Update April 14, 2022: Elon Musk says he can organize enough money to buy Twitter in order to take it private (decreasing accountability and transparency) and then promote harmful content using a policy he calls:
Healthy free speech is when someone says something you don’t like.
This policy of Musk is hypocritical, logically false and historically backwards.
He himself regularly violates basic principles of healthy speech (as a documented serial liar). Instead he allegedly seeks outsized control to prevent accountability for words used, the literal opposite of healthy speech. He appears to not care about health of anyone or anything.
For a simple and obvious example, he can’t even attempt to buy Twitter without showing his true hand. He right now failing at the most basic transparency requirements while grousing falsely he cares a lot about society having transparency:
…lawsuit alleges that by March 14, Musk’s stake in Twitter had reached a 5% threshold that required him to publicly disclose his holdings under U.S. securities law by March 24. Musk didn’t make the required disclosure until April 4.
Replace the word “tweets” with “stocks” in Musk’s attempt to attack Twitter in his takeover bid and notice how he confesses to being a threat to society:
…having it be unclear who’s making what changes to who, to where, having [stocks] sort of mysteriously be promoted and demoted with no insight into what’s going on … I think this can be quite dangerous.
Dangerous? Here’s what’s dangerous:
Elon Musk’s plan for Twitter suggests the site will expand abusive epithets and threats of violence online, especially targeting women of color (as I’ve explained elsewhere). Twitter will transform from implicit white nationalism into more explicit hate and violence.
In case you don’t recognize it, that is Musk replying to the extremist right-wing Bee account, which was classified by Twitter as hate speech. Musk is showing support for stinging attacks from the Bee. Now, back to the question of whether he is racist, in context of whether a racist would try hard to buy Twitter just to ensure hate groups pushing “something you don’t like” will escape accountability.
As I wrote recently, asking “how racist” is really a search for evidence of someone being anti-racist.
When we ask how vulnerable software is, it would sound wrong for someone to defend themselves with “how dare you call software vulnerable”. Software has flaws, so we constantly look for evidence that flaws are being identified and remediated. It’s basic hygiene.
Likewise, when we ask how racist someone is, the response desired should come as some kind of evidence that racism is being acknowledged and removed wherever it may exist.
On that risk management note, I so far have found zero evidence of Elon Musk working in any capacity to be anti-racist, despite copious evidence of him being accused of racism.
Here’s a quick review of an infamous racism lawsuit:
- Psychology Today: “We don’t know anything about Mr. Musk’s feelings about Black people regarding the case. [Tesla] indirectly gave organizational support to individual prejudice and bigotry; Tesla was engaged in racism.”
- Jalopnik: “Elon Musk’s Alleged Response To Tesla Racism Complaints: ‘Be Thick-Skinned And Accept Apology'”
- Tesla’s official statement directly contradicting its advice to staff to stop fighting for things they believe in: “At Tesla, we would rather pay ten times the settlement demand in legal fees and fight to the ends of the Earth than give in…”
Both evidence of racism and self-contradictory logic set the tone.
Telling Black workers they must be “thick-skinned” and stop fighting against racism, while stating that Tesla will always be thin-skinned and never stop fighting against people accusing them of racism… is exactly the opposite of anti-racism.
Elon Musk is South African, which is important here. Consider for example that he has posted classic white supremacist memes such as this one.
Anyone familiar with African history would recognize this for what it is, a racist attack on Black liberation theology.
This tweet was at the height of tension in America about Black Lives Matter (BLM). Spreading a racist extremist right-wing meme puts Elon Musk very squarely on the wrong side of history.
Backlash against Black Lives Matter includes branding it as Marxist.
Allegedly Musk launched his racist meme attacking Marx after being deeply offended by The Topical tweet by the Onion.
It’s hard to see the connection that Musk is trying to make in his attack tweet.
Consider that the meme used by Musk is in fact from a long-time white supremacist topic, not just some awkward moment from 2020. It’s not just something related to Musk’s hatred of free assembly by Black Lives and free speech by The Onion, it’s more an exposure of his racist upbringing.
Here’s another example, to prove the point further. From the 1920s through the 1980s a major talking point of white nationalists (e.g. Prime Minister Hertzog) in South Africa was population decline (e.g. “replacement theory” or “swamping”) despite the country at the time experiencing a population surge.
