Potent Musk

Get back to me when any of Musk’s ventures achieve something positive that wouldn’t have otherwise happened. Or, really, have achieved anything of common good. Musk gets a lot of credit for things that haven’t actually happened. Tesla’s big breakthrough was the idea of turning electric cars into luxury goods. Solar City is a dying solar company mired in investigations of improper activity (and kept alive so far by large injections of money from public contracts). Neuralink is highly problematic in concept, has achieved nothing and may never achieve anything. Boring is… nothing. A rich guy bought a boring machine - so what? There’s no there, there - no innovation in technology or design or even public engagement (that would make possible the use of common land to, you know, actually make anything).


Heh. I notice you notably left out anything about Space X. Or the Tesla Powerpack project in Australia.

Not all of Musk’s ventures are going to pan out. I’m sure there will be failures of both timing and hubris. But for certain there are things his companies have done which were declared impossible by groupthink committees until he actually succeeded.

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Sorry - I didn’t even think it required a mention. Space X is literally doing what NASA and others were already doing, and getting public money to do so. Tesla Powerpack project in Australia is a straight-up public works project.


As a chief shareholder of these companies, Elon Musk sets the vision and decides what they’re going to do. It’s not a vote of the workers.

It’s the fact that Elon has invested the capital in these ventures, often at great personal financial risk, and that his decisiions have, so far, paid off, that he gets to call the shots and reap a lion’s share of the rewards, assuming there are any.

Okay, thanks for clarifying, I took it in a broader context, i.e. “These companies wouldn’t exist in a socialist milieu.” But as you say, these companies are indeed not socialist in and of themselves.

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You’re saying that these things (landing reusable rockets, drastic improvements in power redistribution, etc) would just have happened on their own on anything approaching the same timeframes had they all been done by processes of socialist production?

I find that laughably naive.


While the idea that NASA was doing that already is… well, ludicrous, I can see it being possible under a socialist system. In an alternate universe, Elon Musk’s analogue could have brought his proposal to the legislature and asked for money to fund the project and unquestioned leadership of the project for a fixed term. Given its (demonstrated in the real world) cost-saving benefits, his analogue might have gotten everything he asked for.
Edit: Naturally, his odds of getting funding for the project from this alternate Congress would be much better; after all, it would be working for the public benefit. …I don’t want to think to hard about opposition from entrenched bureaucratic interests, though.


Where in the rest of the developed world are you thinking is socialist? I would say that, in the developed world, very few countries go further left than being social democrats, like the Scandinavian countries. These countries are explicitly not socialist.

I notice you conveniently left out anything about SpaceX, where he’s already dramatically cut launch costs, and has hardly even started taking advantage of the reusable rockets he pioneered. He’s just getting started, and is already solidly one of the best three people in history to date at building rockets. He’s got plenty of time left to solidify that as number one. Government projects have had numerous chances, in both capitalist and socialist systems, to accomplish what he has, and they haven’t.

As for Tesla, it might still succeed, though things don’t look great right now, but nobody succeeds every time they try something.

Edited because I just saw this:

FFS. You pretty clearly don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about here. NASA hasn’t even had a launch vehicle since the shuttle was retired, and SpaceX cost per KG per orbit is already ~15x less than the shuttle (using the most charitable estimate of the shuttle cost), for a non-reusable launch. That is set to come down a lot further as soon as they start selling reused rocket launches routinely.


The Labour Party in the UK explicitly says it is a socialist party in it’s constitution.


Likely everything but SpaceX will fail. Tesla might survive as a battery company; it’s doomed as a car company. Rockets are hard, reusable rockets are harder, and SpaceX has a head start. But electric cars? Easy for the big players. Batteries? Easy, but maybe economy of scale will save it; still hoping for an alternative though. Or maybe a hydrogen fuel cell based solution for seasonal storage. Solar panels? Easy; we certainly didn’t put solar city panels on our roof. His other ideas? Still too early to see if they’re feasible, much less difficult to copy before the investment is paid back.
Frankly, Musk’s mostly an idea guy who laudably (if somewhat foolishly) keeps pouring his money into new ventures and hiring the best people to implement them.

You mean the Labour Party that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown belonged to? Even if it says that, I’d say it pretty clearly isn’t, in practice. I mean, North Korea’s constitution says that it’s a democracy, but that doesn’t make it true.


Likely you’re right. Even if SpaceX is the only one that succeeds, it’s still a strong argument in favor of having him be able to set up and run a project like SpaceX.

It’s also the Labour Party that Jeremy Corbyn belongs to and Tony Benn belonged to before he died. It’s still the same Labour Party that nationalised healthcare. The Third Way now looks like it was a twenty year failed experiment.

I am not a big fan of the Labour party even now, they want to reform things that I believe cannot be reformed, but I don’t doubt that most of their members identify as socialists based on Corbyn’s election as leader and successfully winning the leadership challenge.

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect

That is on the back of every Labour Party membership card. Blair did remove the parts that referred to collective ownership of the means of production, but Corbyn has expressed an interest in putting them back in.


And in fairness, Tesla and Solar City will fail not because their basic concept is unsound, but because other businesses are in a position to implement them just as well if not better sooner than either of Musk’s companies can get on sound footing. The Powerwall is an excellent complement to solar panels, but it’s neither original nor complicated.

More on topic, I agree that when I say I’m a socialist, I mean I’m a social democrat, not a democratic socialist, communist, etc. Food, shelter, water, electricity, telecom, health, public transportation, etc. should be for the public benefit (though not necessarily state managed, and even in the US many of those are already regulated for public benefit in many places). More co-ops, credit unions, labor unions, community foundations, etc. would be nice, and tilting things (back) in their favor is to our benefit.
But hey, I’m a young, white guy with money in the bank (well, credit union), so I’ve got a vested interest in maintaining the current system, but fixing it so it doesn’t burn down around me.


Fair enough. I still think that, in the US, we are using “democratic socialist” to describe a lot of things that would be better described as “social democrat.”



There’s obviously a distinction to be made between the two, and at the moment the DSA’s actual positions are more “social democrat” than “democratic socialst”. However in the U.S. any PFJ vs. JPF debates obscure what’s actually going on, which is an attempt to push the Dems away from neoliberalism-lite and back towards being the party of FDR.


Collective ownership of the means of the production does not have to be by the government. They could be run by co-operatives, for example.


T’was a joke, dude; an attempt at interjecting some levity into the conversation, even


Everywhere. Because we’re talking the kind of “socialist” programs that exist throughout Europe, etc.

Sure because that would be totally impossible without Elon Musk and capitalism, right? You’re literally claiming that no government-run space program could possibly have reduced costs and developed a reusable rocket? Because that’s what the assertion was with which I was taking issue. FFS.