On Friday, when a Twitter user quoted a recent report on CEO-to-worker pay ratio, highlighting Tesla had the lowest, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk went on a downward spiral starting with calling all socialists humourless and ending with calling Karl Marx a capitalist.
My “pay” is in options, which only matter if stock goes up & I sell. Will use that to make life multiplanetary, help education & environment on Earth w my foundation. Just don’t want us to be sad about the future. https://t.co/l3YEvjvyuz— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 15, 2018
Should prob articulate philosophy underlying my actions. It’s pretty simple & mostly influenced by Douglas Adams & Isaac Asimov.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 15, 2018
Twitter was left especially confused and angry and started taking Musk down after he said: “Those who proclaim themselves ‘socialists’ are usually depressing, have no sense of humour & attended an expensive college. Fate loves irony,” Musk said.
When some asked what he would proclaim himself as, he replied, “A socialist”.
Those who proclaim themselves “socialists” are usually depressing, have no sense of humor & attended an expensive college. Fate loves irony.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 15, 2018
A socialist— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 15, 2018
The Angry Proletariat
But it was at this point that he said something that riled many people up.
Marx was a capitalist. He even wrote a book about it.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 15, 2018
He was referring to Karl Marx, arguably the most renowned socialist philosopher, who wrote the book Das Kapital which places capitalism in a historical context and critiques both it, and the political systems in which it thrives.
The proletariat of Twitter wasn’t having it at all. Sample these responses:
"Elon Musk's growing empire is fueled by $4.9 billion in government subsidies"— Rafael ? (@rafaelshimunov) June 15, 2018
Socialism for the rich.
Capitalism for the poor.
got back to my computer to see elon musk call himself a socialist and marx a capitalist and now i have to log off again— who the fuck is scraeming "LOG OFF" at my house. (@herkzzz) June 16, 2018
Someone should tell @elonmusk that his parasitic relationship with the state isn't socialism.— Praveen Kumar (@ComradePraveenK) June 16, 2018
Elon, you are a socialist but you hate unions?
Did you actually say Marx was a capitalist? What books are you reading?
Do you think that Das Kapital was about capitalism? pic.twitter.com/4Dk6pRWOP5
To be capitalist, you need to have capital. Was Marx rich like Elon Musk? Hmmmm— Ehva (@iamProvincetown) June 16, 2018
Obviously #ElonMusk never read labor history of 19th-20th century capitalism, much less anticolonial movements in Asia, Africa & Latin America.— Kevin Kresse (@kevinkresse) June 16, 2018
White dude frm #SouthAfrica mocking #socialists as bunch of spoiled kids frm universities is, dare I say, rich w supremacist irony.
Elon Musk, a nasty capitalist, hates socialists. Surprise, surprise. Marx wrote a book about how capitalists like Musk abuse their capital for personal gain at the expense of the worker. And Musk is proving that capitalists have both too much money and too little intelligence.— goueeik (@goueeik) June 16, 2018
I think the clue's in the name, you dunderhead. It's called a CRITIQUE of political economy. Had you read it, you'd be perfectly aware that Marx was never in possession of the means of production and hence not a capitalist. I'd stick to making cars that don't work if I were you. pic.twitter.com/nXxvLTzQQc— TimBobbins (@2018Time4Change) June 16, 2018
Elon Musk tweeted about Marx and socialism and I really need a minute.— Kate Aronoff (@KateAronoff) June 16, 2018
Nothing like a billionaire mocking socialism because he doesn’t want his employees to unionize.— Rich Burroughs (@richburroughs) June 16, 2018
Mockery & Disbelief Follow
While the general tone of responses to Musk were angry, some couldn’t believe he said what he did and were unsure if he meant it as a joke.
Elon Musk is a socialist who thinks socialism is untenable because of capitalism and thinks Marx was a capitalist. One would presume he's trolling or batshit crazy.— Art Tavana (@arttavana) June 16, 2018
Elon Musk has some of the most bizarrely wrong political viewpoints I've ever heard. "Marx was a Capitalist"? Is this you trying to troll?— This autist kills fascists (@FelishaTabby) June 16, 2018
i can’t decide what part funniest. claiming marx is a capitalist? the fact it’s in reply to minecraft youtuber antvenom? the fact elon musk is the op? the original tweet accusing socialists of not being funny? i’m going combust— elliott (@planetbunnera) June 16, 2018
Are you joking? Or do you believe that you’re a socialist and Karl Marx was a capitalist?— Eric J ? (@EricJafMN) June 16, 2018
Some decided to start a thread along the same lines of “Marx was a capitalist. He wrote a book about it” tweet.
Kafka was a giant insect. He even wrote a book about it. https://t.co/E9LaIvGYi8— Alejandro (@The_Coss) June 16, 2018
Poe was a raven. He even wrote a poem about it. https://t.co/C0VPoGnAD4— Miauricio Jiménez (@miauricio) June 16, 2018
Tolkien was a Hobbit. He even wrote a trilogy about it https://t.co/dVAPNnHXXu— Pookie Baby (@jaqemate) June 16, 2018
Melville was a white whale. He even wrote a book about it. https://t.co/0bMo5y73O4— Miauricio Jiménez (@miauricio) June 16, 2018
Plato was a cave. He even wrote an allegory about it https://t.co/1jefrtsgz0— Pookie Baby (@jaqemate) June 16, 2018
Musk Doubles Down, Then Leaves
The following morning, on Saturday, Musk tried to explain what he meant to say when he said he was a socialist.
By the way, I am actually a socialist. Just not the kind that shifts resources from most productive to least productive, pretending to do good, while actually causing harm. True socialism seeks greatest good for all.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 16, 2018
But for the people of Twitter “with no sense of humour”, he only made it worse.
“shifts resources from most productive to least productive”— Greg (@waltisfrozen) June 16, 2018
The best way to convince people you’re a socialist is to sound exactly like Ayn Rand. https://t.co/PtmJ3tgcXd
for a guy who is constantly crooning abt “not caring if we make a profit” elon musk sure is a billionaire— KT NELSON (@KrangTNelson) June 16, 2018
At this point, Musk simply bailed.
Heading back into the factory, so that’s enough for now. Don’t take my Tweet too seriously. For one thing, it’s called a “Tweet”.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 16, 2018
Musk with his $21 billion net worth may have made a fool of himself by directly and indirectly distancing himself from the tag of “capitalist”, but he was right in calling himself a socialist in one sense: His company Tesla receives millions in tax incentives and breaks, while his company SpaceX receives federal contracts and has received massive subsidies from state governments.
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