Life

How Musk’s childhood in South Africa shaped his contradictory personality and political views

As the brightest star in the technology world, Musk’s new autobiography has been selling like hotcakes since its release.

There is no doubt that Musk is a figure who transcends his times, but it is difficult for him to be labeled by the outside world.

He is a white man who was born in Africa but immigrated to the United States. He is a technology giant in the United States but has different political views from most of the technology giants. When he talks about the Taiwan issue, he often upsets the mainstream public opinion in the United States. Even Tesla is not unusual. Lu departs from tradition in driving habits…

He is like a collection of contradictions that people may never discover, and these contradictions may be traced back to the hidden corners of his life in his homeland.

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In most people’s minds, Musk is an American technology giant.

This is certainly true.

But in fact, Musk has three nationalities: the United States, Canada and South Africa.

Similar to many famous American technology figures, Musk is also an overseas immigrant.

For example, Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google, was a Jew born in Moscow, the Soviet Union, and Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was of Syrian descent.

South Africa is Musk’s birth country.

The country of birth often has a very special meaning for a person.

As a child, Musk lived under South Africa’s apartheid policy.

Shortly after graduating at the age of 17, Musk left South Africa to attend university in Canada. He has rarely looked back on his past years in South Africa in public.

The media rarely get his views on his motherland directly from his mouth, but more often hear about his early experiences from his classmates or neighbors.

Although we still don’t know exactly what Musk thinks of his childhood in South Africa.

However, the country’s historical trajectory has clearly had a significant impact on Musk.

Whether correct or not, in the eyes of many white South Africans, the face of history is actually very different from the traditional black liberation narrative.

In fact, the indigenous people of South Africa are not black.

The first people to live in southern Africa were actually the Hottentots and Bushmen, collectively known as the Khoisan, and their appearance was actually quite different from the black Africans we see today. Their skin color is closer to yellow or tan, and their facial features are closer to Asian yellow people.

Khoisan

As for the Afrikaners (also known as “Boers”), Bantu blacks and British whites, they are all foreign ethnic groups.

Due to the disadvantage in numerical proportion, Afrikaners have long implemented the apartheid policy. There are also some realists among them who see the inevitable trend of change and gradually admit that they must coexist with black people in the future.

Musk left South Africa in 1988 to live with his mother in Canada to study. After he left South Africa, South Africa implemented racial reconciliation under Mandela and completely ended South Africa’s apartheid policy.

Although after entering the 21st century, South Africa, under the leadership of a black president, has also experienced substantial GDP growth for several consecutive years, and has even become one of the five BRICS countries. However, the gap between its economy and moderately developed countries such as South Korea is getting wider and wider. Indisputable fact.

In 1993, when the white South Africans were in power, South Africa’s total GDP was US$147.2 billion . In the same year, South Korea’s total GDP was US$390 billion, which was 2.64 times South Africa’s GDP;

In 2022, South Africa’s total GDP will be US$405.9 billion. In the same year, South Korea’s total GDP will reach US$1.67 trillion, and the gap has widened to more than 4 times.

After “reconciliation” in South Africa, a large number of white immigrants immigrated to the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

In South African white society, high-level people emigrated one after another. In 2019, the white population of South Africa was 4.62 million, accounting for 7.9% of the country, falling below 8%. In just 28 years, their proportion of the country has dropped by nearly 10%.

The history of equal rights for black South Africans to dismantle apartheid, if viewed from the perspective of some white South Africans,
It may be a history in which white people are constantly marginalized and eventually lost to black people.

After Mandela ended the apartheid policy, a large number of jobs were rigidly allocated to black people who did not have the conditions to receive education, and white unemployment soared.

In South Africa, there are approximately 2 million white South Africans living in slums, accounting for approximately 45% of the total white population in South Africa.

It may be difficult for us to know how much weight his childhood experiences and the evolution of his motherland’s history have played in Musk’s life experience so far.

But it gives us a rare entry point into the origins of this phenomenon.

If you want to understand the logic of someone’s behavior, you should look at the problem from that person’s perspective, and his experience is undoubtedly an important basis for forming the way he views the world.

