177 Comments
Comment deleted
Expand full comment
deletedApr 28, 2022·edited Apr 28, 2022
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

Maupin is a rare legitimate old school Music Man style capital G grifter. His bizarre and specific combination of beliefs, mannerisms and behaviors is hysterically funny and he's a true classical lolcow in that he obliviously believes that his whole act will perceived to those around him as cool. If "sincerity poisoning" exists, it's him.

Expand full comment
Apr 28, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

I suppose that the difference between "grift" and "taking money" is the extent to which the recipient believes in the cause and how much they take.

A direct mail fundraising artist who uses 95% of the take for further mailing campaigns and fat salaries for himself is a grifter.

An underpaid political staffer, probably not so much.

It's the difference between a doctor for The Tobacco Institute who is paid obscene sums to discredit a study showing that (gasp!) smoking cigarettes is strongly linked to cancer, when that doctor knows the truth full well, and a postgraduate biologist who is paid a meager salary to do experiments showing the carcinogenic effect of tar on lung tissue in lab rats.

Expand full comment

Grift implies that people don't genuinely hold the views they're stating. I have no idea how people determine this. For those that call deBoer a grifter, what do they think his "true" views are?

Personally, I reserve the term "grifter" for anyone involved in NFTs and supplements.

Expand full comment

NFTs - Nonfungible tokens?

Expand full comment

Yes

Expand full comment

I was going to write this but then saw this comment - if your writing is intellectually honest and represents your beliefs, it’s not my definition of “gritting”. If you find yourself adjusting your writing to not turn off your readers/supporters, that is possibly not a mortal sin, but too much of that is a problem.

Expand full comment

My cousin recently opened a small shop selling supplements out of a very sincere belief that they are good for you.

Expand full comment

Brings to mind the George Costanza line that "if you believe it, it's not a lie." Tucker Carlson is a grifter. Rod Dreher is a dupe.

Expand full comment

Who do you think Rod Dreher is being duped by?

Expand full comment

Viktor Orban, for one. More generally I think he's duped by the American conservative propaganda apparatus. Most of these people are selling cultural panic and laughing all the way to the bank. Like Hannity and Carlson and Ben Shapiro obviously don't actually believe in "white genocide" or whatever they're peddling on a given day. But Dreher's cultural panic it totally sincere. He doesn't see the wink-wink part of the grift and breathlessly reacts to every Tucker segment or Libs of Tik Tok post as confirmation that society is falling apart.

Expand full comment

Shapiro is an orthodox Jew. Why would he be peddling "white genocide"?

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

I think it's lost all meaning on the internet, like most terms that are thrown around to describe someone you don't like. I follow a few people who now describe themselves as grifters, despite being quite genuine in all their writing.

Expand full comment

If you use something as an epithet, people will start identifying with it, neoliberal being a recent example

Expand full comment
Apr 28, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

The one that gets my goat is “free speech grifters.” The expression is pretty much lacking in content; it’s wielded as an act of social exclusion: we’re the cool kids because we insult those other kids over there. It has about as much conceptual sophistication as dragging someone for liking Nickelback.

Expand full comment

Wait, what? What's a "free speech grifter"?

Expand full comment

I try not to remember the details of internet ephemera, b/c I need those brain cells for other things. But I think around ‘18-‘20 it became clear the left was serious about making free speech a bad thing. That period, IIRC, culminated in the Harper’s letter. Anyway, that’s when ppl started calling Bari Weiss, Helen Pluckrose (et al.), really any “IDW” person, “free speech grifters.”

Expand full comment

Right. The core meaning behind "grifter" is dishonesty: a grifter deceives others to make money. It's absurd to me that a sincere writer could be considered a grifter. The misuse of words like "grifter" and "groomer" cannot die quickly enough.

Expand full comment

I reserve the term "grifter" for Sawyer on "Lost."

Expand full comment

So your definition of 'grifter' is 'sex bomb' then? sounds good to me!

Expand full comment

With good taste in fiction, no less.

Expand full comment

I called Rick Wilson a grifter on the previous thread because he

1) insisted loudly that the most important thing was stopping Trump from being in the White House, now or in the future

2) did a public happy dance at the rumor that Trump was going to run for office again

Expand full comment

Bingo - but his brazen, cynical showing of enthusiasm is possibly less grifty?

