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    Totalitarianism in America is Here

    How to Protect Your Values and The Truth
    by Chris Martenson

    Thursday, January 13, 2022, 1:46 PM

To many, Rod Dreher seems like a walking contradiction.

In 2006, he wrote “Crunchy Cons” to explain why conservatives should support the environment, small businesses, even organic products. He officially parted with the Republican Party, yet is an editor of The American Conservative.

And while he believes America is still a shining beacon of freedom and independence, he is convinced totalitarianism (or more precisely, the insidious Soft Totalitarianism) has taken root in virtually every American institution from the government, corporations, main stream media, social media, the education system and even in your neighbor’s homes.

Seeing the onslaught on basic American truths and its culture, Rod wrote “The Benedict Option” to map out a path for individuals to protect their beliefs and freedoms. While primarily focused on faith for his foundational concept, he discussed at length the idea of forming our own “intentional communities” to preserve the world’s most inclusive, socially open and productive way of life, as well as our most cherished values.

Today, in his top selling book, “Live Not by Lies”, Rod travels through history and spans the globe to identify the culprits who’ve brought totalitarianism into America, what the modern-day Gulags (or prisons) look like, and how today’s current zeitgeist intends to tear down Western Civilization and the advances it brought to the world.

Rod joins Chris to set the stage and clearly define the times we’re living in (something the Peak tribe has discussed for years), but most importantly, Rod helps us make a plan for how we can fight back, and preserve what’s good and worth saving in our families and our communities.

Rod embodies the very best of intellectual rigor; he has well-researched opinions and deeply held beliefs yet can speak with anyone calmly and rationally about his views. Most important is that he’ll talk with anyone and is wide open to exploring ideas in pursuit of the truth. In other words, exactly the sort of voice the world most needs these days.


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Chris Martenson [00:00:00] Hello, everyone, and welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast, I am your host, Chris Martenson. Look, there's a great battle underway, one whose outlines have suddenly really crisply been outlined by the lockstep approach to COVID by numerous countries that are all similarly authoritarian. I should say individual and property rights have been summarily dismissed in favor of putative collective benefits. Now I say punitive because the macro data does not support the idea that there have been any benefits really at all. India's COVID case count and death rate are a fraction in the United States. The UK same metrics are horrifyingly bad as compared to, say, Africa's Canada's COVID case survival rate is one tenth that of the Dominican Republic saw 45 year olds now in a sane society or culture. Such disparities would spur immediate inquiry, some self-reflection and maybe the replacement of one or two inept public health officials in a culture of worship of central authority. Those same officials only seem to gather more power and never suffer any consequences. Now, to help us put all of this in a new frame is Rod Dreher, an American writer and editor. He is a senior editor and blogger at the American Conservative and author of several books, including How Dante can Save Your Life. The Benedict Option, Which Was Amazing, and this his new book Live Not by Lies Rudd. Welcome to the program. It's really great to have you on.

Rod Dreher [00:01:27] Chris, thanks so much for having me on.

Chris Martenson [00:01:30] So, Rod, I want to jump right into it. Totalitarianism, what is it? And do you see signs of it here in America?

Rod Dreher [00:01:37] You know, when we think about totalitarianism today, what comes to mind the gulag, the Soviet Union, the KGB, bread lines, things like that. If that's our definition of totalitarianism, then no, we're not going to see that here. But I think that that is too limiting a definition of totalitarianism. The idea for the book Lived Not By Lies, came to me about five or six years ago when I got a phone call from a doctor in the Midwest who told me that his mother, his elderly mother, who had grown up in communist Czechoslovakia, was telling him, Son, the things that I see happening now in America. Remind me of what happened when communism came to power in my country. Now, this old lady had spent four years as a young woman in a communist prison on charges of being a quote Vatican spy, which meant that she'd just refused to stop going to church. Well, I thought this was really exaggerated because precisely because Chris, I looked out and didn't see any gulags, didn't see the secret police. But the more people like that old lady, I talked to people who had come to America from the communist bloc. They're all saying the same thing, and they're so angry because we Americans don't think it's going to happen here. Well, what are they seeing, Chris? They're seeing the emergence of a country and a culture in which you're not allowed to say what you think that you could lose your job, you could lose your business, you could lose even members of your family if you take a politically incorrect position. Actually, that term political correctness sounds so quaint. Now we're talking about people losing their livelihoods because of the culture of lies that we're building. It's totalitarian, Chris, because a totalitarian society and the barest definition is one in which only one ideology is allowed to have power. And every aspect of life is made ideological. Well, in our culture, wokeness has captured all the major institutions of our society. It's captured the military, even as captured big business, which are long thought to be conservative strongholds. Not anymore. And you don't need the government to threaten to arrest you or put you in the gulag. If every other major institution in society, schools, media etc are operating from the same, it a logical framework and are trying to cancel you and limit your ability to hold a job or to get a license unless you subscribe to the lives that the totalitarian system wants you to to swear off on. So, yeah, we are dealing with a kind of totalitarianism that I call soft totalitarianism because it doesn't depend like Orwell's 1984 on inflicting pain and terror on people to get conformity. Rather, it's more like Aldous Huxley Brave New World, where it throws all this comfort at you and says If you want to participate in a society that gives you comfort and status and riches, then you have to surrender your identity. You have to surrender your liberty.

Chris Martenson [00:04:43] You know, right? I had a similar experience about five years ago. I was in an Uber and my driver was this guy from Sudan. So I love striking up conversations, particularly with my drivers and whoever. You know, I love talking to people from other countries, and by the end of this conversation, this guy starts to. Cry because he described in great detail what it what it took for him to leave Sudan and why, and he was crying because he said, I see the same things happening here now and I thought this was this was at once I'd made it to America, and he'd been here for like 15 years. And he said, once I made it here, I thought, that's it. I've escaped from this great evil and I'll never have to face that again. He was literally in tears, as he recounted for me this checklist of things that he saw that were similar.

Rod Dreher [00:05:25] I completely believe you because this is my experience in talking with immigrants from communist countries and even though and live not by lies, I focused on immigrants from the Soviet bloc. I still get people who come who came to this country from China and Venezuela and Cuba, who say this story as our story too. And they're trying desperately to wake Americans up. But I don't know what it is, Chris. What? We just want to believe that our comfort and our liberties are going to last forever. These people living here among us, these immigrants and the communist world, they are the canaries in the coal mine. They are trying to wake us up so we can take a stand and stop this before it's too late.

Chris Martenson [00:06:04] I believe you right in here. You started with a Solzhenitsyn quote, which was paraphrasing it badly. Maybe you know what? If you think it can't happen to you, you're wrong.

Rod Dreher [00:06:14] Yeah. He said that this is that the the introduction to the 1983 edition of the Gulag Archipelago, which won the Nobel Prize, and which he told the truth about the Soviet underground state for political prisoners. And he said that all over the world, there are people today who say, Oh, what happened in Russia? That couldn't happen here, not with people like us. He said, Look, we thought the same thing. He said in Russia in the 1890s, like, what, 20 years or so before the communist revolution. He said if you had gone to all the the top intellectuals and cultural leaders in that society and said within 40 years in this country, there will be tortures that haven't been seen in Russia since the Middle Ages, they would have thought you were crazy. But it happened. You know, this idea that we are such a stable society where things like this can't happen, it's just an illusion.

