Home/Rod Dreher/‘Lovely People’ & The Social Credit System

‘Lovely People’ & The Social Credit System

Detail from 'Lovely People' by Minna Sundberg

A reader sent me a link to something extraordinary: a short graphic novel called Lovely People, by Minna Sundberg. It’s about life under a social credit system. Excerpts:

“Alizongle” is an amalgam of Alibaba, Amazon, and Google. It’s a shopping behemoth that’s integrated with the State. Here’s a Christian character discovering that the Bible she reads on her device has now been revised, and that if she doesn’t accept the revised version, it will cost her severely in social credit.

 

If you have had trouble wrapping your mind around how a social credit system works, read this graphic novel. Show it to your kids. Tell them that this is what we have to prepare ourselves to fight.

Yesterday I had lunch with two interesting young men traveling through my city on a spring break errand. They are Christian college students who attend two prominent public universities back East. I’ll call them Jack and Ken. They came recommended by a friend who was their teacher in high school. Jack and Ken are fans of my work, and wanted to meet me. I did it as a favor to my friend, their teacher, but it turned out to be a real pleasure for me.

I say “pleasure,” despite the grimness of our discussion. I find that it is always a pleasure to spend time with people who are awake to the harsh reality of what we are facing, and not surrendering to soft totalitarianism. A lot of what Jack and Ken told me was just confirmation of what I already know to be true. But they gave me information that was new to me as well. I did not take notes, so what follows is the best I can remember.

I had not realized how systemic wokeness is. Both young men talked about how everything in their colleges is set up to compel conformity. For example, Jack talked about how at freshman orientation, he and all the other male freshman had to endure days of instruction in how rotten men are, and how they’re all potential rapists. Then, on the last day, they all signed pledges to disrupt masculinity. Jack said he’s ashamed of himself now for signing it, but he was a freshman just starting college, and this was put in front of him.

Ken said that at his university, he has been ashamed this past year to hear himself saying things in class that he doesn’t believe. To voice any kind of dissent from the progressive position on anything is to invite a mob pile-on, he said. But to be silent hurts your grade, which is determined in part by class participation. So you end up saying things you don’t believe for the sake of protecting your grade while also guarding your back from the woke mob attack. Ken is embarrassed for himself for having been so manipulated.

The guys — both Evangelicals — talked about how they’re seeing churches and college ministries collapse in the face of wokeness. One said that in a campus ministry he’s involved with, the ministry took a stance against sexually active gays in leadership. Now there’s a push to have that ministry kicked off campus, and students involved with the ministry are resigning from it. (I looked this up later, and it’s true.) Both men talked about how Critical Race Theory is tearing through churches now, and how it is impossible to discuss or debate it with adherents — in their circles, all white middle class people.

One of them said that he has learned from this experience that for most white middle-class people, church is about affirming what the white middle class thinks is good. When white middle class standards change — as they have for homosexuality, and as they are now doing for race — then churches change too. It’s not about church changing culture; it’s about culture changing the church. This is happening all over. Jack said that Social Justice ideology is parasitically conquering churches and church organizations to which his generation belongs.

“When you have been raised in suburban Evangelicalism,” said Jack, “when church group is about not much more than hanging out with your friends, playing a few games, and talking about your feelings, you end up craving something that gives you an experience of depth and moral purpose. That’s why so many of my generation are falling for BLM and social justice. It gives them the challenge that they’ve been dying to have, but have never gotten from anything at church.”

We talked also about their Christian high school, which started out as traditional and conservative, but which is becoming woke under pressure from parents to provide their kids for middle-class success. We discussed how many conservative Christian parents claim that they want a Christian education for their kids, but what they really want is the same experience they could get in a public or secular private school, with a little Jesus sauce on top.

What I took away from this lunch conversation with these two exceptionally mature young men is the truth of Conquest’s Second Law of Politics: Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing. And I got a better understanding of why we will have a social credit system in this country sooner rather than later: the woke gatekeepers are discipling a generation of conformists, and making the cost of dissent higher than most are willing to pay.

These two young men struck me as the kind of people who have seen the future the world is planning for them, and who have decided to dissent. They both said that The Benedict Option andLive Not By Lies have been key for them. One of the guys said that at a coffee shop he likes to frequent, the owner keeps a stack of Live Not By Lies, and passes them out to patrons he thinks would benefit from reading it. I forgot to ask the name of that coffee shop, so Ken, if you’re reading this, write me to tell me. I would like to contact the owner to thank him.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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