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Reviews |  Musk and Bezo show the dangers of plutocratic pettiness


The tech elite, however, had it all. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg was a feminist icon for a while. Musk has millions of Twitter followers, many of whom are actual humans rather than robots, and those followers have often been strong Tesla supporters.

Now the glitter is gone. Social networks, once hailed as a force for freedom, are now denounced as vectors of misinformation. Tesla’s boosterism has been rocked by stories of spontaneous combustion and autopilot crashes. Tech moguls still possess vast wealth, but the public — and the administration — don’t offer the old level of adulation.

And it drives them crazy.

We have already seen this film. In 2010, much of the Wall Street elite, rather than feeling grateful for being bailed out, was consumed by “Obama rage.” Financial traders were furious that they weren’t getting what they thought was the respect they deserved after, uh, the collapse of the global economy.

Unfortunately, plutocratic pettiness counts. Money cannot buy admiration, but it can buy political power; it is discouraging that some of this power is being deployed in the name of a Republican party that is sinking ever deeper into authoritarianism.

Did I mention that the last meeting of the right-wing CPAC rally, which included a video address by Donald Trump, was held in Hungary under the auspices of Viktor Orban, who effectively killed his country’s democracy?

The right turn of some tech billionaires is also, may I say, very stupid.

It is true that oligarchs can get very rich under autocrats like Orban or Vladimir Putin, whom much of the American right deeply admired until he started losing his war in Ukraine.

But these days, Russian oligarchs are, in many ways, terrified. For even enormous wealth offers little security against the erratic behavior and vindictiveness of rulers unconstrained by the rule of law.

nytimes Gt

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