word “authoritarianism” wrongly assumes that there is no such thing as authority. “For to live in a political realm with neither authority nor the concomitant awareness that the source of authority transcends power and those who are in power, means to be confronted anew, without the religious trust in a sacred beginning and without the protection of traditional and therefore self-evident standards of behavior, by the elementary problems of human living together.”

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

‘Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss.’

Who might you be referring to?

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
1 year ago
Reply to  john O'Neal

Interesting that you spell your christian name starting with a lowercase j. Very telling!

George Venning
George Venning
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The people who set this agenda may be uniform in their thinking but leftists they are not.

Rather they appear to be no more than desperate supporters of the Democratic party and that, only insofar as it provides a bulwark against the Republican party.

Consider the following examples of orthodox opinions:

Bernie Sanders appeals only to white men
War in Ukraine must be pursued at all costs
No significant changes can be made to the US healthcare system
Student debt relief must be limited and pursued in a manner that is weirdly vulnerable to legal challenge
Hunter Biden’s laptop could be Russian misinformation (even now that we know it wasn’t)
Hillary Clinton’s strategy of discrediting Bernie Sanders should be ignored because (whilst genuine) it stemmed from a hack of the DMC servers which might have been carried out by the Russians (it wasn’t)

These opions have a flavour to them but it isn’t leftist…

Jon Frum
Jon Frum
1 year ago
Reply to  George Venning

Bernie bro.

Persephone
Persephone
1 year ago
Reply to  George Venning

Bernie’s supporters were disproportionately women of colour. The misogynistic, white Bernie bro was just one of Hillary’s slanders against him.

Jon Frum
Jon Frum
1 year ago
Reply to  George Venning

Bernie bro.

Persephone
Persephone
1 year ago
Reply to  George Venning

Bernie’s supporters were disproportionately women of colour. The misogynistic, white Bernie bro was just one of Hillary’s slanders against him.

Richard Webster
Richard Webster
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You provide a clichéd list backed by no factual evidence or arguments.Truly pathetic.If you want to make a real case then back it with provable facts, rather than slew out the usual culture war, lefty elite usual suspects conspiracy sludge, which amounts to nothing but bla bla.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

I think if he was to provide facts then the list would crowd out room for other comments.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

I think if he was to provide facts then the list would crowd out room for other comments.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Mary Harrington reminds me of the Wicked Witch of the West skywriting “Surrender Dorothy” above the Emerald City in the Movie “The Wizard of Oz.” She says both sides are evil so we should just give up. That’s ridiculous!

For starters, Musk ain’t Caesar. Musk has no army, no political position or power and has made no illegal political move to seize any political power. Musk has come out in favor of freedom of speech, which horifies all socialists, who want us to believe that censorship is inevitable.

I’m sorry, but no matter how many “experts” tell me that internet censorship is inevitable, I ain’t buying it. I spent all of my 45 plus year career in IT. I’m just as much of an “expert” as anybody else. A distributed internet network can be censored politically if you work at it, but it doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be.

The internet was designed to make the cost of information very low, and it has. It has built a path around the traditional gate keepers of information. They resent the hoi poloi having as much say as the “experts” and have moved to shut ordinary people, right wing people, out.

“Monitoring” is expensive. It doesn’t happen automatically. It has to be imposed. It should be fought. People like Musk, Taibbi and Weis who are willing to fight it with words, with free speech, should be applauded.

Last edited 1 year ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Robert Pruger
Robert Pruger
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I surprise myself; Musk may be a Caesar, but he’s the best chance we have to shine a bright light on dark corners, where big tech and government employees were quietly meeting. Transparency leads to accountability, accountability leads to good behaviors. GO MUSK!

Musk didn’t purchase Twitter to increase his net worth. Better ways for him to do that. He appears to have the public interest at heart, that may help us maintain and enhance our constitutional and civil rights. GO MUSK!

Most concerning is that federal employees (elected and unelected), big tech and woke corporations will gun for him. It’s not clear he will be able to withstand the barrage coming his way. But we have no one else to rely to maintain our constitutional and civil rights in a post-liberal society.

If you want an idea what might be a favorable outcome in a post-liberal society, see Freddy Water’s interview with John Mearsheimer. I’m rooting for Musk, from my vantage point, there is no other viable option.

