‘Red Scare’ Aftermath: Exiting the Crypto Closet

The day after “Red Scare Pod and the Crypto Nexus” was published, I received an email from someone named Leonard Evans. The email said, “Photographs of Dasha Nekrasova with imperialist mercenary Brace Belden in which she is seen drawing on a woman’s face and posing with an SS flag.”

It was an apt description of the attached photos.

I added them to the original post and tweeted about it. The photos bolstered the case I had made in several important ways. It also caused an influx of traffic to the post; a lot more people read it than otherwise would have.

The next day something surprising happened. Dasha posted on Twitter that she herself had sent the photos under an alias as a ‘prank.’

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Dasha Nekrasova admitted to sharing a picture of herself hanging up an SS flag in a now-deleted Tweet.

Not only was Dasha not ashamed of a photo of her with an SS flag, she had willfully circulated it to the largest possible audience. Dasha knew that this photo would be attached to her name and follow her for the rest of her life, and decided in a span of less than a day that she was cool with that.

She later deleted the Tweet. When asked why she deleted it, she responded, “My CIA handler told me to.

Actions and Reactions

So far, none of the evidence presented in “Red Scare Pod and the Crypto Nexus” has been disputed or refuted. There has, however, been a wide variety of attempts at distraction and deflection, and many other, uh, interesting responses. Here’s a quick survey:

Two people, including an apparent old friend of Dasha’s, thought that criticizing someone for using Nazi imagery was callous and lacked nuance.

One person waded in to assert that Nazi imagery is a part of their family heritage that they have every right to “honor”:

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Multiple people, including an apparent Socialist group, explained that it was mocking or sarcasm. One person seemed to suggest that using Nazi imagery is simply part of a long, cherished art tradition. I would ask why that tradition exists.

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A few people insisted that this work was personal, jealous ‘hating.’ Now, I’m no social expert, but this sure seems like a difficult and backwards way of getting invited to parties with these extremely cool, enviable people. (Note: it’s unclear if the account pictured is actually run by AK).

Jeff Bezos propagandist Liz Bruenig responded to the revelation of her compatriot circulating a photo of herself with an SS flag the same way any of us normal people would, with no denouncement or distancing whatsoever, and a light joke:

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Yep, extremely normal stuff. Nothing to worry about.

Most of the boring irony shitposters responded exactly the way you’d expect, doing their jobs shutting down discourse and debate by joining with ‘ironic’ fascists to dismiss or mock me and others as ‘crazy’:

“Commie Cadet” Spenser Rapone, the U$ soldier who made a remarkably sheepdip-like ‘exit’ from the military and immediate launch into a ‘Left’ media career, made an entrance to joke around with Dasha, and made his own tweet deriding me as ‘unhinged.’ Apparently his mission to obliterate any internal movement against U.$. imperialism by making us all sympathetic to the military isn’t enough fascist entryism for him, so he’s got to pile on with the ‘irony’ fascists to defend SS flags, too. (archived)

Many people on Twitter responded to Dasha’s revelation that she had emailed the pictures by following her lead and insisting that I had been tricked or one-upped. That doesn’t make sense, but knowing this crowd, it doesn’t have to. I would’ve shared the picture regardless of who sent it; it’s a picture of her with an SS flag. Sadly, her followers’ response to this only reveals how locked into irony-poisoning and groupthink they are, blindly following, no longer capable of seeing events for what they really are.

Context Matters

A few people defended this stunt on the grounds that Jewish people could reclaim the SS flag. Unfortunately, available context doesn’t favor that as an excuse. As blog commenter Homer wrote:

sure maybe dasha owning an ss flag is some kind of extremely sophisticated attempt to grapple with her own intergenerational trauma, as somebody asserted on twitter in her defense, but when you look at the people who hang out [in] her mentions on twitter or on reddit that’s not what they’re getting out of it. they just like that she’s created a space for them to use the r-word or indulge in whatever gross white-supremacist, bourgeois bad habits they don’t want to let go of.

