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Home/Rod Dreher/This Diabolical Moment

This Diabolical Moment

If you haven’t yet listened to the podcast interview that Kale Zelden and I did with “Helena,” a 23 year old woman who has detransitioned from transgender to biological female. I cannot urge you strongly enough to do it. You might think you have a good handle on this phenomenon, but I guarantee that most of you do not. I did not, though I read about this stuff all the time:

Helena is not a religious believer (I asked, at the end), but Kale and I are, and we both believe in the reality of the demonic. After we finished the interview, we both talked offline about how gobsmacked we were about the spiritual warfare aspect of what Helena had told us.

In explaining how she fell into believing that she was really male, she talked about the role of Tumblr culture — the online website that has been influential in convincing young women to transition. To sum up, she said that it’s an extremely intense but cultlike culture that draws in vulnerable young women who are unsure of themselves, and desperate for community and approval. She said that within that culture, everything that normie culture considers to be good — Christianity, sex with love and tenderness, etc — is considered evil. She explains that she was taught by that culture that extreme, painful, pornographic sex was good, and that if she wasn’t prepared to submit to it, no man would ever love her. The culture overwhelmed her, and all those in it, with information, a maelstrom that confused them and caused them to submit to ideas and practices that enslaved them to their disordered passions. (This is not quite how she described it — I mean, using that language — but that’s what she talked about.) In other words, this culture shattered the inner lives of the teenage girls who participate in it by telling them that they are worthless, and can only be made worthy if they remake themselves according to its rules.

As Helena talks about the process of surrendering to this, chills ran up and down my spine, literally. She is not a religious person, and couldn’t have understood what she was saying in a religious context. But if you know anything about the literature of demonic possession, the narrative she told is very close to what happens in a case of possession. At one point she talks about how she gave herself over to these thoughts, and before she knew what was happening, they were controlling her.

Yep.

At one point, she says, after she had begun her transition, she would be sitting in her apartment for hours, fighting the urge to stab the needle from the syringe full of testosterone into her thigh. Everything in her was screaming, “Don’t do it!” she said, but she also had this overwhelming urge to do it, an urge that told her only by submitting to these hormones that were reorienting everything in her mind and body would she be free.

I’m telling you, this is incredibly powerful stuff, Helena’s story. I wish every parent who reads this blog would watch it. I wish every pastor and religious leader, especially those who are tempted to affirm transgenderism, or those who think that it is just a passing fad, will listen to what Helena has to say. Again, she did not convert to Christianity, nor is she a conservative (though she did say this experience caused her to become extremely critical, in a healthy way, of all ideologies; social justice ideology, she explained, is at the heart of Tumblr culture). She’s just a brave and extremely articulate young woman who talks about what happened to her. It’s also shocking and depressing to hear her talk about how in her school, the adults in her life — guidance counselors especially — pushed her to embrace this identity, thinking they were helping her.

Anyway, Helena’s story makes it clear that we are living in an acutely demonic moment in our culture. I mean that in a literal sense, but even if you don’t believe in the reality of malevolent discarnate beings who seek our destruction, you can and should still interpret this cultural moment as demonic in the sense Dostoevsky meant in his great novel, Demons, also called in English The Possessed. According to the Wikipedia entry for the book, “For Dostoevsky, ‘ideas’ are living cultural forces that have the capacity to seduce and subordinate the individual consciousness, and the individual who has become alienated from his own concrete national traditions is particularly susceptible.”

This is us. This is who we are today. The family is being dissolved. Male and female are being dissolved. The individual human personality is being dissolved.

I woke up this morning in Budapest to this news from Reuters:

Meta Platforms (FB.O) will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, according to internal emails seen by Reuters on Thursday, in a temporary change to its hate speech policy.

The social media company is also temporarily allowing some posts that call for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, according to internal emails to its content moderators.

“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.

The calls for the leaders’ deaths will be allowed unless they contain other targets or have two indicators of credibility, such as the location or method, one email said, in a recent change to the company’s rules on violence and incitement.

Citing the Reuters story, Russia’s embassy in the United States demanded that Washington stop the “extremist activities” of Meta. read more

“Users of Facebook & Instagram did not give the owners of these platforms the right to determine the criteria of truth and pit nations against each other,” the embassy said on Twitter in a message that was also shared by their India office.

