Everyone is going to hate this column. Musk worshipers are going to hate it because I’m going to blaspheme against Elon Musk. Musk demonizers are going to hate it because I am not going to blaspheme against him enough. Everyone else is going to hate it because they’re sick to the gills of hearing about Musk, and Musk’s destruction of Twitter, or his salvation of Twitter, and censorship, and “hate speech,” and all that stuff.
I’ll get to the blasphemy part in a minute, but first, let’s quickly review what’s happened, and where things now stand, or appear to stand.
On October 27, 2022, so almost exactly a month ago, Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, US government military contractor and all-around global-capitalist oligarch with a net worth approaching $200 billion, completed his acquisition of Twitter, the notorious “hell-site” where Donald Trump, the Russian-backed literal Resurrection of Hitler, Jordan Peterson, the “lobster hierarchy” guy, Alex “the Devil Incarnate” Jones, and assorted members of the “deplorable” masses had been wantonly perpetrating acts of “hate speech,” disseminating “disinformation,” and otherwise unrestrainedly expressing themselves, until Twitter’s “content moderators” started censoring, deboosting, and deplatforming everyone whose views and opinions they didn’t like.
As it turned out, most of the views and opinions they did not like, and thus needed to censor, were views and opinions that conflicted with their increasingly fanatical “woke” ideology, or allegiance to the Democratic Party, or one of its European equivalents, or which contradicted, or challenged, or playfully mocked, whatever official narrative the global Corporatocracy was pumping out on any given day.
From 2016 to 2022, Twitter.com (which, let’s face it, is essentially a glorified listserv with ads) abandoned any pretense of editorial neutrality and regard for anything remotely resembling people’s right to freedom of speech (i.e., a fundamental principle of democratic society), and brazenly attempted to impose and enforce ideological uniformity on the platform under the guise of “keeping people safe” and “protecting the health of the public conversation.”
This metamorphosis of a social-media company into a full-blown Orwellian Ministry of Truth was just one part of “The War on Populism” that the global-capitalist ruling classes have been relentlessly waging for the last six years, which I’ve written about extensively elsewhere (e.g., in that book I just inserted a link to, and the majority of my Consent Factory essays), so I just want to focus on Twitter at the moment and get to the part where I blaspheme Musk, or don’t blaspheme him enough, and piss everyone off.
Basically, the backstory, in a nutshell, is, by circa the middle of 2021, the Twitter moderators’ censorship of views that didn’t conform to their “woke” ideology had reached the point where a lot of conservatives, and libertarians, and the approximately 15-16 old free-speech-absolutist lefties like me that still exist, were unhappy about being censored, deplatformed, “deboosted,” and demonized as “disseminators of hate speech,” “science deniers,” “election deniers,” “anti-vaxers,” “conspiracy theorists,” and an assortment of other official epithets, and were making a considerable amount of noise.
The governments that nominally regulate Twitter and other social-media platforms are owned and operated by GloboCap (i.e., the global Corporatocracy I mentioned above), which has been imposing and enforcing ideological uniformity on the entire planet for the last thirty years, so, of course, they were not going to intervene in the affairs of global corporation that is part and parcel of the Gleichschaltung campaign that they are also part and parcel of.
So, Emperor Elonicus to the rescue!
Musk, who did not get where he is by not being able to read a market, saw an opportunity and he seized it. As I’ve been going on and on and on about monotonously for the last six years, the essential conflict of our historical epoch is the multiplicitous backlash (or insurgency) against the advance of hegemonic global capitalism. I won’t go on and on about it here. The point is, at the current stage of that conflict, there is serious money to be made by marketing to the “anti-Woke” demographic, and, if Musk is a master of anything, it’s marketing.
You probably think I’m kidding. I am not. As Bill Hicks would put it if he were still around, the authoritarian anti-authoritarianism dollar is just sitting out there waiting to be harvested. “Anti-Woke” authoritarianism is the next big thing. We are talking beaucoup branding action, social media platforms, phones, you name it!
And so begins the glorious reign of Emperor Elonicus the Just, the half-man/half-god savior of Twitter, and freedom of speech, and freedom itself, selfless defender of the common man, and unrivaled practitioner of the marketing stunt!
The day before the deal was sealed, Elonicus swaggered into Twitter headquarters carrying an actual kitchen sink, tweeting “let that sink in!” to his 100 million followers, the first of a series of such stunts to follow.