Expand full comment

Imagine how much more cash someone with Freddie DeBoer's writing ability could pull in, if only he followed the money. Although it's unlikely that he'd obtain much upward mobility by staying in Liberal PMC Establisment news media journalism; it's my impression that strictly in terms of numbers, the competition for positions is tough, and the winners are ultimately determined on the basis of early participation in a protege system, or even outright nepotism. "Meritocracy" is a misnomer, when referring to the status rankings and career trajectories of Establishment journalists who have hit the nationwide big time; it's more like Elite Credentialism, eventually augmented with Inertial Name Recognition Fame.

If Freddie were to consider shifting his career track over to selling out to Institutional Power, the real money is in Lobbying. Unlike journalism, the field is always hiring. Alternatively, DeBoer could possibly make bank on the basis of a Political Conversion Memoir, if it was smarmy enough. On the basis of having an entire run of the book bought up as a pre-order purchased by the AEI or Heritage, perhaps.The American Institutional Right, they actually pay their interns...

Expand full comment

Good point. Beijer's failure to acknowledge the context of the media climate you describe makes whatever point thought he was making complete worthless. I note he allows no comments on his Substack. Wouldn't want any heterodoxy intruding on his brand I suppose.

Expand full comment

At least in the case of this reader, the people funding Carl are the same people funding you. I find the disagreements that you two take the time to articulate in writing very interesting to read and reflect on, as a young socialist myself.

Expand full comment

The very annoying thing about the current internet social scene is that it's a bunch of strangers who think they can look into each other's hearts and know their true selves, their true beliefs, their true north star, based on a couple of Tweets and a political affiliation. Talk about arrogance.

I've been with my wife for almost two decades, and I can't figure out what the hell is going on with her some of the time. You're not going to figure out the depths of a person from some small slice of what they do, you need to observe them for a very long time over a lot of interactions and with a lot of scrutiny before you're comfortable saying anything at all about them. I was one of those people who was like "Greenwald on Fox News? Huh? Is it about the money?" But after a couple of years of it and hearing his (quite honestly almost never-ending) justification for it and his internal consistency, I would have to say that the man seems to really believe that the medium is the message and he has to get his ideas out there, any way he can. So, I was able to tell one thing about the guy with some precision after years of observation. Now apply this to everyone you talk to online. You can't, of course. So it's all just made-up shit about people you like (or don't like) spinning through the digital cloud and bouncing off each other. I can't tell you how many times someone has told me "oh <famous person> is a bad person because of X" and I go try to source X and it's either: a) the most bad faith interpretation of an ambiguous situation or b) some anonymous accusation about them stated as fact or c) something inappropriate (rarely criminal) done decades ago, one time, investigated, apologized for, and it never happened again. What a maddening way to think about others!

Expand full comment

And also add in that most people's social media personality is a pose more than a reflection.

Expand full comment

I pose as a cheeky, jokey scamp but in real life I'm fusty and self serious.

Expand full comment

NOOOOOO DON’T BURST MY ILLUSIONS ERIN

Expand full comment

So will you cop to being arrogant when you called me "mentally unwell" yesterday?

Expand full comment

Not at all, since I based that on literal months (maybe even a year at this point) of you hanging around Freddie's comment section, repeating the same foolish talking point of "socialists don't have policies" over and over again. I mean this sincerely Mark: if I saw some guy hanging around a liberal blog posting "the liberals want to put us in camps" over and over again, for years on end, I would feel very comfortable saying that they were mentally unwell. Maybe you're doing it for the likes (they are very addictive, but that's no excuse), maybe you're doing it because you're socially isolated and retired and this is all you have, but it's not normal behavior to just keep Terminatoring out the same comments that are easily disproven by a simple Google search for months on end! I'm genuinely sorry you can't see that! Since my comment clearly got under your skin: maybe reflect on how somebody who's in the sunset of his life is wasting what time he has left pouring hours into the Substack comment section of a writer that they have repeatedly admitted that they don't respect, groveling for likes from a handful of people that don't care about them and won't miss them when they're gone. You're worm food soon, pal. Make your days count!

Expand full comment

This is unnecessarily harsh and presumptuous.

Expand full comment

So is saying "socialists don't have policies" so maybe let's all put a kibosh on the stupid sloganeering and talk to each other like human beings.

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment

Well, MarkS deleted his post but it was a very reasonable "explain how socialism allocates housing after the termination of the capitalist market" and I answered it. But I now see it's been deleted.

Honestly, there's no better illustration of the petty futilities of online interaction for political discussion than this, but I'm going to leave up my response because it's 20 minutes of my life and I don't want to throw it away.

