If you’re a man who’s into making death threats against women who don’t pay your pathetic ass the proper attention, man, you’re going to love Elon Musk’s Twitter.
If your favorite pastime is telling a transgender person to kill themselves because they are an affront to God Almighty, or if you’re just into making trans folks feel unsafe both online and offline, Elon Musk’s Twitter will be a glorious place for you.
If one of your life’s passions is simply asking questions about whether the Holocaust happened or whether there’s an international cabal of Jews running the global economy, Elon Musk’s Twitter is going to be quite the play area for you. You’ll be able to ask these questions to your black heart’s content. You’ll be able, day after glorious day, to swim in an ocean of bad-faith politics generated by soulless cretins intent on poisoning political discourse until there’s nothing left.
Do you enjoy corroding your mind and the minds of your friends and family with provable lies spread by political bad actors both domestic and foreign? Does bathing in an ocean of disinformation that burrows a hole through your nation’s collective mind sound like a fun time to you? Are you looking for a leader who will seize power with said disinformation and never let it go?
Buddy, Elon Musk’s Twitter is the best thing to ever happen to you.
Are you seeking a relatively safe space where you can chat with like minded people about music, movies, sports, or myriad hobbies without having neo-nazis storm your mentions with the sort of bile that defined Twitter during the 2016 election cycle? Well, you’re absolutely fuck out of luck, I’m afraid.
Musk, a billionaire, a nihilist, an exploiter, a user, a vacuous sociopath and an online broken brain, will soon control discourse on the world’s most important social media platform. It’s the latest – and most important – development in our descent into plutocracy. We live in a nation teeming with Musk sycophants, who, like him, believe in nothing, see no distinction between good and bad, decency and evil. The Musk fanboys -- and let’s be real, all Musk apologists are basically the same white man -- have committed to a life of bootlicking. They’d eat moist dog shit off Musk’s shoes if he let them. And now, with their man in charge of the place where we talk, they’re ready to go to war for Elon the plunderer, dog shit trapped between their teeth.
Musk has been open about his plans for Twitter. He wants, in short, to undam the free flow of hateful bile Twitter has tried to stop in recent years. He wants to let the bad faith flow.
When Elon Musk waxes poetic about free speech -- or whatever the dumbfuck equivalent of waxing poetic would be -- he only means one thing: The removal of all safeguards that have made Twitter more usable since social media sites took steps to stop the right wing from overthrowing the U.S. government in 2020. All the nazis, both literal and aesthetic, will flock back to Twitter once their man is in control, leaving the tragically awful Twitter alternatives designed for folks who believe African Americans were better off during slavery or that the COVID vaccine is part of a grand genocidal plan hatched by shadowy baby-eating elites.
The most virulent bigots will be allowed to operate with impunity on Musk’s Twitter because, you see, their speech is now free. And to these people – Musk and his minions – free speech means violent speech, it means lies, it means never-ending bad faith arguments, it means projecting their brain worms into the timelines of otherwise decent people scrolling their timelines on a Saturday morning.
So-called free speech has become the domain on the right because it’s an effective weapon to wield against their opponents, not because the right actually believes in the benefits of free speech in a pluralistic society. Everyone can speak freely today. There are no restrictions on our ability to speak unless it’s dangerous or harmful. It’s that last part that has made the Musk Cult so angry over the past couple years: They should, they claim, be allowed to exercise dangerous and harmful speech. Their version of free speech eviscerates truth and intimidates those who would stand up against the violent right (the political right being inherently violent today as it’s always been; and if you’re going to remind me Black Lives Matter protesters broke the side view mirror off a cop’s car, save your breath). Musk’s idea of free speech has nothing to do with a healthy national discourse; it has everything to do with further erosion of our tenuous grasp on what is and what is not real.
Why would Musk buy Twitter and plunge himself into the center of our white-hot debate about so-called free speech? For attention? For fun? To wreck the libs? No and no and no.
