Before discussing the similarities between Elon Musk and Vladimir Putin, it is worth pointing out some fundamental differences.
Vladimir Putin is the bloodthirsty instigator of a genocide, responsible for the death of tens of thousands of innocent people, victims of the army he commands. Elon Musk is the genius inventor behind the rise of the world’s best-selling electric car, innovative large-scale electrical energy storage batteries, and PayPal, a system that enables to make payments by e-mail. Without forgetting, of course, SpaceX, which launches reusable rockets into space.
Exasperated by traffic jams in cities, he also imagined high-performance excavators and had tunnels dug under the most congested urban areas. And then there’s his amazing implant company Neuralink. Its mission is to develop technologies that make it possible to communicate with a computer by thought, with the aim of improving important neurological functions.
Destruction vs construction
Putin and Musk both want to change the world. But the first does destruction, while the second constructs. They both have the means for their ambitions – power and money. According to the American business magazine Forbes, Elon Musk has the largest fortune ever recorded.
But according to the intelligence services of several countries, Vladimir Putin is also secretly the richest man on the planet. Obviously, in addition to his personal fortune (estimated at more than 200 billion dollars, or 190 billion euros), Putin also has the freedom to use Russian government funds to finance any business.
It is therefore in this that the dictator and the entrepreneur are alike. Putin was eyeing Ukraine: he ordered his army to invade this neighboring country of Russia. Musk was eyeing Twitter: he paid $44 billion to buy this company.
In both cases, it is only one man who decides. Too bad for the organizations, authorities and other checks and balances that should normally weigh in on the making of such important decisions.
It goes without saying that the invasion of Ukraine and its aftermath – the victims and the destruction – are infinitely more serious than the purchase, for a colossal sum, of a company whose operation has multiple political and social advantages. . But this invasion and acquisition happened because these two men wanted it. And that’s all.
The Russian dictator justifies himself by invoking arguments from the past, arguing that Ukraine must rejoin Russia, because it would still be part of it if it had not been for this terrible geopolitical mistake made after the collapse of the Union Soviet. According to him, Moscow should never have allowed the independence of the countries under its control.
Musk talks about the future to explain his intentions. He plans to make some changes to Twitter and make it the most powerful tool to protect freedom of expression around the world. “I have a very strong intuition that it is extremely important, for the future of civilization, that there is a public platform that enjoys maximum confidence and that is broadly inclusive”did he declare.
For years Musk has worried about the future of the world. In one of his speeches, he made this bold prediction: “Humanity is going to go one of two great directions: either we become a multi-planet species and a civilization that knows how to travel in space; or we will remain stuck on one planet and eventually an event will occur that will cause our extinction.”
The contrast between this visionary who wishes to transform our civilization so that it inhabits other planets – and travels between them – and this dictator who tries to bring the world back to the 19and century is full of lessons.
The invasion of Ukraine and the purchase of Twitter show how a man, a charismatic leader at the head of an authoritarian regime or tech giants, can do as he pleases. Without having to account, or almost.
Putin and Musk made choices without taking into account the opinion of those around them, without questioning the criticisms that may have been made. Without even seriously considering that they might be making a serious mistake. It never occurred to them that they don’t know what they don’t know… This is one of the most common causes of the downfall of a dictator or the failure of a company. Let’s hope that, on this point, Musk clearly distinguishes himself from Putin.