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Goodbye to All That–Twitter Edition

My title is intended to connote that this is just another brick in the wall, so to speak. Another area of our lives we are going to have to escape from, as much as possible, for our sanity, if nothing else.

We read that now Elon Musk is back to buy Twitter, which we had thought was off, a few months ago. Apparently much of it is due to him having put himself in a financial corner with his earlier offer, though someone worth $250 billion or so is never really in a corner. But whatever the reason for him now going ahead with the deal, which is expected to close as early as Friday, it is very bad news for anyone who cares about American and world democracy.

It feels like we are reading a dystopic science fiction novel. They often start with the dystopia already being a reality, and the citizenry which hate it, trying to somehow change or overturn it. The bleakest of these books, like “1984,” offer virtually no hope; while the novels of Philip K. Dick usually offer some. For us, it seems that we are at the stage where we watch things fall apart, as in William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming.”

What it certainly seems is happening, is that some very evil forces are working together, knowingly or sometimes just inadvertently or conveniently, to take over all power. They want all the money, they want all the political power. They want control of all the media, all the methods of disseminating so-called information.

The last of these was not previously attainable; but mass media and the Computer Age have made it achievable. We saw the most horrifying manifestation of this in the 2016 election, where the fascist network known as Fox, and then other less overtly fascist, but still stupid and duped and spiteful networks and newspapers, combined to create a fantasy political narrative where Hillary Clinton was a shady and deceitful figure, and Donald Trump was an interesting person who said and did whatever he wanted, and was to be admired for it.

It was a fictional invention. A milder version of it had worked with Bush over Gore, Bush over Kerry. But here there was the added evil of a massive internet network called Facebook, relentlessly pushing down the scales, to not only favor Trump, but to run thousands of invented stories which they called “news,” which were utter propaganda and lies, intended to get people to hate Clinton and admire Trump. The effect of this was immense. I don’t know if it has ever been quantified, but I am sure that without Facebook and its cohort Cambridge Analytica, Trump would never have won.

I don’t know too much about Twitter; I have never joined it, but I have visited it a good deal during political campaigns. Why? Oh, to see if there is any good news, or to read a good thread from one of the better attorneys, on Trump’s legal jeopardy; or sometimes just to feel better that there are other people out there who are on the good side. I don’t like to join platforms; plus I know that I would want to respond to various ignorant or ridiculous comments, or criticism of me; and then I would be involved in endless arguments, and having to block or ignore people, all of that. So I eschew that morass. But I do think that Twitter has had some value.

But no longer, once Musk owns it. I have read and heard enough about Musk to determine that he is a person who may be some kind of inventive genius, but is dreadfully and dangerously ignorant about the things I think are important, such as political history and perspective. Musk, like others of his oligarchical friends, is an absolute egomaniac, who thinks he knows things that he has no idea about. But he has his billions to protect him, and of course he can just pound away, and censor or mock or ban those who dare to question him.

It is pretty much projected that when Musk takes over Twitter, he will reinstate Trump, along with others whom Jack Dorsey, the former owner, and his aides, had semi-permanently banned. These include people who fomented violence, agitated for revolution, expressed hateful anti-semitic and racist views.

Harbor no illusions, Musk Twitter will be a miasma of hate, with Trump once again having a forum to spew his insanity, threats and calls for armed insurrection. And Musk will participate, because he is completely full of himself, and believes he is a great thinker. He pretends that he is a moderate, but in opinion and actions, he shows himself to be a totalitarian. He had said that Twitter had a strong left-wing bias, which is nonsense. He said that Trump being banned was very unfair.

The people who pushed Musk to want to take over Twitter, are people on the very Far Right, perhaps even farther Right than that. The second biggest investor on Twitter, at two billion dollars, is a Saudi prince. It should be clear that there is a consortium of world figures and oligarchs, which includes Trump, Bannon, Murdochs and Fox News, Peter Thiel, Putin and the Russian oligarchs, MBS and other Saudi princes, Xi in China, Un in North Korea, Orban in Hungary, now Meloni in Italy, Le Pen in France, and others, who work together. Maybe at some point, some would be eliminated by the others, but right now, they share common interests and agendas.

Elon Musk is more likely a useful very rich idiot for these others. He gets the glory and ego massage of getting on his Twitter each day, and writing inane comments which he thinks are brilliant. He gets to interact with them, have a seat at their tables. Trump will praise Musk, and Musk will praise Trump. They will mock and scorn and threaten what they call “the Left.”

And the overall effect will be so dangerous, as even more control of “information” will be in the hands of the totalitarians. How does anything break through? Eventually, it could be like “1984,” with telescreens required to be in everyone’s homes; ceaseless propaganda, totalitarian enforcement; and maybe one very small and hounded “Underground,” which it is likely that the totalitarians could easily get rid of, except that it helps to rile up their supporters against this “enemy.”

I heard Ben Collins, who studies the rise of the Far Right terrorist groups, and he said that there are many ways that Musk could influence Twitter, that many would not realize. Firing people; changing the algorithms, banning people, all sorts of things. And Musk is of the nature to do that. He hates being criticized, he hates any aspersion that he is wrong. He has to tell everyone how brilliant he is, and how he understands things in a way that they cannot. He tells our government to let Russia annex the four Ukraine provinces. He has opinions about everything; and in the narcissist megalomaniac’s dream, he has the ability to get people to listen to everything he says. Just like Trump.

So what to do about it? We can’t stop Musk from taking over Twitter. .Just in time for the elections, just like OPEC today announced that they would be cutting their oil supply by two million barrels a day, starting in November. You don’t think that all these people and groups work together? When Hillary said “vast right-wing conspiracy,” and was mocked by the media people who were part of it, she wasn’t telling us a tenth of what was going on. As they get even more of all the money in the world, there is almost no way to combat them.

In past decades, we could still beat the plutocrats, because there were many small-time newspapers owned or written by liberals, and the average folks in the small towns were not inundated with broadcast and internet propaganda, because there was none yet. Now, with the taking over of the small papers, and the control of the broadcast media and the internet, it is far more difficult to beat them

My personal recourse would be to abandon Twitter. I am not a member, so it would just mean not visiting it. Would that do any good? Not in any collective sense. Musk doesn’t need the money, he could use Twitter as a “loss leader” or even a way to make money in other ventures. It would be nice if tens of millions of people left Twitter, but again, there would be enough people who would not realize what was going on there, or would think that they could escape from being propagandized, to turn many of them into MAGA followers.

Ideally, some very rich people would start a new social media platform which was fair-minded, and was not dominated by the Far Right. But are there any such people on the liberal side, with that kind of money, and the interest to do it? It doesn’t seem so, but one can hope. It could be a place where good journalists could write their stories and comments, and the people would learn important things which were not pure propaganda. I don’t expect to be seeing a viable one, though.

I would somewhat miss Twitter, at least the few feeds of admirable journalists or political analysts. But it is not worth the cost, when I know that such feeds can be censored by Musk’s people, or even shut down. He is a totalitarian, do not mistake that. So I may well have to skip all of it. That won’t bother them, not even if ten million other people do it. They are after those millions which they can use as their audience. Absenting yourself from something is not the way to defeat it. So is there some way try to defeat these forces, while not being forced to participate in or experience the reality they try to immerse everyone in?