Billionaires already have the odious superyachts, they have their stupid fucking spaceships, they’ve bought the forty-bedroom mansions, they’ve bought the pro sports teams, they’ve even bought most of Congress, who do exactly as they’re told, smiling as they chomp on the dog shit hanging from the billionaires’ shoes. The rich are bored. They’re restless. Billionaires have nothing left to spend their money on except for our thoughts. Musk is coming for your perception of reality. He will shape it with blunt force, and many of us will remain online and ask for more because we’re sick and broken and, in the end, utterly hopeless.
When Musk says he is neither liberal nor conservative, I believe him. There’s plausible deniability in his sloughing off of politics, even if 100 percent of his followers abide by right wing dogma. Musk would have to care about something or someone to have a political leaning. He would have to have a code beyond that of a monster: To accumulate capital by whatever means necessary. Musk is not apolitical the way your idiot sibling or parent or cousin is apolitical. When apolitical people in your life insist they have some liberal views, what they usually mean is they want to be able to legally purchase and consume marijuana and LGBTQ folks should probably have some rights. That’s the extent of their “left-wing” views. But they are, down to a person, conservative.
Musk’s genuine lack of interest in politics – unlike the deranged and psychotic Peter Thiel, a foaming-at-the-mouth Ayn Rand disciple – makes him all the more dangerous. We will never be able to pin him down, to understand him. All we really know about Musk is that he’s obsessed with the future – wanting to build a colony on Mars for him and his super-rich buddies – in a way that befits an excellent comic book supervillain. It’s Musk’s multiple facial surgeries and his reconstructed hairline that prevent him from actually looking like a supervillain.
Even Donald Trump we came to understand as being a slave to his id, ruled by a desire to be loved and admired. Trump, we know, is an almost unconscious living ego who has done his best impression of a human being. Trump is his hate, he is his anger, his lust, his endless ignorance. Musk? We don’t know. He’s a human blackhole. He casually smears his enemies as pedophiles. He says nothing about black Tesla workers having racial slurs hurled at them. He cancels Tesla orders for people who criticize him. He mocks people for caring about Ukrainians being slaughtered by Russian troops. Not because he has admiration for Russian Dictator Vladamir Putin like some sort of House Republican, but because he can’t imagine caring about human beings. Musk could flip through images of Ukrainian families executed in the streets and shrug. He’d read heart-wrenching tales of Ukranians driven from their homes while watching loved ones gunned down by some unseen war criminal Russian and feel nothing. There’s nothing in his public past to hint otherwise.
Musk, chronically logged on for a guy who’s supposedly running multi-billion dollar companies, is already posting about Twitter’s “left wing bias,” smartly following the playbook created by Republican operatives in the 80s and 90s to shame news networks into allowing radical right wingers to spew their venom to a national audience in the name of fairness and balance. There was no left-wing bias in the media 40 years ago – most network news broadcasts were in fact moderately conservative – but the perception (created by the right) was that NBC and ABC and CBS had become conduits for the radical left. And perception is all that matters. Truth matters not. It never has.
Today Musk is pretending – again, smartly – that Twitter is a left-wing haven and that his antidote is simply to balance the scales. Because who’s against balance? The supposed fairness and balance will come in the form of savage reactionaries whose speech will endanger marginalized groups. Musk’s solution to Twitter’s “left wing” bias will put untold thousands in danger and will certainly lead to deaths, by suicide or otherwise. The cage Musk is about to open is not filled with thoughtful folks who simply want to talk about center-right economics and politics and cultural viewpoints. They are monsters, and they care not who they harm. In fact, harm is the point.
If you don’t believe me, consider the public figures most titillated by Musk’s hostile takeover of our digital public square. We know the score. There’s Ted Cruz, who this year has wholly embraced the Qanon movement’s obsession with pedophilia, cheering Musk’s purchase somehow as a victory for the First Amendment. Tucker Carlson was positively ecstatic on his white supremacist power hour after Musk had purchased Twitter, calling it a “pivot point” in U.S. history. The treasonous Marjorie Taylor Greene was thrilled and said Musk would reinstate her banned Twitter account. This is the crazed congresswoman who begged Donald Trump’s chief of staff to declare martial law and use the nation’s military to stop Joe Biden’s inauguration. We know the score.
