Musk, Twitter, and the Era of Billionaires and its implications

As predicted earlier this year, Elon Musk’s brand continues to surge, having made an offer to buy Twitter for $43 billion. He is more widely followed than probably anyone, save for maybe a handful of political and religious leaders. Elon was already a big deal in 2018, but his brand has really exploded post Covid. He’s a bigger celebrity now than even thought possible. Someone has to lay the infrastructure for the type 1 civilization, and those people are Bezos and Musk and will be among the most famous and important people in the world, if not the most important. It stands to reason that as the US economic and cultural hegemony strengthens, especially post Covid, that a handful of Americans will also impart hegemonic cultural and economic influence too.

The only thing that is limiting him is that he cannot run for president. If he could, like Trump, he would win despite being an outsider. In fact, that would help him. The thing about Musk’s success is that it’s always been organic. His Twitter account in January 2012 had just six thousand followers. He does not need to buy advertising, unlike politicians. Trump is similar in this way.

I think Elon will have to raise his offer to $60 billion or more though, which he will do. This is a major investment, but will give him complete control of the platform and likely end the censorship problem for good, and also Trump and probably others like Roger Stone will be reinstated. Babylon Bee will be un-frozen too.

The growing importance of billionaires mirrors the increasing feebleness (both mentally and policy-wise) and unpopularity of Biden and Washington, as discussed and predicted here and here. Billionaires will continue to play a growing role in shaping discourse, although affecting policy will prove far harder. The woke/SJW-left have a major advantage, that being inertia. It’s way harder to undo policy than create it (that’s why people are still taking off their shoes at the airport). That’s why the entire homeland security apparatus built by Bush 43 is still fully intact despite Trump being hyped as anti-establishment, which he wasn’t/isn’t. Republicans are still unable/unwilling to do much.

They, the anti-woke right, have huge popularity on Twitter (Trump and Musk are anti-woke, and former had the second-most popular account only behind Musk). But such popularity has not translated into policy wins. The left in the opposite situation of being less popular on social media such as Twitter and YouTube (as evidenced by downvoting patterns), but having more policy success.

Socially, billionaires form a sort of clique or in-group. This is why most billionaires–from Saylor, to Bezos, to Thiel–all support Musk. Even liberal billionaires are not perturbed too much even if they have reservations about Trump. You seldom see a similar situation, politically, in which all politicians and pundits are in unanimous agreement. As individual social status and wealth falls, the invidiousness of disagreement tends to increase, so this is why billionaires tend to be cordial and magnanimous even if they may disagree with each other, in contrast to the comments sections of Twitter and other social networks, which are more hostile and petty.

Beneath the billionaires you have highly successful people such as social media influencers and entrepreneurs, who tend to look up to billionaires despite not being one. They are on the outside of the clique but respect it and aspire to join it. Thus the culture wars are primarily waged and felt by the upper-middle-class and below, but those who occupy the highest of tiers are either more insulated or indifferent.

Another observation is that the biggest proponents of cancel culture are low-status leftists, such as low-paid or unpaid journalists, adjuncts, and anonymous Twitter accounts with low follower counts. As professional success and social status rises, opposition to cancel culture tends to rise, even among liberals, although there are exceptions like Robert Reich and Paul Krugman. So after Elon announced his takeover bid, the responses predictably fell along these lines, with high-status social media influencers supporting Musk or indifferent, as well as anti-cancel culture IDW-type people, who tend have large followings, and then the bulk of the criticism was from no-name, low-status leftists.

I think the implications of this are interesting and warrants further investigation, because the typical framing is that cancel culture is supposed to be antithetical to democracy and freedom, so low-status people, who are among the least privileged of society, should be opposed to it. But whether it’s doomer/gloomer burn-it-all-down types, antifa, or BLM, it would seem as if low-status people seek more authoritarian or destructive outcomes or arrangements. The reality that low-status people seem to be attracted to authoritarianism, whether it’s cancel culture today, but also the rise of Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, the Iranian Revolution, or the Cultural Revolution (which was led by students, who tend to not have much status compared to merchants or the bureaucracy).

This doesn’t doesn’t surprise me much. Authoritarianism offers the possibility of the system/society being rearranged or reshuffled, whereas a continuation of the status quo under liberal democracy ensures that low-status people remain in their place as low-status. This also calls into question the hagiography of American Revolution, which is usually taught as commoners revolting against the despotic British, but most Americans were perfectly content with British rule, and the revolution was funded and led by political and military elites.

1 comment

  1. “…cancel culture is supposed to be antithetical to democracy and freedom, so low-status people, who are among the least privileged of society, should be opposed to it.”

    I’ve often found that the deeper you dig into a domain, especially an abstract domain, the more paradoxes emerge.

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