When most people think of socialism or communism, they likely imagine a scene of harsh government control of the people. George Orwell’s famous novel 1984 might come to mind for some. In the book, the government was portrayed as an all-seeing, overarching, and controlling presence in citizens’ lives.
However, according to Rod Dreher’s recent book Live Not by Lies: A Manual For Christian Dissidents, this is not the type of socialist movement Americans should be wary of. There is a different agenda, one that far precedes the 2020 election, and one that America has been subtly approaching for some time.
This agenda is that of soft totalitarianism. This term is a mouthful and might be a foreign concept to some, but Dreher easily demystifies it in his book:
“Totalitarianism is a state in which nothing can be permitted to exist that contradicts a society’s ruling ideology…one in which an ideology seeks to displace all prior traditions and institutions, with the goal of bringing all aspects of society under control of that ideology.”
If this definition is still somewhat difficult to conceptualize, one need not look further than the current state of our American culture to understand what it means.
In America, the “ruling ideology” that Dreher writes of is an agenda that champions all progressive worldviews as legitimate, especially LGBTQ agendas. It's "soft" because, unlike past communist movements, this movement does not garner its strength from armed soldiers or prison camps via dictatorships.
It’s much more subtle, which makes it much more dangerous.
As Dreher points out in his book, in 2015 an Indiana-based pizzeria was forced to close on account of threatening phone calls and Twitter posts after the restaurant declined to cater gay weddings.
In 2017, California passed a law that allowed for criminal punishments for those who “willfully and repeatedly” decline to use an elderly transgender person’s “preferred name or pronouns.”
In 2018, a Christian baker in Colorado was sued for declining to bake a cake for a gay wedding. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, where the court rebuked the “clear and impermissible hostility toward [his] sincere religious beliefs.”
How this agenda opposes dissenters is not through force, but through public perception, social media attacks, disapproving of certain language, labeling those who disagree as "bigots," etc.
However, the goal of the progressive ideology agenda is clear: Control. Any voice that disagrees must be forced to conform or forced into silence.
“A totalitarian state,” writes Dreher, “is one that aspires to nothing less than defining and controlling reality.”
Dreher’s book also contains multiple testimonies of individuals who have fled communist nations and now reside in the United States. When asked about our country’s current trajectory, their answers are shocking.
In short, they recognize what’s happening here from their time in Soviet-era nations!
The attempts to reinvent language or to constantly change what’s acceptable speech to fit an agenda are calculated ideological movements that are familiar to these former citizens of communist states.
Dreher discusses further aspects of totalitarianism in his incredible new book, Live Not by Lies, which is available at online bookstores. This information includes what life looks like as a dissenter, ways to oppose this approaching ideology, and the great importance of the family structure in contrast with our modern world.
This book is a wake-up call to all the Americans who see what's become of our culture but don't understand what this radical shift will one day mean for our freedom, liberty, and future.