Posted: 01.11.2023 16:52:00

Elon Musk takes off his masks

Why the words and actions of an American billionaire do not fit into the ideological mainstream of the West

It is hard to contain surprise watching the behaviour of Elon Musk. Everyone has already gotten used to his eccentric business practices. Now the American billionaire is increasingly asserting himself in politics. However, his assessments and actions often meet resistance from the Western establishment.


Tesla and SpaceX have become recognisable brands. And their founder, Elon Musk, has become one of the symbols of a modern successful entrepreneur. In 2021, he topped the list of the world’s richest people. Moreover, from January to October his fortune grew from $185 billion to $300 billion. True, now it has decreased somewhat, but still remains at a sky-high level. A businessman, as they say, can sell not only his own products, but also himself. In this regard, he is very similar to the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple.
It is not surprising that with media exposure came social influence. But here Musk differs sharply from many of his business colleagues. He does not seek to integrate into the Western ideological mainstream. His statements and assessments often run counter to the position of politicians in the collective West.
It is very revealing how Musk behaved after acquiring the famous social network Twitter. He didn’t just rename it X. In November 2022, a survey was conducted among users whether to return Donald Trump’s account. Following the dramatic events surrounding American voters’ protests against the results of the January 2021 presidential election, Twitter suspended Trump’s account ‘permanently’. The initiative for network rehabilitation of the politician was supported by 52 percent of the 15 million voters. But Musk himself has made a huge number of enemies in the liberal camp of Trump haters.
Musk did not stand aside from the Ukrainian armed conflict. And here he showed himself to be original and ambiguous. After the start of a special military operation, Musk provided the Kiev regime with Starlink terminals, a global satellite system that provides broadband Internet access even in areas with unstable coverage. 
This decision played an important role in combat operations, significantly increasing the quality of communications and navigation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. However, it then became known that Musk decided not to provide the Ukrainian military with access to Starlink off the coast of Crimea. This happened after an attack on ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Commenting on his action, the businessman said, “Neither I nor anyone at SpaceX ever promised coverage in Crimea. Moreover, our rules clearly prohibit the use of Starlink for offensive military operations, since we are a civilian system, so [the Ukrainians] asked for something that was expressly prohibited.” Then he also added that he wants to help people, not kill them. 
The entrepreneur was immediately attacked by Zelensky’s supporters, including very influential figures from the American government offices. There were even accusations of treason. But the troublemaker did not lose his head, although he slightly adjusted his position.
He still refuses to turn on Starlink off the coast of the peninsula, citing Western sanctions, saying that the system never worked in this region, so no one turned anything off. In addition, the US Congress did not officially declare war on Russia, so there can be no talk of any treason.
On the status of Crimea itself, Musk’s position is quite straightforward. He believes that the peninsula has a long and strong connection with Russia. The overwhelming majority of the population considers themselves Russian, so you should listen to people’s opinions, but not force them to be citizens of a state in which they do not want to live. Back in October last year, he proposed a peace plan that involved cancelling the annexation and new referendums in the temporarily occupied territories, leaving Crimea to Russia (ignoring Khrushchev’s ‘mistake’), ensuring the flow of water to the peninsula and the neutrality of Ukraine. It was subsequently reported that Musk spoke personally with Russian President Vladimir Putin before his tweet about the ‘peace plan’ for Ukraine.

It’s time to come to your senses

In October 2023, the entrepreneur continued his line of searching for peace. He said that armed conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East are pushing humanity towards a World War III. Musk calls the confrontation between the West and Russia a hopeless situation that leads to a rapprochement between Moscow and Beijing. And this, in turn, will turn into a disaster for the United States. He sees a way out in speedy reconciliation and delimitation of the parties along the line of current armed contact. He justifies his position by the fact that no combinations are observed in the territories controlled by Russia.
Attitudes towards Musk’s views and proposals are very contradictory. Some experts see them as a reflection of the position of a significant portion of the business community, tired of a whole series of sanctions.
Of course, military operations contribute to the development of the military-industrial complex. Just remember the $100 billion recently announced by Biden for wars in different regions of the world. But this is something of a drug, since war and sanctions in general have a negative impact on the economy. And big business, through the mouth of Musk, makes it clear to politicians that it’s time to come to their senses.
Nevertheless, politicians are in no hurry to follow Musk’s advice. Quite the opposite. They put pressure on the entrepreneur. Still would! Just look at his conclusion, “Russia and Ukraine are literally cousins. Residents of Ukraine have relatives in Russia, residents of Russia have relatives in Ukraine. They have been part of the same country for many years.” Simply unprecedented courage for a resident of Western countries with their official Anti-Russian sentiment.
Hence, the problems that the authorities create for the restless entrepreneur. Deputy Head of the European Commission for European Values and Transparency Vera Jourova told Elon Musk that the social network X (formerly Twitter) is obliged to comply with EU standards for censoring materials on the Internet or leave the EU. This was reported by the European publication Politico. In addition, there is information that the American authorities are assisting Mark Zuckerberg in creating an analogue of the social network X. By the way, Zuckerberg himself, the owner of Facebook, also showed obstinacy at one time. But in October 2019, he was summoned to Congress and interrogated with partiality. Obviously, there was some kind of pressure behind the scenes. As a result, Zuckerberg has become as obedient as a bunny and fluctuates along with the course of American politics.
It’s hard to say whether Musk will be able to withstand the pressure. So far he’s holding up well. Some even suspected he had political ambitions. But for him, the only object of desire would be the White House, and that is inaccessible to Musk, since he was born in South Africa, which does not allow him to run for the highest office in the United States. 
And yet, a lot depends on the will of Musk, his loyalty to his principles. At the very least, it can give hope to new generations of Americans and Europeans that not everything in their social order is rotten.

By Ph.D. in History Vadim Gigin