LEON STEPHENS
LEON STEPHENS
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Dangerous for a *healthy* democracy? What “healthy democracy” are you referring to? The only ones in my sightline, which are in Europe and North America, are so rotten that only someone with no sense of smell could be fooled into calling them healthy. But this is a well known syndrome: signalong the dangers to this or that when the catastrophe is already an established fact, unseen because too many heads are stuck in the sand, and too many bums offering themselves to be shafted..

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  LEON STEPHENS

That is why we need Musk.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  LEON STEPHENS

That is why we need Musk.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

…Mary has made an intriguing and original contribution with this article, which articulates a growing awareness many have, that parliamentary democracy is now in charge of b****r-all. And frankly, is unlikely to revive any time soon because the swarm dynamics of proceduralism are being vastly enhanced by technology.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Perhaps he just doesn’t like liars and cheats?

I am absolutely baffled as to why so many here seem to believe the incoherent ramblings of Harrington make the slightest sense. She seems completely incapable of independent thought to me – more like some kind of over-educated robot.

But then I am not American.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I broadly agree with your sentiments, but the depressing news is that these ‘identity post-liberal politics’ are not pushed only by a small group.

Their assumptions and world view are now very deeply embedded, certainly in academia, by most young people, the vast majority of public institutions, HR departments etc.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

True, I suppose. But only in the same way that, let’s call it “Big Money”, has hijacked our politicians and public assets. Perhaps it was inevitable but as the article concludes, it’s hard to see a way back from where are.

David Harris
David Harris
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

So basically I’m f…d, you’re f…d, they’re f…d. We’re all f…d.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

A good sign is that Musk certainly has his faults and his shortcomings, but he is not driven by money in and of itself i.e. only what the money can do to pay for his goals.
His goals are success in the pursuit of new ideas to save humanity. Now that sounds dubious coming from a billionaire – after all they all mouth their high-minded soundbites, but he truly is extraordinary – he doesn’t buy luxury properties and his biggest luxury is his jet which he uses in the main to work extraordinary hours.
Another thing is that he is on the spectrum and has admitted to Aspergers – that means you get lots of unfiltered comments, but oh so much less manipulation and fewer lies.

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

All of this, including the article, is just silly.
Musk is Klaus Schwab’s boy all the way.
WEF Young Leader 2008 Musk is an advocate for the Death Jab, transgenders, and China
Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss.

George Venning
George Venning
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The people who set this agenda may be uniform in their thinking but leftists they are not.

Rather they appear to be no more than desperate supporters of the Democratic party and that, only insofar as it provides a bulwark against the Republican party.

Consider the following examples of orthodox opinions:

Bernie Sanders appeals only to white men
War in Ukraine must be pursued at all costs
No significant changes can be made to the US healthcare system
Student debt relief must be limited and pursued in a manner that is weirdly vulnerable to legal challenge
Hunter Biden’s laptop could be Russian misinformation (even now that we know it wasn’t)
Hillary Clinton’s strategy of discrediting Bernie Sanders should be ignored because (whilst genuine) it stemmed from a hack of the DMC servers which might have been carried out by the Russians (it wasn’t)

These opions have a flavour to them but it isn’t leftist…

Richard Webster
Richard Webster
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You provide a clichéd list backed by no factual evidence or arguments.Truly pathetic.If you want to make a real case then back it with provable facts, rather than slew out the usual culture war, lefty elite usual suspects conspiracy sludge, which amounts to nothing but bla bla.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Mary Harrington reminds me of the Wicked Witch of the West skywriting “Surrender Dorothy” above the Emerald City in the Movie “The Wizard of Oz.” She says both sides are evil so we should just give up. That’s ridiculous!

For starters, Musk ain’t Caesar. Musk has no army, no political position or power and has made no illegal political move to seize any political power. Musk has come out in favor of freedom of speech, which horifies all socialists, who want us to believe that censorship is inevitable.

I’m sorry, but no matter how many “experts” tell me that internet censorship is inevitable, I ain’t buying it. I spent all of my 45 plus year career in IT. I’m just as much of an “expert” as anybody else. A distributed internet network can be censored politically if you work at it, but it doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be.

