With Tuesday came the second part of Elon Musk’s two-day interview event on the Tucker Carlson Show, and I should probably issue a content warning at this point. The interview—which felt like a prolonged, nightmarish bong rip—inevitably moved to the topic of human reproduction.
“The urge to have sex and procreate is after breeding the most basic urge—how has it been subverted?” Carlson asked Musk.
Musk has clearly given a lot of thought to this question, though still not enough to make any salient or even remotely coherent points: “Well, in the past we could rely upon simple limbic system rewards in order to procreate. But once you have birth control and abortions and what not, now you can still satisfy the limbic instinct but not procreate,” he said. “So, we haven’t yet evolved to deal with that because it’s all fairly recent in the last 50 years or so. I’m sort of worried that...if we don’t make enough people to at least sustain our numbers, perhaps increase a bit, then civilization is going to crumble.”
Musk concludes, “It’s the old question of, like, will civilization go out with a bang or a whimper? Well, it’s currently trending to end with a whimper in adult diapers”—[at this point, Carlson interjects to nod and say “yes”]—“which is depressing as hell.”
There’s something viscerally shocking but not entirely surprising about Musk and Carlson—perhaps the last men in the world I want to think about in sexual contexts—having a public conversation about how much they’d like to impregnate every woman of childbearing age within a 100-mile radius. I’m suddenly reminded of reports last year that Musk had to privately settle with a flight attendant he allegedly sexually harassed and nonconsensually touched, and the numerous Tesla factory workers who said his own infantile, perverted behavior inspired a workplace culture of sexual harassment. All of that certainly tracks with talking about pregnant people like animals and invoking his own horniness—under the guise of science, of course—on national television.
Much could be said of Musk’s equal-parts embarrassing, desperate, and unsuccessful attempt at posturing as an intellectual; his response to Carlson reminds me of a middle schooler’s pseudoscience-filled rant primarily sourced from Reddit dot com. There are also the obvious comparisons between Musk’s talking points and the rallying cries of fascist Italy’s 1927 “Battle for Births” campaign that sought to double the country’s population by 1950, as well as the campaign’s modern-day brain-child: the far-right’s “replacement theory”—a white supremacist movement that posits white women aren’t having babies quickly enough and frames ending abortion as a solution.
While talking to Carlson, Musk did little to conceal his disdain for birth control, making it fairly clear that he doesn’t care whether or not the human beings he speaks of like barn animals actually want to procreate in a world in which he owns the town square. Unsurprisingly, within days of enacting a near-total abortion ban in September 2021, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott claimed Musk “consistently tells me he likes the social policies” in his state.
On top of all of that, there’s the bleak, existential comedy of a billionaire blaming civilization’s collapse on the poors (as he understands us) not having enough babies that many of us simply can’t afford—or just don’t want, which is also valid—while he hoards $200 billion. Tesla has faced lawsuits for firing workers who used maternity leave or became pregnant, and while under Musk’s new leadership, Twitter allegedly laid off employees mid-IVF cycle last year and hacked away at the company’s once-generous IVF coverage. (Musk, himself, had five kids using IVF.) The billionaire further spent the better part of the fall of 2021 publicly lobbying against Democrats’ Build Back Better plan, which offered historic investments to fund child care and family leave.
Once again, all of this—Musk’s open obsession with bodies and reproduction, his characteristically hypocritical refusal to empower workers to build families—is stunning but not surprising. For Musk to be aware of everything that it takes to parent would actually require him to have firsthand experience parenting—which, as his ex-partners have attested to, he does not. It certainly speaks volumes that one of his own children, his trans daughter, has entirely cut him off. Hmm, I wonder why!
In any case, if Musk’s pleas successfully moved you to consider procreation, might I recommend pursuing this with anyone but him? Something tells me a man who once shamed his ex-wife for openly mourning the loss of their infant—then tried to lie and claim he was the one who held the baby in its final moments—may not be the most suitable father to anyone’s children.