OP starts now:

I'm going to assume that "the capitalist market" is referring to "market capitalism" because otherwise I don't know what you mean. In which case I say: flip it to "market socialism". I mean, it's housing. It's limited, and everybody wants the good stuff, so you either use a market or you use a lottery, and the second is dreadful. Also, we already have the government allocating housing. They use zoning and density to do this. What they don't do is build the housing. So there's a logical place to start, which is that rather than turn the land over to speculators to speculate, and developers to develop, the government builds the housing on an as-needed basis and sells it or rents it off as appropriate. Landlords are peacefully phased out, but property managers remain as government employees who manage a building fund made up of contributions from residents. People who cannot afford housing are dealt with by some sort of welfare system (pick your poison here, there's lots of options). Please note that I do not believe in the elimination of private ownership of property or private capital, and would like to keep a small percentage of parcels/lots as private that could be developed privately, so as to encourage some level of innovation and competition in the field.

I'm leaving out a whole bunch of stuff here about America's missing middle housing, our terrible all-around civil engineering, our car-centered sprawl that leave local governments insolvent, the fact that housing wealth is the number one way to build intra-generational wealth in America, the tax structure you would need to implement this, the specific welfare system used. Quite honestly you could very easily write a book and I'm not going to. I'm just saying it's very easy to look at the current system and say "ok, here's the part where the builders step in and make the cheapest shit they can to dump on the market with the highest margin possible" and eliminate it. There's a reason that "builder-grade" is an insult in the housing renovation business; the capitalist system is producing dwellings that are shitty.

Expand full comment

I am pretty far from MarkS politically. I describe myself as libertarian-lite. And I have found his posts to be consistently intelligent, thoughtful and worthwhile. I think he classes up the place and that's not something that I can say for everyone.

In addition I have noticed that he tends to post in the evening and less frequently during the day, leading me to believe that he only shows up when he has actual free time.

Finally I think "socialists don't have policies" is a gross oversimplification of what his central point is, which is that "socialists don't have policies that have a snowball's chance in Hell of making it past a voting public so you had better choose the next best thing and vote Democrat". The first part of that is something that Mr. deBoer has admitted to time and again. The statement as a whole strikes me to be eminently reasonable--it's why "libertarian-lite" types such as myself go Republican.

Expand full comment

Thank you for the complimentary words.

To clarify, I have generally tried to make two different points re the politics of the left.

First, I generally consider myself to be on the left, in that I support most progressive policies regarding much better safety-net provisions, labor protections, consumer protections, wealth taxes, etc etc etc. And I think that making actual progress in these areas requires electing more Democrats in purple to reddish districts, and that the electable Democrats in those districts will be centrist, and so progressives should not only vote for them but work hard to elect them. In this regard I view the 2016 POTUS election as an abject failure of the left. HRC was too corporate for the Bernie bros, and now, as a direct consequence, abortion rights are being eviscerated. Nice job, lefties!

But then there are the people who call themselves "socialists", and who want to go much further; they want to dismantle capitalism, and replace it with ... well, what, exactly? That's my question. What are the rules for running a socialist society on a large scale?

I had always just assumed that Marx or somebody had worked those out, and that the obvious historical failures of socialism were due to not running things according to those well thought out rules. Recently I discovered what is to me an astonishing fact: the socialists actually do not have any proposed rules! Neither Marx nor anyone else in the past 150 years has bothered to figure out how things would actually run under socialism.

A few of the zillion questions that need answering: Without a market, how is housing allocated? When does a small business become large enough to be collectivized? How is compensation of workers determined, both within an industy and across industries? Etc etc etc.

No matter how many insults Internet Boy hurls at me (sticks and stones my friend), he has no answers to these questions.

Freddie has hinted at an answer: we have to wait for the development of a superintelligent AI to run things.

I'm pretty sure that would have surprised Marx.

Anyway, until the socialists figure out how they want to run things, and explain it to the rest of us, it seems to me that we ought to be very sure they don't seize any actual power.

Luckily that doesn't seem to be an issue these days. The left is busy going all in with race and gender essentialism, and it's gotten so bad that even I don't want to elect any more Democrats, lest they pass something egregious like the Equality Act.

Expand full comment

Mark, I really find your politics baffling. You consider yourself on the left, and say that you would support economically left policies in theory (if only the gender and race people would stop pushing their ideologies), and as a result you now say more and more that you won’t even vote for the centrist Dems you said were the truly reasonable option to begin with, lest the party gains power and does a wokeness.