The internet was designed to make the cost of information very low, and it has. It has built a path around the traditional gate keepers of information. They resent the hoi poloi having as much say as the “experts” and have moved to shut ordinary people, right wing people, out.

“Monitoring” is expensive. It doesn’t happen automatically. It has to be imposed. It should be fought. People like Musk, Taibbi and Weis who are willing to fight it with words, with free speech, should be applauded.

Last edited 1 year ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Robert Pruger
Robert Pruger
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I surprise myself; Musk may be a Caesar, but he’s the best chance we have to shine a bright light on dark corners, where big tech and government employees were quietly meeting. Transparency leads to accountability, accountability leads to good behaviors. GO MUSK!

Musk didn’t purchase Twitter to increase his net worth. Better ways for him to do that. He appears to have the public interest at heart, that may help us maintain and enhance our constitutional and civil rights. GO MUSK!

Most concerning is that federal employees (elected and unelected), big tech and woke corporations will gun for him. It’s not clear he will be able to withstand the barrage coming his way. But we have no one else to rely to maintain our constitutional and civil rights in a post-liberal society.

If you want an idea what might be a favorable outcome in a post-liberal society, see Freddy Water’s interview with John Mearsheimer. I’m rooting for Musk, from my vantage point, there is no other viable option.

LEON STEPHENS
LEON STEPHENS
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Dangerous for a *healthy* democracy? What “healthy democracy” are you referring to? The only ones in my sightline, which are in Europe and North America, are so rotten that only someone with no sense of smell could be fooled into calling them healthy. But this is a well known syndrome: signalong the dangers to this or that when the catastrophe is already an established fact, unseen because too many heads are stuck in the sand, and too many bums offering themselves to be shafted..

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

…Mary has made an intriguing and original contribution with this article, which articulates a growing awareness many have, that parliamentary democracy is now in charge of b****r-all. And frankly, is unlikely to revive any time soon because the swarm dynamics of proceduralism are being vastly enhanced by technology.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Perhaps he just doesn’t like liars and cheats?

I am absolutely baffled as to why so many here seem to believe the incoherent ramblings of Harrington make the slightest sense. She seems completely incapable of independent thought to me – more like some kind of over-educated robot.

But then I am not American.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I broadly agree with your sentiments, but the depressing news is that these ‘identity post-liberal politics’ are not pushed only by a small group.

Their assumptions and world view are now very deeply embedded, certainly in academia, by most young people, the vast majority of public institutions, HR departments etc.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Fisher
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

I think Musk sees what most rational, decently informed people see – virtually all the institutions have been hijacked by a small group of left-wing ideologues who are completely disconnected from the average person on the street.

Culture, big tech, media, academia, the arts, the bureaucracy, NGOs, finance, to name only a few, are all controlled by people with an identical ideology. This uniformity is dangerous for a healthy democracy – very dangerous.

Musk is simply trying to push back. He’s not a savior, but his non-conformity is desperately needed.

Max Price
Max Price
1 year ago

I find all of Mary’s essays really stimulating even if after finishing a lot of them I feel like shooting myself in the head.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

Who needs a compliment like “that dress looks beautiful on you” when you can have “your writing is fabulous…it makes me want to jump off something high”?

Reginald Duquesnoy
Reginald Duquesnoy
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

Be kind to yourself. At least start with the foot…then you can progress step by step.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

We need more of this type of humour on Unherd!

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

We need more of this type of humour on Unherd!

Joann Robertson
Joann Robertson
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

Yes!

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

Who needs a compliment like “that dress looks beautiful on you” when you can have “your writing is fabulous…it makes me want to jump off something high”?

Reginald Duquesnoy
Reginald Duquesnoy
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

Be kind to yourself. At least start with the foot…then you can progress step by step.

Joann Robertson
Joann Robertson
1 year ago
Reply to  Max Price

Yes!

Max Price
Max Price
1 year ago

I find all of Mary’s essays really stimulating even if after finishing a lot of them I feel like shooting myself in the head.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

“And short of unplugging the internet, there’s not a great deal we can do about that.”

