The Future of Elon Musk and Capitalism
Working on our inner selves, viral justice, 50 tips, and Chinatown's bank
In an unfortunate twist of events, Twitter was finally acquired by Elon Musk for $44B. After a week of firing half the company, spreading misinformation, and then (latest) trying to re-hire fired staff… we are witnessing the messy public unraveling of an unfit billionaire.
How did we get to a point where a single individual could buy up one of the largest companies in the world?
Why was Twitter’s board unanimously approving Elon’s takeover? (founder Jack Dorsey included)
How could someone with such poor leadership be one of the richest people in the world?
There was a time when I revered Musk as he was entering the public eye, but after news of his family’s blood money fortune, dark past of ousting previous founders of Tesla, and abusive relationships, what’s happening at Twitter seems on brand with his past behaviors of greed, violence, and sociopathy.
Though even with countless accounts of negligence and abuse, people still look up to Musk.
His title is often superseded by “billionaire” or “richest man”… as if we haven’t yet learned that the wealthiest individuals on Earth contribute very little to social welfare and pull up the bottom line. Interesting fact: wealthy elites hit an inflection point of compound interest and their money begins to grow at unprecedented speed - far quicker than any human can spend or donate. 1% today becomes a mere fraction tomorrow.
But how did we get here? A few points of reflection…
1. We project a fantasy onto wealth.
In our deep fascination with wealth, we project fantastical human qualities onto money. From hard work and brilliance to morality and humanity, money shape-shifts into an idealized form for us all.
Rich people are…
Having more money means…
If I had more money then I would be…
Money means nothing more than money, and we can never measure the quantification of human qualities by capital. For example, there are plenty of hard-working people around the world placed into harmful and extractive systems of labor exploitation without a massive bank account.
Does it mean they aren’t hard-working? No.
But quite the opposite, especially when their boss becomes the richest person in the world.
As we dissolve idealized personalities of wealth, we can see the rich elite for who they truly are. Who might Elon be, without any of his wealth?
2. Money is PR. Money is fiction.
We can attribute many of the fantasies of money to its media narrative. From glossy Fortune magazine spreads to popular TV shows like Bling Empire and Real Housewives, we are sold a vision of wealth is/can be all around us.
But beyond humanizing wealthy elites and selling a caricature of wealth, our media works hard to legitimize and encourage the adoption of capitalism and currency. We believe so much in money and what it can do (new home, new life, new future), without realizing that it’s founded solely on the discretion of public interest.
If tomorrow, we all believed in paper clips as our main form of currency, fiat currency (ex: the US dollar) could plummet in value.
If tomorrow, we all stopped believing in capitalism and eradicated currency altogether, everything could be worth nothing.
The inception of money was to record value exchange between entities. From goods and services, money helped facilitate our trade. Somewhere along the way, we created institutions bypassing this mutual exchange (creating the finance industry). We began gamifying the system, only to trap us within the puzzle itself.
Because money is fictional, our greater community has the power to shift the narrative and dismantle the system itself… if it wanted to.
What if Elon’s wealth was simply a fragment of our collective imagination?
3. Money accentuates who we are.
While dismantling the capitalism complex might sound alluring, we are far from a solution. (And in my opinion, the fix is something more intrinsic within us vs. a new product like blockchain / crypto-currencies / decentralized solution)
Getting to a solution requires us to reflect deeply and find ways of weaning off damaging systems - starting with a personal reflection of money’s impact.
As our wealth increases, facets of our personalities become more pronounced. Our egos, fears, desires, joys, selfishness, selflessness… conscious and unconscious qualities come to fruition. Wealth doesn’t improve us but, instead, amplifies who we are based on our current state, for better or worse:
Because capitalism is a fragment of our own imagination, as our capital grows, it inherently grows out of and further extends our inner self.
Because capitalism is a shared belief system, the deeper we are, the more susceptible we are to influence by others and their wealth.
What if we begin to see capitalism as the accentuation of ourselves rather than altruism?
For our community
For queer BIPOC creatives: Tue, Nov 8 - UX Nights (with Kat Vellos)
For queer Asians: Thu, Nov 10 - Yellow Glitter Sparkles
Something to Listen / Read
Recently downloaded Ruha Benjamin’s latest audiobook, Viral Justice, and it was an enlightening dose of social justice lessons:
A necessity to focus on the positive in this work (Benjamin was originally going to title her book Viral Racism, but reframed it to focus on change and impact first)
Change is viral - when we impact someone, they can also impact a community of their own
Performative activism challenges viral justice, including running our ego or growth for growth’s sake.
Moving forward comes in many forms & that a part of our work & deprogramming is to decenter ourselves in our greater movement
Specifically for the audiobook - there was an exclusive Q&A with Ibrahim Kendi, which goes into a more candid conversation about the work behind the scenes and the state of equity.
Something to Read
A list of upvoted 50 productivity and life hacks upvoted by users from the interwebs.
Something to Watch
My friend recommended this powerful documentary about Ababus Bank, the only US bank prosecuted in relation to the 2008 financial crisis… which was also NYC’s Chinatown neighborhood bank.
As always, thanks for reading!
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Have a beautiful day!
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