Dear Mr Musk

Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

You’re off on an exciting quest – the acquisition of Twitter – to facilitate free speech in our polarized and often hostile world.
That you have embarked on this journey speaks of your adventurous spirit.
Thank you for that.
I have some concerns about the likelihood that you can make progress on the matter.
Having the enthusiasm and energy for the task is an essential ingredient but a broad non judgmental mind is equally important.
It worries me that you have praised China. You and Tesla have benefitted enormously from their hosting you but, in praising them, you slide over the profound negative impact the Chinese government is having on their people.
They are a repressive system that severely restricts free speech and monitors closely the activities of their citizens.
To call China anything other than a dictatorship is fooling ourselves.
When free speech is restricted as it is in China, the Chinese people are devalued. This is the same people who have been rooting for Putin and his troops as they have invaded Ukraine, bombing and killing thousands of people, while destroying their homes, hospitals, schools and infrastructure.
It is from devalued minds that such groundless praise emanates.
The China leadership speaks of having ‘no limits’ in their friendship with Putin, i.e. Putin may do whatever and they’re right there behind him.
Yet you praised them.
You did, even though their own atrocities on the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province were well known. And though you knew of this, your company opened a showroom in the province.
I am sure business is very good but I doubt you have the moral clarity to be a sound arbiter in the delicate matter of deciding what is acceptable and what is not as concerns free speech.
Extremes in politics, whether on the right or the left, are positions that have run out of arguments and thus choose to embrace violence, with their devastating consequences. These factions don’t want to talk for they fear their views may not hold. The results can be devastating, as in the assault on the Capitol on January the 6th. And in Myanmar, did the military want to talk to the opposition which had won the elections by a landslide before they chose to stage a coup and kill thousands of demonstrators? No.
As you start up on the effort to build a platform to facilitate free speech, modifying some algorithms may seem an expedient way to fix the problem, but changing attitudes requires much more than that. It requires reaching out to hardened human beings and patiently searching for what has shaped their hostility to the rest of us.
Your new venture may prove profitable, but it is unlikely to make a difference in strongly held positions. For that to happen the human touch is needed. And leaders with the courage to apply it.
Good luck

Oscar Valdes. Oscarvaldes.net, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts.

Elsa and Xi Jinping (8) Racism in America

Dear Xi,

Hope this finds you well.

Democracies are, indeed, problematic, and the process will often appear to be wasteful and even chaotic. But give a closer look and something else will be found.

Societies, like individuals, are in a constant search for higher integration.

In the individual, the pressure is to integrate the emotional and the intellectual, for the greater the integration the better the overall functioning and hence, personal satisfaction.

So, too, with nations.

In America, while making significant advances in science, technology and industry, we have not kept pace in our collective emotional development. Thus, the profound dysfunction of racism.

At the core of racism is the premature closure of the inquiry into what it is to be human.

When one looks at someone superficially different than one is and, failing to remain open to what that person may offer, devalues them instead, then one turns oneself into a hindrance to one’s personal development and the larger group we belong to becomes the poorer for it.

Racism is an ugly blemish for each of us individually and for the nation as a whole.

It has held back the development of the discriminated against and of those doing the discriminating.

America is guilty as charged as being a racist country and yet, we are a democracy.

We are both racist and democratic. There is no contradiction there.

We are profoundly imperfect and still a democracy.

People can protest in favor or against racism and the government will not censor what they have to say.

But is this useful?

I hold that it is because it keeps the problem on the table. It does not push it down and out of sight. If we can see the problem, then we are more likely to know its true extent and thus talk about it.

The racist in America can go on believing that White is better than anyone else, but it is to their detriment. In holding on to such belief they harm themselves for they are deprived of the richness that expanding their understanding of others brings to their own existence.

They lessen themselves by their own hand.

You may ask, if not prohibiting such beliefs is favorable, how come racism is still present in America?

Good question.

Racism is still present in our land because there has not been the leadership to emphatically and consistently say to all Americans, ‘it is wrong to be racist and we must make it a priority to overcome it.’ Then go about the process vigorously, without fear they will be voted out of office.

Racism is still present in our land because there have not been the same opportunities for the development of Blacks that Whites have enjoyed. Lacking those opportunities, the rest of the nation has not seen all that Blacks can do.

Racism still lives in America because many Whites have not confronted their fears that Blacks may show abilities they do not have.

