16 min read

The Elon Musk Problem, or What a Hollowed-Out Civilization is

The Elon Musk Problem, or What a Hollowed-Out Civilization is

I’m Umair Haque, and this is The Issue: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported publication. We give you the freshest, deepest, no-holds-barred insight about the biggest issues—the ones that matter most.

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Today's Read: 15 Minutes.

The Elon Musk Problem. What it's really about: a systemic, civilizational lack of global public goods. What they are, why we need them, but why our civilization doesn't have them, and how it's creating an age of permacrisis—while our time's running out.

 1. Extreme heat is forcing America’s farmers to go nocturnal. (WaPo)
 2. Deadly humid heatwaves to spread rapidly as climate warms. (Guardian)
 3. The future of labour: more Americans are working into their 80s. (CNN)
 4. How telling people to die became normal. (Atlantic)
 5. Carbon in the oceans Is altering the micro-fabric of life. (SciAm)

Today's Issue. Power. Survival. The World. A Burning Planet.

Half a decade ago, few people outside the worlds of technology and business had heard of Elon Musk. Today, I'd imagine, most of us have—even if we don't want to. He's become an obsession, but we're missing the forest for the trees. Right about now, Americans in certain circles—journalism, government, academia—are growing startled and alarmed. Perhaps it was a recent popular piece that put this sudden epiphany best.

"Elon Musk can Change the World With One Flick of a Switch"

On this week’s episode of The New Abnormal, hosts Andy Levy and Danielle Moodie are shocked at the level of unbelievable power the CEO has over the world.

The pair discuss the latest shocking claims set to be revealed in an upcoming biography by Walter Isaacson, which allege Musk switched off his Starlink satellite communications network last year in order to prevent a Ukrainian drone attack on Russian warships.

Daily Beast

What many are beginning to recognize as an Elon Musk Problem isn't really just about an erratic billionaire with dubious, questionable attitudes. It's about much, much more than that. Musk is an inevitable creation of our failed system of political economy. A hypercentralization of wealth and power that's suffocating our civilization's ability to invest, develop, and mature, which, as we're about to discuss, is one of the Existential Risks we face—and the double irony, of course, is that figures like  billionaires claim they're the only ones who can "save humanity" and so on. So what's the problem really about?

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