Chris Martenson [00:07:09] I think a lot of people are waking up to this now. It was interesting. Robert Malone was on. Joe Rogan had this three hour interview, and about two minutes of that was him talking about the psychological theory of mass formation or mass formation psychosis as it got build. But I think technically it's called mass formation, which is what happens when people fall under the spell of a narrative that is very totalitarian in its nature. It demands complete. As you mentioned, you're the tick list. Things that requires you to comply completely with whatever the narrative is, requires you to other the other people out there. So you have to create a sense of threat and that ultimately, if you let that go on long enough, it ends in mass atrocities, as you just described. And it's interesting that that little clip that two minutes. Oh my gosh, it's been debunked. An AP fact checked it and ruled it to be wrong. And there was this great hoopla around that, and I think that's because it maybe struck a nerve. Do you see parallels between today and the road that say Germany was on in the 30s or Russia turned into when, yeah, came through its period?

Rod Dreher [00:08:13] Yeah, Chris, that's absolutely the case in led not by lies. I talk about one of the landmark books and political theory of the 20th century called The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt. She was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, and after the war was over, she set out to see what both Nazi Germany and Bolshevik Russia had in common how those societies had come to accept totalitarianism. And she she made this inquiry so she could figure out how we could stop it here if it were to come here and to read the origins of totalitarianism, which came out, I think in 1951. To read it today, thinking about our woke culture is to send chills down your spine. She said that there are several aspects of a totalitarian society that we should watch out for and remember. She wrote this like 70 years ago. The most important one is mass loneliness and atomization. She said that in pre-revolutionary a pre Nazi Germany, pre communist Russia, the people were scattered. They were. Nobody knew who they could trust. They had been shattered by war and economic disaster. And and they were just waiting for a leader to come in and help them have a sense of unity, a sense of purpose and a sense of self. Right. Well, we have that to an amazing degree in our country. One of the things that shocked me about doing research for this book was to find that the loneliest generation in America today is not the old people. It's the youngest generation Generation Z, where seven and 10 of them called themselves lonely, even though they're plugged in to the social network. It ain't getting the job done in terms of socializing people. Another aspect that aren't sore that we have today is the willingness to believe lies that feel good, that conform to an ideology that one wants to believe another one. Loss of faith in authorities and hierarchies. Boy, do we have that? Most Americans don't trust any major institution anymore. I think small business and maybe the police get more than 50 percent of people's trust, but that's it. And certainly undercovered after we've seen the way that our institutions have behaved not only the government, but other institutions. People aren't wrong not to trust them, but all of these things, Chris, lead to a situation where nobody knows anything. People are afraid. They don't trust anything. And they are sitting ducks ready for a leader to come in and give them a sense of structure and purpose. Tell them who the enemy is so they can learn to believe in themselves by behaving the other. As you mentioned, my argument live not by lies is the woke are well on this path to to creating this kind of totalitarian system, and they're going to end up making it work and implementing it with the social credit system just like they have in China.

Chris Martenson [00:11:14] Rod, so many directions. I want to take this conversation. I have light bulbs going off everywhere. The first, I guess, would be around this idea of of how we get to that, that formation of compliance and control. So way back in the 80s, I'm in college at this point in time. And I wrote a song for my band called PC Sheep because the PC culture, political correctness was so entrenched at that point in time that I remember being offended when some kids in my class in biology started to really fight against the idea that there were males and females. And to me, this was just axiomatic. That's where you start. You know, X chromosomes and Y chromosomes, and it's just a matter of biology. And so but I wasn't offended so much that they wanted to have. The argument is that they didn't want to have the argument. They wanted to shout down any other point of view. This is a long time ago, so this didn't. What we're seeing now, I think in this in the great gender wars as we see them today, that was kicking off in the 80s. I mean, this thing's been run a while. I just want to, you know, set the context of people don't think this is something that cropped up last year. It's been running a bit, but to me, that's a war on sense making. Right? It's a d grounding. When you say we can no longer believe in the things that your parents, your grandparents, your great grandparents and literally every other human through time believed in, we have to on ground all of those because we have a better way. To me, that feels wildly destabilizing. And you can you can lose your job if you told the wrong opinion about that. At this point in time, you can get in a lot of trouble.

Rod Dreher [00:12:42] That's right. And lately I've been having people write to me who are either active duty military or recently retired military, who are saying that the U.S. military of all places is no longer the sort of thing that they would want their children to go serve in as conservatives or religious believers. That's so frightening to me. Just the other day, I sent a friend of mine who's a very high ranking active duty military officer a link to this prager u. Video that Dennis Prager did about my book Live Not by Lies. My friend said, I can't click on that. It's got Dennis Prager his name in it, and if I do that, I'm afraid it will bring down an investigation on me and I could be kicked out of the military. This is a high ranking officer. He said, I can't talk to you about any of this stuff until I'm retired. So this is just one example, Chris, but I hear this constantly. Nobody knows where the where the danger lies with trip wires are. And so we become afraid. We become afraid to say what we really think, because even though chances are we're not going to lose our job. Who's to say we're not? All it takes is one person standing around you to record it on their smartphone, blasted out on social media, and by the end of the day, you're unemployed.

Chris Martenson [00:13:54] Well, Rod, I totally agree with that, and I'm going to go one step further because it was bad when the Stasi had their little three by five cards and your neighbor snitched on you and you're talking about somebody else recording you. But you've also just hinted at the idea that your own, your own browsing habits might snitch on you or your own phone might snitch on you. Listen, this isn't conspiracy talk. We know that they they whoever they are, they they're listening in. People put Alexie's in their own home. They listen in. They have semantic search algorithms where they're listening for context. So you can't even be certain at this point, nobody can. The your own phone isn't your own worst snitch in the stores. We're carrying around our sneaky neighbors with us. That's extra chilling to me.

Rod Dreher [00:14:33] Oh, you're absolutely right, I mean, if you think about it, Chris, if we were in North Korea and the government came and said, we want to put this smart speaker in your house and it'll do things for you, but it will also record what you say. You would know that exactly what this was. But in America, if it's sold to you as something that makes you more comfortable and improves your consumer convenience, you open the door right there. Bring the speaker into your house and the fact that it's not going to the government, I mean, you've got to roll your eyes at the naivete of that, that Google, Amazon, Apple, this this is the government or it is part of the overall regime. And that's why I don't think that the social credit system will come into America by the government per se, as it has in China. I think it'll be something that big business takes us to ultimately. And if you want to participate in the economy, you're going to have to be judged credit worthy, social credit worthy by the algorithms. You probably know, and your listeners may well know about what happens in China, how it's a largely cashless society. And if you want to participate in the economy at any level, you have to have a high social credit rating. What does that mean? It means that the Chinese government uses their algorithms and artificial intelligence to monitor everything you read. Everywhere you go, everything you see online, the people you hang out with. They can tell this just by using GPS. If they see that you've been hanging out with, quote unquote bad, people are going to church or places where they don't want you to go, you automatically get a lower social credit score. If you get a lower, low enough social credit score, you can no longer buy or sell within the system, and this has happened to some Chinese people. This is coming here. I feel sure of it, Chris. Maybe not in the next two or three years, but I think within 10 15 years. So one of the reasons I wrote Love Not By Lies, is to encourage my readers to start putting networks in place today that will make us resilient where people who refuse to go along with this system are able to support each other and support their families and support their churches and houses of worship.