And yet Musk is known for spreading the exact same fraudulent racist trope in 2022.
“Drain the swamp” was a South African racist concept of the 1920s meant to prevent non-whites from having any power. They had watched racist American President Wilson do exactly that in the 1910s, not to mention the racist Governor Stanford of California doing it even earlier. This is what Musk is basically tweeting.
Let me explain just how racist it looks for Musk, a white South African, to spread racist talking points as well as falsely label anti-racism as some kind of activism.
In the crucial first decade of African freedom from colonialism the leaders of Algeria (Ahmed Ben Bella), Egypt (Gamal Abdel Nasser), Ghana (Kwame Nkrumah), Guinea (Ahmed Sékou Touré), Kenya (Tom Mboya) and Tanzania (Julius Nyerere) all displayed a very public affinity for principles of socialism.
In other words Black post-colonial movements very logically moved public sentiment towards everyone sharing in the benefits of labor regardless of color or race, even before rising to democratic themes of liberation from oppression (U.S. Army: De oppresso liber).
South African whites reacted to this with insecurity cults that aimed to refute Black liberation by labeling anti-racism as radicalism or political extremism (fallacy of white genocide).
These dangerously wrong propaganda tactics, which Elon Musk regularly witnessed in his apartheid childhood, are being repurposed by him through his anti-Black rhetoric to criticize anti-racism.
White nationalists of South Africa even tried to manipulate newspapers to frame themselves as victims in a thinly-veiled attempt at criminalizing a necessary and humane act of anti-racism (e.g. Black Lives Matter). They censored criticism of white “success” (e.g. denied racist oppression, despite power and wealth being oriented solely on being white).
This is exactly why Elon Musk wants to buy Twitter, to repeat such mistakes of history and censor criticism of ill-gotten racist power.
South Africa’s overtly racist and white police state also explicitly courted the United States at this time by claiming white nationalism was a logical defense against Marxism — denying freedom, independence and self-determination of Blacks as a “capitalist” or “business” model of wealth accumulation (e.g. from President Nixon to Harvard).
If you know basic African history, especially South Africa’s violent racist “anti-Marxist” oppression methods, then you perhaps now see Elon Musk was normalizing racism in a post that uses a mix of Black “slang” appropriation with a phrase suggesting someone unfit for work.
Elon Musk’s “gib me dat for free” during Black Lives Matter protests seems akin to a racist defensive sentiment celebrating the white police officers who opened fire on unarmed protestors in 1960. In other words it should bring to mind today what exactly Elon Musk thinks about the sixty-nine South Africans were killed and 186 wounded in Sharpeville, with most shot in the back by police.
Criminalizing the assembly and speech of Blacks, because they called for fairness and liberation from obvious racist oppression, was racism encoded by calling it defense against Communism.
Succeeding the Sharpeville incident, a meeting convened by the South African Communist Party (SACP) in December 1960 in Emmarentia, Johannesburg, aimed to discern the way forward in light of the African National Congress’ (ANC) ban and the imposition of a state of emergency. Among those who attended were Mandela, Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Mhlaba, Kotane and a number of other ANC and SACP members. Those attending congruently agreed that the agenda of non-violence would have to be replaced by armed resistance in the form of the establishment of military units…
That was followed by the 1960 “Unlawful Organizations Act“, which amended the 1956 “Riotous Assemblies Act”, which all was preceded by the far more obviously named 1950 “Suppression of Communism Act”.
This act, “after being rushed through both houses of Parliament” (Riley 1991: 69), “was introduced to enable the banning of the African National Congress and the Pan African Congress” (Dyzenhaus 1991: 45).
Thus we can see how Marxism has been embroiled in racism, used as a means to call Black people lazy and stupid, unable to think for themselves or self-rule.
Anti-Communist propaganda even has gone so far as to suggest Blacks could not have developed minds and instead were like puppets of a Soviet or Chinese playbook.
That particular reference from South African history matters here too because Elon Musk also has delivered an odd depiction of Chinese.
Elon Musk lamented the “entitled” and “complacent” character of people in the United States, and lauded the “smart” and “hard working people” of China…
Presumably Musk has a particular form of cognitive blindness such that he doesn’t see a contradiction in overtly praising Asian communism, while claiming to be a critic of Black sounding communism.
The blindness is likely best explained as… racism.
