Both Musk and those who fear him position themselves as the defenders of democracy. In reality, the episode reveals how vacuous the term has become.
Those fretting about the world’s wealthiest man gaining control over their favorite site have scarcely objected to the fact that the media outlets, think tanks, NGOs, and universities they work for comprise a patronage network bankrolled by a handful of other billionaires like eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Musk has done a service by exposing the function Twitter performs for this alliance of oligarchs and the professional classes, which Michael Lind terms “Progressivism, Inc.”
In the final analysis, the conflict over Twitter is a war between rival factions of oligarchs. A less censorious Twitter is desirable in itself, as is the emergence of any meaningful challenge to the conformity that stifles cultural and intellectual life. But a less censorious internet also risks obscuring how power is really exercised in a world where the so-called public square is a patchwork of privatized ideological fiefdoms.
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