I Hate Elon Musk, and so can you

Can everybody just shut up about Elon Musk for ONE SECOND

by Kate Kohn

Imagine living on this planet, right. Imagine living on this gorgeous planet where the sun sets every night, and the moon rises in suit, and the stars start to shine. That’s free. But there are some people who don’t appreciate that. There are some people who want to colonize the cosmos and make money off it. There are people who see the whimsy and wonder of space travel and think capitalism! is the answer. Space doesn’t belong to mankind anymore--it belongs to the ruling class and the tech bros.

Elon Musk demonstrates everything wrong with the dystopia we live in. He cracks jokes on Twitter to be relatable and funny while sitting atop $20 billion. He’s selling flamethrowers just because he can. He drilled a hole under LA just because he could.

Musk is the omniscient king of the nerds. Recall those high school-sitcom dweebs who would bite their bullies back with “one day I’ll be your boss.” Musk is the logical conclusion of those kids, only handsomer and smarter.

Don’t get me wrong--he is a smart and savvy guy, but he just wants to show off. He wants us to kiss the ground he walks on, because he’s some god-on-earth who will play harbinger to the Great Space Migration. Musk wants nothing more than for humanity to be indebted to him. From bestowing upon us electric cars, solar roofing projects, and now the chance to colonize Mars, we sure have somethin’ to thank him for.

Neither you nor I have the means to send our personal cars into space. We do not have the means to send anything into space. When Muskton, Mars is open, none of us are getting in. Musk, though, will be living a perfectly Jetson-lifestyle, complete with two-hour work week, and robot maid. The majority of us will work longer, harder, and for less, while a privileged few build fencing around the final frontier--that formerly forever-free expanse--and call it their backyard. Our shared human heritage is not the earth, but what has always been beyond it, and Musk wants to take that from you, and sell it to the highest bidder.

We gobble it up. We believe he commits acts of science for the greater good. We think he’s a regular ol’ natural philosopher, whose greatest mission is the discovery of knowledge.

But Musk isn’t discovering anything. He’s made it clear he wants to be the first to put Man on Mars. It’s a noble goal, were it not for the glaring injustices on earth. Between school shootings, genocides, and poisoned water, the daydreams of life in space will always remain just that for most. There is no escape from this hell planet. While Musk, and Bezos, and whatever other billionaire wants to remind me what little we are physically/monetarily capable of aspiring to, all launch themselves into space for fun, we get to stay here and eat lead paint chips.

This payoff is fine for the new Antikythera class. They navigate the stars endlessly, Arthur C. Clarke anthologies in hand. They make it possible but not feasible for others to follow suit. Anyone not already a billionaire thrice-over is never going to host a cocktail party at Chez Vénus. You’ll never even take a plane to Europe--airfare is too much for your pittance of a salary--but, that’s okay, because Daddy Musk is going to send his friends to space for everyone’s sake.

Knowing that climate change has already damned us all, the scope and suffering of the working class will reach an asymptote of squalor. Past the point of no return, we who cannot afford to flee the planet will have to adapt (or, if Bear Grylls is in charge: Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. But without the last bit), only to eventually perish. Our bosses will give us instructions and slash our wages from a cool colony on Kepler-22b. Just kidding, we’ll all be dead by the time they get there.

To top it off, people like this inevitability. They like the idea of Man living in space--they just don’t realize that they won’t be counted among those with real space real estate. Their hearts beat for the coolest toys Musk makes, not realizing the wanton wastefulness, and sheer stupidity of the flamethrower. Musk’s distaste for transit hints that he is inimical to altruism and the public good, instead just boring tunnels under city streets without a shred of self-awareness. Verbal approval?

As he ingratiates himself to our government and wallets, Musk moves ever closer to world domination. And after this world, all the other ones. Between the flashy launches, and fancy cars, we have to recall the nihilism of it all. It is not hopeful, or optimistic, or dream-reaching to do the things Musk does. It is an egotistical desire to reach higher fame and adoration. The colonization of Mars is not only a capitalist plot to keep the downtrodden down, but it is a vanity project. The future of the human race is all dependent on some dude’s obsession with himself and his cash. When the rest of us die in an apocalyptic storm, at least he’ll have a great view.

[Originally published March 9, 2018]

CultureKate Kohn