Well stated. But does it hold up? Well, several days after it all went down, I checked in on the Red Scare subreddit. Someone had shared a homemade spoof of Red Scare guest Angela Nagle’s book cover to make it about Angela being able to say the n-word, and featuring a picture of watermelon, which is a racist trope. So they have a single bad fan, right? If only. The post had received 71 upvotes. That means a net 71 people on the Red Scare subreddit thought that this horrible racist joke was funny (the original image does not censor the n-word).

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If you had any remaining doubt that ‘ironic’ fascist media just attracts and organizes fascists, I hope this will remove that doubt.

The Impact

As discussed in the original post, all of this acts as a kind of infiltration or entryism. How can such a sizable group of ‘Socialists’ be entertained by a racist joke and want to express that? How can people tell when something is just ‘ironically’ fascist or actually fascist? Why does it feel like the whole point is to make it impossible and undesirable to distinguish that? Again – where does the ‘ironic’ fascism end and the Socialism begin? How can we ever believe anything that these people say when their whole game relies on it never being clear whether they’re being serious or ‘just ironic’?

As my Twitter mutual John noted pithily,

“it’s incredibly telling how they could ‘ironically’ goose-step through the Auschwitz museum and their followers would march right along with them.”

‘Ironic’ fascist imagery desensitizes us to the severity of the topics at hand. It can change our mentality and behavior without us realizing. Studies show that a joke is never just a joke. What happens when the fanbases of these ‘ironically’ fascist media ventures gather around together, make racist jokes together, start getting ideas? If you are following all of this and don’t see a problem here, it might be time to take a step back and reassess.

Who is Charles Reinhardt?

A lot has happened in the few days since I posted “Red Scare Pod and the Crypto Nexus.” A follow-up post is coming.

One thing that happened in the aftermath is that I got a tip from a reputable source that Chapo Trap House, Cumtown and Red Scare all share the same business manager.

“You didn’t hear it from me,” the source said, “but I found out recently that Chapo, Cumtown and Red Scare all share the same freelance business manager” and that his business is called Advice Party LLC.

They added, “I think it’s something people deserve to know, ’cause folks are always trying to distance their relationships.”

They sent me his LinkedIn. His name is Charles Reinhardt, and Advice Party LLC is listed on his profile.

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Charles Reinhardt’s LinkedIn page

I haven’t been able to find any internet presence or contact information for Advice Party LLC. I have not been able to contact Charles – I’m not able to message him on LinkedIn without signing up for a premium account.
Advice Party has a website here. Reinhardt did not respond to my query.

So far, I’ve been unable to confirm that Reinhardt is working as a business manager for these podcasts.

Nevertheless, some very interesting things have managed to turn up about Reinhardt, which I think are still worth sharing.

Advice Party LLC

According to business registration records online, Advice Party LLC was registered on January 10, 2017. See here and here, and archived pages here and here.

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Reinhardt’s profile on KeyWiki, a creepy, Canary Mission-style website that prolifically documents people and organizations who have been involved in ‘Left’ activism, says that he joined the New York City Democratic Socialists of America Facebook Group on January 20, 2017, very soon after registering his LLC (archived). It’s unclear if Reinhardt is a member of the DSA. Another KeyWiki page says that Reinhardt RSVP’d on Facebook to a Brooklyn DSA meeting on February 23, 2017.

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The timing of these events isn’t far from when Chapo Trap House first started making the big bucks on their Patreon. An archive of their Patreon page from October 5, 2017 shows them making $15,103 per month. Less than three months later, on December 24, they had doubled their Patreon income, to $30,935 per month. Subtracting Patreon’s cut, each podcaster would still be making a very livable income at that point.

Jacobin

Twitter user @Prodigis alerted me to the fact that a Charles Reinhardt published a single piece in Jacobin in 2013, “Death of a Trader” (archived). The bio of Charles Reinhardt on Jacobin (archived) matched the information on the LinkedIn page. For some reason, the Jacobin bio doesn’t mention that Reinhardt’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) is in Finance, as a screenshot from his LinkedIn profile shows below.