The plebeians in the digital Colosseum erupted into wild applause. A frenzy of joyous hooting and hollering and “liking” and retweeting ensued. At last, a beneficent billionaire Caesar had arrived to save the Internet from Wokeness! Elonicus loyalists flooded onto Twitter, chanting the ancient Roman obeisance, “Avē Imperātor, tweetitūrī tē salūtant!”
The next day, Elonicus summarily fired Parag Agrawal, Twitter’s CEO, and took his seat upon the throne. Other “woke” heads were soon placed on spikes. Hallelujah … the bird was freed!
The Corporatocracy went absolutely apeshit. Liberal pundits rent their garments and rushed onto the Internet to histrionically denounce Elonicus the Usurper, who was going to unleash the most the stochastically-terrorist orgy of white-supremacist hate speech in the history of white-supremacist hate speech, or stochastic terrorism, or orgies, or something. Television celebrities, ageing rock musicians, bestselling philosophical podcasters, and other such influential personages began pretentiously fleeing the platform in droves, a number of them migrating to something called Mastodon, where they immediately commenced scolding and cancelling each other. Advertisers pulled their accounts. The media began a “Twitter Death Watch.” Jonathan Chait threatened to move to Canada, but then changed his mind and vowed to “stay and fight.”
Meanwhile, Elonicus, who understands a public-relations war as well as anyone, did what all good emperors do when under attack from their own patrician class. He broke out the bread and circus for the plebeians … or, all right, at least he broke out the circus.
Yes, he actually did the imperial Roman “pollice verso” shtick to decide the fate of Trumpus Maximus, and then, once the results came in, he imperiously tweeted “Vox Populi, Vox Dei”!
And now, apparently, Elonicus, in his mercy, after running another Vox Populi poll stunt, has decreed a “general amnesty” for all political prisoners (i.e., suspended Twitter accounts). It remains to be seen whether this “amnesty” extends to the countless people whose accounts were suspended for challenging the official Covid narrative, or for mentioning the fact that GloboCap is arming and funding the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine that have been carrying out its latest counterinsurgency op, but let’s not worry about minor details. Next week is going to be a celebration … a celebration of freedom, and “anti-Wokeness,” and the god-like power of Elon Musk!
All of which has been highly entertaining, but forgive me if I don’t get all worked up. For one thing, I’ve seen this movie before, the one where the handsome new charismatic sheriff (who just happens to be a major GloboCap player, or puppet, or otherwise a member of “the club”) rides into town to set things right. No matter how many times I watch it, it always seems to end the same.
The other thing is … well, it’s personal. For about a year now, Twitter has been maliciously defaming my business account in order to damage my reputation and income. Twitter has been doing that by concealing my tweets — the majority, but not all, of my tweets — behind fake “age-restricted adult content” advisories. Twitter has been doing that in order to trick people into believing that I am tweeting some kind of pornography.
This rather weird tactic has been quite effective. It has definitely damaged my income as an author, and has presumably misled countless people into assuming I am some sort of sleazy pornographer posing as a political satirist. You can probably imagine how I feel about that.
Elon Musk’s Twitter did not start this, and I realize the man has a lot on his plate, but I just assumed that, after a month or so on the throne, it might have occurred to him to issue an order instructing his “freebird” staff to, you know, stop maliciously defaming people, and attempting to damage their reputations and income, because they questioned the official Covid-19 narrative, or the official Russia narrative, or the “Emperor Elonicus” narrative.
Or … I don’t know, maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe Elonicus really has come to save us from the “woke” fanatics. Maybe this is not just another iteration of the classic good cop/bad cop routine, like when Obama the Beneficient saved the world from Evil Bush and ended the War on Terror by bombing numerous countries, extrajudicially assassinating anyone he felt like, and illegally surveilling everyone, to the wild applause of millions of liberals, who had spent the previous eight years shrieking about Evil Bush doing exactly the same thing.
Because conservatives and libertarians would never fall for a con job like that, would they?
No, the Emperor Elonicus is probably going to issue that order any day now (i.e., to cease and desist from maliciously defaming people). Or I guess it might take a little longer than that. Not maliciously defaming people is probably a complicated, multi-stage process involving months of meticulous planning, like rocketing a car into outer space. One Elonicus fan, alarmed by the disrespectful tone of my repeated tweets to the Emperor, advised me to stop whining and wait one full year, which … sure, on reflection, that’s probably about right.
So, never mind, and please forgive the foregoing blasphemy. Hail Elonicus! Long may he reign!
November 27, 2022
Photo: The New York Times
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