Published April 26, 2022
With his sudden purchase of Twitter for an eye-popping $44 billion (easily the largest acquisition by a single individual in history), entrepreneur Elon Musk made a bid to establish a monarchy in one of the world’s largest and most powerful digital domains. The outpouring of commentary from conservatives and liberals alike demonstrates how high the stakes are for Musk’s play to overtake and reform what is arguably the most influential platform for shaping elite opinion. For all the commentary about “spurring innovation” and “unlocking shareholder value,” we’d be missing the plotline if we thought that Musk’s Twitter takeover saga was essentially a finance and economics story. No, it is above all a matter of politics and a wake-up call to the need to think in properly political terms about the vast fiefdoms of private industry that increasingly shape our lives, especially in the field of Big Tech.
Musk, even more than most of our era’s somewhat megalomaniacal tech titans, has made it clear it is not money that drives him but a vision of what constitutes human flourishing, a vision he feels uniquely driven and called to deliver. Musk, who is a social libertarian, sees Twitter as an essential venue for the exchange of ideas. It fits with his profile as a disruptor. Whether it’s becoming an interplanetary species, achieving independence from terrestrial energy sources, or unlocking the potential of cryptocurrency, Musk’s larger-than-life ambitions may use market forces as their instruments but his real goals are political. His bid to acquire Twitter is no exception.
Brad Littlejohn (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh) is the founder and president of the Davenant Institute. He also works as a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and has taught for several institutions, including Moody Bible Institute–Spokane, Bethlehem College and Seminary, and Patrick Henry College. He is recognized as a leading scholar of the English theologian Richard Hooker and has published and lectured extensively in the fields of Reformation history, Christian ethics, and political theology. He lives in Landrum, S.C., with his wife, Rachel, and four children.