Meanwhile, in some of that apparently rare media coverage, HuffPo wrote about the "5 Coolest Things Elon Musk Has Done (Or Is Bound To Do)," which featured a mixture of very important ideas like "Caused panic in LA with 'UFO'" and totally real ideas like "Maybe he'll go to Mars one day, probably, because he says he totally will." It's like there's no claim, no matter how spurious, that Musk-friendly media won't repeat without skepticism. They say he's saving the world, and if you ask for proof that he's saving the world, you are attacked for questioning the man who's saving the world.
Eventually You Reach A Point Where Critical Thought Becomes Impossible
I realize that this is almost starting to sound vindictive. "OK, so Musk's not perfect, but so what? He's still doing more for humanity than you ever will! It's not like he's forcing people into official Tesla-brand concentration camps!" But if he did, how many people would twist themselves into knots trying to justify it?
If that's too cartoonish, what about the workers he's treating like shit right now? Tesla employees are destroying their bodies for 17-21 bucks an hour (the industry average is $29.53) and Musk's response to their grievances was to give them froyo machines.
People can go on about how Musk is saving humanity's future, but they're assuming that any present-day suffering he's causing is not only worth it, but necessary. Are we sure we can't build the future without steamrolling people in the present? Musk's personality cult kills the ability to even have that discussion. That is by design.
Our culture loves the idea of the rebel genius. We attribute most scientific innovations to one person instead of the years of research that preceded it (no, Steve Jobs did not invent the PC in his garage). We write main characters in TV and film who are selfish assholes but get a free pass because they're always right. The reality is that superheroes aren't real; society is more than a handful of superior beings dragging billions of ungrateful bozos along for the ride.
Yet Musk can get all the credit for talking about futuristic ideas like going to Mars and building his pet Hyperloop, while critics point out that his Mars plan is rife with obstacles he's glossing over and the Hyperloop is just a fancy private car for rich people that fails to address the fundamental mass transportation needs of the future. (Musk once said that public transportation was a pain in the ass, but he's still a man of the people!)
It's A Playbook That Has Worked Before, And Will Work Again
If you look carefully at this article, you may notice I've drawn some subtle parallels to Donald Trump in several dozen places. Musk and Trump do not share the exact same vision of the future, and don't have the same ideology. But they are absolutely coming from the same toxic "I'm a billionaire and no one has the right to question me" mindset, and are exploiting many of the same flaws in the system to get ahead.
If you'll forgive me for revisiting the Musk subreddit, many of his fans dislike Trump because of, well, the general offensiveness of Trump's existence. So how did they reconcile the fact that Elon Musk, their savior, was sitting on advisory panels for Donald Trump, the enemy? Here's what one Musketeer had to say:
Elon Musk is the only voice of reason in this psychotic, sociopathic administration. He's being extremely diplomatic in working with Trump and for good reason. Elon Musk is paving the way for a whole new paradigm in the way we live. Electric cars, electric grid system, taking man to Mars...! He's is thinking big for the future of our humanity. And currently we are on the brink of extinction if all hell breaks loose and we go into WWIII. With nukes.
Yes, Musk is being polite to Trump because he wants to save humanity in case of the totally plausible scenario wherein he can stop Trump from triggering nuclear Armageddon. It certainly has nothing to do with maintaining those generous government investments. Musk, to his credit, eventually left his advisory role over Trump's climate change denial, but how far do you need to torture your own brain before you'll accept that people you don't know beyond their carefully presented public image are in fact fallible? And that as a general rule, billionaires don't give a shit about you?
There's no denying that Musk has made some valuable humanitarian contributions. But in response to a question on Quora asking why Musk doesn't do much more, given the vast resources available to him, a user who describes himself as "99% straight but 1% gay just for Elon Musk" said that while using your fortune to fight disease and hunger is like giving a man a fish ...
Elon Musk teaches you how to fish. Elon Musk is trying to safeguard the very existence of humanity in case of an extinction event, and to inspire us to stop killing each other because we let tribalism overrules reason and logic, there's nothing more philanthropic than that. ... So please, it's time to join the Elon Musk fan club.
That doesn't seem like someone who's thinking critically about what Musk says and does.
This isn't about choosing between Musk's version of the future and Trump's. This is about choosing between a world in which we actually hold powerful people accountable for their behavior, and one in which we are all just picking which billionaire's personality cult we want to mindlessly join. If history has taught us anything, it's this: Anyone who assures you they're only inflicting suffering in the present in order to bring about a glorious future Utopia is about to take you down a very dark road.
Mark is on Twitter and has a book.
Electric cars are really not that hard to build, either. Elon's are just bigger and more expensive than ones you can get in kits.
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