Did Elon Musk invent Techno Fascism?

ELON MUSK TECHNOFACSINME

By getting his hands on Twitter, the godfather of trolls adds a new brick to his techno-political arsenal, which he puts at the service of a utopian vision of a techno-solutionist world. As he shares his dreams of a digital state, isn’t Citizen Musk inventing the techno-fascism ?

Photo caption: SALUTE TERRIANS _ In the Kingdom of the future “CEO of America”, the pop-billionaires have a future… provided they know how to transform their business into a religion and their ego-trip into a political program.

“A battle for the future of civilization. » This is how Elon Musk soberly exposes the stakes of his recent acquisition of Twitter, and just about everything he does. In view of his ambitions on a civilizational scale, and as a good self-respecting megalo industrial magnate, the time had come for him to afford a medium. But not a good old paper duck like Bezos with the washington post and the world before. No, because Musk is already in the world of tomorrow, in which technologies are the new attributes of power and influence, real hybrid geopolitical weapons.

And in that world, everything is cyber-linked. Between SpaceX and its rockets, Starlink and its constellation of satellites, Tesla and its autonomous cars or its robots, Neuralink and its brain-machine interfaces, and now Twitter with its soft-power, Musk seems to be weaving one by one the elements of a techno-political arsenal that is starting to get creepy. “ He has potentially set up a mass surveillance system that can really compete with the NSA’s. We are clearly at a turning point on new forms of power, with these powers that are the technological giants, and at a time when States must redefine themselves. If we are not careful, it can become potentially dangerous. “, warns Asma Mhalla, specialist in techno-political issues.

By getting his hands on Twitter, Musk becomes the king of “ digital village square », where the ideological confrontations of our time are played out, but also the geopolitical confrontations of the war of information. In recent years, no one seems able to stop this vengeful troll and his crazy vision of a transhumanist, multi-planetary world, in which technology would be the answer to everything. After the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the new crisis could therefore well bear the name of Musk. But what exactly is going on?

INFOCRACY

If Citizen Musk dropped 44 billion dollars to acquire Twitter, a high price compared to its real value, it is because his project is primarily political, even ideological, and not economic. Because, for some time now, Musk and the other techno-manitous of Silicon Valley have been visibly righting themselves, and now place themselves politically in a kind of techno-boosted post-Trumpism – like Peter Thiel, his former buddy from Paypal having also created Palantir, which finances the Republican candidate Ron De Santis, already presented as the next Trump.

“ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNS ARE CONDUCTED WITH ROBOTS AND ARMIES OF TROLLS. » – BYUNG CHUL-HAN

In line with the Donald, Musk has always known how to use Twitter to its maximum potential. He publicizes himself and his companies there – you’ve never seen a Tesla ad –, shakes up the financial markets in a tweet, or challenges politicians live. In this regard, he positions himself in a new way of considering freedom of expression in relation to power. An approach explained by the essayist Byung Chul-Han in his book infocracywhere he evokes a certain informational capitalism, “ whereas the disciplinary regime of industrial capitalism operated with coercion and repression, this new regime of information exploits freedom instead of repressing it “. He also explains that ” election campaigns are now waged as information wars, with robots and armies of trolls, and democracy is degenerating into infocracy “. Under the Musk era, the freedom of our democracies, which until then had been a strength, could therefore well become a weakness.

This very maximalist freedom of expression that Musk intends to apply to Twitter is actually put at the service of a cyber-populism to nerd in lack of benchmarks, which could degenerate into a veritable infodemic. Asma Mhalla also notes that, ” Trump brought the post-truth politicsand Musk the “post-truth economics”. On the Twitter lawsuit, they weren’t bothered to agree on the methods of calculating fake accounts, Twitter said 5%, Musk said 20%… So in fact, he says, well no, I don’t I agree more with the numbers. And it works… »

“CEO OF AMERICA”

The parallel with Trump can also be made on other levels, such as humor. Because Musk is also a troll of the first order, using derision and slap in the face as a weapon of soft-power formidable. “ Twitter and his trolls allow him to taunt institutions or the state, which he despises on the philosophical part (but not for state orders)… Like Trump, he uses the strategy of chaos, which will voluntarily generate flabbergasted, while he advances. It is cognitive saturation, because one piece of information erases another, and the information no longer has any value. »