Chris Martenson [00:16:48] I did note that in this book Lived Not By Lies, you also had some quotes by some of my favorite folks. I was really intrigued with Vaclav Havel and living through the whole Czechoslovakia experience he's talking about. I think what you are mentioning here is this idea of parallel networks that that when you live in a in a soulless society, as it were, it really matters a lot. If you're going to be resilient, who you know and how well you know them, and that you have a means of recreating for yourself the opposite of the social isolation that actually the totalitarian regime feeds on and feeds because it wants that that sort of behavior?

Rod Dreher [00:17:23] Exactly. You're talking about this guy, Vaclav, not Havel, but Bender. Vaclav Bender. He was one of hovels allies. He and his wife, Camilla, were the only Christians in the inner circle around thoughts love Havel and the top dissenters and Busola Bender, who died in ninety nine. He came up with the idea of the parallel polis. What did he mean by that? He said that look, nobody who has any integrity, religious or otherwise can possibly collaborate with the communist government. But we can't just give up. We need to come up with a parallel society that will enable us to live the truth as best we can and to educate our kids in what is true and not the lies that the government is trying to shove down their throats. And so what the benders did was do things like have lectures at their apartment in Prague, they would get people in and they would talk about art. They would talk about literature, all kinds of things that would help the Czech people remember who they were. Because you've got to remember the communists at that time were trying to erase all of Czech history, anything that that they thought could be used to tear down communism from the Czech past they were trying to destroy. Well, the parallel palace arose as a way to keep that memory alive. I compare it also in the book To What the future Pope John Paul the second did in Poland. Under Nazi occupation, the Nazis were trying to subdue Poland by destroying the Polish people's sense of themselves as a people and their religion, their Catholic faith. So what Carol Voytek about the future pope and his young friends did? They were all theater students. They came together to write plays and performed plays on Polish patriotic themes and religious themes. And they performed these in underground venues where everybody who came to see them, all the ordinary poles, they were all risking their lives to keep the truth alive. We're not there yet, but these people who grew up under communism can see that we are on the fast track to that kind of city. And so what I want to encourage my readers and your listeners to do is to understand the signs of the times, read the signs of the times and start putting together these parallel this parallel policy now because the day is going to come when you need it, and it's obvious that we need it. If we haven't started putting it together now, it's not going to be there for us.

Chris Martenson [00:19:52] You know, just between us and anybody listening. I mean, I am. I'm starting to put those things together, and I'm actually building a physical infrastructure here where I live in order to create a place for people to gather specifically for those sorts of ideas. We've already held some gatherings around that because I will tell you from my perspective, as somebody who is very deep into the COVID stuff, I can tell you that there is dangerous data out there and this is data. I'm a scientist, so I'm offended when I can't say, here's a piece of work. Here's what I see. Here's the strengths. Here's this weaknesses maybe they could have improved this, but these are the conclusions based on what we know, this is the best, the best data we have. I can't have those conversations. I've been banned on YouTube for having them. I've been like my last YouTube strike was for noting that there was this data out of the UK that said women's menstrual cycles were interrupted, sometimes severely as a consequence of an adverse event to the shots to the vaccines. Well, I should be able to note that I got banned. Now Newsweek is talking about it, so now it's OK. So there's this idea that there's that central talking point, and if you're in front of it, you're too early and you can get banned for that. So there's like an approved message that's held by gatekeepers, who, by the way, have done a horrible job of keeping up and being nimble and really actually protecting public health. So it's already true that we have to speak in lowered voices and I'm in restaurants and people will say, you know, let's keep our voices that you can feel that hushing, which is the self-censorship that comes because we're not. We're worried about the reactions that might come from our phones or the table mates next door.

Rod Dreher [00:21:24] That's right. And you know that you don't have to worry about anybody putting you in jail yet for denying the official story. But you can find yourself as we've been talking out of a job pushed out of social circles that mean a lot to you. I think that if you see what they're doing, what authorities are doing about COVID passports, vaccine passports, things like that that talk. Think about how that same logic is going to be used just down the road and in cities like Chicago, where the mayor declared that racism is a public health emergency. OK? If it's a public health emergency and we have to keep people safe and healthy, then it's pretty easy to see how they can justify shutting down free speech and punishing people who say racially incorrect things or who question the the woke dogma critical race theory dogma they can. If they can stigmatize you as a danger to the safety and health of the community, where are you going to go? You know, so far we have a First Amendment, but the First Amendment is only as powerful as the willingness of the Supreme Court to defend it. And that's only as powerful as the willingness of the American people to value free speech and to value religious liberty and freedom of thought. That's the danger, Chris, that you look at the younger generation, the Gen Z, some of the younger millennials and Gen Z, they don't care about this stuff. They would rather see the whole country be turned into a safe space than to defend the right to speak your mind.

Chris Martenson [00:23:01] You know, a good friend of mine, Peter Burgos in Portland State University professor who finally quit because it was just too painful to continue trying to be an ethical philosophy professor who actually would challenge minds when he would have to go in for retraining and sensitivity. This because he would say something that would challenge somebody who would get offended. Just one person, one student saying, I'm offended. Next thing you know, this guy is up for a bad review and some retraining and all of that. So he finally finally quit. But he said to me, he said, Chris, you know, the thing that's really tragic about this is that these people are not being trained how to think. Yeah, they've lost the capacity because by definition, if you want to put on muscle mass in the gym, you're going to have to go through some discomfort. It's called growing, right. If you want the same thing, our brain is a muscle, in a sense. To get to a new set of thoughts or more, a deeper level of wisdom, you have to stretch it. You have to be able to see all sides and go through uncomfortable contortions, maybe even to realize you're not a good person. You're just like the like the the tantric practitioner. Say you are. You are all people. And under some circumstances, you'll be an awesome person. Under different circumstances, you might be a horrible person. So I think that this we're raising a very I'm worried about the damage that's been done here to an entire generation.

Rod Dreher [00:24:19] Oh yeah, I know for sure. And you bring it up, Peter, who's really one of the bravest men we have in public life. Peter is an atheist. He's been an active atheist campaigning for atheism. I am a religious conservative. But this crisis that we're facing now that all men and women of goodwill and of honesty are facing is such that people like Peter and I and we've become friends, by the way, we've never actually met him, but we correspond people like Peter, and I need to stand on the same side. People like Barry Weiss, she's a secular Jewish lesbian, but she is also one of the bravest people in public life. And I want to stand with her because one of the lessons I learned from talking to the people in the Soviet bloc is that courage is one of the rarest qualities in a totalitarian society. And when you find somebody who's brave enough to speak the truth and not to care what the consequences are, that person has to be your ally, no matter what their religion or lack of religion, no matter what their politics are. And I got this from Camilla Bender of the wife of Law Bender The Bend US. We're the only Christians in that circle, as I think I mentioned a second ago, but they didn't care. She took Camilla told me that most Christians in communist Czechoslovakia kept their heads down and conformed these Catholics. The vendors would rather be with the atheists who are brave enough to stand up against the lies. And that has been a powerful lesson. I think we all all need to learn.

Chris Martenson [00:25:49] I loved it the way you phrased all that because courage is also infectious. Fear is, but I've been watching the people who are courageous, and it's been astonishing to watch how many people rally around them and this period of time if I don't think COVID robbed. My perception is Cova didn't like break our institutions. It just revealed how corrupt they already had become. And as well, it also taught me who are the moral cowards and intellectual frauds in this story? And they got burned away. So one of them who's astonishingly horrible human to me is watching Anthony Fauci and what he's done and how he's done. He's very transparent. He's a power player and he's into money and he's not into truth or science or any of that stuff. But I've noticed the degree to which some people have rallied around him as if he were the Pope, Pope, Fauci, right? They've enshrined him with some sort of religiosity. So my question to you is around this when I, no matter which culture, I look at hunter gatherers, indigenous cultures on up to any culture, any culture, they have some form of religion, they have a spiritual place within them. So that tells me it's a human thing, like eating or drinking or sleeping. These are it's a human quality. It feels to me like like a group of people in my country have extirpate. If they kicked that part out thinking they could just eject it, not realizing something would rush in to fill the void. And they filled it with humans and institutions, faith and government, faith and people like they misplaced faith. Because Rod, these are these are human constructs. What are your thoughts there?

