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I read the Old Testament extensively and I can totally see where deBoer comes from. The Book makes it clear that before good times roll there's be lots of killing and annihilating and blotting the memory from under the sun.

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I'd agree...you're basically describing a sort of Bayesian model for assessing the world, and virtually everyone uses one.

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I would say that if Trump wins this year the majority of people voting for him will probably have serious reservations about his character. It will literally be a debate about the lesser of two evils.

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True that. Votes cast for Biden are more likely to be votes cast against Trump than for Biden. And, vice versa. I have voted in every Presidential election since Carter-Reagan in 1980. To some extent the hold your nose and vote for the least worst choice has always been true. I do not recall thinking "wow, I really like this candidate and want them to win" but I can recall many a "wow, I really dislike this candidate, so I am going to vote for his opponent, who I am not thrilled with."

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Same experience, with the added observation that those who elicit any 'I really like this so n so' reaction get pushed out. Which is the Uniparty goal.

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This is a good argument, and I'm sitting here thinking: what a strange way for an animal to evolve.

Any other animal that gave incorrect weights to information would be a dud.

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Maybe. This suggests that the social norm channel is usually right. I don't know if that's the case, but at least I can see it might be more important for survival to fit in than to be a social outlier.

I don't think autistic people are the only ones coming up with new ideas. I often notice, in any group of people I hang with, that over time there emerges a small subgroup that is always able to voice their opinions, no matter how challenging, and a larger subgroup that maintains peace by not engaging. I've never understood how it is that some people get to emerge as idea setters, and others as followers (even if they privately disagree). I think this has a lot more to do with human dominance behavior.

I usually pin inexplicable hostility to threatened identities. Which is a sort of group think, I guess.

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Removed (Banned)Jan 2
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"Donald Trump is a good man and a good Christian.""

Some people still believe Donald Trump is a Russian asset who stole the election.

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The “literal Nazis” he lists are Richard Spencer and Pat Casey, btw. Regardless of what you think about either figure, Spencer’s blog contains things like Depeche Mode album reviews, and Casey’s headlines aren’t meaningfully different from any mainstream, right-wing publication. They aren’t posting hateful screeds about genocide, as claimed.

Funny thing is, you probably *could* find self-described Nazis on Substack, who write to dozens of subscribers at most.

But that those two are his examples - names only recognizable if you were super tuned in to coverage of the far right 8 years ago - makes me think he’s just stomping his feet at the success of “heterodox” writers like yourself, Matt Taibbi, etc. who were “supposed” to be banished.

In his mind, Spencer may as well be David Duke who “surely, no one would support.” But there’s an extra dimension of creepiness to the game-- one, like you said, really it’s supposed to everyone to people like you. And two, Spencer renounced his extremist beliefs. What does it mean if people can’t walk it back and apologize? They have to be silenced to the extent they can’t share their thoughts about music on their blog? Who does that serve?

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extend* not everyone

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"What does it mean if people can’t walk it back and apologize?"

No such thing in cancel culture. Once canceled, always canceled.

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I just glanced at Richard Spencer's blog, and in the publication he edits there is a post from December 30 asking for donations, in his name, to further the cause of "enlightenment of the Aryan race." Plus a "Hail Victory." So, I guess maybe he's gone back the other direction.

To be clear I agree with Freddie and I think his point stands. Just, I really hoped this was a genuine walk-back and it appears it's not.

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I stand corrected!

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I think Spencer and Casey are white nationalists and white supremacists (though they take some steps to be in a position technically to deny the latter). "Nazi" is, for me, a pretty restricted category (and, like Freddie, I've been called one--I'm a vanilla liberal so I annoy some people on my side of Center), and best kept that way.

There are actual Nazis on Substack. I wouldn't have found any if one of them had not replied to a comment I wrote, which noted that Islamophobic and antisemitic hate crime reports were far more numerous in the US and Europe than anti-Christian ones, by calling me a "kikesucking Zionist ass-whore" (that was a first for me). It turned out he had a Substack blog (I'm not naming it because I really don't want people to visit it) that was full-on Völkisch.

