Elon Musk and the Death Throes of Capitalism

Something was revealed last week that got a fair amount of attention, but not nearly enough either coverage or anger to remotely begin to address the damage.  From The Guardian:

"Elon Musk ordered Starlink to be turned off during Ukraine offensive...

Elon Musk ordered his Starlink satellite communications network to be turned off near the Crimean coast last year to hobble a Ukrainian drone attack on Russian warships, according to a new biography.

CNN quoted an excerpt from the biography Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson, which described how armed submarine drones were approaching their targets when they “lost connectivity and washed ashore harmlessly”.

Musk is largely regarded to be the world's richest man.  His wealth and power have grown so great, apparently, that he can, on his own, destroy an attempt by a country to strike back against a vicious dictator who has invaded them in an act of genocidal aggression.  

I think a comparison is in order here.  Most of the landing craft used in the Normandy invasion were manufactured by a company in New Orleans.  Suppose the owner of that company had decided that he would rather see the Nazis win World War II, and arranged for these ships to have their power cut off halfway across the English Channel.  I believe this is a fair comparison to what Musk has done.  

Suppose Musk had brought a stop to this military action.  Where would our world be today?

Of course, Musk needs to be treated as a traitor to the whole free world, and removed permanently from circulation, but that is not the point that I think is by far the most important here, and it is hardly Musk alone who worries me.  

Thomas Piketty calculated, as part of his seminal work Capital in the Twenty First Century that the U.S. economy, which already has the greatest disparity between rich and poor in its history will, by the year 2030, have the greatest wealth disparity in the known history of the world.  And Musk's action, his feeling free to decide on his own who wins wars, is a warning of what is to come if this is allowed to continue.  

We already have a country in which two thirds of the Supreme Court is filled with corrupt Justices placed there through the expenditure of billions of dollars provided by sociopathic rich guys, in which it costs so much to run for Congress that nobody can possibly win a seat without accepting massive amounts of money from the rich, in which governmental agencies all the way down to local school and zoning boards are being systematically packed with criminals bought and paid for by the rich, in which one political party has ceased to be a real party at all, and has become nothing but a criminal conspiracy.  And we are seeing every day what a dystopian disaster that has created.  But I want to suggest that there is something far more deadly looming in our future:  a world in which governments themselves are irrelevant and in which a few hundred people are so rich that they can do anything that they want, create any reality on the world stage, with no opposition of any kind short of massive, bloody revolution.

That is the world that is foreshadowed in the recent actions of Musk:  The complete contempt for right and wrong, or the opinions or rights of others, even of whole nations.  It is a world like that found in dystopian video games like Final Fantasy 7- where a few mega-billionaires can run the world for their own ends, regardless of the consequences.  It is a world of real-life Bond villains, and we may just have found our first Ernst Blofeld.  

And you thought that guys like this only existed in movies.

Musk may be the only one of these characters to emerge in public yet, but he will hardly be the last; he is just proving the concept for an endless succession of such characters, if he is not stopped.

And what do I mean by "stopped?"  The world has reached the point where nobody can be allowed to amass this much money.  It must be forcibly taken away from them, and strict limits be imposed on how much wealth any individual can accumulate. This is absolutely necessary for the survival of our species.  Piketty points out in his book that, throughout known history, when the disparity of income reaches a certain point, there have only ever been two outcomes:  either the rich give up their money, or civilizations descend into violence.  

I must confess that I have been thinking about this issue for many years, certainly since long before Musk and his ilk reached this level of contempt for the rest of us, and I don't really have a way to accomplish this.  And every day, in the face of this danger, Democrats in the U.S. fail to stand up to the threat represented by a Republican party that exists for nothing but to give more wealth and power to this minuscule group of people.  What faces us now is either a descent into worldwide despotism financed by a couple thousand rich sociopaths, or the end of humanity through climate disaster, also brought to you by the same rich sociopaths.  A bleak view, but I am very pessimistic that decent people will muster the will to stop this march to oblivion.


St. Joan said…
The first step is putting a name and a face to it. Evil billionaires before Musk and Trump have had the sense to be virtually anonymous to the voting public (and their soon-to-be-voting children.)

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