For Elon Musk, the personal is political – but his march to the right affects us all

Walter Isaacson's biography of the Tesla, SpaceX and X owner shows insecurity and anger have driven him to extremes

The personal is political. The phrase was popularized by 1960s second-wave feminism but it sums up Elon Musk's ideological journey. Once a "fundraiser and fanboy for Barack Obama", to quote his biographer, Walter Isaacson, the sometime world's richest man now plays thin-skinned, anti-woke warrior – a self-professed free-speech purist who in fact is anything but.

His rebranding of Twitter to X having proved a disaster, he flirts with antisemites for fun and lost profits. He threatens the Anti-Defamation League with a multibillion-dollar lawsuit. The ADL never suggested the name "X". That was a long-term fetish, now a clear own-goal.

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