On one hand, I hate the Democrats. I don’t share your reasoning in the least and find your analysis of the left flank vs the center to be almost exactly backwards, but I’m not about to argue with someone who doesn’t support the Democrats. That said, if that means you’re voting GOP to *ensure* we don’t get something as terrifying as the Equality Act (and in the process ensuring none of the economic progress you say you want), then I am even more confused as to why you consider yourself on the left at all.

Expand full comment

Well it's complicated. I suppose it's more that I have been on the left in the past (all my life), before the rise of SJW politics. I would happily stay on the left, if the left abandoned race and gender essentialism, and returned to its liberal roots. But that's not what's happening.

I think it's extremely important (for the long term) to defeat race and gender essentialism, and, given that, greater economic justice must take a back seat for now. That's really a shame, in my view. I hate having to make that choice, but I will not shirk from it.

Expand full comment

Point well taken. It should be obvious but the fetishization of our online 'life' is so pervasive that repeated reminders are in order. And your personal example is spot-on. But, by the sound of it, I think I have about a decade+ of married-life experience on you. Am now at the stage of acceptance, having passed through the other Kubler-Ross parts over the years.

Expand full comment

My brother opened my husband's new PS5 box without asking and my husband was pissed and I was like "wrll we've been married for 17 years and I didn't foresee you being mad" and he was like, "yeah, that's incredible to me" and i was like "well YOUR attitude is incredible to ME." so I agree that we are never fully knowable to each other.

Expand full comment

How did your brother get a ps5? Need to know!

Expand full comment

My *husband* did and I'm not sure he signed up for notifications from a bunch of different places then spent his waking hours monitoring them lol

Expand full comment

He got one by opening his brother-in-law's.

Expand full comment

Google PG's Fast Alerts, the free Discord is how I got a Switch last fall.

Expand full comment
Apr 28, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022

I don't have any gaming consoles, but I'd imagine your brother doing that would be grounds for a bare-knuckle fight. It might be a guy thing.

Of course, using the phrase 'guy thing' nowadays is blatant toxic masculinity and I should be publicly stoned.

Expand full comment
Apr 28, 2022·edited Apr 28, 2022

💯 shocked that someone would unbox somebody else’s shit without asking 😮 which is to say, not a guy thing. Would def be a fight about this if it happened to me.

Expand full comment

Yes when I thought about it in the “unboxing” sense I understood. i initially said “isn’t it like just hooking up some wires?” and that was the wrong thing to have said. 😂

Expand full comment

They’re not brutes like you apparently so they fought it out via tartly worded texts and long silences.

Expand full comment

Grudges, stony silences, and a refusal to ever discuss anything directly...the hallowed fighting style of repressed WASP men everywhere.

Expand full comment

The battle was bitter, lengthy, and inaudible.

Expand full comment

Explicitly articulating the issues enraging you is for peasants and Catholics.

Expand full comment

Not a guy, but I'd definitely lose my shit if someone opened my new shiny without me there. I mean, dafuq, bro.

Expand full comment

I obviate the problem of speculating about a writers motivations by not caring all that much. It saves a lot of wasted energy and crossed wires to make assessments of what one reads on the basis of the content, instead of speculations about the person who writes it and their motives for doing so. The content is where the action is (if there is any.)

Part of the critical assessment of information content consists of examining it for trustworthiness, of course. But the question of whether an inaccurate or misleading article and its errors should be attributed to ignorance, laziness, indiligence, or a conscious intention to deceive is much less important to me than the fact that the details of the story content don't hold up under scrutiny. (I spend a lot of the energy I devote to news and current events to fact-checking with keyword searches. To learn which questions to ask, I study history.)

However, I've often read criticism directed at a piece of journalism that focuses almost entirely on speculations about the motives of the writer, while failing to make reference to the presence of any major omissions or errors of fact, misleading claims, or other specious information that the critic might have detected in the specifics of the article content itself. My takeaway from reviews like those is that the critic has got nothing.

Expand full comment
Apr 28, 2022·edited Apr 28, 2022

The wheel is necessary because of human duplicity: we are all grifters and all the time. All systems are undermined by those who are empowered to intermediate our commercial activities. The gate keepers will take care of themselves first, they will distort the system which in turn will always prioritize self preservation. The violence of capitalism is a proper and good antidote to the violence of human duplicity: creative destruction is our best hope. With competitive capitalism we harness what comes natural to us, yes it’s ugly but so are we. For me, simple things like high minimum-wage are the solution, all the social programs that you lefties iput in place are always distorted by duplicity and rendered at best 50% effective. Ask people what they want they will say money, they don’t want you helping them because they think you are a self serving douche bag, which you are, we are all grifters, that’s the human condition, it’s gravity, stop moralizing it.