Two notes. Because I annoyed the Substack writer I was commenting on, who was alarmed at the explosion (hundreds, continent-wide!) of anti-Christian hate crimes in Europe, I was banned from that Substack blog--so my comment on the relative numbers of hate crimes was deleted, but the colorful language about my character was left undisturbed. Second, when I looked at the comments on the Völkisch blog I noticed that one comment had been marked as deleted, despite the fact that the blog author had himself "liked" it. So Substack must be doing at least minimal moderation.

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They do moderate, i had someone send me death treats and it was taken care of in like 30 minutes

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Jan 2·edited Jan 2

Ugh! I'd send you a "like" but it seems a little weird to do that for a death threat report. Sorry you encountered that.

Edit: Sent it anyway.

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So did he like the Depeche Mode album?

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I read through a bunch of the supposed nazi substackers. While there was a lot of fringe, and occasionally extremist views, there was very little actual nazi or neo-Nazi stuff.

One of the accounts is white supremacist, but that only includes decedents of American whites who immigrated before the civil war. Fascinating.

Most of the accounts are like this. Extremely niche and weird, and probably got more exposure from this than they’ve ever had.

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How did you find the these "Nazi substackers"? Is there a published list somewhere?

Other than Jew hate and/or Aryan love, what would be actual "Nazi" or "Neo-Nazi" stuff? A plan to invade Poland and take over Europe?

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Ken White had a list he was sharing. Struggling to find it now for some reason. Found a few pages from my history though.

I think if someone advocates for a strict racial hierarchy, embedded in law and actively enforced by the military, then I'd call them a nazi. Or something like that. Not a lot of that from the examples though.

https://spergler.substack.com/p/goethe-on-the-four-stages-of-culture

https://zerohplovecraft.substack.com/p/in-hyperbolic-geometry-two-parallel

https://resavager.com/p/what-should-real-americans-call-themselves?utm_source=profile&utm_medium=reader2

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I’m surprised that Wordpress didn’t get more flak for not taking down the Zoe Post, which sparked Gamergate.

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Jan 2·edited Jan 2

That was before people (liberals) started targeting platforms and hosting services for allowing offensive content. In 2014 Reddit still hosted r/Incels (!), the "Chimpire" subreddits (!!), and IIRC had only recently banned r/Jailbait (!!!), which was exactly what it sounds like. I believe the site also still hosted the actually-borderline-illegal r/Creepshots (basically a place to post upskirt photos) and r/The_Fappening (the big celebrity nudes leak of 2014). It was a totally different vibe back then.

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The whole premise is that you can use Ghost on your own server without giving Ghost one red cent. Ghost doesn't profit off of it. You can run the software on any number of webhosts, and they profit from it-- as you said, a server in Chechnya, for example. And then (so the premise goes) we can all look askance at Those Bad People Over There, over whom the authorities to whom we can appeal have no power.

That might be factually mistaken, but your claim that it is confused is confused. If this widely-held and foundational premise of open source and distributed internet movements, for decades, is factually a false promise, okay, then dispute that. Great. But I read you as saying not only that Ghost actually profits from everyone using it, but that all of us already knew this all along. That's bizarre.

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Jan 1·edited Jan 1Author

Ghost says it costs $10/month to host Ghost on your own server space. Also, if it's just about money, why do people care about free Substacks?

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I think there *is* an argument to be made that, if folks are mad about places like Substack allowing their platform to be used by fascists, even if it doesn't profit from them, they should be just as mad at the makers of Ghost for releasing a product they KNOW is going to be used by nefarious types on their own hosted servers to do Bad Things.

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Right, following the logic of needing clean hands, it would seem to be the case that all open source software is morally problematic, because you abdicate responsibility from preventing morally repugnant users from using it to further their agenda.

Or something.

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At least in AI spheres, this is basically the argument I actually see against open source.

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Yep. *I* think it's a bad argument to make, but then, I generally think the argument that Substack or Ghost should be judged for having "fascist" users is similarly bad.

In fairness, though, Open Source could create a viral license not dissimilar from the GPL that disallows fascists (under some definition of what that means) from using it. That is also a dumb idea, but then, I think trying to stifle speech in general is a bad idea.

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Paid software too, unless heavily gatekept. You should have to show your social credit score to buy Photoshop, lest you use it to make evil graphics.

