Elon Musk

Why Centre-Left Liberals Are Feeling Isolated

My former colleague at Quillette, Colin Wright, has written a good piece for his Substack newsletter about a cartoon he did in 2021 (see above) to describe his own political journey – or, rather, the fact that his political views haven’t changed, but those of his fellow liberals have, leaving him feeling isolated and under attack. Here is an extract.

I was out for a walk last Thursday when Elon Musk tweeted a political cartoon that I created in August 2021. It received hundreds of thousands of retweets and more than 1.5 million likes. The stick figure in the middle depicts me, a centre-left liberal in 2008, and how the ground had shifted under my feet by 2012 and 2021.

At the outset, I stand happily beside ‘my fellow liberal’, who is slightly to my left. In 2012 he sprints to the left, dragging out the left end of the political spectrum along and pulling the political ‘centre’ closer to me. By 2021 my fellow liberal is a ‘woke “progressive”‘, so far to the left that I’m now right of centre, even though I haven’t moved.

When my cartoon went viral, it resonated with many people – and caused dissonance in the left-wing media. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent called it a “silly chart” that has been “brutally debunked”. His colleague Philip Bump described it as “simply wrong” and an “obvious exaggeration”. Mr. Bump even provided a series of actual silly charts showing “the average ideological score (using a metric called DW-NOMINATE)” and “evaluations of ideology as measured in the biennial General Social Survey (GSS)”.

Debunking a cartoon with a chart is like answering a love poem with a syllogism. Politics and culture, like most of human reality, can’t be reduced to data and abstractions without losing much of their essence. And self-styled progressives, who love to talk about the importance of ‘lived experience’, are awfully disdainful of their critics.

Worth reading in full.

You can subscribe to Colin’s Substack newsletter here.

Is Musk’s Twitter Takeover the Start of a Wider Fightback Against Woke Capitalism?

The “coalition of financial super-powers” assembled by Elon Musk to take control of Twitter is of huge significance as it may be the start of a wider fightback against dysfunctional, sanctimonious woke capitalism, says Matthew Lynn in the Telegraph

The markets are obsessed with ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing, driving it to the point of absurdity. It has demanded the winding up of the oil giants, even though it means soaring prices and dependence on Russian gas, and stopped investment in defence manufacturing, even though it leaves us vulnerable to attack, while prioritising diversity, home working and inclusivity over productivity, output and innovation. 

Corporate chief executives have started outbidding one another in political virtue signalling, ignoring returns to their shareholders. And the banks, including the all-powerful central banks, have prioritised ‘green finance’ over such mundane matters as financing investment and controlling inflation.

The results have been dismal. Almost 15 years after the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, we are heading into the new decade in worse shape than ever. The roaring twenties have been replaced by the stagnant twenties, with a terrifying mix of soaring inflation, flat-lining growth and massive debt mountains. 

Sure, there are multiple explanations for that. But it can hardly be a coincidence that as the money markets and major corporations have been captured by narrow ideological interests the economy has steadily deteriorated. 

With so much money assembled behind it, the same group of financiers, entrepreneurs and investors can move on from Twitter to other targets. Such as? Media companies, from Netflix to Disney, that prioritise preachy sermonising over entertainment. The multinationals such as Unilever that put political campaigning over making decent products at a fair price. And the investors who prioritise ESG over real investment. In truth, woke capitalism may soon be killed off – and it will be achieved through the relentless force of the free market.

Worth reading in full.

Who Are the Winners and Losers of Elon’s Twitter Takeover?

One of the unexpected effects of Elon Musk’s $44 billion Twitter purchase is that non-woke and right-of-centre accounts on the platform have suddenly surged in popularity, while woke and left-of-centre accounts have lost followers. MailOnline has more.

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter appears to have led to a split in users’ fortunes along ideological lines – with conservative figures gaining followers while leading ‘Wokerati’ go in the opposite direction.

The Tesla founder’s $44 billion bid was unanimously accepted by Twitter’s board on Monday. Shortly afterwards, prominent American right-wingers, such as Donald Trump’s son, Don Jr., saw their follower counts shoot up while Democrats, like the congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, suffered falls.