Freddie writes so very well, his argumentation is delicious too read.

Expand full comment

Agree with all of this. And especially your last line, made evidently true when I tried to read the linked Beijer essay just after reading Freddie. Holy cow, the contrast gave me whiplash.

Expand full comment

Freddie is brilliant

Expand full comment

The strange part of this is that I don’t know anyone with orthodox views in real life. Everyone has a wide hodgepodge or disparate views.

Expand full comment
Removed (Banned)Apr 28, 2022
Comment removed
Expand full comment

I strongly resent the accusation of being "well-adjusted."

Expand full comment

I do know a fair number of the “orthodox.” They’re usually from a very narrow demographic (usually white; college educated; queer or neurodivergent or both; either with a desk job or an artist/creator or a teacher/social worker or maybe externally financially supported; spiritual but not religious) and they are very difficult to be around.

It’s much less common outside of that demographic, though.

Expand full comment
founding

I tick 6 of those boxes, and I am surrounded by woke orthodoxy. My views may be common in the US, but in my social and professional circles, I feel like I'm alone.

I'm sure there are others like me, just keeping quiet, but there is absolutely an elite-driven orthodoxy among certain demographics.

Expand full comment

You crossed my mind as I wrote! I used to move in those circles too and it can be SO lonely.

There are definitely quiet dissenters though. After I somewhat publicly exited I got a bunch of anxiously whispered (either literally or figuratively) DMs/phone calls/letters/people pulling me aside to say things like “it wasn’t just me??”

Expand full comment

I'm in goddamned academia and even here I'm finding there are more and more "heterodox" people who didn't like the last half-decade's pressure to conform.

Expand full comment

Grift is when the primary activity is separating people from their money but sold under the guise of providing a positive good. Facebook is a grift. So are most political action committees (by design) as are most people in the business of DEI.

Figuring out who is/isn’t a grifter is nearly as complicated as you make it out to be. When there is a choice to be made between servicing the stated good and reaping wealth what action does the person or organization take?

If they not only go against their stated goals and reply to criticism with a torrent of bullshit that’s the grift revealed.

Expand full comment

It's hard to see what Beijer's getting at in that post. Is it really uncommon knowledge how widespread "independent" voting is? And who or, really, what specific position is he targeting? Americans love self-styled rebels and have for ages. Yeah, pretty obvious to any minimally aware person. Commentators also love pointing out that, per everything else in human existence, typical actions don't rise up to the level of self-flattery. Thanks for the reminder, Carl.

Expand full comment

And there's also the fact that people's motivations change over time. A 25 year old single person may begin with idealistic intentions when they first start writing or working at a non-profit. But let a decade or so go by (and they now have a mortgage and two kids to send to college), and the calculus changes. That idealistic cause is now their 15 year career that literally funds their life. People will invariably factor that in and protect it at pretty much all costs. Just the way it is.

Expand full comment

This comment has been tragically neglected but since I have to get up now to schlep my 1.5 children to school and then engage in productive labor for the day, I can say no more at the moment.

Expand full comment

I think you meant to write "heterodox" here instead of "orthodox"? --> "Most self-styled *orthodox* thinkers will tell you flat out that they’re not defying the will of the people but rather the will of the tastemakers who set the agenda against the will of the people. That’s key to the brand! So reference to polling just isn’t relevant."

Expand full comment

Does Jacobin represent left orthodoxy? I guess I need to catch up with inter left scuffling but the Jacobin people I read and watch seem to have the same impatience with current left orthodoxies as you.

Expand full comment
author

I mean I think part of my point here is that those distinctions just aren't constructive.

Expand full comment

Down with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Judea! Or was that the Judean People's Front...

Expand full comment

Thank you for pointing out the elite media angle of all this. Yes, heterdoxy is popular. But that's because many ordinary people really, REALLY hate mainstream media and its embrace of yelling, scoldy, Twitter-fueled social justice politics.

And since many of those people don't want to jump all the way over into reactionary Fox News land, they go looking for alternative options outside the binary. Count me in that category.

So to all these sneering writers, why not take a closer look at WHY heterodoxy is popular? It's not going away anytime soon.

