Elon Musk told Joe Rogan he bought Twitter to stop ‘extinctionist’ mind virus

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., at the AI Safety Summit 2023 at Bletchley Park in Bletchley, UK, on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023.

Chris J. Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Elon Musk bought Twitter to save it from the “mind virus,” a phrase he has used to refer to so-called “woke” or left-wing thinking, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX said in a podcast appearance with Joe Rogan.

“This is going to sound somewhat melodramatic, but I was worried it was having a corrosive effect on civilization,” Musk said Tuesday on the Joe Rogan Experience.

Rogan had asked him whether Musk ever dreamed that he hadn’t made a bid on Twitter. Musk then criticized the leadership of the city of San Francisco, telling Rogan that the city’s downtown was like “a zombie apocalypse.”

“So now you have to say, what philosophy led to that outcome?” Musk asked rhetorically.

“A philosophy that would normally be quite niche and geographically constrained,” Musk said, “was given an information technology weapon to propagate what is essentially a mind virus to the rest of the Earth. And the outcome of that mind virus is very clear if you walk around the streets of downtown San Francisco.”

Rogan compared that “mind virus” to “a death cult.” “I don’t want to be melodramatic,” Rogan said.

“It’s a death cult. That is exactly right,” Musk responded. “It’s essentially the extinctionists. It is that they’re propagating the extinction of humanity and civilization.”

In spring 2022, Musk attempted to back out of his $44 billion Twitter bid shortly after making it, claiming bot activity was artificially boosting Twitter’s monetizable daily active users, or mDAUs. Twitter sued Musk in Delaware court to enforce the binding offer, and Musk would later concede and close on the purchase in late 2022.

It isn’t the first time that Musk has criticized so-called “woke” thinking. In December, Musk wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the “woke mind virus is either defeated or nothing else matters.” Earlier in 2022, Musk wrote that “there needs to be a counter-narrative” to woke thinking that Musk claimed had “thoroughly penetrated entertainment.”

The term “woke” is frequently applied to progressive or liberal ideology by more politically conservative individuals. Musk has used it to refer to what he calls the “suppression” of far-right viewpoints on social media under Twitter’s previous management.

Musk has also made other business decisions motivated by political concerns. Tesla relocated from Palo Alto, California, to Austin, Texas, in October 2021, a year after Musk described California Covid health orders as “fascist” on a Tesla earnings call.

Later in 2021, he warned that Austin should be wary of turning into a “copycat” of San Francisco. Tesla later shifted its engineering headquarters back to Palo Alto, but its corporate headquarters remains in Texas.

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