Elon Musk says ‘make more Italians’ as star guest at PM’s political conference



Elon Musk was star guest this year at an annual conference organized by Italian PM Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party.

He arrived against the backdrop of an ice-skating rink and an ancient castle in Rome with one of his 11 children to tout the value of procreation.

Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, and Musk urged the crowd to “make more Italians to save Italy’s culture,” a particular focus of the Meloni government.

Meloni has been a strong opponent of surrogacy, which is criminalized in Italy, but there was no mention of Musk’s own recent children born of surrogacy.

The owner of X (formerly called Twitter) was slightly rumpled with what could easily be argued the least stylish shoes in the mostly Italian crowd since Donald Trump’s often unkempt former top adviser Steve Bannon appeared at the conference in 2018.

Italy's Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni welcomes British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on stage during the Atreju political meeting organised by the young militants of Italian right wing party Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia) on December 16, 2023 at the Sant'Angelo castle in Rome.

Meloni sat in the front row taking photos of Musk, who she personally invited. Meloni founded the Atreju conference in 1998, named after a character in the 1984 film “The NeverEnding Story.”

Meloni is a fan of fantasy and has been vocal about her love for J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” and during her youth, she attended Hobbit Camps, which were set up by the post-Fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano for young right-wing politicians like herself.

“Lord of the Rings” is often described as a pillar of Italy’s post-Fascist far-right parties.

“I think that Tolkien could say better than us what conservatives believe in,” Meloni told The New York Times. “I don’t consider ‘The Lord of the Rings’ fantasy,” she said.

Apart from Bannon, previous headliners have included Marine Le Pen and Viktor Orban.

This year Spanish populist party Vox member Santiago Abascal and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also addressed the conservative crowd in addition to Musk, who was interviewed by an Italian journalist on Saturday morning.

This photograph taken on December 16, 2023, shows the Sant'Angelo castle hosting the Atreju political meeting organised by the young militants of Italian right wing party Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia) in Rome.

The venue, Castel Sant’Angelo, was built in 135 A.D. as a mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian before the papal state took it over as a fortress. It is connected to Vatican City by a high wall with a walkway popes used to escape attacks on the Vatican.

It is now a public museum and the square nearby is undergoing a renovation, which made the entire area more like a construction zone than a political event with portable toilets and cranes visible through the fence.

During his interview, Musk focused on the “woke mind virus” he said is gripping the US and warned it is moving to Italy, calling it “evil.”

When asked about international companies investing in Italy, he said it was made difficult by Italy’s low birth rate.

He also talked about the future as a “multi-planet species” and the benefit of legal immigration — if, he said, the immigrants are hard workers and will be able to add something to society.

Irregular immigration is one of the biggest political issues in Italy, with more than 153,000 people arriving in Italy by sea so far this year.

“If it’s illegal immigration and there is no filter, how do you know who is coming in?” he asked to wild applause from the crowd.

When asked about his recent comments telling advertisers who left X to “go f**k yourself’ he refused to engage, but did say that Disney has the “woke mind virus,” questioning, “What would Walt Disney think of Disney today?”

Musk also said that artificial intelligence is the “biggest inflection point since homo sapiens,” adding that “artificial intelligence will be a new species.”

He outlined threats to humanity and said he supported some regulatory control of AI.

“Birth rate is one of them, the other is nuclear war, then AI is an existential risk, we need to be careful with the advent of AI, but it is very much a double-edged sword, AI is the magic genie,” he said, adding, “The tale of magic genies usually doesn’t turn out so well, so be careful what you wish for.”

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