Tech Authoritarians of San Francisco

Elon Musk and the rise of reactionary Big Tech (and big money) politics

Tech Authoritarians of San Francisco

by Gil Duran | FrameLab

It has become impossible to ignore Silicon Valley’s big shift toward authoritarian politics. Last year, we wrote about how Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter was an effort to tilt the scales in favor of Republican authoritarianism. Musk even imitates Trump’s strongman antics, spewing a constant stream of conspiracy theories, culture war attacks and racism.

But Musk is not alone. For the New Republic, I wrote about how a group of tech oligarchs is spending millions of dollars in a campaign to shift San Francisco politics toward reactionary, regressive, Republican politics. It’s a bold effort to seize significant political power in the heart of Democratic California.

Read Here: “The Tech Plutocrats Dreaming of a Right-Wing San Francisco.”

I also joined the New Republic’s Greg Sargent on the Daily Blast Podcast to discuss the formation of Musk’s authoritarian ideology and what Big Tech’s right-wing politics mean for the country.

Listen Here: “Elon Musk’s Unhinged Pro-MAGA Tweets Expose Tech Oligarchy’s Dark Side.”

Authoritarians are spending millions to frame the political debate and destroy democracy. Help fight back by becoming a paid subscriber. Because your support matters!

Tracking the authoritarian shift

Over the last two years, FrameLab has tracked the develop of Musk’s effort to “redpill” American politics.

When he bought Twitter in November 2022, we warned that Musk wanted to create a social media platform that:

…Empowers dictators, fascists, white supremacists, Nazis, disinformation and misinformation. It’s a world in which billionaires enjoy total power over everyone else, and where straight white men hold dominion. It’s a world where people can no longer distinguish truth from lies because technology has sucked us all into the manipulative babble of Twitter. Musk seeks to create a dynamic where organized misinformation shares equal billing with respected journalism, and where people can’t tell the difference between the two.

In December 2022, we charted how Musk (like Trump before him) was manipulating social media to keep himself at the center of the political discourse:

Social media algorithms are the processes, rules and signals that determine which information gets elevated to the widest possible audience. With his $44 billion purchase, Musk has become Twitter’s main algorithm. He is using his powerful account, with its 120 million followers, to control the flow of information and thus control our brains.

And when Walter Isaacson’s new biography of Musk was published last year, I analyzed the key elements of the CEO’s authoritarian “strict father” politics:

1.     A cruel dominating father (who Musk both hates and emulates)

2.     A pronounced lack of empathy (he considers empathy a weakness)

3.     A strict hierarchical worldview amplified by a messiah complex (Musk truly believes he is the savior of humanity)

Now this style of politics is manifesting in San Francisco, where Musk returned after claiming he was moving to Texas. But instead of moving to Republican states, these tech plutocrats have a new plan: To buy San Francisco City Hall in 2024 and create a parallel Republican power center in deep blue California. If it can work in San Francisco, they believe it can work anywhere.

Thanks for reading — more to come.

Further reading:


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