Musk and Bezos, the new colonizers

The philosopher José Luis Brea, a brilliant thinker about virtuality, was also one of the most insistent on the need to produce meaning and community within the new digital communication media. Still valid, his postulates from the beginning of the 21st century illustrate very well the transition from Twitterfrom that social network created by the artist Jack Dorsey, to that of Elon Musk, its new owner.

Visionario, also a Spanish art critic (1957-2010), author of The postmedia era, argued that each virtual space has its heroic moments, of independence and creative subversion, until they are colonized by large communication corporations that put an end to the utopia of an electronic democracy, favor the “garbage” of content and the consequent desertification due to noise of the most interesting proposals. “Faced with the model of extension of the fog”, he proposed generating coalition devices and spaces of critical resistance.

One of them today is the Tech won’t save us podcast, hosted by Paris Marx, a Canadian expert in digital technologies and critic of Silicon Valley. In his episode “Demystifying the billionaire space race”, the writer also dismantles the narrative that Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos try to tell us about themselves, as “benefactors of humanity”. And it is that they lead, he says, not only the colonization of networks, but of outer space as the great business of the future.

In short: Musk (owner of Space X, Tesla and Neurolink) proposes that humanity become a “multiplanetary species” and colonize Mars as a substitute place to live in case of an apocalypse. For his part, Bezos, the creator of Amazon and Blue Origin, proposes that humanity move to space colonies around the Earth that reproduce the biology of the blue planet, that allow up to trillions of human beings to be in the solar system “where there are unlimited resources” and that the Earth be preserved as a kind of museum.

Paris Marx is clear. This narrative is just a futuristic, fanciful and unrealizable distraction that does not take into account the urgent tasks of today in the face of climate change or assumes a real commitment to change the way we live, produce and consume in the here and now. In the background, there is their fierce competition to colonize outer space. Musk’s Space X and Bezos’ Blue Origin are vying for multimillion-dollar contracts from the POT, the Department of Defense and the Federal Communications Commission of the United States. His plan is not to do “space tourism” but to win public contracts to control the space infrastructure of the future. Musk has won multibillion-dollar contracts to build missiles, rockets and satellites, while Bezos develops space infrastructure for the Internet.

When Bezos returned from his trip to space in 2021, he said it was his employees and Amazon consumers who had financed everything. Underpaid and in subhuman working conditions, his workers around the world heard: “I thank you with all my heart.” Just the day before yesterday, the businessman said that he would donate his fortune of 124 billion dollars to charity. At the same time, the New York Times reported that Amazon will lay off 10,000 employees. For his part, Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, as soon as he arrived at Twitter, he cut 50% of the staff.

Brea was right. When Dorsey opened her social network in 2006, she quoted Neruda. Today, Musk suggests on Twitter to vote Republican. And he goes for more.

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Musk and Bezos, the new colonizers