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Elon Musk Aims at Twitter
And the Censorious Liberal Elite go Full Orwell
“The senate ordered his books to be burnt by the aediles. But they survived, first hidden and later republished. This makes one deride the stupidity of people who believe that today’s authority can destroy tomorrow’s memories. On the contrary, repressions of genius increase its prestige. All that tyrannical conquerors, and imitators of their brutalities, achieve is their own disrepute and their victims’ renown.”
- Tacitus [Annals, IV.35]
You’ve probably seen at least something of the story over the past week plus: Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and the king of the shitposters, is pursuing ownership of Twitter. He purchased a large volume of stock earlier in the month, and on April, 14th offered to buy the company outright, at above market value.
It all started with this poll:
He went on to say “The consequences of this poll will be important, please vote carefully.” While I am shocked that almost 30% of people said yes, I was among the many who responded that he should buy Twitter.
Just over a week of his classic bizarre posts later, we learned that Musk bought a 9.2% passive stake in the company, becoming the largest shareholder. From the start, this exposed what goes on with social media companies, as like me, many people looked up the current shareholders, to find that Twitter is literally owned by the finance industry. This shouldn’t be surprising given that its a publicly traded company in an era of great concentration of wealth, but it’s still something to behold:
Do you figure Vanguard, Morgan Stanley, or Black Rock is the most devoted to human liberty and public well-being? It certainly isn’t possible that they would use their possession of the world’s most influential speech platform to advance nefarious and self-serving agendas. What are you, a conspiracy theorist?
Twitter’s new woke CEO Parag Agrawal sought to contain the threat Musk represents by getting him on the board with an agreement to not purchase more than 14.9% of the company. Agrawal had to go through the pain of writing this Tweet about how Musk would join the board:
Musk, of course, couldn’t resist amusing the public:
But then, the ever unpredictable Musk left Agrawal doing crisis communication on a Sunday night:
He all but says that the purpose of the board seat was to restrict Musk’s behavior through various SEC regulations with the whole thing about being a fiduciary. This is especially true as Musk has a contentious relationship with the SEC, especially regarding that time he said he would take Tesla private. The fact is his erratic behavior simply doesn’t fit in with how the billionaire class is meant to behave, especially when he has 80 million Twitter followers and his most simple tweets about current events can have a large impact on markets. Anyway, at least for now, none of this will be going on, since Elon declined the board position.
And then on Thursday, we learned this:
Musk says this in his filing with the SEC:
“I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.
However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.
As a result, I am offering to buy 100% of Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, a 54% premium over the day before I began investing in Twitter and a 38% premium over the day before my investment was publicly announced. My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder.
Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.”
What he is arguing here, in essence, is that Twitter cannot serve its purpose if it is owned by the finance industry, and that owning Twitter in its current form is a bad investment. He is clearly right about the second part, as his purchase gave Twitter it’s best day since it’s IPO in 2013. This is part of what makes it so curious that Twitter is such a popular institutional investment: in the almost 9 years since its been taken public it’s spent but 3 months more valuable than the first day…in an era of great inflation and stock market “growth.” It seems clear that for normal purposes it is a terrible investment, and that the institutional investors are only concerned about having a role in suppressing speech.
One way or another, the reaction to this all has been beyond ridiculous. I mean look at this take from one of America’s leading idiots, from before Musk’s full purchase offer:
Even coming from Reich, one of the worst writers in America, this is truly disconnected from reality. Like what the fuck is he talking about? Dictators and strongman always want to restrict speech [the demagogue is kind of a non-sequitur there, demagogues do benefit from unrestricted speech, at least initially.] The argument is almost literally Orwell’s “Freedom is Slavery.” I was unwilling to dumb myself down by reading this, but Taibbi bravely did so for us:
Basically, his argument isn’t coherent enough to refute. He says some things about Putin restricting access to information on the internet and somehow thinks that is an argument for dictators loving free speech. Taibbi actually covers this topic well enough that my doing so seems somewhat pointless, however, there are still some more things I should say about this descent into insanity.
We’ll continue with Max Boot, who was always insane and reliably has the worst takes:
He’s writing for a newspaper that is wholly owned by Musk’s rival oligarch, and using it to openly say a lack of censorship is a large threat to our democracy. This is the same service that threw an election by blocking a legitimate story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. As Greenwald quipped recently:
The most notable thing here, is that the so-called “liberals” truly are openly against free speech, to a shocking degree. Take a look at this guy:
What the fuck does that even mean? I guess that Twitter will be full of Nazis? I should note I asked if this guy was always this disconnected from reality or if it happened with age, and noticed below Andrew Sullivan had already answered my question by responding “I remember when you used to be sane.” The actual implication is that his party will end if any free speech is allowed. Taibbi is right:
“I’m guessing this latest news is arousing special horror because the current version of Twitter is the professional journalist’s idea of Utopia: a place where Donald Trump doesn’t exist, everyone with unorthodox thoughts is warning-labeled (“age-restricted” content seems to be a popular recent scam), and the Current Thing is constantly hyped to the moronic max. The site used to be fun, funny, and a great tool for exchanging information. Now it feels like what the world would be if the eight most vile people in Brooklyn were put in charge of all human life, a giant, hyper-pretentious Thought-Starbucks.”
