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Musk's rightward shift in pursuit of corporate interests

Musk's rightward shift in pursuit of corporate interests

Posted May. 14, 2024 07:54,   

Updated May. 14, 2024 07:54


According to a Sunday report in the New York Times, Tesla's CEO Elon Musk is reportedly reaping benefits by forging close ties with right-wing leaders globally. The influential businessman has been linked with prominent right-wing figures, including Argentina's President Javier Milei, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The NYT notes that Musk displayed few, if any, far-right leanings under the Obama administration, which leaned progressive. Yet, as populism and extreme nationalism gained momentum globally—sparked by events such as the Syrian refugee crisis, Brexit, and Donald Trump’s presidency—Musk began to engage with right-wing leaders openly. This shift became particularly evident after he acquired the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) in October 2022, which boasts around 100 million users.

Shortly after Milei assumed office in December last year, Musk posted a blatantly supportive message on X, “Prosperity is ahead for Argentina.” Milei reciprocated last month with a visit to Tesla's factory in Texas. Argentina's lithium—a vital component for electric vehicles and a major export of Milei's government—plays a critical role.

In another notable move, X blocked posts in January last year about a British BBC documentary that brought to light allegations of Muslim oppression during Modi’s time as governor of Gujarat. Adding to the controversy, on April 15, Modi’s government declared its intention to significantly reduce import tariffs on electric vehicles from 70-100% to about 15%, contingent on foreign companies like Tesla establishing factories in India. This policy change aligns with Tesla’s longstanding demand to “lower import customs then Tesla will build factories in India,” which the Indian government has now accommodated.

Furthermore, the NYT highlighted Musk's potential role in the removal of posts about the Brazilian presidential election on X, shortly after Jair Bolsonaro’s defeat in October 2022. Musk’s satellite internet service, Starlink, entered the Brazilian market during Bolsonaro's administration. Musk's diplomatic engagements continued as he met with Netanyahu in Israel last November, followed by meetings with Meloni and Erdoğan within the same timeframe. These actions underscore Musk's strategic alignment with global right-wing leaders, possibly foreshadowing deeper political involvements.

김보라 기자 purple@donga.com