Expand full comment
Removed (Banned)Apr 28, 2022
Comment removed
Expand full comment

In the eternal war to relitigate the 2016 Democratic primary, there are three sides:

1) Bernie 2016,

2) Hillary 2016,

3) "Elect Bernie and then push him Leftward" 2020.

The latter two desperately need Trump as a foil.

Expand full comment

I think you mean "Elect Biden and push him leftward" 2020

Expand full comment

No, I don't. "First put Bernie through the primary and general, then push him leftward" was a real strategy that actual organized activists endorsed in 2020.

Expand full comment

You may be correct but i dont remember Trump being the defining issue for Bernie 2020. But being for Sanders in any capacity in 2020 was a good way to be called racist, sexist, Nazi adjacent or a Trump shill. Ask Brianna Joy Grey or Nina Turner.

Expand full comment

I didn't say Trump was the defining issue for Bernie 2020. I said that the "push Bernie left" campaign needed Trump as a foil. If they couldn't pose voters the false choice between "DSA 2020 pushing Bernie left, or Trump", voters would just go for Bernie 2016, actual Bernie 2020, or Biden.

Expand full comment

If we wanna get really, REALLY edgy, we could reason that if "heterodox liberal/left/socialist/socdem" politics sells so well, that could indicate there's some number of people worth organizing into an actual political bloc that might, just might, have enough internal diversity and tolerance to accomplish literally anything other than tearing itself apart and attempting to purge its own electeds in fits of pique.

Expand full comment

The only person I've seen called a grifter is the MyPillow guy. The accusation seemed meant to imply that he was saying he cared about the good of the country, but all he really cared about was selling pillows. Perhaps its basis was the almost comical mismatch between the cause and the product? Anyway, he seems to be a bonafide Trump supporter, so the idea that the word implies an insincere motive doesn't fit this example.

There needs to be some word for people who claim to be doing something for noble motives but are actually doing it for the money. Folks who are simply trying to sell something to people who want it, on its own merits, wouldn't fall into that category.

Expand full comment

I'm with you pretty much. But I suppose their argument, which I'm not sure holds water, is that if you make a calculated decision to brand yourself "heterodox" because you know that it's more profitable than being "conventional", then that makes you relatively more "grifter-y" than them. Even if you both agree that all capitalism is "grift". Isn't it like "Well, you're pure grift. I'm just 'enough to pay the rent' grift. So we might agree that capitalism is evil but your MORE evil than me." Right?

For me, a nobody consumer of this stuff, the only way I delineate what to read/watch/consume isn't on the grifter axis, the elite axis or the partisan axis. I do it on the honesty axis. Which is a subjective judgement call, but it's all I have. I don't even care if I agree or disagree with them. I care about wether or not I think they're truly telling me what they think. No matter how much money they make or who subsidizes them. I ask myself, "Is this honest? Or is this bullshit?" My take often changes but here's my current score card:

HONEST LIST:

You

Sam Harris

Fifth Column (I know you have issues with them but I'd love to hear you there)

Jesse Singal

Matt Yglesias

Nate Silver

Joe Rogan (often a knucklehead, but honest)

Andrew Sullivan

Lex Friedman

Thomas Chatterton Williams

Angel Eduardo

Dr. Sheena Mason (Great but little known professor of the Theory Of Racelessness)

John McWhorter

Glen Loury

Steven Pinker

Michael Shermer

Richard Dawkins

(Most real science people of course)

Nikole Hannah-Jones (Even though I disagree with her a lot)

Helen Pluckrose

Sarah Haider (Great new substack! Super smart).

DISHONEST:

Taylor Lorenz

Ben Shapiro

Dave Rubin

Candice Owens

Ibram X Kendi

Robin Diangelo (she might just be really dumb)

Cenk Uygur

James Lindsey

NOT SURE:

Jordan Peterson

Bari Weiss

Weinstein Brothers (Bret & Eric)

Glenn Greenwald

Matt Taibbi

Expand full comment
Removed (Banned)Apr 28, 2022
Comment removed
Expand full comment

Is it dishonest or is she just wrong? Isn't it that interesectional outlook that skews how she writes about it?

Expand full comment
Removed (Banned)Apr 28, 2022·edited Apr 28, 2022
Comment removed
Expand full comment

Better than doubling down on the errors. No?

Expand full comment

Nice list of people to check out. I would move Taibbi to honest, if you're looking for opinions.