The same dynamic is occurring in the U.K., with statistics from Social Blade showing Nigel Farage added 3,912 followers yesterday as he enjoyed his most successful period for at least two weeks – while left-wing talking heads James O’Brien and Owen Jones lost 241 and 546 each.

J.K. Rowling, despite being a critic of the Conservative party, has become unpopular with many left-wing Twitterati due to her stance on gender issues. Yesterday, she saw her followers increase for the first time in weeks.

Meanwhile, Harry Potter star Emma Watson appeared to be losing her magic touch – down 5,168 yesterday – while former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn shed 850 followers and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, 146. Actress Jameela Jamil, who has threatened to leave Twitter over Musk’s takeover, lost 615.

The picture was far rosier for right-wing figures, with journalists Douglas Murray, Fraser Nelson, Toby Young and Julia Hartley-Brewer seeing their follower counts rise 4,784, 24, 286 and 655 consecutively.

The fluctuation in follower numbers in the U.S. triggered a wave of theories seeking to explain the phenomenon.

Some suggested ‘free speech absolutist’ Musk’s takeover prompted developers to change the social media giant’s algorithm to highlight conservative accounts and suppress left-leaning ones – a theory that was slapped down by people who pointed out that Musk will not officially complete his purchase of the platform for months.

Others argued ‘woke’ Twitter programmers, who have been accused of silencing right-wing voices by suspending or banning controversial accounts whose views they disagree with, had adjusted the algorithm to be more balanced in an attempt to cover up their previous biases.

But Twitter blocked its staff from making programming changes to the app to prevent it being sabotaged, suggested that theory was off the mark.

Today, Carrie-Ann Sudlow, a digital marketeer and social media expert, insisted the changes were not the result of ‘an algorithm issue or a conspiracy’.

“When something like this happens in the world, the influencers like Nigel Farage have an opinion on it, and it’s either popular or not popular and that leads to them gaining or losing followers,” she told MailOnline.

“This is a big takeover from a very influential man. With influence comes strong opinions. Elon fans seem to be for or against with few sitting on the fence.

“He’s making a big impact on all areas of the world, his sceptics will not want to fund him so leave Twitter. His supporters will rejoice and jump on the back of the news hence gaining followers.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: @LD_Sceptics, the Twitter account of the Daily Sceptic, has jumped in popularity since Elon’s takeover and now boasts 20,300 followers. The Free Speech Union’s Twitter account has also exploded (~70,000). If you’re on Twitter, please give them both a follow.

Twitter Begins Censorship of Climate Science Dissent. Will Elon Musk End It?

Twitter’s decision to ban advertisements that “contradict the scientific consensus” around human-caused climate change is both bad and sad. Twitter says such ads are now prohibited by its “inappropriate content policy”. Ads that cast doubt on a scientific hypothesis that doesn’t have a single credible paper to conclusively prove it’s correct are now to be placed on a list that includes the promotion of paedophilia. Ads that question almost forecasts about increases in global temperatures by multiple degrees centigrade based on always-wrong climate models are now to be lumped in with vile abuse based on a person’s skin colour.

The move was announced on Earth Day but was largely a virtue-signalling act since few if any ads will be affected. It is mainly woke companies that signal their virtue in their advertising on a range of cultural and political issues. More practically-minded companies maximise their attempts to provide a service and turn a profit rather than indulging in ideologically-charged advertising.

There are fears, however, that the move, banning in effect non-existent ads, could presage wider restriction of the overall freedom to debate climate change science on social media. It remains to be seen whether the just announced purchase by Elon Musk changes any of the cancelling culture at the San Francisco operation. Twitter said that “misleading information” about climate change “can undermine efforts to protect the planet”. It added: “In the coming months, we’ll have more to share on our work to add reliable, authoritative context to the climate conversations happening on Twitter.” It noted that it was “always thinking about other ways” to “serve” climate conversations.

And Finally…

In this week’s episode of London Calling, James and I discuss Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter; the integrity of the French Presidential election and whether Marine Le Pen’s 42% share of the vote means France is more racist than Britain; the uncertain future of Boris Johnson; Douglas Murray’s apparent reference to James in his latest Joe Rogan interview; and, in Culture Corner, Slow Horses, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, Moon Knight and The Northman.

You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe on iTunes here.

