Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter for $43 billion on Thursday, eliciting extreme reactions from some. Jeff Jarvis, a journalism professor at the City University of New York, compared the bid to the rise of the Nazis.
Today on Twitter feels like the last evening in a Berlin nightclub at the twilight of Weimar Germany.— Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) April 14, 2022
Jarvis is but one voice in a rising chorus of lamentation and outrage over the prospect of Twitter getting a makeover by Musk. The tech billionaire has criticized Twitter for its censorship and has expressed his intention to restore it as a “public square” for open debate. The idea is mortifying for some. But why?
The answer can be found in a recent variant of the NPC meme in which the NPC (based on the pre-programmed “non-player characters” in video games) thoughtlessly virtue-signals support for “the current thing.”
I support the current thing. pic.twitter.com/e3WIeV6FHp— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) March 16, 2022
The Current Thing is the mandatory preoccupation of “decent people'' at any given moment, handed down by the government and the corporate establishment (especially its media wing). Everyone is obliged to publicly express only the orthodox perspective on the Current Thing.
The Current Thing is always a crisis: a desperate time that calls for desperate measures, up to and including censorship. Conformity with the Current Thing orthodoxy is mandatory, and heresy (i.e. COVID or Ukraine “misinformation”) cannot be tolerated.
As Glenn Greenwald wrote on Substack:
“...a series of ostensible crises — Russiagate, the 1/6 riot, the COVID pandemic and now this war— have, in rapid succession, convinced not just liberals but increasingly large numbers of Westerners in many ideological camps not only to tolerate but to crave state/corporate censorship.”
That is why some are so aghast at the prospect of Musk making Twitter a haven for dissent. A big vibrant public square on the internet would pose an existential threat to their precious Current Thing monoculture.
Trending public concerns are a natural part of culture. But a culture becomes tyrannical when it brooks no dissent on those issues and when those trends, instead of emerging organically from the people, are steered and enforced by the government and a government-corrupted elite.
However Musk’s bid plays out, and whether or not he proves true to his professed intentions, his brave stand against the Current Thing inquisitors should be a model to us all.
This article was adapted from an issue of the FEE Daily email newsletter. Click here to sign up and get free-market news and analysis like this in your inbox every weekday.