As depressing as it is, this shit is probably the only place these people have ever been happy. They’re constant scolds who only care about power and censorship. The thing is, whatever you want to call those who rule us [I often use the term “corporatist center-left”], they have nothing going for them but panic and censorship. The fact is, America’s ruling class can’t point to anything good they’ve done for the public, they can’t inspire anyone, all they can do is create panics and limit ideas. During his Tuesday night show Tucker explained how screwed these people are with a free Twitter:
As Tucker says, “The point of censorship is never to shield the weak, no matter what Barack Obama says, the point of censorship always and everywhere is to protect entrenched power. That’s why it’s the powerful who impose censorship.” As Taibbi said, we really can’t say if Musk would improve censorship, but his opponents are being openly anti-free speech.
Alex Berenson pointed out that regardless of what happens, in exposing them, Musk has already won:
“News Thursday morning that the outspoken serial tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has offered to buy Twitter and take it private has surfaced widespread anxieties within the knowledge-class industries that free speech and even societal peace will be jeopardized if the Tesla CEO lifts content restrictions from journalists' favorite social media platform.”
Here are some of the best takes about this, though commentary has really piled up:
The best response, unsurprisingly, was from Musk himself, regarding Saudi financial interests opposing his purchase:
And so, Twitter adopted what is known as a “poison pill” to prevent the hostile takeover, which essentially means they’re also against democracy, insofar as they’re stopping their shareholders from voting. Social commenter Shant Mesrobian described it this way:
This is all especially crazy as the board has a legal obligation to prioritize shareholder profits, and the institutional investors all have that as well, but they’re still refusing to make money:
The ever-dreadful hack Jim Cramer gave this truly nonsensical explanation:
“They have no choice but to reject it,” Cramer said Thursday on “Squawk on the Street.” “If they say, ‘we accept,’ they’re phony. And they’re not phonies.”…
“This is one of those where they are literally not doing their job, there’s no fiduciary responsibility if they just say, ‘you know what, we take it,’” Cramer said. “There are times when individual directors are opened up for a level of lack of fiduciary that I think crosses the line. This crosses the line.”
I don’t know what the fuck he is talking about, but he seems to think they have some implied responsibility to the shareholders that isn’t profit, and expects us to know what that is. Also, he is claiming that these representatives of capital companies have personal integrity, which is a laugh in and of itself.
The Twitter employees are in a hilarious meltdown mode:
“Even before his takeover bid, some Twitter employees struggled last week to support Musk’s involvement in the company because they said his values appeared to be in contradiction with the company, according to internal messages viewed by The Washington Post. Several employees noted in internal messages that Musk, who considers himself to be a champion of free speech, has appeared to express disdain for the use of gender pronouns.”
That is suppose to be some sort of contradiction. They keep claiming he has unclear or hypocritical views on free speech, but here is Musk on Thursday:
Absolutely, free speech only matters for opinions someone would want to censor, just like freedom of religion isn’t there to protect your right to go to mainstream Protestant churches, it’s to protect your right to have fringe religious beliefs that bother people.
One is left wondering, why are they like this? Obviously, part of the issue is their failed political ideology can’t withstand intellectual challenges. But as Shant Mesrobian explains, they have indoctrinated employees whose entire job is to attack speech:
“Part of the reason for this is that, just as your Human Resources director was literally trained to spread the gospel of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, anyone whose job is to “protect user safety” or “combat misinformation” is likely to have come straight out of a social justice madrasa.”
It turns out, the nonsense they teach in colleges does impact society. His suggestion, which is pretty solid, is to have free speech employees to counter the censorship employees. Now, there are only people looking for things to censor, it’s not anyone’s job to protect unapproved opinions. Perhaps it should be.
It’s unclear if Musk can actually buy Twitter or even intends to try, perhaps Mark Cuban is right:
Regardless, what this has done is show us far more than we wanted to know about the marriage of wokeness, finance, and censorship. The mask is pulled back, and they want you to believe freedom is slavery. They want you to believe censorship exists to protect the weak. It’s abject nonsense, and fortunately, much of the public appears to see through it. In the long run, censorship always fails, and the censors look foolish, but now with Musk, at least our short term prospects look less bleak. And so, they’ve turned him into Emmanuel Goldstein and are having their “Two Minutes of Hate”. Compare this to Orwell:
“He was denouncing the dictatorship of the party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought.”
Twitter is far more than just a website. It is truly the incubator of elite opinion and drastically impacts elections and political power. I used to be critical of how much of the news is just what people are saying on Twitter, but now, as you can see, I am left doing the same, because it’s where everyone with power and many without power go to express opinions, many of which impact our everyday lives.
I will leave you with Tucker’s segment from Thursday night, where he rightly says it’s a very sad situation we’re relying on the world’s richest man to save us, but it’s the situation we’re in and there is no other solution. He also correctly points out that Musk indeed has everything to lose, given his position and all the damage governments can do him:
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