Colin Brazier: Elon Musk is a hate figure for woke people

Colin Brazier
Colin Brazier

Elon Musk is fast becoming a Christmas panto villain

Published

How many of the presents you’re buying this Christmas will disappear into storage or even the bin come the New Year? Last year MY most successful Christmas gift also happened to be one of the cheapest. It was a £10 t-shirt for my youngest child.

He wears it all the time, more than is probably hygienic, and like a lot of t-shirts, it’s an expression of loyalty to a brand. But not to a football club or super-hero franchise. His t-shirt carries the word Space-X, one of the companies owned by Elon Musk.

My son thinks Musk is pretty cool. Which is quite a thing when you think about it. A 12-year-old in Wiltshire lost in admiration for a 50-year-old in California who he’ll almost certainly never meet.

But boys, in my experience, are a little more hard-wired for hero-worship than girls. And, although the culture he’s growing-up in would rather he admired Greta Thunberg, I find his devotion to Musk quite telling.

Because, although some adults struggle with Musk, my young son sees him, a little at least, for what he is. Probably the most interesting, weird, brilliant, sociopathic and remarkable man on the planet today.

When he was my son’s age, Musk was already reading two books a day and writing computer programs that would eventually lead him to PayPal. But, at school in South Africa, Musk was also being bullied and beaten-up and struggling to live with Asperger’s Sydrome. It’s the sort of childhood fairy tale of triumph over adversity that kids enjoy.

But those stories are actually two-a-penny. It’s the story of Musk, the adult, which is unique. And, if you’re 12, they’re compelling.

His space-ships are bigger and better than anyone else’s. But it’s also what he talks about…what he stands for. Musk is a throwback to an era of Western can-do confidence. To a time, before the doubts kicked in, when the human thirst for conquest and colonization wasn’t the source of shame it is now. Today the FT named him their person of the year.

Earlier this week, Time magazine did the same. The reaction to that award was fascinating.

Elon Musk poses on the cover image of Time magazine's 2021 "Person of the Year"
Elon Musk poses on the cover image of Time magazine's 2021 "Person of the Year"

Musk is a woke hate-figure, but they can’t all agree on why. Progressives like failed Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said it was because he’s a tax dodger.

"Let’s change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else."

But this misses the point. Musk’s 110,000 workers, in the US alone, pay lots of tax. TESLA has ushered in an electric car revolution, and created skilled jobs worldwide.

No, it’s about what he says – not pays. For one thing, he’s so rich, he doesn’t give a toss about what anybody thinks of him. That means his tweets can be borderline defamatory. But it also gives him a license to think the unthinkable.

He really does have a Plan B. Not for Covid in Britain, but for the entire human species. It would see us turn Mars into a human lifeboat and give humanity a second chance if we blow it here.

For the green movement’s theologians, that is sacrilege. Musk isn’t giving up on climate change, but if you listen to environmentalists – and that includes Prince William – you’d think he had.

He’s not an eco vandal. In fact, his solar panel business is a revolutionary step forward for clean energy. Made possible by wealth that’s the fruit of Musk’s workaholic labours, mathematical genius and eye-popping ruthlessness.

And yet, notwithstanding this week’s Man of the Year stuff, Musk is fast becoming the planet’s favourite Christmas panto villain.

But sometimes you need to see these things through the eyes of a child. If you had the money, why wouldn’t you build shiny space-ships and potentially save humankind.

Why wouldn’t you do something with your billions to stop artificial intelligence wiping us all out? Why wouldn’t you be a planetary saviour? Why shouldn’t you ensure that our magnificent human story has a back-stop in the event of us fouling things up here.

If a 12-year-old can see the sense of all that, why can’t his detractors