The temporary policy changes on calls for violence to Russian soldiers apply to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine, according to one email.

Facebook is giving permission for people to call for death to Russians. Do you see what’s happening? They are deciding what kind of hatred is permissible in the biggest public forum on the globe. Look, I totally understand wanting Russian invaders to be repelled violently. Russian soldiers deserve it; they have no right to be in Ukraine. But that’s not what this is really about. What this is about is a global media platform choosing to suspend its rules against violent, hateful expression, to justify it when directed against Russians.

Do they do this for expressions of hatred against the Chinese, for what the Chinese government does to Tibetans and Uyghurs? To Saudis, over Yemen? To Muslims, over terrorist attacks carried out by Muslim extremists? No, no, and no. Only Russians, only now.

What is going on? As I wrote in an update to last night’s post, Twitter removed two Russian Embassy tweets offering Russia’s side about the Mariupol hospital bombing. Twitter will not allow the Russians to defend themselves by claiming that the hospital was empty and was being used as a military encampment, thus making it a fair target in the war. Maybe the Russians are lying — but maybe they aren’t. In any case, Twitter has decided what kind of speech about the war will be permitted on its platform — and it’s all directed one way.

How can we not recognize what’s happening here? Even if you deplore the invasion, as I do, you surely must be shocked at how public opinion in the West is being manipulated. Putin is doing the same thing at home, we are told, and I’m quite sure he is. But how does that justify our doing it? Do you really want to be lied to, or told what you can and cannot say? I think many people do. I’m hearing from friends back home in America that war fever is getting intense. One friend said he can’t even talk to his extended family about it; they are allowing themselves to feel pure hatred for the Russians, and to work themselves up into a war fever. The point is not that what the Russians are doing is in any way good. The point is that we are being manipulated into casting aside all restraint and prudence, to give in to our passions. Socrates taught that the tyrant is the least free man, because he is slave to his desires. We are being taught to surrender to our passions, to make ourselves their slave. And for what? So we can rush towards World War III?

Demonic. Putin has unleashed demonic passions with his invasion, and the demons are working on us in the West too.

Remember what I’ve been telling you: Everything being done to the Russian people now will eventually be done to people in the West who dissent from the party line. I have been saying in this space that even though Russia deserves to be sanctioned for its evil invasion, it is utterly chilling how quickly governments and corporations got in line to destroy Russia economically. Corporations have gone far beyond what governments require. They are doing it at their own expense because they believe it to be virtuous. If you have been an observer of woke capitalism, though, you had better be chilled to the bone by how quickly an entire nation has been destroyed economically because capitalists decided that it was the morally correct thing to do. It does not require you to bless the Russian invasion to be in awe and terror at the power of states and corporations to control our economic lives. Yes, Putin brought this on to Russia, but Putin’s evil deed also exposed how shockingly vulnerable we all are in this new world order.

Well, I was at a geopolitics conference yesterday here in Budapest, and imagine my shock when I heard a prominent Hungarian analyst make the same point: that the swiftness with which global corporations got their acts together and moved as one to bring the hammer blow down on Russia, for moral reasons, reveals a terrible power that he (the analyst) doesn’t think we should be sanguine about, despite the fact that it is being used here to punish a bad actor, Russia. He’s right! What do you think is going to happen should Twitter, Facebook, and the rest decide that it is permissible to hate people who hold certain moral, religious, or political views it considers to be “hate”? The stampede to demonize these people will be irresistible. Moreover, corporations, having proven that they are willing to act not in the economic interests of shareholders, but in what they perceive to be the moral interest, to lose business for the sake of making a moral point, will have every incentive to cut deplorables out of commerce, much as they have done to Russia.

Your bank does not have to do business with you, you know. What if you can’t get a bank account because you have been identified as the holder of racist, sexist, anti-gay, conservative opinions? The precedent for acting in such a way to suppress Evil has been set. This is what a social credit system is all about. Open your eyes and look around you: the mechanisms, moral and technological, are being established now, to punish Russia in a way no other nation has been punished, ever.

