Reflections on the Elon Musk Twitter Cataclysm and Dire Threat to Democracy

The notion that democracy is best served by restricting the public exchange of ideas to only those ideas pre-approved by one political party or faction is absurd.

The notion that allowing ideas with which you disagree to be uttered in a public forum constitutes a threat to your freedom is a clear admission that you lack confidence in your own ideas or your power to defend them.

The notion that some issues are so important to the public welfare that only government-sanctioned opinions on those issues should be permitted to reach the public square rests on the implied premise that the public welfare is best served by allowing the state to assume the mantle of Official Truth on those issues — in other words, that tyranny is the default position when dealing with important matters.

The notion that a private company offering an ersatz town square for smartphone addicts is an essential public service, to be regulated (one way or another) as to its content and permissions, and that its private business decisions regarding its content and permissions ought to be regarded as constitutive, almost definitive, of democracy or free speech rights, is a testament to the level of deterioration in Western civilization’s understanding of its own political principles and premises.

The notion that Elon Musk, a businessman with no serious opinions to express on any important matter of political philosophy or public policy, ought to be treated as either a savior of freedom or a public enemy of equality, on the basis of his desire to run a lucrative “social media” business for fame and profit, reveals contemporary man’s incapacity for self-determination, his pathetic dependence on celebrities to tell him what to think, and his absolute submission to the vectors of majority opinion and mob rule — democracy in its nadir (and perhaps most essential) form.

The notion that the world’s political fate is, and should be, at the mercy of social media services with names like “Twitter,” explicitly designed and intended to make money by getting short-attention-span ignoramuses hooked on clicking everything in sight, and in the process demeaning genuine public discussion and the true value of free speech by relativizing all utterance through egalitarianism, and by reducing all discourse on even the most serious public matters to under-considered and under-explained sound bites for the eyes, coarse and largely unmemorable pith aimed at attracting the greatest number of “likes” and “shares” — this notion is a virtual cry to the heavens, “Take us now, Lord, we have exhausted ourselves!”

The left-wing progressives, as always, wish to restrict free speech in all its forms and forums, because they have no interest in truth or progress, but only in increasing their already-dominant power and crushing all remaining resistance. The right-wing progressives (populists or whatever they call themselves today) are the defenders of free speech, in the sense that they are the faction that feels under-represented and over-restricted in public discourse, and therefore seeks protection behind the old liberal principle that all voices ought to be heard. In truth, all voices ought in principle to be free to be heard, but in practice it would be far better if the majority of voices spoke only amongst their kith and kin, and sparsely, while learning instead to devote a great deal more time and attention to listening.

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