Expand full comment

Yeah, I got back & forth on Matt. Gotta' admit that when I'm in tinfoil hat mode I can't help but think that silence from him & Greenwald about Putin must have something to do with their connection to Russia. But I dunno. I LIKE Matt! Love his writing.

Expand full comment

Matt has a whole substack on Russia now.

Expand full comment

Taibbi? Didn’t know that. I’ll check it.

Expand full comment

What is your basis for assessing NHJ as 'not a grifter'? (Srs question, looking for more information.)

on edit: I don't put James Lindsey in dishonest as much as 'passionate crosswise to my purposes', which, ya know, people don't have to do things the way I do. I suppose it is possible NHJ is much the same, only more opposed to my inclinations.

on second edit (sorry) - Thinking about the honesty/dishonesty divide, and wondering about that class of people who appear to have couple of huge blind spots (that they are emotionally motivated to not correct their vision) and otherwise live a life of integrity. They are not so much dishonest as...well, 'emotionally compromised'. The important difference might be how a person deals with this quality in themselves.

Expand full comment

I have a real problem with NHJ but I don't think she's a grifter. I don't think I'd call her sincere either, though. Opportunistic and unkind, seems like. But that's not dishonest, just distasteful. I'd also add that should people not wish to be equated with their online personas perhaps they shouldn't spend so much of their time on goddamned twitter.

Expand full comment

>>> perhaps they shouldn't spend so much of their time

Preach it, sister.

I also thing I largely agree w your nhj assessment. I mean, I end up loathing most everything she touches, and the whole UNC thing is both hysterical and infuriating...but I can also Steelman a version of her thesis that both enlightens and builds community.

Expand full comment

Agreed about Twitter. If I were Elon Musk I'd just shut the damn thing down. (Although I still look at it for football draft updates. Ha!)

But I hear you on NHJ. As I was making my "honest / dishonest" list it slowly dawned on me that even that axis is a spectrum. Like Freddie says here, once you take money you're somewhat of a "grifter". It all depends on individuals capacity to rationalize their behavior. Sometimes I bet they don't even know. Fame makes you strange. Be careful you pretend to be. Mother Night. Vonnegut.

Expand full comment

On NHJ it was a simple thing. There was one of those true Twitter grifters trying to get some drunk woman at a dog park fired for saying something like "take your dog to your 'hood". But the guy who filmed her & tried to go viral with it was obviously full of shit in an almost Jesse Smolett way. I'd have to look it up but NHJ of all people shut him down online. Which surprised me.

I know the claims about 1619 being historically inaccurate. But I feel that whole intersectional philosophy is so loose that it's easy to for them to say "but this is about narrative, not history". Which CAN be dishonest, but I think she's a true believer in this stuff. Unlike DiAngelo who's just trying to make money. (Kendi too. Although I might be wrong about Kendi. He might just be dumb. But KHJ is smart and I think she really believes she's helping to stop racism. I think she's wrong of course. Time will tell.)

James Lindsay I use to love. The college paper hoax was brilliant and really revealed a lot about the problem with the social justice movement in academia. And I still love and follow his partner in that project. Helen Pluckrose. Honestly, his tweets just starting getting a bit unhinged. And then he went all Trump. I'll be honest. Trump is a dividing line for me. No offense if you're a Trumper. I think the fact that cable news still talks about him is ridiculous. And as bad as he was, he didn't end up being the existential threat we all thought he'd be. Thank God. But he was clearly a pandoras box. I'm still left enough to know that.

I could be wrong about Lindsay. He could be honest. Maybe I should have put him in the third column. But he's been cagey about who finances him. (Peter Thiel?). And Trump or not, his tweets are so click baity now. I'm guessing it's profitable and he's leaning in.

As far as your thing about "blind spots" I think it depends on wether those blind spots are wilful or not. Hard to tell. But when smart people are truly blind about something I'm suspect.

Expand full comment

I am glad to hear that story about NHJ. I don't know that it makes up for her professional lack of integrity (claiming that 1619 should replace 1776, and then claiming that she never said that) but I am glad to hear it anyway.

You know that there were 4 of them on the Sokold Squared thing, right?

I, too, take Trump as a dividing line - people who are still going on about him, firstly, and secondly who treat(ed) him as some grave existential threat...no offense, but really? (I am quite glad you and I have other things that we agree on.)

Any more I would def treat Lindsey as someone who spends too much time building up an obnoxious/toxic attitude on twitter, and who should be doing so under a handle so that he can go on having what are clearly civil and meaningful conversations IRL.

