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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Musk Versus the Bullies: Who Will Win?
Elon Musk's Twitter profile on a smartphone placed on printed Twitter logos on April 28, 2022. (Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters)
I wonder what odds the bookies are offering for the great fight?
In this corner we have Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, the chap behind Tesla, SpaceX, Solar City, The Boring Company, and—as of October—Twitter.
In that corner we have “the left,” a catch-all, imprecise, and probably misleading category.
Even in aggregate, it probably can’t field the dollars that Musk can marshall.
It’s not just that he paid $44 billion for the keys to the C-Suite at Blue Bird, Ltd.
He also commands a total fortune estimated to be something on the order of $190 billion.
That’s a lot of tweets.
But the left has some things that Musk lacks.
Musk is a self-described “free-speech absolutist.”
That isn’t as cut and dried as it sounds since he has repeatedly made it clear that, while he’s in favor of Twitter being open to a diversity of political, social, and moral perspectives, he won’t tolerate abusive or illegal language.
So there is and will be “content moderation” on Twitter, just not the reflexive banning of two large categories of speech: conservative speech and speech that contravenes “the Narrative.”
Musk, though formerly identifying as a Democratic, has drifted into that no-man’s land where party affiliation is tricky to ascertain.
Basically, he occupies the ground once occupied, but now long ago ceded, by the left back when it embraced liberalism, i.e., a commitment to tolerance, respect, and dialogue.
That’s been over for some time now.
The interment of free speech happened first on American campuses but has now metastasized to corporate America, the media, and the official corridors of power.
Musk lacks that reflexive entombment of free speech that is one of the left’s sources of power.
He also lacks the left’s viciousness.
Stephen Green, writing at PJ Media under the rubric “Insanity Wrap,” predicted that since Elon Musk “bought Twitter, now the left will destroy them both.”
Will they be successful?
No one knows.
I wonder whether the left thinks about the calisthenics of viciousness—whether, that is to say, they worry that if they don’t keep the requisite muscles in fighting trim they will atrophy and be less effective.
It’s been a few years since they went after Brett Kavanaugh like a ravening pack of rabid hyenas.
They’ve had the Jan. 6 protesters to chew on, of course, and Donald Trump is still a reliable target.
But I suspect they feel they need fresh meat really to remain in top form.
Twitter and Musk might be just the ticket.
Dave Rubin is right that it’s been “absolutely insane watching The Machine go after Elon Musk for defending free speech.”
The spectacle of the barely coherent White House Press Secretary affirming that the administration was “keeping an eye” on Twitter was at once hilarious and ominous.
It’s ominous, of course, because the government has unlimited resources to bring to bear against individuals it doesn’t like.
“But that’s against the law,” you object.
Oh, the babe, the poor innocent babe.
The rule of law, like “virtue” according to Falstaff, is mere air, a word that no longer signifies anything.
Among much else, the gathering attacks against Musk and Twitter remind us to what extent the rule of law in this country is broken.
We live in a two-tier system of justice, which means we live in a system of deliberate injustice.
There are many aspects to this situation.
Not all of them are, strictly speaking, legal.
There are other sorts of unfairness, other ways to trespass against the rules that make civilized society possible.
Monopolies are a good example.
As Musk notes: “It’s a real problem. Apple and Google effectively control access to most of the Internet via their app stores.”
So there’s a big fight shaping up.
The forces arrayed against Musk are formidable.
But then, Musk himself is clearly formidable.
As I say, it’s impossible to say at this point who’ll win.
But the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Musk was simply stating the truth, not being melodramatic, when he noted that “This is a battle for the future of civilization. If free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead.”
His secret weapon is us, the people.
In so far as we rise up and speak out, to that extent the left’s efforts to impose a totalitarian future will fail.