Twitter Accepts Musk’s Offer

Reuters is reporting that Twitter is about to accept Elon Musk’s £43 billion offer for the company, which the Tesla owner has described as his “best and final” offer.

Twitter may announce the $54.20-per-share deal later on Monday once its board has met to recommend the transaction to Twitter shareholders, the sources said. It is always possible that the deal collapses at the last minute, the sources added.

Musk, the world’s richest person according to a tally by Forbes, is negotiating to buy Twitter in a personal capacity and Tesla is not involved in the deal.

Twitter has not been able to secure so far a ‘go-shop’ provision under its agreement with Musk that would allow it to solicit other bids once the deal is signed, the sources said. Still, Twitter would be allowed to accept an offer from another party by paying Musk a break-up fee, the sources added.

The sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential. Twitter and Musk did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Twitter shares were up 4.5% in pre-market trading in New York on Monday at $51.15.

Musk has said Twitter needs to be taken private to grow and become a genuine platform for free speech.

The deal would come just four days after Musk unveiled a financing package to back the acquisition. This led Twitter’s board to take the deal more seriously and many shareholders to ask the company not to let the opportunity for a deal to slip away, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: You can read more about this story in the Financial Times, the Wall St Journal, and Bloomberg.

Stop Press 2: Twitter’s board has announced that the company will be sold to Elon Musk for around $44bn. Now we’ll find out what Musk’s vision of free speech for Twitter is, and what the backlash from the wokerati will be.

Highlights From the Twitterati Meltdown Over Musk Takeover Bid

Watching the woke Twitter echo chamber melt down over the prospect of the world’s richest libertarian taking charge of their safe space has been a sight to behold. Here’s a thread that collects some of the best examples of the double standards applied when Trump got banned and now Musk has moved to take over.

Elon Musk Moves to Buy Twitter

Elon Musk has offered to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share this morning, a total of $43bn (£33bn). The Telegraph has the story.

It comes the week after the Chief Executive of SpaceX and Tesla emerged as Twitter’s biggest shareholder and days after he ditched plans to join the company’s board, which would have capped his shareholding and prevented a takeover.

In a letter to the Twitter chairman, Bret Taylor, Mr Musk wrote: “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy.

“However, since making my investment I now realise the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.

“As a result, I am offering to buy 100% of Twitter for $54.20 per share in cash, a 54% premium over the day before I began investing in Twitter and a 38% premium over the day before my investment was publicly announced. My offer is my best and final offer and if it is not accepted, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder.

“Twitter has extraordinary potential. I will unlock it.”

In a previous text message to Mr Taylor, published on Twitter, he wrote: “As I indicated this weekend, I believe that the company should be private to go through the changes that need to be made. After the past several days of thinking this over, I have decided I want to acquire the company and take it private.”

He’s clearly had enough of the internet’s public square banning people for not being woke or on-message enough. Will his takeover succeed?

Worth reading in full.

London Calling

In this week’s episode of London Calling, the topics under discussion are James’s recent trip to Bulgaria, Elon Musk’s purchase of nearly 10% of Twitter, the ‘Respect my sex if you want my X’ campaign, the Boat Race, the £50 fine given to Boris’s “head of ethics” for bringing a karaoke machine to a “raucous” party in Downing Street, why karaoke seems to appeal so much to Tory politicians and their advisors, the bad timing of the Just Stop Oil protestors, and, in Culture Corner, SAS: Rogue Heroes, A Ship of the Line and Sharpe’s Trafalgar.

You can listen to the episode here and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.

Elon Musk Buys $3 Billion Stake in Twitter

Elon Musk – a prominent lockdown sceptic and free speech proponent – has bought a 9.2% stake in social media platform Twitter worth nearly $3 billion U.S. dollars. Guido Fawkes has more.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has bought a $2.89 billion stake in Twitter, making him the largest outside shareholder in the social media firm, not long after criticising the company for failing to uphold the tenets of free speech.

Musk now owns 73,486,938 shares of Twitter, which represents a 9.2% passive stake in the company, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission filing released this morning. The stake is worth $2.89 billion, based on Twitter’s closing price on Friday. The stock has shot up some 25% in pre-market trading.

This comes less than two weeks after Musk criticised the company, polling people on Twitter about whether Twitter adheres to free speech principles. “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk tweeted.  “What should be done?”

Worth reading in full.