Joe Rogan, who provides invaluable political cover for the far right with his tremendously, inexplicably popular podcast, screamed with delight when news came down that Musk had taken over Twitter. In between Ivermectin doses, Rogan called Musk a superhero for buying the town square, and urged Donald Trump to return to Twitter 18 months after he used the platform to nearly overthrow the United States government with a little help from his goose stepping, boat owning goon squad.
We know the score. We’re not dumb.
Consider that before Musk doled out $45 billion for Twitter – when rumors circulated that the company’s board might oppose his devious plan – conservatives on Twitter dreamed of a day when Musk would “buy” the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the CIA – all bastions of liberal politics in the diseased minds of online right wingers. For them, Musk is not a reformer, but a conqueror. He’s a hero of the radical right because he’s ready and willing to insert their most deranged thoughts and beliefs into the political mainstream, a shot of crazy straight to the collective brainstem. The right’s all-consuming bad faith politics will be allowed to run rampant with Musk on the throne. They know that, and they’re giddy with delight. A rules-free Twitter guarantees a red pilled congressional majority in the coming years -- a majority that will observe no norms, no rules, and will therefore be permanent.
Musk’s refusal to stem the online tide of lies and hate will all but ensure an everlasting red-pilled American leadership. I’d like to believe that’s not Musk’s intention, but no one can be certain.
On a Musk-run Twitter, liberals and otherwise nonpolitical people won’t be silenced. They will flee. The environment will be so hostile – so thoroughly toxic – that decent folks will yearn for an alternative, a platform with guardrails that disallow the most odious forms of speech. A mass exodus from a newly far-right Twitter will accelerate political siloing, alienating us from each other at an even greater rate. So be it.
Conservatives and Musk fanboys will laugh at people leaving Twitter for a less vitriolic social media site, calling them soft and spineless and unwilling to engage in debate (debate usually defined as “should trans people be allowed to exist” and “should hate crime laws be repealed” and “why can’t we marry 15 year old girls?”). But the market for a sane Twitter alternative will be undeniable not long after Musk gleefully opens his cage of fascists to run wild across his new digital playground. The site will quickly become intolerable for millions.
This acceleration of plutocratic power is inevitable in a capitalist system like ours. In the past decade and a half, Rupert Murdoch bought The Wall Street Journal, Red Sox owner John Henry purchased the Boston Globe, Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post, and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff acquired Time magazine. Michael Bloomberg, meanwhile, built a media empire of his own. Peter Thiel single handedly shut down Gawker because he disliked a report. In comes Musk, topping them all with the acquisition of a social media platform that determines the rise and fall of global leaders. Musk’s influence is now total. He is the most important and dangerous man on earth.
For critics of capitalism, these nightmare developments are something short of stunning. The logic of capital is to expand at any cost, leading to vast accumulations of wealth that leave a select psychotic few to rule everything and everyone. At the root of capitalism lies domination and submission. I would call it an animal urge but animals are better than that. Without intervention -- whether it’s a massive government effort to break up the obscene wealth of Musk and his cohorts or a catastrophic global event that tears out the economic order at its roots -- the accumulation of money and power will continue forever. There are no incremental ways to stop the skyrocketing of wealth to the tippy top of the economic order.
Our future was always a plutocratic one, with fascists all too happy to serve as the loyal foot soldiers of our plutocratic masters. Elon Musk buying Twitter for $45 billion is the latest – and perhaps final – step in our descent into plutocracy. There is, of course, no return.
Nothing decent can exist in a plutocratic society. Free speech cannot exist. Free and fair elections can’t exist. Citizens can’t exist. Your voice is meaningless, diluted to nearly nothing by the sheer power of capital. Some semblance of economic safety for working folks can’t exist. A balanced work-home life can’t exist. Whatever say you once had is gone.
Maybe you’ve read this and smirked at my shrieks about the sky falling. Calm the fuck down, Chicken fucking Little, you say. Nothing will fucking change on Musk’s Twitter, you say. There will be tweaks around the edges but there won’t be a noticeable difference for casual and heavy Twitter users alike. Stop fucking crying, you say. Everything will be fine.
And yes, I hope you’re right. But I know you’re wrong.
Follow Denny Carter on Twitter @CDCarter13 for maximum alienation.