Twitter owner Elon Musk has abruptly renamed the company as simply X. He had earlier named his first company X.com. Jill Lepore writes that Musk has long had a fascination with this particular letter, that can be traced back to his father and grandfather who were leaders of a so-called Technocracy movement and called themselves Technocrats and “believed that only engineers and scientists could save the world from a looming catastrophe.”
Technocrats objected to politicians and economists, democracy, and socialism. They wanted an end to all banks. In the future that Technocrats including Musk’s grandfather were planning for,“There will be no place for Politics or Politicians, Finance or Financiers, Rackets or Racketeers. There would also be no place for personal names. One technocrat, for instance, renamed himself 1x1809x56. Musk named one of his sons X Æ A-12—X, for short.
Why name a baby X Æ A-12, something that is going to result in the child being tormented by their peers and likely require years of therapy as an adult? This whole business of parents trying to give their children weird names to make some ideological point seems to be sheer vanity, seeing the child as a vehicle for their own obsessions and ignoring their needs. I am really glad that my parents gave me an utterly common name. As least it is common in Sri Lanka though, because it is simple enough, it is only a little exotic now that I am in the US.
But Musk has big plans for the company that he now has renamed X, seeing it as the precursor to an ‘everything app’, whatever the hell that is.
X, Musk promises, will be the “everything app.” X is the Technocrats’ dream deferred, a way to engineer society, the economy, and politics. Extreme capitalism—Muskism—as the answer to existential risk. With any luck, it will be a disaster.
I hope so too.