To me, the whole thing about "who is financing them????" is just one step off from "do you know who that business employs??!?!?" which is just another step from "do you know WHO that person associates with?!?!?!" and I am quite over the guilt by association thing.

There is a reason I called it "emotionally compromised" - because it doesn't matter how smart you are, the heart has reasons that can not be reasoned with. I'm not saying it makes them *correct*, I'm saying I know what it's like to get to that place.

(Good chat, man, good chat.)

Expand full comment

I think Lindsey has just gotten to the point (a point to which C Rufo is fast arriving) where he's so convinced that his enemies on the left are so base and so evil that he feels justified in saying whatever it takes to rally opposition against them. Personally I find that kind of hyperbolic moral certainty wearying and deeply off-putting--the means to me matter as much as the ends--but I imagine that's how he self-justifies his own outrageousness.

Expand full comment

"Personally I find that kind of hyperbolic moral certainty wearying and deeply off-putting"

Indeed!

Expand full comment

Something Something wrestling with monsters and you become a monster...only here half of the demons are twitter projections and another quarter are our own perception of the threat. (The remaining quarter is the reason I still consider Lindsey and CR 'on my side' - they are opposing Something real and harmful.)

Expand full comment

But aren't the Q Anon and capital stormers people real and harmful too? I don't mean to "both sides" it, but to me the problem is the volume and tenor of the fights more than the substance.

CRT is a real threat. Climate change is a real threat. Police shooting unarmed people is a real threat. Cancel culture is a real thread. The complaints can be legit. But the WAY people fight these threats is not. Nightly protests during a pandemic doesn't save one black person. Attacking a Pizza Parlor doesn't save one sexually abused kid. Doesn't mean there aren't racist cops or perverted politicians. Even moral panics are often based on real issues.

But the panic becomes worse than the real issue. The medicine becomes worse than the disease. The way we fight these days is the biggest problem of all in my opinion.

Expand full comment

Yup yup. It's the zero-sum thinking of many online personalities. The question is this; Does the internet (and twitter especially) turn people into these 'fight fire with fire' warriors? Of all political stripes (Lindsay, Lorenz, Candice Owens, etc) Or does it attract people who naturally go off the deep end? Someone should do a study.

Expand full comment

IIRC, there were three: James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose, and Peter Boghossian.

Expand full comment

Mike Nayna is the often under appreciated fourth. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Nayna

Expand full comment

I've heard several interviews with Pluckrose and read some of her articles and found her very impressive. And quite reasonable.

Expand full comment

Yeah. I love her. Great mind.

Expand full comment

Don’t 100% agree (though it would be weird if I did), but your top 5 are spot on. I’d also love to hear Freddie on The Fifth Column.

Expand full comment

Yeah, Michael on the Fifth Column was talking about how all their fans want Freddie on too. I think his Maxism vs their Libertarianism would be their biggest disagreements.

Expand full comment

Me too! If for no other reason than Michael wouldn’t be able to do his “Who the fuck is Freddie DeBoer?!” shtick anymore. But yeah, that would be fun!

Expand full comment

To be clear, honest and right may not be orthogonal (love that term, Freddie), but they may be divergent.

Expand full comment

Oh of course. I don't agree with all the honest folk. And even the dishonest people can be right on occasion.

Expand full comment

My comment, too flippant perhaps, was not aimed at you or your list. And while I'd move a few players from one team to other, there's some names I hadn't come across before.

Expand full comment

I sometimes agree with Bari Weiss on a thing, but she's absolutely a dishonest hack.

Expand full comment

If you don't mind my asking, what's your best example of her dishonesty? Not arguing with you; she hasn't struck me that way, but honesty is important to me so I'd like to know.

Expand full comment

Disagree. I think she's generally sincere, if sometimes off-putting.

Expand full comment

Yeah. For me it's her style. She thinks she's smarter than she is. Unlike Rogan who admits when he's an ignorant knucklehead about something. I think it's a problem with elite schooling. I work with people like that. It doesn't matter what their worldview is. But there's an arrogance with Ivy League people, left right or center. Just unattractive.

Expand full comment

You missed* David French in the “honest” column. He and Freddie are consistently (to my ear, at least) the top two most absolutely honest voices out there.

*I recognize you probably just don’t read him, but his honesty is such a clear hallmark of his writing I felt I had to mention him. Again. For like the second time in a week. Yeah, I’m a fangirl.

Expand full comment

I think I've heard interviews with French. Not sure if I've read his articles. But I'll check it out. Thanks.

Expand full comment