Rod Dreher [00:27:21] No, I think you're absolutely right. And one of the things that helped me understand the true nature of wokeness. The woke movement was studying the Bolshevik party, that is to say, the Communist Party, the communist faction that came to power in Russia in 1917. They were just like a pseudo religion. They all hated God and hated Christianity. But they reproduced the structures of faith within their own political movement. They just shifted it from being a faith in religion and God to faith and politics. But they were very, very well categorized and disciplined in their pseudo religion, and it's what led them to take power. But if you look at the way they handled themselves prior to the revolution, there's clear parallels with the woke today. People who believe in wokeness, they they are hard to talk to as any fundamentalist Jew would find of any religion. And I think that one of the things they also play on is, as I mentioned earlier, that loss of a sense of common meaning that, you know, when people quit believing in God, they'll believe in anything. I think Chesterton said that, but they also want to believe that comfort and sense of security is the highest good. And I think this is one thing, Chris, that that makes the situation we're in now so different from communist totalitarianism. I tell a story and "Live not by Lies" about riding.

Rod Dreher [00:29:10] You know, I tell a story and live not by lies about going on a tramp through Budapest, the capital of Hungary, with my translator, a young woman who was pregnant had a small child and a husband at home, she said, You know what? It's so hard for me as a Catholic to even talk to my friends here in Hungary who about the troubles I have in my marriage. She said I'm happy with happily married, but you know, like all young couples, we argue from time to time and our little boy is hard to deal with sometimes. But whenever I mention that to my friends, they cut me off and say, Oh, you have to get a divorce, you have to put your son in daycare. You got to be happy. Happiness is that is the ultimate good in life. She said they can't understand that part of a happy life is a struggle. I looked at her and said, It sounds like you're fighting for your right to be unhappy. She said, that's exactly it. Where did you get that? I pulled out my smartphone. I went to Chapter 17 of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the dissident in that book, the guy who's standing outside of society, the totalitarian society. It's a guy who wants struggle, and they're not trying to force him to come in that the dictator Mustafa Monde brings him in and says, Look, why wouldn't you want to join the society you have? You're taking care of. You have all the sex you want, all the entertainment. Everything is great. What's not to like? And he says, I want sin. I want love. I want beauty, I want suffering. And man says, Well, sounds like you're fighting for your right to be unhappy. You know what? I am fighting for my right to be unhappy. Man says we'll have it. You can have it. That's such an important point, Chris, because today this is how the totalitarians work. They play on our fear of being unpopular. Our fear of losing status, job status and so on and so forth to keep us in line. I think that it's a totalitarianism of comfort that we're having to worry. And this is how if people are afraid to suffer in any way, the totalitarians have won. This is the main lesson I got from talking to these Christians over there, whether they were Protestant, Orthodox or Catholic, that the ability and the willingness to suffer for the truth is the absolute most important character trait that we have to cultivate now. Because if you are not willing to suffer, then you're it's over. The enemy has one

Chris Martenson [00:31:36] that's very well said. And as I was just remarking before, you know, for me too, here's how I know I'm on to a new thought that I have to work on. It's uncomfortable, right? If you know, if I want to stretch my brain in a math function or if I want to learn like to get better at chess, it's hard, you know? But I value that because I know that that's just part of the game. This idea the tyranny of comfort, though this seems exceedingly important, especially when you connect that back to the younger people being the most unhappy generation ever, they should be the most happy, right? If we look at the ancient the Greeks, they were to say, Listen, once your basic needs are taken care of, you got time to work on yourself and improve yourself and make yourself into a better human being, right? So in many respects, these are the most abundant times I can imagine, and people are deeply unhappy with it. What's the problem?

Rod Dreher [00:32:26] I think it's a there's a god shaped hole in their hearts, to be honest. And of course, you might say, well, you would say that you're a Christian, but I think it's a lack of of a sense of transcendence, a lack of a sense of ultimate meaning, and that our suffering, our discomfort has ultimate meaning. You know, I I tell the story in the book about the people over there who were sent to prison Christians for their point of view, for their faith. And every one of them that made it through were Christians who believed that their suffering did have meaning. None of them thought they were ever going to live to see the end of communism, but they thought that God saw them and that their job, their duty, their moral duty as Christians and as citizens was to stand up and take whatever the government threw out at them. Because ultimately, if they if they united their suffering to Christ as they understood it, that God could use their suffering for the redemption of the world. And this is what's love. Havel was not Christian or not a religious man, but this was his point. And in his his injunction to live in truth, he tells a story Hovel does about. Said, Imagine there's a green grocer in a communist city under communism, and he has a sign in his window that says workers of the world unite. You know, the Marxist slogan. Every store has this because the government expects them to. Nobody believes it, but they just put it there to avoid trouble. Well, what happens at hobble if one day the little green grocer says. I'm not going to buy lies anymore, he takes it down. Well, the secret police come, they arrest him, they take his business away. Suddenly, he can't have a good job, his kids can't go to college, et cetera, et cetera. He pays a real price for his, for his act of courage. But what does he gain? First of all, he gained the knowledge that he is a man of integrity who will not who is brave enough to live by the truth. But beyond that, and this goes back to something you were saying earlier, Chris, he shows his neighbors that it is possible to live in truth if you're prepared to take the consequences for it. This is a version of what Martin Luther King demonstrated in the civil rights demonstrators in the early 1960s. As long as they were willing to to suffer for their cause, they could win. I think that we're going to have to have the same sort of mind change here. We need that here among Christians, among conservatives, among all kinds of people of goodwill. You have to be willing to take that stand for the truth, no matter what it costs us. And you have to be willing and you have to be able to count on a community around you, not only in your family, but in your church and your neighborhood, wherever you find your community. They have to be there to hold you and your family up to make it less costly to take the stand. This is why Chris, I dedicated my book to the memory of this man father Thomas Slavko Luckovich by the clock. Kovic was a Jesuit and from Croatia who was doing anti-Nazi work in Zagreb in 1943, when he got a tip that the Gestapo was coming to arrest him. He sneaked out of the country, went to his mother's homeland, Slovakia, and began teaching in the Catholic university there. He told his students, he said, Look, the good news is the Germans are going to lose this war. The bad news is the Soviets are going to be ruling this country when it's over, and the first thing they're going to do is come after the church. We got to be ready for it. So what Father Clark Kovic did was start putting together these groups a small groups of committed young Catholics for prayer, but also for strategy, for talking about the things that were actually happening in their society and trying to stay one step ahead so they could prepare the structures and the networks they needed to support the underground church if it ever came to it. The bishops of that country chastised this priest. They said, Father, you're scaring people. It's never going to happen here. But Kolok of it's new because he had studied Soviet history. He wanted to be a missionary to the Soviet Union. He kept up his work. Sure enough, in 1948, when the Iron Curtain fell over that country, the first thing the communist government did was come after the church. The reason the underground church in Slovakia was so powerful for the next 40 years was because of the prophetic work that father Clark Kovic and his collaborators, these young people did and getting ready for it. I think we're in a clock, a rich moment here in America, in the West more generally, and I hope that the warnings that these older people are sounding will be listened to and that we, Americans of whatever age, will rally to the cause and start building these networks.