Although Musk has the experience of immigrating to the United States from overseas like many technology giants in the United States, and has made great achievements in progressive fields such as energy conservation and environmental protection, his political views are at odds with most environmentalists who hold left-wing political views, making him a rare outlier.

Musk clearly prefers the conservative Republican Party to the Democratic Party.

For example, last year, Musk publicly supported Republican Florida Governor DeSantis’ candidacy for the next president on social media.

What’s special about Musk is that he is engaged in cutting-edge technology that the Democratic Party has long supported, but he is ideologically opposed to the Democratic Party.

The reality of Musk’s separation of identity and ideology in the technology industry not only puts a knot in the throat of the Democratic Party, but also makes the public think that he is very different from previous technology giants and full of contradictions.

From the recent workers’ strike of the three major American automobile companies, we can better observe the complexity and weirdness behind it.

After the strike, US President Biden and former President Trump went to Michigan to express support for the strike, but the reasons behind them were different:

The Democratic Party has always supported the new energy automobile industry. Traditional automobile manufacturers are not a vote base for the Democratic Party, so Biden sided with the workers in this general strike. As the Republican Party is an opposition party, and the white people at the bottom are its base of votes, it is natural that the Democratic Party will support the new energy automobile industry. He wanted to support the interests of workers in the rust areas, so he immediately and unconditionally stood on the side of the industrial workers.

It can be said that both Democratic Biden and Republican Trump have expressed support for the United Auto Workers (UAW).

So what does Musk think? It stands to reason that the current situation of the three major American auto giants is in straits, which is a great benefit to Tesla.

But things are not as people think.

On September 26, Musk criticized the ongoing general strike of the United Auto Workers (UAW), believing that the union’s demands will “put General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler (parent company Stellantis) on the fast track to bankruptcy.”

Not only that, Musk also refused to allow the United Auto Workers to form a union at the Tesla factory in the United States. Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers, is a typical supporter of redistribution policies.

Therefore, rather than saying that Musk is against the Democratic Party, it is better to say that he is against the extreme redistribution policies of the Democratic Party.

Perhaps in Musk’s view, South Africa’s time at that moment is just like the United States’ current moment.

Latinos in the United States have the highest birth rate among all major ethnic groups in the United States today.

Some people may ask, Latinos also have fair skin, aren’t they also white? Is it comparable to South Africa?

That may be true from a Chinese perspective, but not from a traditional white American perspective.

Unlike the “post-modern America” ​​that many people imagine, American society is closer to a “pre-modern society”: its original social value background is very single.

The cultural foundation of traditional white people in the United States comes from the three Nordic countries of Denmark, England, and the Netherlands, and its spiritual totem comes from the Puritanism that was incompatible with the mainstream Catholicism during the Reformation.

The core concepts of justification by faith, the idea of ​​vocation, and the city on the mountain that these Puritans upheld constituted the core values ​​of American society as a whole.

For the United States in history, conservatism is its foundation.

Not to mention that Hispanics are mixed with a lot of indigenous ancestry, and their Catholic religious beliefs are also significantly different from those of white Americans. In the eyes of Westerners, heretics who compete for the same bowl of rice are more hateful than heretics who compete on an equal footing.

Therefore, the current trend of Latin Americanization in the United States is a big tacit problem for a considerable number of white people.

The continuous process of Latin Americanization in the United States is mainly affected by two factors. One of them is the Democratic Party’s introduction of a large number of immigrants and its forced equal rights redistribution to ethnic minorities.

Why do Democrats want to introduce immigrants?

Because of the votes.

In a democratic country, the most important factor behind votes is the number of votes. A larger population means more political voice.

The concept of equality is inherently more expansive than the concept of freedom.

Freedom only requires everyone to develop peacefully, while equality will spare no effort to bring others into the same ecological niche as oneself in order to reflect its value.

Every time the Democratic Party with a leftist ideology introduces an immigrant with a leftist ideology, it dilutes or erodes the conservatives.

