Featured Post

PZ Myers dissects evolutionary psychology: brief, sharp and fabulous

I admit I LOL'd at the part about lighting up "like a Christmas tree." WATCH AND LEARN all IDWs!

The Brian Ferguson Interview

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Substack, the Nazi Bar

...what Substack is doing is not merely allowing Nazis to sit at their bar - they are giving them free drinks and telling other bar patrons that Nazis are "up-and-comers."

Back in February 2022 I noted the connection between Substack spokeswoman Lulu Cheng Merservey and the race pseudoscience gang:

The fact that Lulu Cheng Meservey, the vice president of communications for Substack is a member of Razib Khan's clubhouse as well as a member of the clubhouse of the anti-CRT grifting, IDW-riddled, far-right leaning FAIR, does not help dissuade me from the suspicion that Substack is simply a high-tech Donor's Trust.

Jonathan Katz provides additional info about Meservey in his November 29, 2023 The Racket post:

The arrival of the new right-wing Substackers was accompanied by an influx of new staff from Andreessen Horowitz. The combined company also hired its first full-time spokeswoman: Lulu Cheng Merservey, a noted fan of one of Substack's leading eugenics bloggers and the wife of a Heritage Foundation wonk.

I hadn't realized the Heritage Foundation connection in February 2022. 

But the line "a noted fan of one of Substack's leading eugenics blogger" links to an article from 2015 about Razib Khan being dropped from the New York Times, although Katz doesn't mention Khan by name in the text of his post. As far as I can tell, I'm the only one who has explicitly noted Meservey's fandom of Razib Khan, but maybe Katz has other sources who are not picked up by Google search.

Meservey's Heritage Foundation wonk husband is Joshua Meservey, although the Heritage website says he is no longer on staff. He's now at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank. Which receives money via Donors Trust.

As the Hudson Institute's website says:

With rare and very few exceptions for gifts whose donors prefer to remain anonymous, Hudson Institute publicly identifies the sources and levels of all outside revenue received each calendar year in its annual reports.

But of course we have to trust the Institute that the anonymous donors are rare and very few.

Meservey apparently left Substack for Activision and in October 2022 was profiled as a union buster and accused of pushing right-wing talking points:

Lulu Cheng Meservey has been on the job for less than a month and the Activision executive has already antagonized employees at the center of a long-overdue unionization push within the games industry. After over a dozen Blizzard quality assurance testers won the right to hold a union vote in November, Meservey warned staff via Slack that organizing could lead to lower raises and tough clashes with management. A screengrab of the comment reached Twitter, someone accused Meservey of pushing right-wing talking points, and she’s been posting through it ever since.

So yeah, Meservey is the kind of person you'd expect to be hired by a company with far-right leanings - like Substack.

Meservey is apparently leaving Activision now

It's important to note that Substack isn't merely allowing Nazis and other varieties of racists to exist on its platform, and allowing Nazis to monetize content on its platform, Substack has actively promoted Nazis and racists, as Katz notes in his Atlantic article:

In June, McKenzie hosted the Substack writer Richard Hanania on the platform’s flagship podcast, The Active Voice. On Twitter the previous month, Hanania, a political scientist with a law degree from the University of Chicago, had described Black people as “animals” who should be subject to “more policing, incarceration, and surveillance.”

Soon after Hanania’s appearance on the podcast, HuffPost outed him as having written under a pen name in the early 2010s for several white-nationalist outlets, including Richard Spencer’s AlternativeRight.com. In some of his older posts, Hanania called for the forced sterilization of those with “low IQ”—a group that he argued included most Black and Latino people. Hanania responded to the exposé with a Substack post in which he disavowed his past views, but in terms that raised significant doubts about his sincerity. “The reason I’m the target of a cancellation effort,” he declared in the post, “is because left-wing journalists dislike anyone acknowledging statistical differences between races.”
Nevertheless, Chris Best, who is also Substack’s CEO, hailed Hanania’s non-apology as “an honest post on a difficult subject.” Within weeks, Substack was promoting Hanania yet again, trumpeting in one of its newsletters that his new book, The Origins of Woke—in which he calls for gutting the Civil Rights Act—“is in hot demand from reviewers,” and providing a link to preorder it. (One of those reviewers, writing for The Atlantic, observed: “Put plainly, Richard Hanania remains a white supremacist. A real one.”) 
In McKenzie’s recent post about “leaning into politics,” the Substack co-founder enthusiastically and prominently recommended a lesser-known Substacker, Darryl Cooper, as among the “up-and-comers” in political writing. Cooper’s podcast featured a complimentary interview with the white-nationalist magazine editor Greg Johnson—who, incidentally, published some of Hanania’s pseudonymous, more explicitly racist writings. Cooper has also used his personal Twitter account to claim that “FDR chose the wrong side in WW2.” (That tweet and the interview with Johnson were subsequently deleted.)

There's no reason to promote racists and Nazis unless you have no problem with racist and Nazi ideology. 

This is what Substack is, and what it was always intended to be, or as Katz quoted Hanania: "Substack itself was created to explicitly push back against leftist suppression of speech"

I'm glad to see that Allan Stromfeldt Christensen of "Filmers to Farmers"  has the same basic analysis:

...while Katz himself stated on Substack that "I, for the moment, am staying", and that "I was here before the Nazis, and I think they should leave, not me", who was there first ultimately matters less than what the platform's co-founders and investors (originally?) had in store for the platform.

Because yes, the notion of Substack's "hands-off ... moderation stance" ostensibly being part of a 10-15 year Andreessen-aligned covert plan can be a bit too conspiratorial to swallow, but it nonetheless turns out that there's nothing covert at all about Substack's extremist machinations, and it's getting harder and harder to not admit that Substack is increasingly turning into something rather similar to what Musk has transformed his Twitter/X platform into.

And boy howdy is Twitter a shit show now - I just went there and I was hit with a solid wall of right-wing pro-Trump sludge - it's just relentless.

In his epic post, Christensen makes the connection between Twitter, Substack and Nazi bars by quoting a tweet thread, originally posted here.

The thread's point is that if you let one polite Nazi frequent your bar, they will bring their friends and they'll scare away non-Nazis and eventually you will have a Nazi bar.

Except what Substack is doing is not merely allowing Nazis to sit at their bar - they are giving them free drinks and telling other bar patrons that Nazis are "up-and-comers."

If you do that, you are, objectively, pro-Nazi.

Christensen has information about Substack's bot-driven membership inflation scheme, which I'll talk about soon.

Blog Archive