But we should do what we can, which is limiting time spent on visual media, media which fractures attention, media which carries content which isn’t well-informed …. and make sure we spend time reading good books, which require concentration over time, where the author has only the quality of his ideas and writing to keep us engaged. Good for the health of your own mind, and a good habit to model to others.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 year ago

A book is a book is a book. For example, the author has written a superb piece (a short “book”), which captivated my interest from first sentence to last. Digital though it is, it qualifies.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Mary’s pieces are excellent, but they’re not books. They’re little bits of writing we consume along with other entirely unrelated bits of writing in the space of an hour. Perhaps if you have a fantastic mind you can sort all the bits into a coherent whole, like a jigsaw puzzle, but most of us can’t.

A good book puts our mind into gear for a long journey where we’ll be following a complex but coherent route. We’ll sink into a deep well of facts, connections, revelations – it’s a richer experience, a different type of concentration and receptiveness.

Last edited 1 year ago by Russell Hamilton
Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
1 year ago

Mary should write a book, it would be a hit!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Agreed. It would help her pen or typing fingers to ‘glean her teeming brain’ whereas at present her brilliant writing is a bit too sprawling or given to breadth at the expense of depth–at times, in my opinion. [Given my prolix and under-focused reply above, I’m afraid I’ll see a bit of hypocrite staring back from the black mirror when I log off and go outside for a while.]

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

Agreed. It would help her pen or typing fingers to ‘glean her teeming brain’ whereas at present her brilliant writing is a bit too sprawling or given to breadth at the expense of depth–at times, in my opinion. [Given my prolix and under-focused reply above, I’m afraid I’ll see a bit of hypocrite staring back from the black mirror when I log off and go outside for a while.]

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
1 year ago

Mary should write a book, it would be a hit!

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Mary’s pieces are excellent, but they’re not books. They’re little bits of writing we consume along with other entirely unrelated bits of writing in the space of an hour. Perhaps if you have a fantastic mind you can sort all the bits into a coherent whole, like a jigsaw puzzle, but most of us can’t.

A good book puts our mind into gear for a long journey where we’ll be following a complex but coherent route. We’ll sink into a deep well of facts, connections, revelations – it’s a richer experience, a different type of concentration and receptiveness.

Last edited 1 year ago by Russell Hamilton
David Ryan
David Ryan
1 year ago

Agree with everything you said Russell. Online media feels like junk food compared to, say, Dostoevsky. And yet here we are.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

I heartily agree with these sentiments and seem to feel better every time I follow this familiar advice.
But I believe it’s a mistake to assume that some post-internet (or at least ‘non-vidiotic’) world would self-resolve into a kinder, saner place once unplugged. To support my armchair argument I’ll just point to pre-computer social and political history as a whole, and in many gruesome particulars we can supply for ourselves.
I would also like to know: When was power openly untethered from any moral framework, religious or not? Even people like Vladimir Lenin or Rodrigo Duterte–not a one-to-one comparison and safely away from the most contentious examples–announce themselves to be champions of decency, fairness, law and order, Christian/Marxist values, manly strength, etc. from time to time, in between showing what they are really about–usually themselves and little more.
Leaders don’t parade their deeper strains of nihilism or moral relativism in public too often. You have to listen to the tapes (Nixon) or hear the odd slip under investigatory pressure: (Clinton: ‘That depends on what your definition of “is” is’).
Harrington has produced another persuasive and insightful piece, but this one is quite uneven, even as a diagnosis that despairs of any healing process. The ‘hive mind’ or groupthink phenomenon here identified as ‘swarmism’ is not new, nor hopelessly entrenched.
Harrington herself stands out from the hive–with a name–and has considerable influence, especially on these comments pages. I find her writing and argumentation to be consistently strong, but not oracular or flawless. This is still UnHerd, not ContrarianHive.com correct?
First Harrington claims that all politics is now post-liberal and therefore religious/moralistic. But again, when was politics ruled by sheer empiricism or unmasked Machiavellian energies? And then she connects the moralizing–not without some justification–to progressives in particular. Is all politics and online discourse therefore progressive now?

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
ormondotvos
ormondotvos
1 year ago

Atlas Shrugged is a “good book”.

Gretchen Carlisle
Gretchen Carlisle
1 year ago

That is exactly the conclusion I came to.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 year ago

A book is a book is a book. For example, the author has written a superb piece (a short “book”), which captivated my interest from first sentence to last. Digital though it is, it qualifies.