Chris Martenson [00:37:06] Well, if if we're going to have our own clock of this moment, what what would we be doing today? What needs to go underground? What, what, what would we preserve?

Rod Dreher [00:37:15] Hmm. Well, I think for one thing, we need to start making a list of people who are truly faithful who can be counted on to for the resistance. And when I say resistance, I don't mean any kind of armed resistance. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about keeping the church alive in a time of persecution. I think it's so important that churches today start putting money aside for members of the parish of that congregation who lose their jobs because they've stood up for the truth. You know, that's a practical thing that we can do. I had a man contacted me, a retired intelligence officer who is a Christian, and he said that he's decided to use his retirement to work on ways that churches can protect themselves from surveillance. And he said one thing you can do is everybody put their smartphone and a Faraday cage when they come in the front door. Now this sounds nuts, Chris. I mean, this is America, right? But this man, he said, Listen, I can't tell you everything I know because it's illegal, but I can tell you that everything. Edward Snowden said, is true. The government is collecting this information on us big businesses doing that, and all it takes is they're them deciding that these people, these Christians, these conservatives are terrorists and we're done for. So I think that another thing we need to do is just start bringing together these discussion groups and establishing what you might call Kolok Kovic groups within our churches and neighborhoods and communities so that things don't look the same in New York City as they do where I am in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And they may not look the same in rural Utah and so forth. We need to have Christians and others come together to talk about what's happening right in front of them and practical things. We can do a lot of people turn to me saying, why don't you give us a greater list? I'm like, I'm just the writer man. I I went interviewed these people. I'm bringing their message to you, but we need real collaboration with people who know how to build things and run systems. Hmm.

Chris Martenson [00:39:13] I totally agree. You know, big. I have a whole nother framing that is actually my work in the world is really centered around resources. I'm a biologist by training, so I look at where we are as a species with respect to lithium, cobalt oil, freshwater soil, the basics and rod. There's a story there. We're way over the tips of our skis when it comes to this, and we don't really seem to have a plan. So I think, well, in the absence of a major plan, we should all have plan BS. But at the same time, as we're executing those plan BS, I'm talking to you now from from my little gentlemen's farm in western Massachusetts. There's three cows over there, got a garden, got water, the basics and and my view is, I think we're all going to need to be more resilient. And I heard you use that word earlier and my ears perked right up because this is really important to me. I want people to have enough context to say, you know, we should be resilient for all sorts of reasons, not least of which is all full honesty. I ran in fear towards this lifestyle, and now that I'm here, I would run towards it with glee because I love having my animals and being a little more resilient and knowing where my, you know, where my food comes from, but also the relationships I'm making with the other people here around these activities. And it's just more, oh well, something my great grandfather and every generation prior would have recognized, which is welcome to being in community. I didn't grow up in one. I didn't have that grounding. I grew up white Anglo-Saxon, Protestant suburban life. That's how I grew up.

Rod Dreher [00:40:35] Yep, yep. No, you make a really important point there. You know, there's a great book about the fall of the Roman Empire by this historian at Oxford University called Brian Ward Perkins, and he talks in his book about the utter collapse of material culture and when Rome fell in the West. And he said that it is impossible to overstate how, how, how much knowledge was lost when that civilization went away. And he's talking about practical knowledge like how to build things. He said, for example, that it took Europeans a thousand years after Rome fell and to learn how to build a roof over your head as well as the Romans did. Well, I think today that we're probably not going to lose that kind of technical knowledge, but we're losing while we may. But we're certainly losing that fundamental knowledge necessary to civilization, which is how to court a spouse, how to form a family, how to make a stable family, how to support the family, how to build the civilization that supports the family and end the propagation of the next generation. All that knowledge is falling away. And if we don't?

Chris Martenson [00:42:46] So we were on the loss of technology in advance from Roman times.

Rod Dreher [00:42:50] And yeah, so well, we today have lost the ability to form families. I remember back in 2013, I went to speak at an evangelical Christian college in the Upper Midwest, conservative evangelicals and I could do whenever I go to a college. I had dinner before my speech with some professors and I asked them, What are the things you're most concerned about looking at your students? And I thought some of them might say, well, a loss of the faith. They didn't. They said the things they were concerned the most is that none of these kids would ever be able to form a stable family. And I looked at him because I'm a writer. I'm not part of campus. I said, What do you mean? This is an evangelical Christian college in the Midwest. Why wouldn't they be able to form a family guy? Looks at me with tears in his eyes, a professor, and said because most of them have never seen a stable family. I looked around the table. All the professors were nodding. And that was a real wakeup call to me, Chris, because I grew up in a stable family and a community, a small, rural community of stable families back in the 70s and 80s. But what I took for granted is not the norm anymore.

Chris Martenson [00:43:58] And by stable family, what did what did they mean?

Rod Dreher [00:44:01] I'm a father and a mother who are married, both live in the house and, you know, both run a stable household, you know, where norms are very clear, etc. But mostly, I think it was just having a mom and a dad in the home.

Chris Martenson [00:44:16] Wow. Even at this Midwestern college

Rod Dreher [00:44:19] evangelical Christian Evangelical

Chris Martenson [00:44:21] Christian College.

Rod Dreher [00:44:21] Yeah, yeah. So presumably all conservatives. That was a profile of the college. But American society has become so individualistic, so atomized and so driven by individual choice that we forget that if we can't put a family together, if we can't bring young men and young women together to meet, to marry, to form a family and to form children who are also capable of forming families, then it's all lost. And I fear that we might be headed into that very quickly. And one of the things I want to mention, too, before I forgot that you were talking about, what should people be doing now? My kids go to something called a classical Christian school. They I think they may be coming out with some classical schools that don't have the religious aspect to it. But what it simply means is they teach kids at these schools, the Greeks, the Romans, the sort of great books that that have been thrown out of the public schools and many private schools in favor of trendy ideological education. My kids, there's not a gifted school or anything like that, but my kids are learning. They're reading things that I never got a chance to read because I grew up in a culture that didn't think it mattered to read. Homer didn't think it mattered to read Dante. All these things that are fundamental to West, the western tradition, western civilization. Well, my kids and the other kids at this school are getting that background. It was only after I started talking to the people from the Soviet bloc and hearing their stories about how the totalitarian governments would control people by controlling their access to literature and to history. You know, I understood why this was important.

Chris Martenson [00:46:05] Yeah. You know, this is a whole area of inquiry for me now, and I am also going back to the classics. And it was in part sparked by a good friend of mine. Jason Feldman handed me a book called The Swerve, which is astonishingly good, and it chronicles the real life story of of Poggio in fourteen fifteen years that he's a papal scribe and secretary. And anyway, he's on the march. He's out looking for like old dusty Latin tomes that people have overlooked because they're trying to preserve them, and it's a matter of stature. If you could translate one of these awesome things. So he stumbles across the only known extant poem by Lucretius, who was a follower of of of the epicurean method. So these are people in like 30 B.C. who sat around, presumably in togas and by thinking, managed to figure out the nature of the universe with respect to atoms. They got pretty much pretty close to string theory. They'd worked out chemistry on and on and on, and they'd had to do that. That rod they had to set aside because for a thousand years, everybody knew four elements Earth, air, fire, water. They're like, now we're pretty sure it's these other things, you know? And this just showed me what people are capable of if they can come together in what we're talking about, maybe in these parallel structures, not just to preserve something, but humans are capable of extraordinary insights. Once they set aside the conventions of their culture, which often have a lot of things wrong, right or or something. So I've been astonished when I read that poem what they worked out, evolution. They worked, they worked out all kinds of stuff. It was amazing.

