By getting his hands on Twitter, the godfather of trolls adds a new brick to his technopolitical arsenal, which he puts at the service of a utopian vision of a techno-solutionist world. While he shares his dreams of a digital state, Citizen Musk isn’t inventing the technofascism ?
Photo Caption: TERRIANS GREETING _ In the Kingdom of the future “CEO of America”, pop-billionaires have a future… as long as they know how to turn 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 lays out the stakes of his recent acquisition of Twitter and just about everything he does. In view of his ambitions on a civilizational scale, and like a good self-respecting megalo industrial tycoon, the time had come for him to pay a half. But not a good old paper duck like Bezos with the post of washington and the world before. No, because Musk is already in the world of tomorrow, where technologies are the new attributes of power and influence, true hybrid geopolitical weapons.
And in this world, everything is cybernetic. 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 weave together the elements of a techno-political arsenal that is starting to look scary. “ He has potentially created a system of mass surveillance that can actually compete with the NSA. We are clearly at a turning point for new forms of power, with those 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 technopolitical issues.
By getting his hands on Twitter, Musk becomes the king of “ digital village square », where the ideological clashes of our time are played out, as well as the geopolitical clashes of the information war. In recent years, nobody seems able to stop this vengeful troll and his crazy vision of a transhumanist, multiplanetary world, in which technology would be the answer to everything. After the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the new crisis could therefore bear Musk’s name. But what exactly is going on?
If Citizen Musk spent $44 billion to acquire Twitter, a high price in relation 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 correcting themselves, and now put themselves politically in a kind of tech-driven post-Trumpism – as did Peter Thiel, his former Paypal buddy as well. having created Palantir, which finances the Republican candidate Ron De Santis, already presented as the next Trump.
“ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNS ARE CARRIED OUT WITH ROBOTS AND ARMY OF TROLLS. » – BYUNG CHUL-HAN
Aligned with Donald, Musk always knew how to use Twitter to its maximum potential. He advertises himself and his companies there — you’ve never seen a Tesla ad — shake financial markets in a tweet or defy politicians live. In this sense, he positions himself in a new way of thinking about freedom of expression in relation to power. An approach explained by 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 information regime exploits freedom rather than repressing it. “. He also explains that ” election campaigns are now fought as information wars, with robots and troll armies, and democracy is degenerating into infocracy “. Under the Musk era, the freedom of our democracies, which until then was a strength, could become a weakness.
This very maximalist freedom of expression that Musk intends to apply to Twitter is, in fact, put at the service of a cyberpopulism to nerd in the absence of benchmarks, which can degenerate into a veritable infodemic. Asma Mhalla also notes that, ” Trump brought the post truth politicsand Musk the “post-truth economics”. In Twitter’s lawsuit they didn’t bother to agree on methods of calculating fake accounts, Twitter said 5%, Musk said 20%… So actually he says, well no I don’t agree more with the numbers. It works… »
“CEO OF AMERICA”
The parallel with Trump can also be drawn on other levels, such as humor. Because Musk is also a troll of the first order, using sneers and slaps in the face as weapons of violence. soft power formidable. “ Twitter and its trolls allow him to provoke the institutions or the State, which he despises on the philosophical part (but not by the orders of the State)… Like Trump, he uses the strategy of chaos, which will voluntarily generate stupefaction, as he advances. It is cognitive saturation, because one piece of information erases the other, and the information is no longer valuable. »
This way of doing things, 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 America’s poor long-term political vision. ” Trump and Musk stand out as authority figures who stand for 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 expert.
Still following in Trump’s footsteps, we hear the “Chief Tweet” entourage take on the ” Make America Great Again from Chief 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 ferocity with which Elon Musk conducts his business, we tell ourselves that we would do well to distrust the man and his management, even if he promises in every interview to work for a better world. . What is this great project he has in store for us that seems to go beyond the comprehension of ordinary mortals?
OUR CYBER NEEDS
Fascinated by the Chinese super-application WeChat, but much less by the Chinese-style management of technological sovereignty – remember the mysterious disappearance of the head of Alibaba – his idea would be to transform Twitter into a multifunctional mega-application. X-app, which would gather all our cyber needs in one place. From mobility to banking services, passing through the management of our identities. In the near future, Musk could thus present us with a digital currency to replace the dollar that he hates, and which would then be a new brick that would bring 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, commanding and therefore having leadership, it is on a continuum with the American state, but when it comes to going to the social, there he will adopt a clear and clear anti -status postures “.
Like a good technocrat, like his grandfather, convinced that engineers can save the world, Musk is sure that his technoglobal project can improve the future of our civilization. “For him, technology is the final answer to everything, he has a total vision of it.supports Asma Mahalla. It erases all the political, human and cultural complexity of the questions 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… centralized exercise of power. In addition to this techno-fundamentalist belief, Musk embraces the ideology of “long-termism”, a doctrine derived from cosmosm, theorized by the Russians in the late 19th century.and century. The idea? Consider the future of humanity with a very long-term view and without worrying about short-term negative effects. The long termit is an obligation of result, not of means.
THE TRUMP PROTOTYPE
Musk, therefore, seems to have ambitions far beyond the prerogatives of the American presidency and 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 clearly see, Musk benefits from an almost unimaginable room for maneuver for a government, and begins to poke its nose into the big affairs of the world, beyond American borders. And it’s only at the beginning of its transformation… So, what will be the next technological block for the head of Starlink (which, we just learned, is opening up to the military market with the Starshield line…)?
With Musk, a new kind of cyberpopulism is obviously developing. With Trump as the political prototype, Musk as the economic leader and Kanye West as the cultural singer, we see a kind of three-headed hydra emerging, representing the ideological issues that await us. In an age where digital influence and following are becoming the lifeblood of the war of information, and therefore of ideas, how long will it be before Kim Kardashian and company start to fully invade the political space? In light of this information, we can see, in the coming years, the emergence of a kind of smiling fascism, a populism with white teeth and undermined by luxury brands, from which Musk will be the last savior.
By Jean-Baptiste Chiara
Drawing Matthias Saint Aubin