Elon Musk heaped praise on China’s economic development late Wednesday night as the Communist Party celebrated its 100th anniversary in power.
To be fair, Communism being lauded by the Chinese has little to nothing to do with Black leaders who show an affinity for socialism.
Universal healthcare, fire departments, police, public utilities like sewer and water, state pensions, education, public transportation and general “safety nets” all seem to be socialist concepts selfishly taken for granted by Elon Musk.
This is one of the confounding aspects of those who claim to support public-safety initiatives such as the police (when operated as a socialist concept of care) while saying they hate socialism.
And conversely, socialists who say they hate the sordid history and politics of America’s attempt at police (an anti-public concept to perpetuate slavery) prove that it’s not a simple calculus.
The bottom line when talking about Marxism versus socialism is that it was the unification of Germany in the 1870s that brought significant improvement in the country’s economy because… it was driven by widespread socialism.
Marx was an extremist within a huge movement and certainly not the most influential or important voice, although he makes an easy target.
German people demanded a unified state to extend benefits to everyone, beyond just the wealth-accumulating selfish “gentry”; they rejected kings, lords and men who acted and thought very much like Elon Musk.
The German Chancellor Bismarck initially reacted to the disturbances and public grievance with a ban on unification (union) movements. Ring any bells, given South Africa banned union movements?
Bismarck pushed out an “Anti-Socialist Law of 1878” to stop people in Germany from assembling and speaking. Nonetheless, just like in South Africa 100 years later the socialist affinity within democratic voters grew anyway, shifting debate into formal government chambers (where it was better heard and processed).
It was clear centuries apart that sentiment of social good was deeply influential to German workers.
Bismarck shrewdly calculated he could absorb power from huge blocks of voters and thus maneuver ahead of their party by implementing things they called for and taking credit himself.
1883, with the passage of the Health Insurance Law, Bismarck made Germany into a welfare state—all to stymie the socialists. The law was the first national system in the world, Steinberg says. Both employers and employees paid into insurance funds, and the German government verified workers’ enrollment by comparing employer records with fund membership lists, threatening employers of uninsured workers with fines.
Stymie the socialists by being socialist. It seems odd today where people struggle to get on one page, yet Bismarck was a leader from a different era who apparently acted on what he thought made sense for his country (or perhaps more to the point made sense for him as inalienable from country leadership) and tossed aside labels.
Bismarck didn’t care what the program—Krankenversicherungsgesetz—was called or how it was described, as long as citizens knew that the state—his state—coined the idea. “Call it socialism or whatever you like,” Bismarck said during the 1881 Reichstag public policy and budget debates. “It is the same to me.”
The unmistakable benefits of socialism clearly made Germany prosper and powerful, similar to how it would soon after help fuel massive economic prosperity and growth in America and all of Europe.
“…a key part of the Industrial Revolution that’s overlooked is that once workers got paid in cash once a week or every few weeks, they had cash that could be spent on what we would call health insurance.” …as the population grew in cities, coverage boomed. In 1885, the enrollment was 4.3 million Germans; by 1913, that number had jumped to 13.6 million. And this came with a number of surprising repercussions.
Socialism meant very quickly that far fewer Germans emigrated away from factories, as they stayed for benefits unique to socialism like sick days at home and compensation for accidents. In other words, fewer workers fell out of work and into poverty, which reduced the cost of productivity. Industrial output increased as did quality of life.
Seen to this day as “a massive success” the concepts of German socialism are logical for any democracy to adopt and promote.
Between 1884 and the end of the century, blue collar worker mortality rates fell 8.9 percent, they write in a recent study. “Surprisingly, the insurance was able to reduce infectious disease mortality in the absence of effective medication for many of the prevailing infectious diseases.”
Again, I have to emphasize that Musk is wrongly promoting Marxism as a success model; he tweets his love to Chinese Communists, falsely calling their system the best. Yet he attacks Blacks by mislabeling them as Communists.
If Musk had posted a picture of Marx next to Asian speech patterns would it be any better? No. He is being racist in either case, pushing a race-based narrative that Asians are hard working and Blacks are lazy.
This sad repeat of South African history by a South African should give enough context to explain why Elon Musk is pro-Marxism while spreading traditional racist white supremacist memes about Marx that target Blacks by appropriating their speech/style.
What Musk really seems to want to say is he’s against unification (against a United States, against a unified Germany) where workers have prospered from democracy.