Rod Dreher [00:47:34] And if we don't have the ability to think and speak freely, then we can't help but go into decline. You know, when I was over in Russia a couple of years ago reporting this book, I had dinner with this Russian family, an ordinary family in a small apartment. And the father in the family said, You know, I remember the time when I knew the Soviet Union was going to fall apart. Oh, really? When was that? He said the 1980 Moscow Olympics. He told me that he had just graduated from film school in the Soviet Union, and his first assignment was to work with the production team getting ready for the global broadcast of the Olympics. He said We were up in the VIP box where Brezhnev and the Politburo were going to be later that day for the opening ceremonies. We were hanging pipes up there from which we would hang the lights, the klieg lights or the lights that would illuminate the politburo. The KGB came in and said, Wait, you have no permission to do that, take those pipes down. Guy said, My boss said, But sir, we the politburo is going to be sitting here. They're going to be in the dark. If we don't hang these lights, KGB said, take him down. You don't have permission. So they took him down because nobody was going to stand up to the KGB. Chris, to this day, if you go on YouTube and look at the opening ceremony of the Moscow Olympics. There is Brezhnev in the whole politburo sitting in the dark about this, this dad who told me this, he said. I realized that when we had gotten to a. In the Soviet Union, where we were going to be, our leaders are going to be humiliated on global television. But we were too afraid to say anything more because we thought the KGB, but throw us in prison, a society that lives by those lies is going to fall apart eventually. Well, guess what? Where they are to a society that wants to live by the lies that that we're being thrown in front of us by the woke. It's not going to last. We're going to fall apart because reality will ultimately come back to bite us.

Chris Martenson [00:49:28] Well, that reality, I want to talk about that. So so in this book, Live Not By Lies. Chapter five value nothing more than truth. You know, the older I get, the less I know. And I'm not clear what the truth is. I'm really good at spotting B.S.. That's my superpower. And that's often my guide that that there is some truth out there. What do you mean when you say value, truth

Rod Dreher [00:49:51] value, the pursuit of what is accurate, what is and what is morally just because there's there are two kinds of truth. You know, there's scientific truth, facts and measurements, and then there's moral truth. It seems to me that a good person has to be be devoted to pursuing both things. And and that's the only way that we make any progress. That's the only way that any of us make individual progress and becoming more virtuous people is to constantly be searching for the truth. And if you're a religious believers, I am, then you believe that God is the source and the foundation of all truth. So a search for truth is also a search for God. And it's so important when you're facing totalitarianism, because if you value anything more than the truth, then the system will find a way to buy you off if you value your status more than the truth. Then there's a you have a price if you value your comfort, your happiness. You know they they will find a way to get to you by the truth. The putting truth at the center of things is the ultimate source of resistance. Now I I say truth and not God, even though there is a chapter in the book about religion because there were people. Vaclav Havel was one of them who were atheist, who still resist it because they put such a high value on truth.

Chris Martenson [00:51:16] Now it's interesting that of the people you've mentioned Peter Bergen, Barry Weiss, who else have sort of become not strange bedfellows in orbit, but who's who's sort of come into your life of late because of the times we're in?

Rod Dreher [00:51:31] Bret Weinstein and how they're hiding. You know, they were driven off both left wing atheist driven off from Evergreen State. I was so shocked because Heather devoted an entire that one of their podcast to reading from Live Not By Lies, you know, because they saw that that this is something bigger than the things that divide us on the ground along the usual ways of left right, you know, religious secular stuff and so forth. This is something about truth and the way we we search for the truth and the liberty to not only to live free, but to investigate truth, investigate the world around us. That and if we don't protect that liberty, then we're going to go on to steep decline and ultimately all going to be suffering the fate of what happened in the Soviet Union when the system could not provide for its people. Somebody told me recently who is in engineering, and he said the STEM the STEM world has become completely obsessed with wokeness, too. He said We're not going to get out of this until bridges start falling down. I hope it doesn't come to that, Chris, but I mean, this guy was really down.

Chris Martenson [00:52:42] Oh, well, I'll tell you, Rod, I'm highly concerned in that front and I'll tell you why. Because wokeness, I'm going to use that as sort of a metaphor for narratives that aren't that can't be challenged, right? So once the narrative comes out, it is what it is and you have to accept it. And then your advancement or or being held back within a society is your obedience to that to that narrative. So I'll tell you which one concerns me a lot is this whole idea that we're just going to transition to alternative energy? We're not. We might. But we have to be eyes wide open. It's highly complex. It's going to require an enormous amount of capital. We're going to have to make sacrifices. We might not live the same lives of comfort, we could do it, but it is complete B.S. with my B.S. meter going off to say, Oh, we'll just get there. We just have to decide that's what we want now. Not once you understand the complexities of it, right? It's it's energetic. Like saying that it is magical thinking,

Rod Dreher [00:53:37] yeah, it's like it's the same thing, the same way, the way we think about gender. Like, Oh, if I'm a woman, if I declare I'm a woman and anybody who says otherwise, you go to the gulag with you and we'll just apply enough technology to it and change the laws and forbid. Her bid saying that the emperor has no clothes and we're good to go, thing is reality doesn't work that way. You're absolutely right about this, but there's something about Americans. I think it's just and our character. We think that eventually science will pull a rabbit out of the hat and everything's going to be fine. And there it will be no price to pay for how how weak we've allowed ourselves to get in terms of of our own lives and in terms of our social structures.

Chris Martenson [00:54:21] I couldn't agree more and that narrative is particular when it comes to energy energy. Once you understand systems theory and complexity theory, we have a complex economy is very complex and it means that it has outputs that can't be predicted just from its inputs. It has emergent behaviors. And so that fancy bit of science talk just says, Listen, when you have surplus energy, you can have as much complexity as you want. When you're surplus energy starts to decline, that complexity goes away. I can't tell you how or why, but we have 300,000 job classifications that will someday be 200,000 someday 100,000. If we go far enough, we get back to a candlestick maker of a, you know, a shoemaker in a in a ferry or whatever. I mean, it's just it's this is so critical that we get this right, but it's orthodoxy that if I come forward with that, I were more likely to be shouted down by green advocates than listen to when all I'm trying to do is bring some basic math to the situation, which is can we talk about 300 quadrillion BTUs of energy as a primary source and how we're going to replace that should be somebody

Rod Dreher [00:55:20] wants to hear it. No, no. Nobody wants to hear it. I mean, you know, I get the same thing too with live, not by Liz I. It's sold over 150000 copies in the last 14 months since it appeared it's had zero attention from the mainstream media. And I understand that because if this book is true, which is to say, if the people who came to this country from the communist world are telling the truth, then it damage the mainstream media. It dams their woke education system and tells us that we've got a big problem on our hands are very the liberty of our civilization, and the common sense at the heart of our civilization is at stake. So of course, they're not going to pay attention to it. Yet the word is getting out. Anyway, here I am talking to you. I've been talking to people on podcast and small radio shows for the past 14 months. The word is getting out and this is a book of hope. It's a scary thing to face the reality of what's being done with it to implement soft totalitarianism in our society. But the fact that all of these people stood firm in the Soviet bloc and did not bend the knee they suffered, some of them went to jail. Some of them are tortured in jail, but they did not bend the knee and they survived to bury communism. I think that we can do the same here, but it's not going to happen on its own. We have to prepare ourselves for a long, dark age ahead and to be resilient throughout it.