Therefore, the Democratic Party’s brainwashing and hematopoietic capabilities are far stronger than those of the Republican Party.

Under the influence of the immigration policy introduced by the Democratic Party for blood production, the dominant position of white people in the United States may face the same danger of marginalization as in South Africa.

Musk’s contradictions are not only reflected in ideology, but also in his views on China.

Not long ago, Musk faced the camera and once again expressed his views on the Taiwan issue.

“The most fundamental issue is Taiwan.” At the All-In Summit 2023 hosted by All-In Podcast, Musk said that China’s policy has always been to unify Taiwan in some form, “from their (Chinese government’s) perspective “Looking at it, maybe this is similar to Hawaii, [Taiwan] being an integral part of China but claiming not to be part of China, mainly because the United States specifically blocks any kind of unification efforts.”

As soon as these remarks came out, the overseas media and political circles completely exploded.

Relevant to Musk’s remarks in interviews with the US Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC) and the Financial Times, it is obvious that when discussing the Taiwan issue, Musk shares the same standard stance as many American entrepreneurs on the Taiwan issue. Different from not taking a stand , they will always throw out arguments that are completely different from mainstream American public opinion.

Why does Musk always hold views on the Taiwan issue that are contrary to mainstream American public opinion?

Is it just for his business in China?

People who hold this view can only be said to be too young, too simple, and sometimes naive.

Most American entrepreneurs do not need to support China to the extent of angering mainstream public opinion in American politics, especially in the international environment where China and the United States are drifting apart.

Musk’s remarks about the Taiwan issue are not so much an attempt to please China as they are the result of his mature thinking and are just telling the truth.

Taiwan is China’s core interest, but not for the United States.

If China and the United States clash over Taiwan and trigger a head-on conflict, even if the United States can win miserably, the loss to the white American population will be immeasurable.

Two world wars wiped out two entire generations of white people, and Europe has never recovered. The white ethnic group can no longer afford the population losses caused by a large-scale hot war. This is also an important reason why France and Germany have avoided overly provoking Russia before and after the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

In the eyes of white elites like Musk, the Pacific Ocean is large enough. If a hot war breaks out between the United States and China on the edge of the Eurasian continental plate, resulting in a sharp decline in the white population, which already has a low fertility rate, it will simply not be worth the gain.

Moreover, Musk’s Tesla production in China is a win-win result for China and Musk.

Tesla was localized in China in 2019.

At that time, the Sino-US trade war had already begun, and the competition and opposition between the two major powers China and the United States had become increasingly obvious. Trump even once declared that he would decouple from China. Why did Tesla proactively choose localization and be able to do so at this time? Will China go further?

Because, for China, due to inherent technical deficiencies in the traditional fuel vehicle industry, it needs to rely on electric vehicles to improve its technical shortcomings in the automotive industry. Therefore, China’s introduction of Tesla is really just to introduce a catfish to build cars.

For Musk, even though competition between China and the United States continues to intensify, China’s strong policy push and huge market space allow Musk to see the importance of China in the new energy field.

So, is Tesla a product of Musk’s plan to subsidize Mars, or does it also include Musk’s dream?

Tesla is not just a cash cow to commercially subsidize Mars plans, as many people believe.

Otherwise, you simply cannot explain why the stock price of a new energy vehicle company has increased nearly 200 times since its listing in 2010.

What Musk built is not a car in the traditional sense at all, but a large mobile intelligent robot. The key to its eventual evolution into a complete body is FSD.

Some time ago, Musk live broadcast the road test of the FSD v12 version on X.

In the 45-minute live broadcast, Musk rode an old Model S and used FSD throughout the entire process, passing through roundabouts and construction sections. During the live broadcast, Musk said excitedly many times: “We did not write a single line of code to tell it how to handle this situation,” and “the entire process was realized by AI.”

The Tesla FSD V12 version allows neural networks to replace rule writing. Tesla inputs massive real-life scenarios and excellent driving behavior data into an AI model. During the driving process of the vehicle, after the vehicle obtains environmental information through sensors, it automatically processes it through the AI ​​model and directly outputs instructions to the vehicle, such as what is the driving speed, what is the steering angle of the steering wheel, etc., to control the vehicle’s movement.