David Ryan
David Ryan
1 year ago

Agree with everything you said Russell. Online media feels like junk food compared to, say, Dostoevsky. And yet here we are.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago

I heartily agree with these sentiments and seem to feel better every time I follow this familiar advice.
But I believe it’s a mistake to assume that some post-internet (or at least ‘non-vidiotic’) world would self-resolve into a kinder, saner place once unplugged. To support my armchair argument I’ll just point to pre-computer social and political history as a whole, and in many gruesome particulars we can supply for ourselves.
I would also like to know: When was power openly untethered from any moral framework, religious or not? Even people like Vladimir Lenin or Rodrigo Duterte–not a one-to-one comparison and safely away from the most contentious examples–announce themselves to be champions of decency, fairness, law and order, Christian/Marxist values, manly strength, etc. from time to time, in between showing what they are really about–usually themselves and little more.
Leaders don’t parade their deeper strains of nihilism or moral relativism in public too often. You have to listen to the tapes (Nixon) or hear the odd slip under investigatory pressure: (Clinton: ‘That depends on what your definition of “is” is’).
Harrington has produced another persuasive and insightful piece, but this one is quite uneven, even as a diagnosis that despairs of any healing process. The ‘hive mind’ or groupthink phenomenon here identified as ‘swarmism’ is not new, nor hopelessly entrenched.
Harrington herself stands out from the hive–with a name–and has considerable influence, especially on these comments pages. I find her writing and argumentation to be consistently strong, but not oracular or flawless. This is still UnHerd, not ContrarianHive.com correct?
First Harrington claims that all politics is now post-liberal and therefore religious/moralistic. But again, when was politics ruled by sheer empiricism or unmasked Machiavellian energies? And then she connects the moralizing–not without some justification–to progressives in particular. Is all politics and online discourse therefore progressive now?

Last edited 1 year ago by AJ Mac
ormondotvos
ormondotvos
1 year ago

Atlas Shrugged is a “good book”.

Gretchen Carlisle
Gretchen Carlisle
1 year ago

That is exactly the conclusion I came to.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

“And short of unplugging the internet, there’s not a great deal we can do about that.”

But we should do what we can, which is limiting time spent on visual media, media which fractures attention, media which carries content which isn’t well-informed …. and make sure we spend time reading good books, which require concentration over time, where the author has only the quality of his ideas and writing to keep us engaged. Good for the health of your own mind, and a good habit to model to others.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

Swarmism is oligarchy. Except that swarmism pretends to be just a bunch of nice educated women trying to keep us safe — instead of a totalitarian power play combining woke religion and big government domination. With regime thugs like James Baker telling people “nice little job you got there, pity if something should happen to it.”

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
1 year ago

The good news is that James Baker has just been sacked. The bad news is that there’s no shortage of influential people who will still employ him.

Last edited 1 year ago by Derek Smith
Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

The bad news is that James Baker walks free.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

Along with the sabateurs in the FBI.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

Along with the sabateurs in the FBI.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

The bad news is that James Baker walks free.

john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago

Klaus Schwab did not make Musk WEF Young Leader 2008 to save freedom, and it’s not why the CIA funds Tesla.
It’s all about the Totalitarian NWO.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

I’ve often read about pre-modern cultures that were ruled by consensus. I always wondered what, exactly, that meant. Now I’m beginning to see that Mary’s “swarmism” (sans internet) is what they meant.
While it sounds so awfully nice I can’t help but think that the Salem witchcraft executions were the result of just that kind of hive mind. And the early Christian iconoclasts who destroyed so much ancient art and writing. Or certain aspects of the Crusades.
Behind each hive there’s a leader or leaders. And in the wake of each hive there are often rich pickings for the oligarchs.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
1 year ago

The good news is that James Baker has just been sacked. The bad news is that there’s no shortage of influential people who will still employ him.