And so Americans are poorer because of racism. We are weaker because of it.

The good news is that things have been changing.

Let me turn now to the question of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. They are Muslim and have their own language and your leadership has settled on a policy to reeducate them against their will, forcing them into special camps.

China is wrong to pursue such policy.

It is one thing to tell the Uyghurs, ‘we need you to learn Mandarin because it will allow you better opportunities for advancement in our nation and we wish for you to be part of us’. It is quite another to force them to abandon beliefs they have grown up with and long cherished.

You may be thinking that in another generation or two, Uyghurs will forget about their origins and embrace only Chinese values. They will not. And they will not because it has been forced.

Blacks in America will never forget that they were enslaved, bought and sold, abused, lynched and treated like chattel. They will take advantage of what opportunities are opened, but they will never forget having had their growth stunted, generation upon generation.

Uyghurs won’t either.

So learn from us. Don’t make the same mistake we’ve made. Change course and woo the Uyghurs into your society, not force them.

The way you have chosen to treat Uyghurs derives from the power your government has amassed and from the lack of resistance of your people. You have chosen such actions because Chinese have lacked the free speech that could have brought you to your senses.

By depriving yourself of the dissenting opinions of other Chinese, you miss out on the creative solutions they may have offered.

You do not own the truth. Neither you nor your politburo nor the Chinese Communist Party. Solutions need to be agreed to by the majority of the people of a nation because they have to live with them. Allowing them to have a say in the nation’s choices is essential for the emotional and intellectual integration necessary for the healthy civic growth of a country.

Should you persist in your present course of forcibly reeducating Uyghurs, China will live to regret it. Power unchecked by dissent or free speech leads to abuse that is never forgotten and instead festers like an infected wound.

Will America ever conquer racism? I believe it will. In fact, we have no real choice. Should we not conquer racism we will be unable to compete effectively with you.

Americans understand the challenge you represent and we will rise to it.

Best

Elsa

Oscarvaldes.net oscarvaldes@widehumr oscarvaldes.medium.com

Elsa and Xi Jinping (6) Intellectual Property

Dear Xi:

I would like to return to the topic of the theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfers, a matter of great concern for all of us.

I did not find your answer to be satisfactory (letter of January 16th/2021). You said that all Chinese people know that such appropriation is justified, as the price foreigners have to pay for the privilege of doing business in China and having access to its superb labor force and vast markets.

I disagree.

You could have said to foreign companies, ‘our growing nation needs to build technology expertise to prepare for our future. In exchange for granting you full access to our markets for 5 years, we would like for you to allow us the use of your knowledge at no cost for a subsequent 5 year period, after which we would enter into an agreement where we would pay you a percentage of the average cost of your licensing fee.’

And maybe that amount could have been deferred for a length of time, to be payable for instance when China reached a certain GDP per person.

I can see how there would have been political pressures from within not to enter into such agreement, given your development needs. But don’t you think that being open to some form of payment, even if deferred, would have sent and could still send a signal to the world that your country was willing to play by the rules?

The observance of rules is key to mutual respect among individuals, groups and nations.

Intellectual property rights act as powerful incentives to creativity. They must be preserved.

And here I must return to your censoring of speech.

When speech is censored, there are fewer voices and ideas in the public arena. Nations are poorer, not richer for the lack of free speech.

Free speech does not hinder but increases the economic, industrial, military and civic growth of a nation, while helping to keep a proper balance between all areas of development.

If you had free speech, the question of paying or paying under certain terms for the use of intellectual rights could have been openly discussed and a different approach found.

So long as mutual respect is observed, there is no reason for free speech to be impeded. The task of enlightened government, through its laws, becomes one of ensuring that mutual respect is observed at all times.

You say that every person wants to be king. Maybe. But say it were true, still, as people evolve, they must learn the value of limits and realize that others have abilities, beliefs, property that they don’t have, and that to acknowledge such difference is essential to personal growth and satisfaction.

Your fear of free speech interfering with the growth of China is misplaced. Discipline is essential, but discipline can be had without censoring free speech.

The good news is that there is still time to make necessary corrections.

And doing so will be telling the world that China is here to be all that it can be, certain in the knowledge that the strength and creativity of their people assures them a bright future.

Best to you

Elsa

PS:

Let not the past hold us back, let it not torture us, but instead serve as marker of how far we’ve come. Keep moving forward.