Tesla prefers top-down, centrally-planned dictatorships where a small group of elites can stop democracy from protecting people who work at Tesla.
To prove the point once more, Elon Musk recently doubled down on an extemist right-wing meme yet again favoring a racist tone in a comment about the Ukraine war.
Four huge problems with this:
First, predictably his defenders invoked “white savior” logic similar to South African apartheid (or pre-unification, pre-socialist, Germany), claiming a billionaire should be protected from criticism (encouraged to cover up misconduct) simply by claiming to be charitable towards the needy.
Second, Musk would not be helping Ukraine if the country was not predominantly white. It’s no coincidence allegations stand that Tesla’s “majority-Black departments are called the ‘plantation,’ ‘ghetto’ & ‘slave ship.'”
Third, war is no joke. This is like arguing because his employees are paid well they should tolerate him causing trauma and abuse. A Black war blast victim was tormented with rocket warning sounds while trying to work at Tesla.
Fourth, Musk dramatically increased his business deals with Russia since 2020. Buying a Tesla literally can mean buying from Russia.
And while Musk might be confused or careless, throwing words around without any intent to actually stand by what he says, it doesn’t anywhere rise up to demonstrate anti-racism. In 2018 Musk (who allegedly has a degree in economics) claimed he is socialist and Marx was a capitalist.
Shortly thereafter Musk proved to be even more confused. He tried to attack socialism for allowing people to shift “from most productive to least productive” (e.g. pay money into insurance and use it when sick).
Greatest good defined by who? That sounds like a recipe for dictatorship, inverse to democratic socialism. In fact, Musk is using phrases that are very similar to Hitler’s speech in 1938 right after Kristallnacht.
Let me put it like this, the word on the street is Elon Musk thought Nazi was spelled with a T, which is why he put it on the hood of his cars.
The influential German socialist philosopher Lasalle wrote a letter to Bismark in 1863 warning of exactly what Musk (and Hitler) promote.
…how true it is the working class feels an inclination towards a dictatorship, if it can first be rightly persuaded that the dictatorship will be exercised in its interests…
To be clear Lasalle advocated a monarchist social-democracy, a partnership proven successful in countries like UK, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, etc. as I’ve written about before with regard to causes of “stress revolution“.
Musk thus appears to be advocating a form of “national socialism” (Nazism), which reminds me very much of Peter Thiel’s present proto-Nazi fantasy of monopolism despite decades-old proofs against it by E.A.G. Robinson in 1948:
The great merit of the capitalist system, it has been said, is that it succeeds in using the nastiest motives of nasty people for the ultimate benefit of society.
Musk furthermore openly flirts with themes of Nazism, such as the Onion joke insinuating a Black American President has a secret affinity for it.
Again, I have to emphasize I am looking for evidence of anti-racism, yet only finding more and more evidence of racism in among evidence of consistently extremist right-wing sentiments.
Ending up discovering that Tesla tried to run PR that it was helping Ukraine while also quietly driving new deals with the dictatorship in Russia as it invaded Ukraine, seems only fitting.
I doubt Wired will pick up this blog post about Elon Musk’s racism in the same way as the last time, but I do hope someone someday can find and publish evidence of his anti-racism. His silence is deafening.
More to the point, Musk himself tried to argue that if there is no significant counter-protest to support a government against small groups of fringe extremists (e.g. if anti-racism doesn’t show up) then it should be taken as some kind of proof that fringe extremists have more legitimacy than a government!
Carl Sagan warned the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence, to put it mildly why Musk sounds so dumb. However, also don’t forget Musk’s flip-flopping is frequently anti-science and he is admitting to the world here that his complete lack of protest against racism is his way of saying he’s not opposed.
At the end of the day there has been one lonely statement claiming he is “stating the extremely obvious” that he thinks speech should be censored.
Is it obvious? Then why does he never state anywhere that he would protest or even censor racism? Where has he come out strongly opposed to racism and racist comments, if somehow he found the courage to protest the vague “abusive epithets”?
There are copious statements where Elon Musk says clearly free speech means zero filters of any kind. For the man with a constantly open mic who argues speech should be censored only when it serves his own purposes, and who throws words around with abandon and appears to fire off comments without thought, it’s highly curious Musk NEVER pushes anything even close to being anti-racism.