56 Comments

I don’t yet have a following here. I’ve been struggling with this question. Heavily.

I already write on Medium, which is arguably heavily moderated, which has upsides and downsides.

It has no consistency to the earnings. Which is… frankly, a problem. I am one of those you mentioned who depends on income from public facing work. Not solely, but as a single earner household, we’re not always doing great and I’d love to see that change.

Substack has looked to be an attractive option but the morality side has had me torn.

I think you make a valid point that if we keep abandoning every platform that allows hate speech, all we will eventually do is allow that speech to become at very least the most visible to the general public narrative. I don’t think I need to detail why that would be disastrous in a society that already is teetering on the brink of boldface fascism and even potential dictatorship.

The government (primarily United States but spreading rapidly in the world scene as well) is already displaying most of the signs of fascism but at least for now is content to play pretend that the general populace has some say in governmental decisions.

Governments originally founded on colonialism and oppression are seeing their power slip away and be challenged. In many cases, for the first time. They’re not… coping well. I believe society can change but first we have to survive the tantrums of the toddlers in charge.

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Jan 9Liked by Thomas Zimmer

I can't thank you enough for this! I am new to Substack, just getting my profile set up and thinking about what writing I'll share here. In engaging with the platform's New Year's note about 2023 takeaways and 2024 goals, I stumbled upon notes demanding Substack stop publishing Nazis, and issue I hadn't been aware of. In educating myself I was brought by a Google search to this post. I appreciate your excellent read of the situation. You make important points, and I so appreciate your taking the time to detail how your Substack account is so critical to your career goals and financial concerns. You questioned the need for adding your voice when there are so many good statements already out there, but I think each member who speaks out hopefully adds persuasive pressure that forces Substack to reconsider their policy. Writers understand (or *should* understand) that free speech under the law doesn't necessarily equate to an open platform to say whatever one wants in a private space such as this. In their welcome statement where they explain the history and purpose behind Substack, they specifically state that, among other things, they wanted to create a place where writers could disseminate their work free from trolls. I would hope this philosophy extends to creating a safe community overall, where people won't feel endangered and affronted by hateful ideology. Again, thank you. This post will certainly be of help to others, and I hope in the long run it helps stem the flight you've experienced in your readership.

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author

Thank you so much for your kind words - and Substack has indeed just announced they are taking those Nazi accounts down and will interpret their own regulations differently going forward, meaning they won’t allow self-identified Nazis anymore. So, that’s something!

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This is what happens when we use our voices!

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I'm very happy to have found your newsletter, and as you say, I only interact with Substack via the few people I subscribe to. Here's to Berg frei, Mensch frei, Welt frei in the New Year!

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I will stick with you here, or follow wherever you go. I trust you. Been following since the very beginning of Is This Democracy? and not about to lose one of the sanest, most principled voices on social media. Hoping for the very best outcome for you, for your family, and for us all.

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Yours is a very honest position, I fully agree with you. BTW, I'm reading you from Spain.

Keep on the good job and have a happy 2024

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It’s a platform. I’ve been calling it platform whack-a-mole. Things change. We all need to be as platform diverse and independent as possible. We should all be able to withstand any of our channels going down with redundancy and overlap. I’ve been preaching it for 3 years since I started aggregating & producing content.

That means publishing to Wordpress, Locals, Hive blog.

Video means YouTube, Rumble, Rokfin & others.

Audio means distribution to every podcast platform, big and small.

Have a plan. Don’t be beholden to any one platform. But this whole thing about Nazis is a psy op attack from legacy media - please don’t get fooled.

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I say we stay and fight! And keep our voices heard. Once they put the welcome mat out, it's our responsibility to stand and say NO y'all are not welcome by us readers & writers. I'm not going anywhere

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Substack doesn't have a Nazi problem. Substack has a slow trickle invasion of wokeism coming into it. Just like californians are moving elsewhere and ruining other states by voting for the same policies that ruined California. Leftists are leaving broken censorious platforms like Facebook and Instagram to come to substack and implement the same dogmatic censorship that their weak minds need to be able to exist on a platform.

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I feel like censorship leads to further extremism. I had a family member go completely down the QAnon rabbit hole and has not come back from it. It also seems like some of Katz’s proclamations seem like the standards would be arbitrary. https://open.substack.com/pub/freddiedeboer/p/these-rules-about-platforming-nazis?r=3gaff&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

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Sadly, America is behind the eight-ball regarding protected vs. unprotected speech. Hate speech should have been classified as unprotected speech eons ago, ala Germany (who know the danger first hand). It takes bravery to call out nefarious behavior. Thank you.

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That unfortunately has led to things like the Masha Gessen debacle in Germany.

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Thomas I enjoy and learn from all your work. It reminds me of when I was in the classroom with Professors that dedicate their life illuminating for the benefit of our society. Sadly some of them sacrifice their personal lives with little reward and that’s not right. You explained the situation brilliantly for yourself and everyone involved. I understand you and agree with you. I for one will stick with you! Thanks for what you do!

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Thank you for this thoughtful post, Thomas. I appreciate your perspective on these issues, and also identify with the uncertainties of dealing with Substack as a writing platform. I wish you all the best on your future career path changes, and in the meanwhile, I'll continue to read your column--and subscribe, when things get that far.

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Jan 3Liked by Thomas Zimmer

Thank you for such a very nice and generously personal reflection! There are Nazis everywhere I fear - disrupting, discouraging, destroying and you do such a great job of calling them out. Keep up the wonderful and truly valuable work here on Substack please. Have a Good New Year, and ignore those ‘trump’ signs when on vacation.

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author

Very kind, thank you!

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I am very afraid honestly. People are quickly running out of platforms to have open and honest conversations. Conservatives are fully aware of the fact that they are killing competitors through the backlash they choose to generate.

They are willing to be aggressive. You can only run from this problem for so long before you find your self at a dead end. They don't need places to run. they have set up enough of stronghold with their own platforms created by their like minded people that they won't go anywhere. So long as they have twitter and youtube, the odds of them losing their platform is far less then the others.

Another problem is that most users like you do not take the time to follow multiple similar providers of content. When a single right wing moves to a new platform, they tend to move in unison. They take the time to tell their buddies hey we can make more money on XYZ platform.

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You really are in a hard spot, given your tenure and visa status. You have a lot invested in Substack for generating an audience. Nazis should not be given a platform to spread their murderous ideology. But I do not know a single tech company that is without problems. They all have a strong libertarian bent with a strong anti-democratic, let alone anti-state, posture. It baffles me that these tech bros could take the "Dark Enlightenment" seriously. Except, their vision for the future is where they make all the rules, enforce their rules, and are not accountable to anyone. It is almost hilarious to think that these libertarians want to produce a colony on Mars, as if there would not be strict protocols of how to enter and exit the complex, and the control of weapons that could puncture the infrastructure's membrane. I stay subscribed to a few Substack authors, despite the Nazi problem. I stay on X/twitter because all the alternatives seem small and the social media fragmented. It is like jumping from one vast vat into a small silo.

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You don’t give Nazis platforms. They can build one themselves if they are so inclined, but we don’t have an obligation to provide them an audience.

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like that ex-twitter too! every time someone says "x that used to be twitter" it feels like a small blow against empire.

thanks for that great and very honest piece. will be sure to follow as per instructions.

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