Nikola Tesla, Elon Musk and the damage done
Elon Musk’s recent excursions into geopolitics are not only an expression of ignorance about the principles on which the modern world rests – they are a rejection of the entire system in which his business empire was created, writes Orhan Dragaš.
Orhan Dragaš is the founder and director of the International Security Institute based in Belgrade.
When supporters of Russian aggression and supporters of Ukrainian defence argue in the Balkans, in the media and on social networks, Nikola Tesla is often mentioned. The genius scientist who boosted the progress of civilisation with his innovations is perhaps the only historical figure commanding undivided respect in the Balkans. Serbians and Croats even fight for the right to claim to be his successors. Unfortunately, not in a scientific sense, but only in a nationalist way.
For the most part, those who have the struggle of the Ukrainians at heart like to point out that Nikola Tesla did not go to Russia to progress and realise his genius ideas: he went to America. He knew that only America could enable him to realise his projects, which would change the world.
Elon Musk named his iconic driving machines after Tesla and ‘Tesla, Inc’ became one of the world’s most valuable companies. In a way, Elon Musk also wanted to be Tesla’s successor. Musk is unaware of the discussions about Tesla in the Balkans, which is understandable; he is too far away from them. It’s a pity, because if he had, he could have avoided his tragic moral wanderings regarding Russia and Ukraine.
As Le Monde noted, Musk amused his Twitter followers, much less Tesla’s shareholders, by playing geopolitical expert in connection with Ukraine, Russia, China and Taiwan. While he poured out solutions for the world’s biggest crises on Twitter, in just one week, Tesla’s shares dropped by 16%.
Musk is an outstanding entrepreneur, but his lack of knowledge about world politics is terrifying, although he is rich enough to hire a team that will teach him about world politics, its history, and especially the complicated relationships that prevail today. He could have a team the size and competence of a foreign ministry of a medium-sized country without his shareholders seeing it as a wasted expenditure, especially with the hindsight of the damage done.
It is disturbing that the man who should be remembered as a leader who brought technological and business revolution is lending a hand to projects to destroy that world, such as Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Musk is even publicly advocating for it: He appealed to give Putin and Russia what they want in their “war against the collective West,” as they call it themselves. For Crimea to remain a part of Russia, the annexed eastern Ukrainian regions to be asked (under the control of the UN) who they want to belong to – Russia or Ukraine, to indulge Putin because he is cornered so that he doesn’t fire nuclear missiles.
Musk’s Twitter excursions into geopolitics are not only an expression of ignorance about the principles on which the modern world rests; they are an arrogant rejection of the entire system in which both Musk and his Tesla were created.
Would his historic business venture have any chance in a world championed by Putin’s Russia? Would he be able to show all his innovation and business genius if there was a greedy and corrupt Kremlin octopus standing over his head, which he would have to pay, or otherwise pay with his life? Elon Musk, with every letter he writes, gives room to the weakened Russian war campaign and simultaneously tramples on the only world in which he became who he is.
And finally, it’s terrible if he thinks he’s just one of the hundreds of millions of people on Twitter, whose thoughts have equal force and right to be spoken. When he says that “at least Russia doesn’t get Crimea in that scenario,” so you can be comforted by that thought, while watching the mushroom clouds rise, this is music to the ears of Putin and his friends, as they commit war crimes against Ukrainian civilians, destroy and plunder their country. No, Musk is “not allowed” to speak in this way.
Elon Musk should realise that by his excursions in politics he unmistakably loses the rightful place in history that he deserved with his entrepreneurship and his business vision. As much as he tries to explain that he is terrified of another world war, the way he does it leads directly to the cataclysm he supposedly wants to prevent. His dance with Putin and his destruction is obvious, and it does not excuse him if he does it out of ignorance, unconsciously or perhaps under the pressure of work.
Thank god, Musk is not a bankrupt setting star, like Gerard Depardieu or Steven Seagal, who goes to the Kremlin for social welfare, giving support to the “Russian world” in return. He is neither a Western European politician charging Putin for favours due to the disastrous decisions of their governments. He is a first-rank personality of the 21st century, and a living symbol of its unprecedented progress.
That is why it is his duty, starting today, to act in accordance with the place that history has already given him and that he has earned. Until that happens we should have some kind of hope that someone hacked his Twitter account after all./Euroactiv