FEATURED | Business

Elon Musk, on “Lords and Peasants”

We’re talking about unions here, and the right to organize. Musk has been quoted as saying, “I just don’t like anything which creates a lords and peasants sort of thing. I think the unions naturally try to create negativity in a company.

Which is a really strange comment

If you want an example of who creates negativity in a company, what can possibly be more ‘lords’ than a madman genius at the top and overworked, over-stressed, over committed ‘peasant’ workers at the bottom who create the final product. It’s pretty damned lordlike (or close enough for this conversation) to come flying in on whatever occasion suits your personal whim, raise hell, have a hissy-fit, stomp around the production floor, and jump back on whichever corporate plane happens to be at hand.

No one, not a hired CEO (there are none but him) nor a corporate board of directors (to whom he pays no attention), even slightly influences the elephant-in-the-room. Move fast and break things is said to be the mantra of Zuckerberg over at Facebook but, personally, I don’t think he has the intellectual capacity to have invented it. It sounds a great deal more to me like Peter Thiel, the cheerleader for the hip-hop style of disruption common to Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Tik-Tok and all things social media. An early investor in Facebook, it is my opinion that Thiel took the child Zuckerberg was and turned him into the man-child he has become. Moving fast and breaking stuff is a profitable short-term business philosophy, when it works, but ultimately fails as a sustainable course of action. Elon’s total destruction of Twitter is the canary in the coal mine that foretells that reality.

Even so, unions do not create negativity, they pull the peasants up and out of the rice paddies

If any of my readers are old enough to remember the postwar American business environment of the 50s, 60s and 70s, they will recall a solid middle class in times when a single wage earner supported a family and sent his kids to college. America actually built things in those days, before corporate greed turned us into indebted consumers and Ronnie Reagan sealed the deal by busting the unions. Reagan, before he became a Republican, was President of the Screen Actor’s Guild, a powerful Hollywood union. But when he took on his final and most powerful acting job (as President of the United States), his very first official act was to break the Air Traffic Controller’s Union, which was then on strike. He went on, through two terms as ‘the great communicator’ in that office, to cheerlead ‘right-to-work’ laws that relegated the union movement into five decades of decline. Largely because of that, the American middle class slid silently into the graveyard of history.

But that was then and now is now

Elon, who is disqualified from the American presidency by accident of birth, is limited to an opinion on unions, whiuch is based upon his distaste for being offered an opinion that is not his. But it won’t hold. Tesla, SpaceX, X Corp. (formerly Twitter), the Boring Company, xAI, Neuralink, OpenAI and all but  the Musk Foundation will finally come to be union organizations.


Certainly not because it is the most equitable relationship between business and employees, or the road back to a sustainable and healthy middle class. It will be because we have tried and failed at everything else. Oligarchy is too tight a shoe for the American foot. Winston Churchill was right (does anyone remember him?).

Americans can always be depended upon to do the right thing—after they have tried everything else.”

The ‘everything else’

  • We tried sending all our productive capacity to Asia.
  • We tried allowing our government to enact laws that opened the (formerly closed) doors of bribery and theft to ‘campaign contribution,’ a less toxic phrasing.
  • We allowed a kind of socialism for the rich that enabled a newly-formed owner constituency to keep all the profits and offload all the losses to us (think 2008 and every downturn since).
  • We continue to pursue a tax policy of cuts, the major portion of which accrue to the super-wealthy and only trickle-down the pant leg of our citizenry like warm piss.
  • In a final insult, we made affording university impossible and the purchase of all else a credit-card adventure at 18% interest.

Winston was right.

We’ve tried all else and now depend upon our society to do the right thing.