elon musk

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk poses on the red carpet of the Axel Springer Award 2020 on December 1, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

(Photo: Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images)

Elon Musk and the Dictatorship of Feudal Freedom

Since the Modern Era, power has depended on virtual money. The more money, the more power.

Since the end of the last century, I have occasionally repeated five or six straightforward exercises in classrooms in different countries with students of different cultures, ages, and social classes―with the same result.

One (inspired in Africa) refers to the classification of geometric figures, where we always see the differences and never what they have in common. In another, in the United States, I draw a cube on the blackboard and, when asked what they see, they unanimously say that it is a cube. It is not a cube, but three rhombuses together. To the question of what colors the sky and the sun are, the answers have also been unanimous, for years. But the repetitive response is a question: “Professor, are you also going to tell us that the sky is not blue and the sun is not yellow?” After all, that’s how they are on flags, in children’s drawings, and in any other representation that is not modern art―that which made Hitler’s blood boil. Something that hasn’t changed much today. The sky is not always blue and the sun is never yellow. Not only is it white, but the dominant colors are blue and violet.

In any case, the examples show that we cannot see the objective world without passing it through the lens of our understanding, which is colored by the prejudices of a society, or a civilization. A more biological case lies in the perception of the nonexistent color yellow on TV screens, but it is still an illusion.

A real democracy is a zero-sum game.

The question “Why is the sun yellow?” inoculates the interlocutor with a false fact, distracting them with the search for the correct answer. The same occurs when faced with the question “Why did socialism die?” Even more decisive than in quantum and relativistic physics, in the human world the observer changes the reality that he observes, especially when he or she uses language full of ideolexics.

Today, a student asked me: “Why is Brazil on the verge of a dictatorship?” Why not Argentina or Ecuador? Why is the sun yellow? I remembered Elon Musk’s repeated attacks on President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil for his audacity to question the environmental effects of the tycoon’s fireworks company.

This discussion escalated with the investigation and order of a Brazilian prosecutor to block some accounts on X (Twitter), considering them “digital militias.” As commander in chief of the digital militias, Musk requested the resignation of the minister of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil, Alexandre de Moraes, and repeated the speech about Freedom―carajo!

I am not going to go back to the mercenaries who have been deciding elections since the beginning of the century (like Team Jorge) and whose outpost in 2010s was in Ukraine, as specialists warned before the 2022 war. But I want to repeat that there is no democracy with an extreme concentration of capital and without transparency of the media, for which we proposed international committees of experts to monitor algorithms, etc.

“I am a free speech absolutist,” Musk repeated. The proof? In his networks, a humble teacher from Angola has the same possibility of publishing as him. He says nothing about the most obvious: every time he promotes his mercantilist ideology on X, the most political network in the world, it is automatically consumed by millions of people. It is the same concept of freedom as the slaveholders: by freedom, they meant their freedom, which is what guaranteed universal well-being.

The same day, Musk published a graph showing the drop in audience of the National Public Radio, celebrating that the only noncommercial network in the United States that survives is dying, thanks to the budget cuts of successive governments.

NPR is the only national radio network that still has journalistic programs with content and investigation, even though we disagree with many of its criteria when exposing some controversial topics. In their beginnings, and after decades of development, most radio stations in the United States were public or university stations, not commercial. Although the majority of the population was opposed, an aggressive lobby managed to privatize them in the 1930s and then created a new majority in their favor. Classic.

Let’s close with a synthetic reflection. The ideological and cultural model of the right is the economic model in which prosperity is not a zero-sum game. The prosperity of one dominant group could mean the lesser prosperity of other groups. The idea is reasonable: on a prosperous plantation in the 18th or 19th century, slaves were better fed than on one that was poorly managed or less cruel. But in both cases they were slaves, and freedom of expression was protected by the Constitution. Even the constitution of the slaveholding Confederacy included the protection of this freedom because it was welcome as long as it was a democratic decoration and not a real threat to the dominant power. When anti-slavery writings became a threat, slaveholders put a price on the writers’ heads and closed their newspapers. The libertarians of the 21st century do the same. In the United States, they have been banning more than 4,000 uncomfortable books, because their ideas began to be accepted by too many people.

Different, in a real democracy that model does not work, which is why dictatorships have been the preferred systems of capitalism, except when they could control democracies, as was the case of the vampire empires of the so called “Free World.”

A real democracy is a zero-sum game. The more power a group has, that power is at the expense of the power of others. Freedom depends on the power that a group or an individual has in a society. Since the Modern Era, power has depended on virtual money. The more money, the more power. The more power, the more your freedom and the less the freedom of others. Hence the discomfort of equal freedom, because it requires the distribution of power (political, economic, and social).

The Progressive Era in the United States was followed by a privatizing and kleptocratic orgy of millionaires in the 1920s, which ended with the Great Depression here and fascism in Europe. Then another wave of social democratic left to get out of the chaos, from the pre-war Franklin D. Roosevelt, the welfare states in post-war Europe, and the rebellion of the marginalized and colonized world in the 1950s. Until the dangerous years were stopped in the 1970s and imposed the dictatorship of “conservative freedom” of the 1980s. The freedom of the former slaveholder, the owner of the means and ends that we live today.

But beware. All of that also has an expiration date. The days of the end of the kleptocracy of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and BlackRock are numbered. If it’s for the good way, the better. If not, it will be the hard way, as history teaches us it always happened, while the prophets of power are always in charge of denying and delaying.

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