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SpaceX Shuts Down the Woke Party
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In a truly laugh-out-loud episode of progressive politics gone wrong, it appears that a minority (and an insular one, at that) group of woke-type SpaceX employees attempted to stir up your standard internal pseudo-outrage hubbub and build anti-Musk sentiment within the company Musk founded and still mostly owns, issuing the same tired activist-employee demands as always only to be summarily terminated.
Perhaps they were misled, these Red Guard ideologues, and under the impression that the Revolution was in full-swing and private ownership of the means of production had been righteously upended. Either way, it turns out not every company is spineless. SpaceX even did Netflix one better and flat-out told inquiring media scribes that yes, they fired these individuals for trying to undermine comity within the company in furtherance of a political agenda.
To summarize: Recently, a group of employees posted “An open letter to the Executives of SpaceX” in an internal chat with more than 2,600 other members of the company. Written in a tone that practically screams Grievance Studies scholars and littered with boilerplate diversity platitudes and buzzwords, the letter criticized Elon Musk for being Elon Musk (oh heaven forfend!), describing their boss’s behavior — namely, his tweets — as detrimental to the company’s mission and public standing.
“In light of recent allegations against our CEO and his public disparagement of the situation, we would like to deliver feedback on how these events affect our company’s reputation, and through it, our mission. Employees across the spectra of gender, ethnicity, seniority, and technical roles have collaborated on this letter. We feel it is imperative to maintain honest and open dialogue with each other to effectively reach our company’s primary goals together: making SpaceX a great place to work for all, and making humans a multiplanetary species.”
For those unfamiliar, the “recent allegations” concern a purported incident between Musk and a flight attendant that (per Business Insider) took place in 2016, which was alleged in a declaration signed by a friend of the attendant and prepared in support of her claim that Musk propositioned her for a sexual massage during a flight to London.
According to the declaration, the attendant confided to the friend that after taking the flight attendant job, she was encouraged to get licensed as a masseuse so that she could give Musk massages. It was during one such massage in a private cabin on Musk’s Gulfstream G650ER, she told the friend, that Musk propositioned her, offering her a horse in recompense.
Obviously, as is the case with the vast majority of such allegations, it’s impossible to know for certain whether Musk did what he was accused of. Biased though I may be as a “pro-Musk” guy, it’s still kind of difficult to believe.
“If I were inclined to engage in sexual harassment, this is unlikely to be the first time in my entire 30-year career that it comes to light,” Musk told Business Insider when asked for comment, calling the story a “politically motivated hit piece.”
The “disparagement” mentioned in the grievance missive presumably refers to Musk joking about the allegation on Twitter. I can't recall verbatim, but I believe he asked someone to do something or other and said that he would give them a horse in return if they did. Absolutely heinous behavior, is all I can say; the man is a walking exhibition of American depravities, and his purchase of Twitter is Extremely Dangerous to Our Democracy™.
The letter continues:
“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,” the letter states. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX — every Tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company. It is critical to make clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, our mission, or our values.”
Pretty ballsy calling your boss an “embarrassment,” especially considering there’s a non-trivial chance the letter writers are the sort of humor-impaired Marxist knockoffs virtually impossible to endure the prolonged company of without the aid of pharmaceuticals.
The aggrieved go on to suggest three different “action items” necessary to rectify the situation:
“SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon's personal brand,” “hold all leadership equally accountable to making SpaceX a great place to work for everyone,” and “define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior.”
Leaving aside that they basically attempted to use a single six-year-old accusation of sexual harassment against their boss to stir up a hornets nest, and the breathtaking conceit it takes to think your pious political moralizing should be what shapes and controls the culture of a private corporation, there’s also the implicit attempt to leverage the allegation to force through the same toxic woke dogma that’s cannibalized America’s canon-making institutions and countless other companies both public and private.
Toxic, you say? Yes, toxic—the malignant Diversity-Equity-Inclusion trinity, all the more insidious because of the benevolent pretenses it’s cloaked in.
Might as well be “Woke 101.” When this Marxist, intersectional BS is allowed to metastasize within, it’s only a matter of time before the organization submits to the Church of Woke and the company’s mission takes a backseat to progressive orthodoxy, and then before you know it, you’ve got Mickey Mouse pushing gender dysphoria and advising parents that it’s wrong not to “transition” a kid as soon as the kid comes home from school with new pronouns.
