There Is Little Precedent for Elon Musk's World Sway

Ronan Farrow suggests in 'New Yorker' that he has what amounts to 'shadow rule' in US government
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2023 5:05 PM CDT
There Is Little Precedent for Elon Musk's World Sway
Elon Musk in 2020.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

"The meddling of oligarchs and other monied interests in the fate of nations is not new," observes Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker. But Elon Musk is in a league of his own, he adds. Farrow's deep dive into Musk's life and career begins with a look at how his SpaceX satellites became a pivotal component in the Russia-Ukraine war, and how Musk used that leverage to full advantage in talks with US leaders and possibly even Vladimir Putin himself. "There is little precedent for a civilian's becoming the arbiter of a war between nations in such a granular way, or for the degree of dependency that the U.S. now has on Musk in a variety of fields, from the future of energy and transportation to the exploration of space," writes Farrow. The headline refers to Musk's "shadow rule."

Farrow ticks off examples, such as Tesla's clout in shaping America's charging stations and how SpaceX has become the main way NASA ferries astronauts into space. The government is so "reliant on him" that officials in various agencies effectively "treat him like a sort of unelected official." A telling quote comes from former PayPal partner Reid Hoffman, who says Musk's attitude is similar to that of Louis XIV and his attitude of "L'état, c'est moi. (I am the state.)" While much of the story deals with this aspect of Musk, it also delves into his personal backstory. A person described as a close colleague tells Farrow: "His life just sucks. It's so stressful. He's just so dedicated to these companies. He goes to sleep and wakes up answering e-mails. Ninety-nine per cent of people will never know someone that obsessed, and with that high a tolerance for sacrifice in their personal life." Read the full story. (Or check out other longforms.)

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