Last edited 1 year ago by Derek Smith
john O'Neal
john O'Neal
1 year ago

Klaus Schwab did not make Musk WEF Young Leader 2008 to save freedom, and it’s not why the CIA funds Tesla.
It’s all about the Totalitarian NWO.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

I’ve often read about pre-modern cultures that were ruled by consensus. I always wondered what, exactly, that meant. Now I’m beginning to see that Mary’s “swarmism” (sans internet) is what they meant.
While it sounds so awfully nice I can’t help but think that the Salem witchcraft executions were the result of just that kind of hive mind. And the early Christian iconoclasts who destroyed so much ancient art and writing. Or certain aspects of the Crusades.
Behind each hive there’s a leader or leaders. And in the wake of each hive there are often rich pickings for the oligarchs.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

Swarmism is oligarchy. Except that swarmism pretends to be just a bunch of nice educated women trying to keep us safe — instead of a totalitarian power play combining woke religion and big government domination. With regime thugs like James Baker telling people “nice little job you got there, pity if something should happen to it.”

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

This is over-intellectualised. What it comes down to is a bunch of bossy-boots, many of them young women, censoring news and comment because they can, they think they are entitled to and they think they know best.
And can we please drop the meaningless phrase ‘post-liberal’ which, so far as I can see, adds no value to any sentence in which it appears.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

…Malcom, that exactly right, but the problem is, that “The Narrative” driving Swarm behavior, is intellectualized, and unless it’s also addressed at that level, your commonsense language is not at all in “common” with the language of the Swarmettes, and is too easily deflected as ignorant misogyny. Quite frankly Mary Harrington is one of the few people able to constructively critique the unintended/undiscussed consequences of feminine ascendency. Brave of her I must say.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Those of us who speak plainly are always in danger of being dismissed as ignorant or misogynist, or transphobe or what have you. I blank this out, content to wait patiently until someone addresses my argument.
But I do like Mary’s pieces and learn from them.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

….Well Malcolm, it looks like your waiting will remain of the the Godot variety.
No one’s addressing ‘your argument’ because the language you deploy is no longer participatory, and the language you deplore, is what the philosophical battle is being fought with.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

….Well Malcolm, it looks like your waiting will remain of the the Godot variety.
No one’s addressing ‘your argument’ because the language you deploy is no longer participatory, and the language you deplore, is what the philosophical battle is being fought with.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Those of us who speak plainly are always in danger of being dismissed as ignorant or misogynist, or transphobe or what have you. I blank this out, content to wait patiently until someone addresses my argument.
But I do like Mary’s pieces and learn from them.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

…Malcom, that exactly right, but the problem is, that “The Narrative” driving Swarm behavior, is intellectualized, and unless it’s also addressed at that level, your commonsense language is not at all in “common” with the language of the Swarmettes, and is too easily deflected as ignorant misogyny. Quite frankly Mary Harrington is one of the few people able to constructively critique the unintended/undiscussed consequences of feminine ascendency. Brave of her I must say.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
1 year ago

This is over-intellectualised. What it comes down to is a bunch of bossy-boots, many of them young women, censoring news and comment because they can, they think they are entitled to and they think they know best.
And can we please drop the meaningless phrase ‘post-liberal’ which, so far as I can see, adds no value to any sentence in which it appears.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
1 year ago

“This is perhaps unsurprising, given that the younger graduates who flock to the tech sector skew progressive — especially the graduate women who, in that sector, cluster in non-coding roles(such as, for example, content moderation).”

I, for one, would like to see an article that discusses this ‘feminisation’ of political life, discourse and decision making. It’s possible, if not unheard of, that EVEN at Unheard, the people ‘in charge of’ moderation, deciding what is, and isn’t allowed are, they themselves, ‘young, graduate women’, going by the photo call for the ‘Opening’ party for the ‘Unheard’ cafe.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

Nothing wrong with what you said.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

Within the tech sector at least that phenomenon is driven by feminist demands to hire more women to try and “fix” the gender imbalance. But not that many women want to be software developers, so it creates immense pressure to create an opposing imbalance in other areas of the company.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Can confirm. My wife’s last job was head recruiter for an IT company and she was asked to find more female programmers, which was very hard to do. Just before she left they were considering transwomen as a way around the quota.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Brilliant. Filling a niche market with another niche resource.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Brilliant. Filling a niche market with another niche resource.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Can confirm. My wife’s last job was head recruiter for an IT company and she was asked to find more female programmers, which was very hard to do. Just before she left they were considering transwomen as a way around the quota.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

Nothing wrong with what you said.