An interview by Yann Valerie (Breizh-info.com)
Breizh-info.com: Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Rod Dreher: I am a 54-year-old American writer from southern Louisiana who is interested in religion, culture and politics. I converted to Orthodox Christianity in 2006, but I am interested in building bridges between traditional Christians of all faiths. I believe that the differences between us are important, but the most important thing in this post-Christian era is that we stand together and defend faith and each other against persecution.
My earlier book, “The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Society,” presented St. Benedict as a model of how Christians can prepare to live faithfully in a post-Christian time. It focuses above all on the threat of the internal disintegration of the churches and the failure to pass on the faith to our children. My new book, Resisting the Lie, is written in the same spirit, but focuses on attacks on faith and believers from the outside. It is written not so much for the problem of internal decay as for that of external persecution.
Breizh-info.com: Why did you write the book “Resisting the Lie As Dissident Christians Live”?
Rod Dreher: Six years ago, I received a call from an American doctor who said he wanted to talk to a journalist. The doctor’s mother had emigrated from Czechoslovakia to the United States in the 1960s. As a young woman, she spent years in prison and was condemned by the communist government as a “spy of the Vatican” – for refusing to go to Mass anymore. She told her son, the doctor, that the things she sees in America today remind her of what it was like in Czechoslovakia when communism came.
That seemed extreme to me. But I’ve gotten into the habit of asking people who had emigrated to America from communist countries if what they see in America today reminds them of what they fled from. Every single one of them answered the question in the affirmative! And they are angry that Americans don’t want to believe them.
In my book, I explain why the things they see are real. I have also traveled to the former communist countries of Europe and Russia to interview Christians who survived the persecution and even the Gulag, and to ask them for advice on how we can prepare to face the coming persecution steadfastly in faith.
Breizh-info.com: You explain in your books that in our century, in our society, a new totalitarianism is emerging, a soft totalitarianism. Can you explain that?
Rod Dreher: When we think of totalitarianism, we think of Stalin, the gulags, the secret police – the world described by George Orwell in “1984”. This is not what we are dealing with today, and that is why so few people understand this new form of totalitarianism. We have a “mild” form of totalitarianism. Let me explain.
A totalitarian society is a society in which only one ideology is allowed to exist and in which everything in life is done ideologically. That’s what’s happening now, at least in my country – and what’s happening in America is happening everywhere, after all. In the US, the left has pursued a radically illiberal cultural policy obsessed with race, gender and gender, seeking to reshape society according to its radical beliefs. We call it ‘wokeness’ – a word that reflects the feeling that these people are enlightened while the rest of us sleep in the darkness of bigotry.
The Wocists are completely intolerant of any opposition. Not only do they believe that those who disagree are in the wrong; they believe that they are evil and must be destroyed. They destroy people’s jobs, their businesses and their reputation, all in the name of what they call “social justice.” If you read the speeches of Robespierre, you will understand the spirit of these warriors of virtue. They have not yet taken over the U.S. government, but they have adopted all the major institutions of American civil society: academia, the media, business, sports, entertainment, law, medicine, many churches — even the CIA and the U.S. military. They manage to turn America back into a totalitarian, alert country without changing governments. This is one of the reasons why I call this new totalitarianism “soft.”. There are no secret police, no gulags, no dictators – but the country is being rebuilt into a totalitarian state with soft power.
Another reason I call it “soft”: all this madness is justified with compassion for the victims. These totalitarians claim they must destroy people’s lives and freedoms to protect LGBT and racial minorities from white supremacists, heterosexuals and Christians.
Breizh-info.com: How are Christians, the Christian identity, targeted by this new totalitarianism?
Rod Dreher: First of all, one must understand that the woks are strongly anti-clerical, although they have taken over many churches in the USA. They share the common view of today’s left that religion is a reactionary force that captivates humanity. They ignore the fact that the civil rights movement of the 1960s was led by black Protestant pastors because that fact contradicts their narrative.
But there is something more specific here. They despise traditional Christians because we don’t agree with them that LGBT people are something good, something that should be encouraged. I can’t stress enough how much gay rights and gender ideology define wokism. Look at what happened in Europe this summer. The Hungarian government has passed a law stating that LGBT propaganda must not target children, and that enforces state control over sex education in schools to prevent this. I personally support this law, but I understand why the left does not support it.
What have the Heads of State or Government of the European Union done? They got wild! The Dutch prime minister promised to “put Hungary on its knees” because of this law. Ursula von der Leyen speaks in the language of war about future punishments for Hungary. And this is only because Hungary wants to protect its children and express a Christian view of sex and homosexuality in a very soft law.
Look at what they will do with Hungary in this regard. From this you can see what is coming to all traditional Christians.
Breizh-info.com: Can you tell us about the “Woke tyranny” in the United States? How do you explain the fact that it is now also arriving in France and the United Kingdom?
