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Theory of Change Podcast With Matthew Sheffield
Theory of Change #051: Jacob Silverman and Chris Lehmann on Twitter, cryptocurrency, and libertarian radicalization
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Theory of Change #051: Jacob Silverman and Chris Lehmann on Twitter, cryptocurrency, and libertarian radicalization

Just as the 2020 elections were fading into America’s rear view mirror, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, cast the political and media worlds into chaos by taking ownership control over Twitter. Most people don’t use Twitter because they find it too weird and disjointed, but it is actually the place online where most of America’s political junkies: activists, politicians, and journalists come to talk.

It all seems to have started as a joke, however. Musk offered to buy Twitter at a price of $54.20 per share, 420 being the very, very old reference to marijuana. After his Tesla stock price went south dramatically, Musk tried to get out of the deal but was forced into it by a lawsuit from Twitter. Since then, Musk has brought the site into complete chaos, reinstating a number of accounts that had been banned for promoting hatred and violence and disinformation, including, most famously, Donald Trump.

While he appears to have had no real plan for Twitter beforehand, what has become very evident is that Elon Musk has become radicalized by the far right, a path that has become increasingly common in recent years for wealthy white libertarian men who just a few decades ago actually saw themselves on the political left, before the re-emergence of populists like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

There’s a lot to talk about Musk and Twitter and how he fits into the larger tradition of the libertarian right within Silicon Valley and the American political right as a whole. We’re pleased to feature two panelists to discuss this topic. Jacob Silverman is the co-author of the forthcoming book Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud, which he’s co-writing with the actor, Ben McKenzie. We’re also joined by Chris Lehmann, who is the Washington Bureau Chief of The Nation magazine and the former editor of The New Republic.

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