Many challenges to the neoliberal revolution from above–to “Globohomo“–have shown up confident in their logic and appeal only to end up absorbed in Globohomo’s vast and dense obtuseness like lost travelers in the Amazon. Consider the campaigns against CRT and “grooming”; heading into the midterm elections they’re winning–politically they’re irresistible–yet past experience suggests they’ll simply be outlasted, after Republican mid-term candidates and Fox News take advantage. Many a presumed breaking point has been passed along our way; many a bridge has proven not too far at all for Globohomo.
Globohomo succeeds in all its offensives and repulses all attacks, undefeated at home and away. But these wins are in ways fraudulent–logically unsound and popularly unappealing. So control of the media is essential. Team Globohomo gets to cheat because it holds the Megaphone.
No challenge was bigger than Trump’s election campaign and administration. From joyous optimism in 2016, through the disappointing slog of his administration, to the humiliating debacle of January 6–all with the effect of consolidating Globohomo’s power and ushering in our present endgame of censorship and repression–pessimism isn’t just understandable, it’s practically mandatory.
But Elon Musk’s challenge to Twitter by offering to buy it is cause for optimism. Despite underperforming for years now as it’s flailed about for a growth strategy (that doesn’t involve greater freedom of speech) and being the shrimp among the social media companies, Twitter’s influence, as an immediate global arena where anyone might reach anyone else, is immeasurable. Through content sharing on its platform Twitter is social media’s linchpin in a way her fat cat peers covet but can’t reproduce. Twitter practically is the Megaphone.
So Twitter being essential to Trump’s insurgency–with the added horror of Trump’s campaign enlivening the site and being very good for business–is a sin for which Twitter must atone. A belief shared by Twitter. The threat Trump revealed–of the site’s suitability for a genuine populist movement–remains, and Twitter is on notice, from within and without.
So “get woke go broke” isn’t necessarily untrue, it’s just irrelevant.
No one is trying to gauge how much censorship and its chilling effect is costing Twitter–justice knows nothing of opportunity costs. But the company’s refusal to consider Musk’s generous bid demonstrates Twitter is seen from within and without primarily as a speech moderating institution, not a profit-making venture. The company’s implied balance sheet in the economy of power is more important than their financials,
I think there’s an understanding within the company and board that Twitter will be given leeway–that shareholders won’t be roused by poor performance, for one thing–because of the company’s unique importance to the control of the media. Twitter is counting on something akin to the “Greenspan Put” indemnifying against losses; call it the Woke Put. But those pesky investors, like voters and citizens, remain out there.
Musk’s wealth has put him in a position to at least force Twitter to publicly impoverish its shareholders and–hopefully, if Musk mounts an investor revolt–to be seen fighting savagely (and I do expect that) against profitability.
Most of these “top” accounts tweet rarely and post very little content.
Is Twitter dying? https://t.co/lj9rRXfDHE
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2022
No one has been more vociferous in opposing Musk’s meddling in Twitter and in defending censorship generally than The Washington Post, of course. Here’s an example:
Elon Musk’s vision for Twitter is a public town square where there few restrictions on what people can or can’t say on the Internet.
But the utopian ideal envisioned by the Tesla CEO ceased to exist long ago and doesn’t take into account what’s happening in the real world, tech executives, Twitter employees and Silicon Valley insiders say. As Musk seeks a $43 billion hostile takeover bid for Twitter, critics say his ambition for what the platform should be — a largely unpoliced space rid of censorship — is naive, would hurt the company’s growth prospects and would render the platform unsafe.
Typically this type of “but some say” article looking to shoot down something like Musk’s little adventure here is bogus, citing a few people in activist organizations who would be completely irrelevant if they weren’t quoted in such articles, but in this case the cited represent the mood of a good section of Twitter itself. The article quotes Musk:
“My strong intuitive sense is that having a public platform that is maximally trusted and broadly inclusive is extremely important to the future of civilization,” he said.
That’s self evident enough to be a platitude. But hold on a second, The Post responds:
Some pro-free speech networks have been found by researchers to be havens for white supremacists and those who wished to harm society.
Perhaps it’s important to understand the censorship of “white supremacists” isn’t just about censoring white supremacists–we are few and powerless–but using the bogey of white supremacy to establish the principle that speech must be limited. White supremacy exists, ergo, the First Amendment is obsolete, is the argument.
White supremacy is not a real thing. The First Amendment is less and less a real thing–selectively applied any law becomes a lie–because of the bogey of white supremacy. And this is how one lie is made to produce another.
Elon Musk might get to Mars before we get to freedom–the former is a problem of physics, whereas the latter is a problem of evil. Physics problems have answers.
But today is a better day because of Musk’s crusade.