Musk said in the live broadcast that the FSD V11 version has more than 300,000 lines of C++ code, while the V12 version only has 2,000+ lines. It can also be disconnected from the network and perform calculations offline. Musk also said that according to reasoning, the computing power of the V12 version is only 100W. Less code also increases the stability of the system, making intelligent vehicle driving safer.

From the special meaning of FSD, perhaps many people can understand why Tesla has so many settings that are inconsistent with past driving habits:

Because Tesla is not facing the past, but the future.

Today, young people in Europe and the United States are very accustomed to using Alexa to control smart devices at home. So if Tesla is the first car for young people, what is it without the turn signal and wiper lever? They can definitely use Tesla’s new usage habits very well.

According to the usual perspective of Chinese automotive media, Tesla’s behavior of canceling the turn signal lever is Tesla’s consistent cost reduction behavior.

However, just observing Tesla’s continuous reduction of manufacturing costs from the perspective of competition in the automotive industry is still too small.

Tesla’s cost reduction is not just to increase profit margins, but to pave the way for FSD to finally be implemented. Only when the cost is low enough can the vast majority of car owners who can afford a car be able to quickly use autonomous driving in a short period of time.

There is no absolute technical threshold for the deployment of autonomous driving technology for fuel vehicles and electric vehicles. Cost is the key.

From the current point of view, the cost of fuel vehicles mainly lies in the three major components of engine, gearbox and chassis.

Data shows that the engine accounts for 10%-15% of the manufacturing cost of the vehicle price. The engine of a compact car costs at least 20,000 yuan. In comparison, the manufacturing cost of the motor is only about half of the engine.

The cost of the gearbox may account for more than 20% of the total cost of the car. If you need to purchase a gearbox from another merchant, the cost may be as high as 40%. Even if a gearbox costs only 20,000 yuan, its cost has reached four times the price of an electric drive. Therefore, from the perspective of the entire vehicle, the cost of fuel vehicles lies in the powertrain, while electric vehicles do not need this part.

In terms of body materials, Model Y uses integrated die-casting to produce the body rear floor assembly, replacing the original 370 parts, which can ultimately reduce the total weight of the car by 10%.

The most expensive material component of electric vehicles is the battery. After Tesla cars use 4680 batteries, combined with improvements in materials and vehicle design, production costs can be reduced by up to 54%.

Data shows that in the third quarter of 2022, Tesla’s gross profit from each vehicle sold was US$15,653, which was more than twice that of Volkswagen, four times that of Toyota, and five times that of Ford.

In fact, Musk has his own lofty ambitions when it comes to building cars.

If AI autonomous driving can truly benefit daily life in Europe and the United States, it will completely change the living conditions in Europe and the United States.

You must know that one result of the decline in the fertility rate of white people in Europe and the United States is the rapid increase in the cost of non-tradable services. The reason why Western developed countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand introduce a large number of immigrants every year is to make up for the labor shortage in the low-end service industry and stabilize the rising service industry prices. In the United States, a large number of Latino immigrants work in the low-end service industry.

If AI applications such as fully autonomous driving are truly implemented in the future, some originally non-tradable services will become tradable services, and the introduction of low-end immigrants may become a thing of the past.

On the other hand, the reduction of living costs and the improvement of living conditions will also have a boosting effect on the increasingly sluggish fertility rate.

Jobs’ greatness lies in his pursuit of perfection and his ideas that transcend the times.

Everyone says that Musk is the person who most resembles Steve Jobs after his death, but Musk is obviously very different from Steve Jobs.

As a public figure, Musk is a complex individual full of contradictions, and this complexity cannot be explained by a tech geek.

His special past has created this technological madman who is the most difficult to define.

From the moment he left South Africa for the United States without hesitation 35 years ago, Musk has always been based on human reality and looking up to the stars.

What he pursues is not perfection, but he has long been accustomed to finding the best possible future in an imperfect world.

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