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Elon Musk: elite challenger or self-serving pragmatist?

Elon Musk: elite challenger or self-serving pragmatist?

Elon Musk: elite challenger or self-serving pragmatist?
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He has derided organised labour, mocked political correctness, and advocated for limited government, so the flood of tweets from conservatives applauding Elon Musk on his decision to acquire Twitter came as no surprise.

Nonetheless, he is an unlikely icon for political traditionalists, using marijuana during interviews, wooing the Hollywood set with movie appearances, and contemplating about nuking Mars.

In politicised America, the 50-year-old triple divorcee’s objection to Covid-19 limits is sometimes interpreted as Republican sympathies, despite his occasional distaste for harsh immigration control.

President Joe Biden has been chastised by the world’s richest man for proposing a tax credit for electric vehicles manufactured by unionised employees. He has also gone far further, advocating for an end to all federal subsidies in the United States.

Despite this, he has actively solicited government assistance for himself, accepting billions in giveaways for his own businesses.

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International investor James Hickman, the publisher of the libertarian-leaning Sovereign Man newsletter series, views Musk as a check on the “tyranny of the minority” — a rumoured cabal of elites in tech, media, and academia that make decisions for the rest of us but “consistently get it wrong.”

“What distinguishes a real libertarian is an utter rejection of labels and the ability to think independently,” Hickman told AFP.

“Musk undoubtedly qualifies in this way from both a political and a professional standpoint.”

Other commentators believe that, as contradictory as Musk’s political worldview appears to be, he rarely deviates from his own financial objectives.

Even so, that theory need considerable finessing.

If it’s all about the money, why has Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has vast green business interests, urged for increased fossil fuel production?

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His political contributions aren’t really tied to any one party or point of view.

Musk, a self-proclaimed “moderate” independent (though he has unironically defined himself as a “socialist” as well), ostentatiously relocated from ultra-liberal California to very conservative Texas in 2020.
Despite condemning Texas’ anti-abortion legislation and California’s “complacent” economic environment, he has donated to the governors of both states.

Other recipients of gifts include Democratic luminaries Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as right-wing House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Republican Party itself.

He, like a recent past president, is not afraid to take aim at Washington establishment types on social media, from one-time presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren (“Senator Karen”) to Biden himself (“Sleepy Joe” — a co-opted Trumpism).

Then there’s the matter of free expression, which he has described as “the basis of a functional democracy.”

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Musk has complained that Twitter is overly censorious in its policing of speech, and a post picturing the company’s CEO, Parag Agrawal, as the cruel Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin illustrates and undermines his point.

According to critics, his zeal for unrestricted debate has frequently looked less profound when his personal interests are at risk.

Some media sites have questioned Musk’s approach to journalists publishing unfavourable pieces about Tesla.

Accused of unleashing his army of fans on individual reporters, he allegedly considered building a website for the whole profession named Pravda, apparently in reference to the Soviet propaganda outfit.

“I’m going to build a website where the public can grade the basic truth of each article and monitor the credibility score of each journalist, editor, and magazine over time,” he tweeted in 2018. It had no effect.

Former Hillary Clinton campaign aide Judd Legum, who publishes the “Popular Information” political weekly, cited a 2018 tweet in which Musk appeared to threaten to revoke Tesla employee stock options if they elected to create a union.

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Each of these posts may be regarded as a strong defence of his work on its own, but opponents argue they are part of a pattern of silencing less powerful voices, which has included requiring staff to sign famously harsh non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

The Tesla NDA cautioned employees that “they were not authorised to communicate with media without prior written authorization,” according to “Popular Information,” but the corporation failed to mention that labour rules protected them from retaliation when criticising work conditions.

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