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It's open source - it can be installed for free. Assuming you're looking at this page, the $10 here is the expected cost of a basic hosting package, not something Ghost themselves would charge.

https://ghost.org/docs/hosting/

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Open source means, among other things, you don't have to pay the software author to run it. You might pay other infrastructure providers, or you might pay a marginal cost of nothing at all to run it, if you already run infrastructure.

I agree with much of this piece, I don't think there's a supportable position that's like "megaplatforms are good as long as they are moderated the way I like".

But, no offense, I think Substack is execrable, like Twitter is execrable and was also execrable before, because megaplatforms supported by engagement, whether in the form of ads or subscriptions, turn out to be very effective at promoting engaging work — which is a socially destructive operationalization of "quality" — while at the same time gaining undue power over public discourse, however they use or abuse it. People hosting their own ghosts or substacks or whatever don't have this kind of power, and don't cross-promote other sites looking for engagement.

That said, we all live in the world. I was quite active on old Twitter, even though I thought it was execrable then too and sometimes whined about it. If the choice your idealism offers to people currently making a living on this platform is "drop Substack and starve", you maybe have some work to do. I'm not interested in condemning or boycotting people who participate in society even though it should be improved.

I am very eager, however, to see this platform obsoleted, and am quietly working to do my part to help create alternatives.

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I agree that Freddie's point on that front is a bit off target. However, I think the larger point is right on target:

1) Banishing fascists from <insert service here> will not meaningfully affect the spread of fascism.

2) Those making the demands are largely engaged in special pleading by targeting platforms they deem "unfriendly" in some manner -- usually because they refuse to act as hall monitors for social justice concerns.

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Context matters. This is a debate among writers, not software engineers. Jonathan Katz doesn’t know the difference between NGINX and a Nazi. He can’t self host.

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I genuinely don’t know what happened in between like gamergate and now. Like it was not even that long ago pretty normal to hear about people, including my spouse getting death threats for expressing completely normal opinions like I wish these video games had more options for player's like me and now. Voice chat in games used to be a kind of bonfire and idk when I’m on discord it’s almost always fine now.

Some strategy of fencing off the internet—and me giving up on Twitter and to a lesser degree Tumblr seems to have been able to take it out of life. Like I never post a TikTok about pop music or D&D and get slurs and threats the way that I did years ago. But I can’t really say what exactly happened.

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You got old and the people you interact with got old. It's still possible to hang out with the young ones and be called a "faggot nigger".

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Jan 1·edited Jan 1

I'm not sure that people getting old is some kind of civility lodestone. I mean if it were wouldn't people be having a better experience on Facebook, where the olds are?

I mean and while it's certainly true that I got old it seems like the average age of the person I interact with went down mostly on replacing Facebook and Twitter with IG/Tik Tok.

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Just because nobody is calling you a "nigger faggot" doesn't mean that your experience on any social platform is going to be pleasant. It will just be unpleasant in different ways.

Tik Tok and other platforms may do a better job of policing content but that doesn't mean that it's actually changed underlying attitudes. Instead what you get is ideological segregation and echo chambers, and those come with significant drawbacks.

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Freddie is da man doe

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How so?

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cuz he's a wildly entertaining writer, throwing bombs and saying witty shit

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Articles like this are why I started funding Nazis, err, I mean, subscribing to Freddy deBoer's Substack. Keep it up.

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Posts like these are what keep me subscribing to this blog. Happy New Year Freddie!

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TL:DR "We get to be the gatekeepers!"

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Engaging a bit more deeply with FdB's essay - of course the rules are arbitrary. Of course they are very selectively applied to those deemed "outgroup" while the Cool Kids can flout those same rules with impunity.

For was it not written from old, that laws are for the little people, while policy is for People Who Matter, for policy is what determines when the laws apply and to whom?

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Readers only have so much money. I dropped the insulars--NYer, Atlantic, Harper's, Nation, TNR, Slate-- because their carousel of writers is tiresome, and they all have the same world view.

This gives me $$ for Substack journalists like Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger. I like the free speech people. The $400 or so I spent on the insular outlets I now spend on Substack writers.