Chris Martenson [00:56:47] Well, this is something I'm concerned about a lot. Sometimes I probably get painted with the same brush you do, which is, Oh, he's a pessimist. Like, No, I'm very optimistic, but I'm a realist. So optimistic, Realist says if we don't deal with reality, it'll deal with us and we will have an uncontrolled collapse into an energy less future, which, by the way, is going to be very dark, right? Very dark. So when I look at the you mentioned the Roman times, I just found out this week I hadn't heard about it before, but the Colosseum had something called a Valeria Monnett, which was an awning that they could pull over the Colosseum if you've been there. It's a big structure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. This thing weighed 24 tons and had some sort of pulley mechanism of ropes that we don't understand because that that didn't get preserved, but they were able to maneuver a 24 ton awning. So I'm just thinking, where did you get 24 tons of fiber? You know who we wove all of that. How did the ropes work? How big are the trees that you had to, you know, erect his poles? Who was responsible for it? You know, when a rainstorm was coming, what decisions were made? There was like all this stuff, and that was just so people could sit comfortably. And it was probably, you know, another thousand years before people worked out that technology again.

Rod Dreher [00:57:54] Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. The the Romans didn't think they could fall. You know, one of the things that concerns me the most is the collapse of the Christian religion in the West. Because I'm a Christian. I think that today we're in a period kind of like the fourth century was for Rome. That was the century in which the the pagan religion, which had been the official religion of Rome for a thousand years or so when it began to transition to Christianity. And the there's a great book called The Final Pagan Generation by a historian named Edward J. What's it's what's went through the the writings of pagan patricians who were alive then to see what their life was like in the fourth century with this massive change coming happening all around them? Guess what, Chris? They didn't see it coming. They thought that everything was basically as it always was. It's been like this. We've had these gods, these household gods, for a thousand years. Well. For a thousand more, these Christians are just one are just part of the mix. By the end of that century, though, the Empire had flipped completely and pagan Roman paganism died out. I feel that we are we may be in a similar situation today with Christianity and the West, and so many Christians are just sitting there like like knots on a log thinking, Well, it's always going to be this way. You know, the bad things can't happen to us. We're America. Guess what? Solzhenitsyn says? Do not. Don't whistle past the graveyard.

Chris Martenson [00:59:30] Well, let's talk about the timing of all this then, because I think it's easy for me to slip into the own importance of my life and think, Well, it must be happening because, you know, I'm alive. It did take the Romans quite a while to sort of decay. Do you think things might be in a faster pace these days because of just how complex it is? I mean, population has doubled from three billion to seven point eight billion in my lifetime, and that's an extraordinary. We haven't had to contend with sort of the scope and scale of these challenges plus. Well, now everything sort of linked up electronically, so our banking system could collapse literally in three nanoseconds if it chose to. So do you think the pace could be really what? I guess I'm asking is a version of the Hemingway quote, which is How did you go broke, sir? And he said slowly, then all at once. Is that how you would see this too or differently?

Rod Dreher [01:00:24] Yeah, no. I think it could fall apart much more quickly than than the Romans did, in part because, as you say, everything is so complex and so dependent on electronics. If we become a cashless society, which is why we're heading towards what happens when the electricity goes off. You know, if we transition our cars all to electric cars, which seems to be happening again, what happens when there's no power anymore? Perhaps even more seriously. I grew up out in the country. My dad was a country boy born in the Great Depression. He knew how to do things. He was college educated, but he knew how to fix cars, how to put in a garden and how to hunt how to fish. All of these things that have been lost in my generation, he tried to get me interested in them, but I was just interested in going to college and moving to the city and having a big life that my generation and our kids generation have lost most of that practical knowledge that enabled country people to survive. I think that if we do get a rapid collapse, it's going to be bloody. It's going to be crushing. And the only people who will be are the people who'll be best placed to survive. Are these country people who have learned how to do things?

Chris Martenson [01:01:38] Well, I I certainly agree that that would be a good hedging strategy. I we promote people building up eight forms of capital because a lot of people think, well, I've got a nice 401k, I have a buffer financial capital, it's helpful. But as you mentioned in a blink of an eye, under some circumstances, maybe it goes from very helpful to being nothing. Very quickly. So we talk about seven other forms of capital. Material capital, important, you know, do you actually have a functioning car or tractor or whatever, you know, good living capital, which would be your own health and the state of the soil in your garden and things like that? Increasingly, though, I realize that your social capital is probably the most critical factor in this whole story. And as well, we talk about emotional and spiritual capital as a category. I think those honestly, if you could be rich in every form of material and financial capital, but if you fall apart or you don't can't process what's happening to you, I think you'll be poorly positioned for it. So how would people in your mind go about how to how do you go about building up that those forms of capital?

Rod Dreher [01:02:42] Mm-Hmm. I'm really bad about it because of the work I do. I'm a writer and I have to tear myself away from the laptop and get out of my head and go out and see actual people in my church. And we have a pretty strong community. It's a small church, but that that counts for something. But for me, since I've been living in Baton Rouge, I really struggle with this because I do work from home and I've worked from home for the last decade. My wife teaches in a school and she's got lots of friends from the school, but I notice that I have this conversation with other friends of mine who are in the same situation. We're really feel we feel so isolated at home and there seems to be no, no easy way out of this. So I can recognize a problem in myself, Chris, and it concerns me. But you know, I have to say it. I don't know that this is just urban people like me. I can remember when I was a kid growing up in the 70s in this rural town. Every weekend, somebody was having a fish fry or crawfish boil or barbeque. Some reason for all the other people to come over and the kids to play till midnight in the yard just to be together. This was considered what you did. My generation went off to college and I can remember coming home from college in the late 80s and seeing that suddenly little satellite dishes were starting to pop up everywhere. And within a few years, our parents weren't seeing each other again because they were all at home watching satellite TV. And I was able to watch the community began to unwind slowly because of technology. Now again, nobody was holding a gun to the head of these people, making them do this, but it was happening anyway. I remember back in gosh, was it 2008 when Hurricane Watch some big hurricane came through South Louisiana and knocked out power to my hometown for two weeks? My sister was still living there and she said, You know what? We would get together at night. Everybody in the community, nobody had power. We all had meat that was that was thawing out and we would build a fire and cook the meat and just sit around and talk. Somebody would go like sixty miles away to get an ice chest or an ice down, coke and beer and things like that. We were just there with each other every night, she said. By the end of it, I was really glad for the air conditioner. Come on because this was hot. But she said, I really missed that fellowship that we had. Well, guess what? The fact that the lights are back on didn't mean you had to stop getting together, but that's what people did. It's something about our nature, and I'm just as guilty as anybody else.

Chris Martenson [01:05:13] I'm glad to hear you say all that because I resemble a lot of that, and I had exact same experience. I was went to Duke University. I lived in a little town called Pittsboro 1989 Hurricane Hugo. We're three hours from the coast. But he was still a bad boy when he came over created pick up sticks with all our trees. Two weeks without power. If I went back 15 years after that event and everybody still talked about those two weeks, right? That was our high point. Like all, remember, and because it was great, we were doing the same thing. All the meats thawing, we're cooking it. We were helping each other. We were chainsaw on trees off of each other's yards. It was great. And then the power came back on in the blue glow, came out of the living room and everybody wandered back inside. And if I went back there today, 30 years later, we probably still talk about it, you know?

