Elon Musk, the sci-fi anti-hero from central casting, becomes the unlikely

Could it be that the man who’s just named a baby X Æ A-12 will turn out to be a pivotal figure in deciding the economic and political future of the USA?

Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind Tesla (), SpaceX and a bespoke range of flamethrowers, this week created a storm by re-opening a factory in Alameda County, California, against the express wishes of the local authorities.

A simple case of breaking coronavirus laws?

Yes, but with Musk, whose existence seems drawn directly from the pages of a hyper-real novel by Philip K Dick, nothing is ever simple.

He was immediately accused by the largely liberal mainstream media of deliberately endangering the lives of his non-unionised workforce. So it was that the likes of CNN and the Guardian ran editorials – “What happened to Elon Musk?” and “Elon Musk v Public Health”, as though their former champion had deviated from the straight and narrow and turned to the dark side.

One elected California official even took to tweeting profanities about Musk. But, although Musk allowed his irritation to show to some degree, to a greater extent he was concentrating on the new arrival in his life, the idiosyncratically named X Æ A-12.

So, was Alameda County ready to make a martyr of Musk?

It was not.

The sheriff took note of Tesla’s infringement of the regulations and did nothing, Musk filed a lawsuit, the county backed down. And so it goes, big business triumphs over the little man yet again, at least according to the standard media narrative.

But who exactly is “the little man” in the US these days? Is it the non-unionised worker, at risk from reckless management decisions?

Or could it be Elon Musk himself, the man who took on the giant media narrative of the coronavirus consensus against all odds, and won?  

Sure, Musk isn’t as lonely in his defiance of the coronavirus doom-mongers in the US as he would be in Europe, but all the same the idea that he would want to preserve his company and the jobs that go with it seems to have taken a lot of people by surprise, and to have generated considerable derision too.

But it’s not all one way traffic

Musk is currently straddling one of the main faultlines in America. He’s a tech guru and entrepreneur who refuses to toe the silicon valley line; a man who is doing more than any single one human being physically to slow down climate change, but who is supported in his latest stance by Donald Trump; a man who is constantly pushing back the boundaries of what is possible – which is supposed to be what America is all about – but is widely derided for it.

Like many a twitter storm, though, the depth of that derision is open to question.

When he publicly warned that he would move Tesla’s operations out of Alameda County, and out of California altogether, he suddenly found he wasn’t just shouting into the wind.

On the contrary. Jared Polis, the governor of Colorado, didn’t seem to think that Musk would be likely to set about…

Read More: Elon Musk, the sci-fi anti-hero from central casting, becomes the unlikely

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