A Star Has Fallen
Image Courtesy: New York Times

A Star Has Fallen

There was a time, not long ago, when Elon Musk was seen as one of the great, if not the greatest, innovators and minds of the early 21st Century. He not only introduced and built Tesla, but he set his sites on space travel and new and imaginative transportation innovations on earth. And, probably most important, he stood tall as a visionary change agent of huge intelligence.

So much for what he appeared to be. Regrettably, he was – basically – an impostor, a little man full of bluff and self-serving garbage. And, all that is so sad. It is sad because we need hugely intelligent visionaries today more than ever and sadly because he proved yet again that we are all fickle and that too often we fall prey to the artful phonies among us. Not surprising, however, in the Age of Trump.

Okay, his autopiloted cars are now crashing and his Model 3, the reasonably priced electric car for all, has huge flaws – so much so that Tesla stock is falling big time. Going along with all that, workers in Tesla plants are now fighting for unionization in response to serious injuries and safety hazards to which Musk has turned a blind and haughty eye.

The press, naturally, has begun to focus on these issues and Musk is furious, adopting Trump-like attacks on Fake News through his own creation of Pravda Corp to champion alternative truths. By doing so, he is hanging out there – demonstrating concretely that he is neither a great new thinker nor someone who will be an ever more imaginative leader in the 21st Century. Indeed, his reactions to all difficulties and criticism are those of a person of limited intelligence, false ego, and shallow thoughts.

It is in this light, regrettably, that we must reconsider many of what appeared at first blush to be potentially new and exciting ideas from a man whom we believed stood alone, capable of both envisioning and implementing new, original 21st century initiatives and solutions – new forms of urban transportation and exciting new forms of space travel and exploration.

Unhappily, today, seeing Tesla crumble as a direct result of his own failures and, more importantly, observing his pathetic reactions to all criticism and failures, we must conclude there is no There There. We must accept that Musk is a little person and an imposter who, by his own doing, has lost his moment in the sun.

Daniel Socolow
Daniel Socolow: President, Socolow Group. Former Director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, President of the American University of Paris, Vice President of Spelman College. BA, MA, Ph.D.

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