Rod Dreher [01:05:57] Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, that's a great quote by Balzac to French writer, he said. Hope is memory plus desire. And I really love that because it means that if we can remember things like what you experienced during Hugo on what my family experienced during that hurricane down here and we desire to rebuild that, then we can do it. There's nobody making us or preventing us from doing these things. It's just our own lack of imagination and lack of drive. I could remember well back in our cash around the year 2000 2001, I was living in New York City. I was a Catholic back then and we used to have had my Catholic friends would come over and we'd cook and wet, open some wine and just start complaining about the church, all of us conservative Catholics. We had a priest over one night who was conservative, too. He was our age. He said, Guys, everything you say about how bad the bishops are, how loud the church is, it's all true. But it was true when I was a kid too, and my parents realized they couldn't rely on the system, the Catholic system, to educate me and my sister. So they did it themselves, and it was so much more difficult for them back. The priest went on to say all you guys have to do is go on Amazon.com and you can have a library sent to you overnight that would have made a clients blush. It would be so complete and you have the chance to meet each other online and to find other parents who believe in the church the way you do, blah blah blah. And I can remember listening to him thinking, You know, he's right, he's right. This is a failure of imagination on our part. But did we do anything with it? No. We went right back to complaining about the church. I made a big mistake there, and I would hope that that your listeners won't make that same mistake. Now we have. Things are really bad, but there is. There's so many reasons to hope. We have so many resources available to us online. This very thing that's tearing our society apart in many ways. The internet also gives us the resources that we need to be resilient in it. And I'm really glad to have learned about your show, Chris, and that people are learning wisdom through what you're saying here. And it's the kind of thing that we're going to need in the days to come because this is not going to last forever. I think we can all see that it might not even last another 30 years. We're going to have to pay the piper. There will be a reckoning. But the good news is the hopeful news is we can come through that.

Chris Martenson [01:08:17] Well, you mentioned Americans may be overly or even misplaced faith in technology. All technology is a two edged sword to me. There's never just a Oh, isn't this great? Look how you know, people hold up the phone. I call it, I call it the smartphone moment when I'm trying to talk to people about oil and they whip out their smartphone and they go, I think you're forgetting about this, right? Like what? You know, this thing that consumes electricity and doesn't produce any? No, I'm not forgetting about that. I understand it's an amazing piece of progress, but in that myth of progress and faith in technology is this is this unwillingness, as you mentioned, like, you're willing to look at the rest of the story here in this book. I think there's an unwillingness to look at that double edged sword of technology, if we're honest. We say these things are bad for us on balance, or maybe they're bad, they should be like cigarets, you have to be 21 to operate one because because I see kids today are hopelessly disconnected from self and other principally as a function of if I had my smartphone, it would be in my hand.

Rod Dreher [01:09:17] Yeah, no. There is a reason why we've had this explosion of gender dysphoria among junior high schoolers. In the era of the smartphones, smart phones didn't come online until 2007. That's when the iPhone was was introduced. And now we have a generation raised on the phone and they are depressed. They're alienated from their own bodies. I talked this past summer. Last summer I was in Slovenia, this country forum in the former Yugoslavia. I was talking to a man, a Catholic man, who said he was my translator at a lecture I was given. He said, My wife and I, you know, we're churchgoing people, but we got. Our 11 year old daughter, a smartphone within a few months, she had made contact with a couple of older teenagers in the U.S. and Oregon, and they began talking to her about gender identity and in how she needed to choose her gender identity, something that was just unknown in their town, right? He said she became so depressed she didn't want to go to school, she didn't want to eat, and she still locked in his depression and are trying to reach her. It all happened because of the smartphone. Now this was they shouldn't have been giving an 11 year old a smartphone in the first place. Nevertheless, everybody else was doing that there. And I, you know, I was talking to a guy just a couple of weeks ago having dinner with a friend in New Orleans who is a CEO of a company that has developed some anti-porn software that really works for your phones, for your kids phones. And he was telling me statistics, Chris, about how the erectile dysfunction in 20, 21, 22 year old men because of constant porn use. I mean, what kind of civilization sees its most virile young men, sees them watching porn and then losing their ability to desire to desire women and to produce the next generation? What kind of civilization can look at that without a sense of panic? But that's us. We think that this is always going to go on forever.

Chris Martenson [01:11:16] Well, from the biology side to not to discount that might well in male sperm counts in Western countries, declining 50 percent in the last 40 years. A healthy culture would go This isn't good.

Rod Dreher [01:11:31] Right, right.

Chris Martenson [01:11:32] So we have these environmental insults, be they chemical b they self-induced through the smartphone. But but these would all be things. I think that. So I want to get back to this idea very quickly. As we come into the end, though, I think the most important point for me is I would have classified myself as a classic left of center liberal throughout most of my young adulthood. And then when I really started thinking things through, I don't have a label that fits anymore, except it's no longer left right up down. I value truth, I value beauty, I value things that really matter to me, which is the ability to have complete freedom. And I am. I'm old enough to understand the more freedom I have, the more responsibility I have to. Those are conjoined concepts, obviously so. But for what is conservative mean to you? What does that word mean? Yeah.

Rod Dreher [01:12:20] Well, I should say I call myself a conservative, but I left the Republican Party in 2008, and I try to vote for the candidate who is the most honest and the one I think is going to look out for for my best interests. But what does conservatism mean to me? It means being able to look back at the past and value things in the past as being things that were handed on to me, handed on to all of us and that we have a responsibility to guard. And if there are some traditions that no longer serve our common good, then yes, we can change some way. Being a conservative doesn't mean everything has to be frozen. But it is. I think conservatism is more of a of a temperament of an approach to life of a if if it ain't broke, don't fix it. As opposed to progressives who think that life all way, that the world always needs to be reformed, usually radically. But I got to tell you, as someone who is a conservative, I become really alienated from a lot of the Republican Party and people on my side who don't seem to understand the role that that capitalism and I'm a capitalist, but they don't seem to understand the role that capitalism unbound plays in in eradicating families, communities and the kind of institutions that civilization requires in order to survive. So what I look forward to is a conservatism. I hope it arises a popular conservatism that does pay more attention to the things that we need to be resilient and to survive and doesn't just call self-indulgence by right wing people conservatism because it's not. I wrote this book in 2006, my first book called Crunchy Cons, and it's about how I realized that I was pro-environment and pro small business pro neighborhoods and old buildings. Not because I was any kind of liberal, but because of the kind of conservative I was, the conservative who wanted to conserve things that were good, true and beautiful, and who saw on the Democrat side, but also among many on the Republican side enemies of these so-called permanent things.

Chris Martenson [01:14:36] Well, right. I can't improve on any of that. We've been talking with Rod Dreher. He's the author of Live Not By Lies. Great book. You can see I've got all my. I've been taking notes, so that's how I know a good book because I start taking notes. So thank you for writing that. Thank you for your time today. Glad to meet you. I'm going to count you among my friends now, and I hope. We can do this again.

Rod Dreher [01:14:55] Absolutely, I'm going to start watching, watching your show and then following you because I didn't know who you were before, but I now know that I need to be paying attention to you to look out for myself and my own family.

Chris Martenson [01:15:08] Well, thank you. Good to talk to you, and we'll do it again soon. All right.

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