=

X/Twitter is OK for book prize announcements. and Michael Orthofer! and sports scores.

Some librarian posters at X/Twitter send out images of rare books or illuminated manuscripts each day. It takes a bit of effort to curate X/Twitter and it is fine for me. But sometimes it is super-fine--My affection for the x/Twitter feed of "Sander from the Netherlands." who provides relief from the world-- knows no bounds. https://twitter.com/buitengebieden

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Jan 1·edited Jan 2

Speaking of people only having so much money: I think at least half of the myriad current YouTube channels looking for subscribers with screaming, National Enquirer-like, anti-Trump headlines, will disappear the moment Trump, sooner or later, finally exits public life. The thing these channels--ostensibly, at least--wish for, will ensure their own demise. Strange business model.

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One of the funniest FdB pieces.

People's politics are often determined by one core principle: whether they feel like they're insiders or outsiders. Everything else flows from this central smugness or grievance. This is why neither the left nor the right truly believe in free speech, as is shown by various flip-flops depending which side feels like their guy and their culture are on the ascendancy.

The Tumblr/Twitter crowd's only real beef with Substack is that it seems to be something of a desirable space yet they're not the ones who get to choose the wallpaper, the furnishings, the music playlist. The constant evoking of Nazis is an intentionally hysterical claim to cover up their real and more mundane goal, which is they want a journalistic and literary clubhouse where everything revolves around and caters to them. It's a litnerd civil war (something I wrote about in my most recent Substack piece).

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"People's politics are often determined by one core principle: whether they feel like they're insiders or outsiders. Everything else flows from this central smugness or grievance."

Yep

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This is also why true civil libertarians are always outsiders. We end up defending people’s existence that those in power don’t want to exist.

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When you believe in a progressive postmodernist ideology - control over the narrative creating the reality experienced by everyone is a critical necessity. Thus, competing narratives must be eliminated by force.

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Which is irony itself, no?

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It's pretty important no matter what your ideology. Ideology needs control of a discourse.

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I read this, nodded, looked to see who it is and was thrilled to see a Rarely Certain reader representing. Happy New Year !

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Thanks! Happy new year!

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Not just a desirable space, but a space where - if you're a really good writer - you can make a comfortable living.

The insiders loke to pretend: stick to the party line and you have a very small chance of making it big. Deviate and you'll be so heavily blacklisted than no-one will read you, let alone pay you. Substack is an awkward counter-example that makes you question whether being an insider is worth that much at all.

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Deplatforming extremists doesn’t “work” but neither does platforming them. I don’t know that anything “works” other than time, during which one flavor of extremism dies out to be replaced with another flavor.

I don’t have any illusions about the power of the market over principles. I still use Spotify even though they pay stupid money to malignant twat tumor Joe Rogan

Just don’t wrap it a flag of free speech principles. All these online free speech warriors give zero shits when government right wingers engage in real world viewpoint suppression by punishing companies and college professors for criticizing them, or opening investigations against media companies for negative coverage of TwiX, or banning library books with gay characters, continually calling journalists traitors and enemies of the people, etc etc etc. The online freedom fighters just want freedom from content moderation so they wallow in all their white grievance right wing conspiracy stupidity.

Leave. Stay. Do whatever. It’s a business decision. It’s not about anything noble and righteous.

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"Deplatforming extremists doesn’t “work” but neither does platforming them. I don’t know that anything “works” other than time, during which one flavor of extremism dies out to be replaced with another flavor."

Insightful and true. Variants on lots of extremist ideas that are damaging to a democratic republic based around individual freedom and rights never disappear; they only get replaced.

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You know, some people actually have principles and what not. It may be rare but the phenomenon definitely exists.

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Do you know if any of these people gave up substantial subscriber income and left yet? I’d actually respect them quite a bit if they did.

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Poorly phrased on my part. The decision of some writers to stay or go are principled ones. I don’t think the Substack owners’ content moderation policy is really about free speech principles. I think it’s a business and logistical decision.

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Why not both? A long tail means you can run a successful business filling thre niche demand for free speech.

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"All these online free speech warriors give zero shits when government right wingers engage in real world viewpoint suppression by punishing companies and college professors for criticizing them, or opening investigations against media companies for negative coverage of TwiX, or banning library books with gay characters, continually calling journalists traitors and enemies of the people, etc etc etc."

