I’ve written before about how my own history as a fabulist makes me reflexively skeptical about certain kinds of stories that people tell. But it’s not my history as a fabulist, it’s rather my belief in original sin that makes me skeptical of one particular kind of story: the “Doing this hurts me but darn it I simply must stand up for my principles” story — which is the tale that a number of former Substackers are telling these days. “Substack is great for me but I simply can’t be on the same platform with all these Nazis” — though as many people have pointed out, Substack has maybe half a dozen Nazis among its zillions of users, and none of the platforms these people are decamping for are Nazi-free either. 

Here’s what I believe: This has absolutely nothing to do with Nazis. The purpose of the campaign is not to expel Nazis from Substack but to create a precedent. If Substack said “Okay, the Nazis are gone, the response would not be “Thanks!” It would be, “Cool, now let’s talk about Rod Dreher.” And then Bari Weiss, and then Jesse Singal, and then Freddie DeBoer, etc. etc. The goal is not to eliminate Nazis; the goal is to reconstitute the ideological monoculture that Substack, for all its flaws — it’s not a service I would ever use —, has effectively disrupted.