Stop Trying To Make Sense: Necessary Adaptations in Necessary Times
The first step to understanding what is going on in this world is to throw away most of what you thought you knew
In the two weeks that have passed since Elon Musk publicly embraced White Replacement Theory - a reiteration of the fascist and antisemitic conspiracy theory that claims Jews are using immigrants to control democracy and wrest power and resources from white people - the oligarch’s life has grown increasingly strange. Faced with deserting advertisers, he threatened supporters of Palestine with bans on his Twitter/X platform and received unvarnished praise from the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League. Then, he lit off for Israel, where he posed for one photo opportunity after another with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while pretending to give a damn about anything at all besides himself.
Not long after, he logged online and promoted the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that created the initial impetus for QAnon and is, once again, another iteration of the same antisemitic smear that powers White Replacement Theory.
It’s dizzying, honestly, watching one man with so much power and so much wealth pinball through reality like this. Musk is a deeply, deeply unwell person and being held hostage by his actions and behaviors is toxic for our culture in the same way dealing with Donald Trump on a daily basis is toxic for our culture. What he has done, however, is give us an unprecedented glimpse into how our world functions.
After all, if we were to approach any of this through a conventional lens it would be inscrutable. How is it that a person with this much wealth, long considered a marker of talent and intelligence, could be so undeniably incompetent? How is it that, with the stink of blatant, full-throated antisemitism wafting off of him, he could suddenly receive these endorsements and be seen walking around with the leader of Israel?
These questions join a mountain of others that have vexed so many. Questions like, how is it that the Republican Party, once a body of anti-communists and hardliners against the USSR, have come to love Vladimir Putin, an ex-KGB agent-turned-Russian dictator? Or, how do supposed advocates of law and order pledge undying fealty to a former president facing 91 charges after betraying national security and attempting to overthrowing the government of the United States?
On theirs faces, these questions are labryinths. They double-back on themselves. Digest and regurgitate. Transform into dissonant riddles. And, truthfully, they are meant to leave you tired and demoralized. Ready to throw up your hands and write the whole thing off.
Give up and move on. Cede the ground.
To make actual sense, and find actual answers, depends on a decision and a transformation. It would be cliche to invoke 1999’s sci-fi classic The Matrix as it has become shorthand to explain living in one world but then realizing there is another beyond the limits of our understanding. So we won’t do that.
But we will begin venturing in a long-overdue direction by recognizing that the world we were born into, the culture we were immersed in, and the stories that came to define our experience and reality, were, in the most charitable sense, misleading. To be more critical or cynical, you could even say they were incredible lies designed and maintained to foster control.
And it starts with realizing that when people like Musk use the term “freedom of speech,” when Trump utters “law and order,” when Netanyahu stands there claiming to represent Israel, when Republicans talk of “nationalism” and “patriotism,” what you are actually interacting with isn’t a principle or belief or anything of the sort.
You’re encountering a deadly, deadly weapon. And it’s time to get familiar with it in a hurry.