It’s irrefutably true that over the past few years we’ve witnessed the explosive growth of a culture revolving around systematic advantage seeking, a confluence of people of the worst sort, Twitter Robespierres that you can just tell by looking at them that if they’re not in twice-a-week therapy it’s only because they can’t afford it, people with selfish career ambitions and total shamelessness about using “social justice” rhetoric — reactive, radical, performative polemics and jeremiads and what have you — to game a meritocratic system being uprooted in the name of “equity” as they pursue personal profit and prestige.
Cynically, these people look to benefit from a society that now sees victimhood almost as a kind of currency—a status that practically confers legal inviolability and valorization, even though it’s often the case that these egoic claims of being a “victim” can only be ascertained through self-reporting that none may dispute and all must affirm.
And benefit they shall, most often in the form of power, control, and status. It’s about personal advancement, which is why “Perry Mason moments” have become such a common ruse. Basically, if someone’s looking to elevate oneself, all they need to do is claim that something said by someone else is offensive or objectionable because it hides a subtext of oppression that’s apparent only to them.
Literally everything is offensive in modern America. Examples in recent years abound: From a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” out loud, to a data scientist fired from a research firm after retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones.
It’s ironic (and annoying) that this tyranny of the “oppressed” is as illiberal and dangerous as the fascism it professes to despise, and that this is completely lost on these people. Authoritarianism doesn’t always look like the authoritarianism of old (Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, etc.). To wit, today’s authoritarianism is often of the soft variety—it comes not from above, but below, commonly masquerading as “social justice.” We’ve seen how quickly it can bring an entire industry down on one supplicatory knee.
Your garden-variety social justice warrior deftly wields social pressure to enforce ideological conformity, looking for reasons to interpret your reticence to proselytize as indicative of being one of the baddies. If Musk and SpaceX hadn’t squelched this little dramedy before it gained steam, employees declining to sign the stupid petition would've been deemed heretics by the agitators, and once that happens there’s no washing that stain off. Moral complexity is like the woke kryptonite; once you’re blacklisted, your every word is seen as nothing more than grotesque, manipulative pseudo-sincerity meant to cover-up your lies.
Now, usually the company’s leadership team caves as soon as the public spotlight rears its ugly head, kowtowing to the tyrannical minority, after which follows the steady narrowing of acceptable opinions within the company—and even within other companies who watch the brouhaha from afar. The employer’s show of subservience always presages more allegations, more show trials, more internal strife that wastes time and money as the organization is forced to push ever-leftward until it collapses in on itself like a dying star, imploding from within. (See for example — The Washington Post)
But not this time. There wasn’t even any hemming and hawing, no hollow attempt to signal the company’s progressive bona fides or promise amends or whatever; SpaceX just flat-out axed the aggrieved, and when the media came knocking, they were just like, “Yup.”
“SpaceX has fired at least five employees who were involved with circulating a letter around the company that was critical of CEO Elon Musk, according to two people familiar with the company who declined to be named and an internal email from President and COO Gwynne Shotwell.”
In her email, Shotwell wrote (apologies for the block quotes but it makes for delicious reading):
“You may have received an unsolicited request from a small group of SpaceX employees for your signature on an ‘open letter’ yesterday and your participation in a related survey. Based on diverse employee feedback, this has upset many. That is, the letter, solicitations and general process made employees feel uncomfortable, lintimidated [sic] and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views.
Employees also complained that it interfered with their ability to focus on and do their work. We have 3 launches within 37 hours for critical satellites this weekend, we have to support the astronauts we delivered to the ISS and get cargo Dragon back to the flight-ready, and after receiving environmental approval early this week, we are on the cusp of the first orbital launch attempt of Starship. We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism — our current leadership team is more dedicated to ensuring we have a great and ever-improving work environment than any I have seen in my 35-year career.”
Shotwell then dropped the hammer:
“. . .blanketing thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails and asking them to sign letters and fill out unsponsored surveys during the work day is not acceptable, goes against our documented handbook policy, and does not show the strong judgement needed to work in this very challenging space transportation sector. We performed an investigation and have terminated a number of employees involved.
I am sorry for this distraction. Please stay focused on the SpaceX mission, and use your time at work to do your best work. This is how we will get to Mars.”
Good on SpaceX.
When the rules of progressive politics are set on the profit principle, political allegiances and political office privilege become commodified social relations. Disorder is then more or less inevitable, and that’s usually when the Church of Woke puts on another contemporary showing of The Crucible, de-platforming and demoting and firing people for nonexistent crimes, torching reputations with astounding casualness, demanding the accused issue a formal apology that always reads exactly like a note written by a hostage but which never works.