March 2, 2024

Advertisers have fled, reportedly erasing 72 percent of X’s value. But Musk didn’t buy Twitter to make money. The true goal, as Tan says, was to replace an existing institution with a parallel version. But the word “parallel,” like “moderate,” is not the most apt descriptor.

Naomi Klein (not the Other Naomi) coined the term “mirror world” to explain the strategy in which things become twisted, upside down, and reverse versions of themselves. Take, for example, how Musk turned Twitter’s verification blue check system on its head. Among his first acts was to strip experts, journalists, and celebrities of their official status, a change designed to elevate the voices of right-wing trolls and sycophantic subscribers.

If Tan’s vision aligns with Musk’s, then he’s clearly not trying to incubate a centrist revolution. No, this is a decidedly extreme brand of politics, though it’s not exactly innovative. Tech bros like Tan think they are reinventing whole systems, conjuring terms like “effective accelerationism” to describe their philosophy. But the ancient Greeks already put a name to their core ideas over 2,000 years ago. For example, there’s plutocracy, or rule by the wealthy, and autocracy, rule by dictatorship. More recently, Émile P. Torres and Timnit Gebru created the acronym TESCREAL (transhumanism, extropianism, singularitarianism, cosmism, Rationalism, Effective Altruism, and Longtermism) to describe the stack of esoteric beliefs behind the new tech ideology.