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Reinhardt’s bio on Jacobin’s website

Background

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Reinhardt’s education, according to his LinkedIn page

Previous work that Reinhardt has listed on his LinkedIn page is compatible with managing a lucrative, high-profile podcast. He had done financial management for arts venues.

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Charles Reinhardt has previously done financial management for the art gallery Babycastles and the music venue Silent Barn.

Things Get Interesting

Other past work experience was not so congruent, at least on the surface. Reinhardt has apparently done two separate stints as a Research Analyst for Defense Research & Development Canada. Prior to these gigs, he was an Administrative Assistant at the Ministry of the Attorney general, where he worked in two courts “dealing with federal and provincial charges.”

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Charles Reinhardt has done two separate stints as a Research Technician for Defense Research & Development Canada, from June 2009 – March 2010 and then again from Oct. 2010 – March 2011.
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Before Defense R & D for Canada, Reinhardt worked for the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Defense Research & Development Canada is exactly what it sounds like. The official website gives the following description (archived here):

We are the national leader in defence science and technology, and develop and deliver new technical solutions and advice to the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Armed Forces, other federal departments, and the safety and security communities.

We are an Agency of the Department of National Defence and work with partners in academia, government and industry and with Canada’s allies.

Reinhardt worked within the military surveillance apparatus of NATO member Canada for almost two years, in two separate stints. Less than two years later, he published in Jacobin.

Making Connections

If nothing else, the information here shows that Jacobin doesn’t vet their writers for connection to the NATO military surveillance apparatus. That’s putting it extremely generously. How does a national defense analyst come to write for a Socialist magazine less than two years later? How did he get introduced to the people at Jacobin? Jacobin takes unsolicited submissions, but given Reinhardt’s location in NYC, his connections to the “scene” there, and the fact that someone would even think to connect him to the very Jacobin-affiliated irony podcasters, it seems pretty unlikely that he’s a remote contributor who doesn’t actually know any of the Jacobin people.

In theory, a true “Socialist” magazine would be written by working class people who, organically in the social web, are the absolute furthest people possible from National Defense. Dear reader, excluding rank-and-file soldiers, do you have any extended family or friends, or know literally anyone at all who works in National Security, Defense or Intelligence? Most people sure don’t. It’s not the kind of job that a large percentage of the population has done at some point, like working at a restaurant or working in retail. It wouldn’t be statistically likely even if people were scattered about randomly in the world. In class society where we know the bourg and petty bourg are very, very disproportionately connected to the military surveillance apparatus, that unlikeliness is only compounded.

Perhaps what I’ve said in the preceding two paragraphs isn’t making much of a point when Jacobin and the DSA are both known to be very supportive of former and current soldiers of the U.$. Empire. (archived)

As stated above, I don’t have additional confirmation that Reinhardt is managing the podcasts beyond my one source. Hopefully the info connected here will force some more information out. Stay tuned.

Update 12/30/2018: A reader has informed us that on the Dec. 10 episode of Cumtown, “michael jordan peterson,” they all acknowledge that Charles is their bookkeeper. Nick Mullen brings up the topic, sounding irritated, and seems to imply that Charles helped them, or at least Mullen, set up an S corp. You can listen to the clip here; it starts at about 5:55 in the full episode.

Red Scare Pod and the Crypto Nexus

What is the Red Scare podcast, and how does it fit into the problem of ‘Left’ infiltration?

Red Scare

Red Scare might just be the epitome of pointless contrarian bullshitting by bored upper middle class kids. Anna Khachiyan and Dasha Nekrasova started this project in early 2018, and you probably would never have heard of it if they weren’t coastal petit bourg with just enough connection to the elite New York media class. Prominent media publications certainly don’t profile every nobody who records themselves talking for a few consecutive weeks. Red Scare has known relationships with members of the Chapo Trap House and Cumtown podcasts, and may or may not share a business manager with them.

As a Twitter pal wrote the other day, “Can’t get over how some absurdly reactionary person said they like pizza and healthcare and parlayed that into making nearly $100k from some shitty podcast.” Well said.

Red Scare is currently being targeted by Shia LaBeouf collaborator Luke Turner, who has evidently taken it upon himself to fight fascist ideology in the bourgeois art world, over their refusal to stop using the “r slur.” So far, this has resulted in the suspension of Anna’s 9-year-old Twitter account.