This way of doing, this kind of trollitique, is an integral part of the techno-populism that Musk is inventing before our eyes. And if it works, it’s partly because of the poor long-term political vision of the United States. ” Trump and Musk stand out as authority figures who represent something, who have a strong vision. For a long time, we no longer have authority figures with political projects in the West… Suddenly, you have strong people with divisive personalities, who propose visions, who are followed, who have influence, and who dictate the political and media agenda. They become a landmark », explains our cyber specialist.

Still in Trump’s footsteps, we heard the entourage of the “Chief Tweet” take up the ” Make America Great Again of boss Donald, to turn him into ” Make Market Street Great Again – Market Street being the street where Twitter’s headquarters are located in San Francisco. In short, techno-Trumpism, politics through business, whose followers willingly allow themselves to dream of a Musk as “CEO of America”. But when we look at the verticality and the ferocity with which Elon Musk manages his affairs, we say to ourselves that we would do well to be wary of the man and his management, even if he promises in each interview to work for a better world. . What is this great project that he is preparing for us, and which seems to go beyond the understanding of ordinary mortals?

OUR CYBER-NEEDS

Fascinated by the Chinese super-app WeChat, but much less by the Chinese-style management of technological sovereignty – we remember the mysterious disappearance of the boss of Alibaba – his idea would be to transform Twitter into a mega all-purpose application. , the X-app, which would bring together all our cyber needs in one place. From mobility to banking services, to the management of our identities. In the near future, Musk could therefore present us with a digital currency to replace the dollar he hates, and which would then be a new brick bringing us closer to a kind of “Network State”, or digital state. Asma Mhalla also recalls that ” libertarianism is variable geometry in Musk, when it comes to having business, command, and therefore having leadership, it is in a continuum with the American state, but when it comes to go on social, there he will adopt clear and clear anti-State postures “.

As a good technocrat, like his grandfather convinced that engineers can save the world, Musk is sure, his techno-global project can improve the future of our civilization. “For him, technology is the final answer to everything, he has a totalizing vision of it.supports Asma Mhalla. It erases all the political, human and cultural complexity of the issues that arise. A satellite will fight hunger in Africa or deforestation in the Amazon, Twitter will solve the problem of freedom of expression in the United States… But technology cannot be the answer to everything, especially a fallible technology, and that is the object of a hyper-centralized exercise of power. In addition to this techno-fundamentalist belief, Musk embraces the ideology of “long-termism”, a doctrine derived from cosmism, theorized by the Russians at the end of the 19th century.e century. The idea? Consider the future of humanity with a very long-term vision, and without worrying about short-term negative effects. the long termismit is the obligation of result, and not of means.

THE TRUMP PROTOTYPE

Musk thus seems to have ambitions far beyond the prerogatives of the American presidency, and of power as we know it. We saw him invite himself to the table of geopolitical discussions on the subject of Taiwan or the war in Ukraine, where he deployed his satellites in less than 48 hours, following a tweet from Zelensky… We can see it clearly , Musk benefits from an almost unimaginable margin of maneuver for a government, and begins to put his nose in the big affairs of the world, beyond the American borders. And it is only at the beginning of its transformation… So what will be the next technological building block for the boss of Starlink (which, we have just learned, is opening up to the military market with the Starshield range…)?

With Musk, a new kind of cyber-populism is obviously developing. With Trump as a political prototype, Musk as an economic leader, and Kanye West as a cultural cantor, we see a sort of three-headed hydra rising up, representing the ideological issues that await us. At a time when digital influence and the following are becoming the lifeblood of the information war, and therefore of ideas, how long will it be before Kim Kardashian and company start to completely invade the political space? In the light of this information, we could well, in the years to come, see the emergence of a kind of smiling fascism, a populism with white teeth and undermined in luxury brands, for which Musk will be the ultimate savior.


By Jean-Baptiste Chiara
Drawing Matthias Saint Aubin