Rod Dreher: In the age of the Internet, the local is global. All of this is spreading via social media. Recently, in Slovenia, I spoke to a Catholic man who is tormented by what is happening to his daughter. He told me that she was 12 years old and had made contact with young people in the United States. They told her she had to decide on her sexual identity now before biology dictated it to her. She was told that she had to be one of 26 different identities. The father told me that his daughter only thinks about it and is tormented by the fear of making a wrong decision. I am sure that something like this will happen all over Europe, even in the whole world, thanks to social networks.
It is also supported by the media, which has decided that wokism is the very definition of what it means to be left-wing today. In Budapest, the left-wing mayor of a neighborhood ordered the construction of a statue in honor of Black Lives Matter last spring. A journalist asked the mayor what Black Lives Matter had to do with Hungary? She replied that we must all be against racism. Do you understand what is happening here? These specifically American issues are globalized by the left. And be clear about this: you will be forced to care.
Finally, and this is important, wokism has become the ideology of the globalist elites. In my book, I explain that revolutions usually don’t happen from the bottom up. They arise when the elites of a society adopt revolutionary ideas and spread them in their own networks. So it was with wokism. It has spread quickly among the Anglo-American elites because we have a common language. I sincerely hope that France can fight this cultural imperialism, but it all depends on the French elites. The stories I hear from schools like Sciences Po are very daunting.
Breizh-info.com: How can and should we fight this new ideology? Are there any reactions in the United States?
Rod Dreher: Well, we must do everything we can to use the political power and the power of the state to fight against it, but the truth is that we will not choose ourselves out of this crisis. It is a cultural revolution taking place in a liberal democratic order. We must find the courage to resist publicly, which means that we are willing to suffer for our beliefs. We must not capitulate just to avoid problems.
The sad lesson of the history of communist totalitarianism is that most people adapt to avoid problems. We cannot join them. We need to start forming small groups to train ourselves in resistance and build networks to keeping the faith alive when the persecution begins. We must understand that not all Christians will be our allies and not all non-believers will be our enemies. In my book, I quote a Christian dissident from the communist era who says that there are rarely people brave enough to resist totalitarianism. If you find them, you need to make them allies, even if they don’t share your political or religious beliefs. This is an important principle that we need to understand.
I dedicated this book to Father Tomislav Kolakovic, a Catholic priest who became involved in Croatia in 1943 against the Nazis, but was able to flee when he heard that the Germans were coming to arrest him. He fled to Slovakia and taught at the Catholic University in Bratislava. He told his students that the Germans would lose the war – that was the good news. The bad news was that the Soviets would rule their country after the war, and the first thing they would do was persecute the Church. Father Kolakovic told the students that they had to prepare for life underground, in resistance.
He set up a network of small groups, composed mainly of students, who met to pray and talk about what was happening in their society. They discussed what to do and then drew up a concrete action plan. Within two years, a network of these Kolakovic groups spread throughout Slovakia. The Slovak Catholic bishops criticized him for worrying people for no reason, but Father Kolakovic did not listen to them. He understood the communist mentality and knew what was going to happen.
In 1948 there was a communist coup, and everything the priest had predicted happened. The Kolakovic network became the structure of the underground church that kept the faith alive during the 40 years of persecution. What I mean by this is that today, more than anything else, we Western Christians must begin to form these small groups and networks while we still have the freedom to do so. We live in a Kolakovic period.
There is very little activity in the United States. There is a young activist named Chris Rufo who is doing a great job in the fight against what is known as Critical Race Theory, the ideology behind racism that has taken over so many American institutions. But most of the time, Americans don’t fight back. They don’t seem to understand how radical this is, or they think they just have to vote republican, and everything is going back to normal. This is a dangerous illusion.
Breizh-info.com: They call themselves Christian dissidents. What does that mean?
Rod Dreher: It means that I am a Christian who opposes the prevailing ideology of our post-Christian society. Many Christians do this, of course, but I think it’s important that we start claiming the label “dissident” for ourselves to point out the totalitarian nature of the regime. Think of Solzhenitsyn, Havel, the mother of the American doctor who first called me in 2015. When we identify with them, we can better understand what is really happening here and now.
Breizh-info.com: Do you have a message for the people of Europe who read your books?
Rod Dreher: They are the heart of Western civilization. We are losing this civilization very quickly. They are at the forefront of this war. It depends so much on your vision and courage. Please, fight! Don’t give up! At the same time, however, the political struggle should not be confused with the religious struggle. It is more important for Christianity to survive this coming darkness. “The Benedictine Bet” and “Resistance to the Lie” are about the survival of the faith, not the survival of liberal democracy. We are already in the midst of a new dark age. There is no way out. Saint Benedict offers us a way – but we must be ready to suffer. This is a hard truth.
I’m not an optimist, but I have hope. What’s the difference? The optimist believes that everything will turn out for the best. But that’s just not true. If this were true, there would be no martyrs. A hopeful Christian, on the other hand, wants everything to turn out for the better, but he knows that life is tragic. But He also knows that if we unite our suffering with Jesus Christ, God can use it to purify us and redeem the world. Christ is our example. The martyrs are our role model. Again, this is a hard truth to accept, but it is better to accept the hard truth than to live with a comfortable lie.
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