Dasha Nekrasova

You would probably know Dasha best as “Sailor Socialism.” Dasha was a poet and indie actress in LA before she moved to NYC a few years ago at least in part to date her boyfriend who makes a nice Patreon living mocking rape and mental disability on the Cumtown podcast with Nick Mullen. She had been friends with Khachiyan, at least online, for several years at that point. On her own, Dasha isn’t particularly bad, but her involvement here illustrates how generally unscrupulous the petit bourg are.

Anna Khachiyan

Anna Khachiyan is the daughter of a successful mathematician who was a professor at Rutgers. Anna is a dropout of an NYU PhD program who would be known to most people from her Twitter account where she posted one-offs written for virality over the past several years.  Some posts were funny and got a lot of retweets. Many were political. She used the word “neoliberal” prolifically in a way that sounded like she didn’t really understand what it meant.

I started paying closer attention to Anna after I noticed that her political posts, when decipherable, were pretty reactionary. It wasn’t just once. I got annoyed that people who styled themselves as “Leftists” followed and retweeted her, and didn’t seem to care about the questionable remarks she made.

I dug into her old posts. It became clear to me that, where a message shone through the pseudo-intellectual buzzword salad she often wrote in, it was a very reactionary one. She criticized “liberal feminism” and praised Camille Paglia amid low-brow misogynist posts.

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“A guy like Donald Trump primarily attracts glorified prostitutes so you probably shouldn’t feel too bad for anyone whose pussy he grabbed.”
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“Often, the difference between having a good time and having a #MeToo moment boils down to whether or not you think the guy is a good lay or not.”

I noted Anna’s friendships with “Socialist” micro-celebrities Amber A’Lee Frost, of Chapo Trap House and the DSA, and Angela Nagle, author and pundit. Pictures of them hanging out appeared on her Instagram page. Having seen these people propagate Strasserist ideology on the “Left” over and over again, I feel pretty comfortable describing them both as crypto fascists. But I’d never seen Anna label her political beliefs until I dug a bit.

In 2015, she tweeted “Let’s be clear on one thing: I am not and have never been a liberal or a leftist. I’m a cryptofascist, and the ‘crypto’ is being generous.” (archived)

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An archived page of her Twitter account from 2014 shows a bio hinting at libertarianism: “If Ayn Rand and Adam Carolla had a daughter. – nobody, ever”

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Ayn Rand lover?

The reaction of my “Leftist” peers to Anna Khachiyan’s misogyny and a crypto-fascism surprised me: they either didn’t care, or they thought she was being “ironic.” It was disturbing. Why did these people who thought themselves real ‘radicals’ continue to follow and retweet a clear reactionary?
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Guests and Friends

Red Scare guests Angela Nagle and Amber A’Lee Frost are prolific crypto fascists in their own right who will be covered in other posts, so I’m only going to focus on two RS guests: Liz Bruenig and Deanna Havas.

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig a.k.a. Liz Bruenig

Liz Bruenig is a 27-year-old propagandist at Jeff Bezo’s Washington Post. She is a Christian “Socialist” whose marriage, religion and motherhood figure prominently into her public image. She is known for her pro-life stance, which she discussed on Red Scare. She has also been a guest on Chapo Trap House.

The Chapo connection can be explained, at least superficially; they’re all “Democratic Socialists.” But what about her friendship with Khachiyan and her guest appearance on Red Scare? Is it just run-of-the-mill media career boosting? Or is it that their latent mutual love of the patriarch-led white nuclear family unites them? Perhaps a combination of both? A commenter summed up Bruenig’s role on the Left nicely on the Chapo subreddit: “NazBol lite.”

Deanna Havas

Deanna Havas is a “conceptual artist” from NYC. Khachiyan started following her on Twitter in 2009, and it appears they’ve been friends for at least a few years. Havas went on Red Scare last month to say it’s “bourgeois” to care about climate change.