You do know that there's a case before SCOTUS about Leftwingers censoring people for wrong COVID opinions? I don't think you are aware. Your Tribe can never do bad things. Only Other does bad things.

You can subscribe to Matt Taibbi substack and read actual emails where the requests for censorship are made.

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Thank you for illustrating my point.

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You made a statement that implies the threat to freedom of speech comes from the right. I pointed out the reality of who does the oppressing. If I said something false, point it out. Otherwise it is all just projection my guy.

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I didn’t imply anything. I just pointed out the hypocrisy of self-describing free speech absolutists who have nothing to say about current offline viewpoint suppression by right wing political actors. When you come out against that right wing censorship, I’ll happily exclude you from that hypocrisy.

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"who have nothing to say about current offline viewpoint suppression by right wing political actors." Whose Leftists views are being silences exactly? What group of people is having trouble expressing their Left opinions because of right wing censorship? I genuinely can't think of one. Suppression by the left actually happened and had huge negative consequences for society. (see COVID files). Can you point out something of similar magnitude by the right, and I will happily condemn it. But let's compare actions to actions.

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You’re rigging the discussion. You’ve decided that the “COVID files” had “huge negative consequences” (a dubious assertion) and that any individual example of right wing viewpoint suppression must have comparable consequences in order to “count.” Any example of right wing misbehavior will be disqualified by you under your own arbitrary rules.

No thanks. I know a three-card monte when I see it.

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The fact that some people are hypocrites doesn't imply that all people are hypocrites. That's logically fallacious.

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I didn’t say all people are hypocrites. I said “self-describing free speech absolutists who have nothing to say about current offline viewpoint suppression by right wing political actors” are hypocrites. Free speech absolutists who are also taking such right wing political actors to task would not be included. I personally have seen many, if any, but I agree that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

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You know what stops extremism? Low levels of wealth disparity in a society where people are comfortable but not to the point of indolence. It's hard to get amped up when things are going well.

As for slamming Joe Rogan, that's so original. He is yet another person for whom I don't understand all the hate directed towards him. Is it that he has an opinion other than that approved by the wokie PMC orthodoxy?

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Joe Rogan made the evil, vile choice of not being lockstep with the Good People TM of twitter and the rest of the internet, so he's practically Hitler's son.

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> Low levels of wealth disparity in a society where people are comfortable but not to the point of indolence.

Do you have an example of such a place?

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Great post. You may be too kind in even assuming any real desire for impact.

Coherency is never required for social positioning, which appears to be all that’s happening.

Just like Indiana Jones movies, you don’t even need real Nazis, you just need someone to punch.

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I must be the only person here who actually enjoys Twitter under Elon’s regime. I see so much more acknowledgment of reality there than when censorship ruled. Trying to turn Substack into the old Twitter would kill it. If someone doesn’t want to see something in either place, fucking block it yourself you lazy wuss.

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Elon laid bare the truth of Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent and I, for one, am thrilled he banished /scared away/declawed the liberal elite class that controlled it

(plus all the women who were banned for not kowtowing to TWAW got reinstated: huzzah!)

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It's weird man...it's like we're on some other side of MC now. Or something.

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What exactly does "acknowledgement of reality" mean to you?

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Philippe: A few examples such as the downsides of having an open border, the overwhelming racial component of homicide, the fact that you can’t change your biological sex, the actual effectiveness of vaccines in preventing death from disease, the reality of the threat faced by climate change and the fact that ( . ) is not a 👩‍🦲. Each political party denies the reality of at least two of those factual issues.

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Many of the complaintants against Substack are now implying that Substack is hosting the Bad People, not out of the kindness of their hearts or some abstract dedication to free speech, but because of sheer, capitalistic self-interest. Because they know it's a good business decision.

Which is... probably right. Did they expect a for-profit company to strangle its own golden goose because its least reliable members, ones who can easily pack up and get a job elsewhere, are angry?

People are realizing that ignoring the hectoring class is good for business. That's done more to weaken what Freddie terms "the Village" than any abstract argument about the value of free speech.

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