Listening In preview – Rod Dreher


MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Coming up next, a preview of Listening In.

This week, a conversation with conservative author Rod Dreher. He believes a “soft totalitarianism” is taking hold in America. In this excerpt of the conversation, host Warren Smith asks Dreher to define terms.

WARREN SMITH: You talk about hard totalitarianism, soft totalitarianism, and authoritarianism. Would you kind of define and position those phrases against each other. 

ROD DREHER: Sure, yeah. This is important to get clear. Authoritarianism is a form of government that you have when all the political power is concentrated in one leader or one party. Totalitarianism is an extreme form of authoritarianism. And that’s when the same political power is concentrated, but every aspect of life is taken to be political. Where they really want to control reality. 

Well, I believe that what the what Solzhenitsyn and the communist anti-communist dissidents lived under was hard totalitarianism. It was a totalitarianism characterized by a police state, by the gulags, by prisons for political dissidents, by secret police and torture. 

We don’t have that. We have rather, a softer form of totalitarianism, where the not only the state, but major institutions like Google, Amazon, like universities, like media and others, are manufacturing consent and making it impossible to for people who don’t go along with their official lies–for example, or usually with identity politics–they’re making it impossible for people who refuse to go along with that, to work and to be part of the public square. 

They’re doing this not with the use of secret police or these hard methods, but rather by soft methods, like–well, it doesn’t seem very soft if you’re canceled, but that’s that’s what I’m talking about. By cancel culture, by credentialism. I think it’s going to be difficult, for example, for Christians to practice law or get into medicine if they don’t affirm some things that Christians can’t affirm. 

And finally, I call it soft because it’s being done for the sake of therapy. These totalitarians say that we’re doing it just to make a safer space for marginalized identities, that sort of thing. It makes it no less totalitarian Warren that they’re doing it for soft reasons, using softer methods.


BASHAM: That’s Rod Dreher talking to Warren Smith. To hear the complete conversation, look for Listening In tomorrow wherever you get your podcasts.


(Photo/Max Bechrer, The Washington Post, Getty) Rod Dreher

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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