During the 2016 election, Deanna Havas was a Trump supporter. I observed it first hand then, but you don’t have to take it from me, as there are lots and lots of screenshots:

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Additional Havas tweets can be found here. (archived)

It gets worse. Deanna Havas is linked to LD50, the “Nazi gallery” in London. In early 2017, LD50 faced protests for having an “alt-right” show in the wake of Trump’s election. Protestors wrote that LD50 “functioned as an organising space for racists and as a media platform to infiltrate the London artworld.” The gallery owner Lucia Diego expressed in writing that she was sympathetic to Trump’s “Muslim ban.” The Baffler article notes, “There is strong evidence to suggest that Diego is and has been for some time personally sympathetic to the far right.”

Havas had an art show there in the summer of 2016. Given everything else we know about Havas, it seems doubtful that her showing at LD50 is just a weird coincidence.

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Lest you think this is obscure Internet drama, last month students at Yale told their professor that they did not want Deanna Havas as a guest speaker because of her racist posts. The student newspaper published and then took down a statement from Havas, issuing an apology in light of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting.

The Crypto Nexus

So to review: “Socialist” Liz Bruenig debates whether abortion is ok on a podcast that’s one or two degrees tops from neo-Nazis, and that’s considered “fun intellectual debate” on the ‘Left’ these days.

How can neo-Nazis and “Socialists” – including Jacobin writers and DSA organizers – be friends with the same people, and be guests on the same podcast? Even if, being the art world / media class climbers that they are, these people’s only goal is to boost each other’s capitalist careers through cross-promotion, their actions still have a real impact on Socialist organizing.

Where does the “ironic” fascism end and the Socialism begin? How did it become acceptable to oppose abortion as a Socialist? How did joking about racism and disability become acceptable behavior for Socialists? There’s a word for when the morals and goals of a movement are compromised or subverted: infiltration.

Let’s return to the Cuttlefish thread from the Chapo Reader, which discusses infiltration and sabotage:

One way to sabotage democratic socialist organizing would be to prevent the most oppressed (the ones with the least to unlearn) from leading

The “who cares about racist jokes” attitude and the day to day micro-jihads against critics and detractors both feed into the resentment of the privileged, and alienate people with more concrete + fundamental needs.

Another dynamic at play here is the layers of deniability between all of the players – the DSA, Chapo, the agglomeration know as Weird Left Twitter, and the Democratic Party. Critiquing one group because of their implicit support of another can always be dodged – “Nick Mullen isn’t part of Chapo” (even though they share a home + promote each others work) “Chapo isn’t DSA” etc. The sloppy DIY nature of it all makes all of the coordinating and cross-promotion and sharing of resources appear social and informal, so there’s nothing concrete to critique.

Those who wish to derail Socialist organizing will sabotage with irony and apathy. Those who wish to subvert will inject it with reactionary ideology. If we are ever to build Socialism successfully, we must stay vigilant of and thwart these efforts.

 

**Update: a reader named Leonard Christie Evans has shared photos of Dasha hanging out with local Zionist agitator turned imperialist mercenary Brace Belden and hanging up an SS flag in someone’s house (that’s apparently Belden in the foreground). You know, normal fun stuff.

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Addendum 1:

You need to understand the context in which all of this is being said. This isn’t about ‘cancelling’ people who were ‘problematic’ one time. It’s not about proving that specific individuals are uniquely bad. You should dump irony podcasters, but not because one of them gave a questionable soundbite once.

The overall point that I and others are making doesn’t hinge on any one thing. People can reach all they want to discard this and that, but it doesn’t matter, the general point still stands. The point being made is an overall point about a class of people. We make a lot of connections and present a lot of evidence to show the overall picture. The big picture is to see how these petit bourg are all connected: media people, art world people, Jacobin, DSA leadership, Democrats and neo-Nazis, when they’re powerful enough to be ‘relevant.’ Most of these people are one or two degrees tops from military contractors and corporate media billionaires. They may or may not be directly controlled. They don’t necessarily need to be, or even be conscious of it: it’s in their class interests, organically, to serve bourgeois interests.

A reddit commenter asked, “how do all of these people know each other?” Well, this is how.