You might think: Fine by me, Russia deserves it for what it has done. But just you wait: it is going to be turned on many of us.

There is also this, by the invaluable N.S. Lyons, the pseudonymous author of a must-read Substack, The Upheaval. In the one that dropped overnight, he warns against the adoption of Central Bank Digital Currencies. As Lyons explains, CBDCs are now being discussed by the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank as the next step in global finance. Here’s how it works:

A CBDC system would be radically simplified. A customer opens an account directly with a country’s “independent” central bank (let’s say the Federal Reserve), and the central bank issues (creates) digital money (whether denominated as dollars, or FedCoins, or whatever) in that account. This makes the money a direct liability of the Fed, rather than of a private bank. Using digital tools (like say a “FedWallet” app) the customer can initiate direct transactions between Fed accounts. The digital money is deleted in one account and recreated in another essentially instantaneously. No promises or trust is necessary; every transaction is permanently recorded on a digital cryptographic ledger in real time. Kind of like Bitcoin, but exquisitely centrally managed. The Fed retains complete oversight and control over the creation, destruction, and “movement” of money, no matter who “has” it, or where it “is.”

Or as Agustin Carstens, General Manager of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), helpfully put it at a 2020 summit of the International Monetary Fund:

“We don’t know who’s using a $100 bill today and we don’t know who’s using a 1,000 peso bill today. The key difference with the CBDC is the central bank will have absolute control on the rules and regulations that will determine the use of that expression of central bank liability, and also we will have the technology to enforce that… and that makes a huge difference.”

Got that? Central banks would have absolute control over every penny you have. Basically they would do away with cash and make financial transactions much easier. Lyons explains, though, why this would be the greatest expansion of totalitarian power in human history. Elites who control the financial system could alter the digital currencies at will, causing them to hold different values for different people, depending on one’s social status. There is no end of control here. Lyons writes, speculating on how CBDCs could be used:

But why not go higher resolution than that: how about targeted microfinance grants, added straight to the accounts of those people and businesses that are extra deserving? There’s no need to wait for annual tax credits and loopholes when those are now antiquated.

A Fed-funded discount could even be applied to those businesses the people most want to help; Google and Yelp already flag which businesses are or are not black-owned or LGBTQ-friendly, presumably so people can preference their patronage, so why not assist with a little nudge here and there? Or we could go in the other direction and effectively change the price of anything based on the identity of who’s buying it.

Indeed a CBDC could make ending any kind of systemic inequities much easier, and through market friendly means. And as the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has reminded us, after all, being “‘race-neutral’ is not enough” when it comes to monetary and fiscal policy. The central bank could really be doing more in general.

Discriminatory practices like redlining by banks would certainly be a thing of the past; unless of course we wanted to do a little bit of redlining, just to make things a bit more equitable maybe, in which case we could do it, like, super easily.

Prison abolition has proven challenging. But a CBDC could help: just geofence the location within which parolees’ money can be used and not disappear – house arrest will never have been better incentivized! This would also work great in case we wanted to keep people confined to their homes for any other reason.

Should people be incentivized to eat the foods we think it’s best for them to eat? CBDCs can do that. Trying to get people to make reductions in their carbon footprint? CBDCs can help with that too.

But why just focus on individuals? Why not provide preferential financing to companies and investors virtuously meeting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals? This can be finely graded based on how closely they conform to standards.

And we could help nudge consumers away from organizations and businesses that are undesirable, too. Why not collect additional fees for transactions with “risky” businesses or charities that have low ESG scores? Or slow down their transaction speed to allow for greater “verification.” Just as a nudge, of course; people would still have free choice.

In fact why not create comprehensive credit scores based on behavior and number of associational connections with dangerous, risky individuals and organizations? It’s only logical as a next step.

Isn’t this conspiracy theory? How seriously should you take this? On Wednesday, while we are all hanging on news of the war, President Biden issued an executive order directing the federal government to work towards designing and implementing a CBDC system. 

This is happening, right now. I remember when I was a kid, reading a Christian End Times book, and wondering how they could ever come up with a system in which you could not buy or sell unless you had the “mark of the Beast” — meaning, symbolically, that you were a slave to a global system (in the Roman Empire, slaves had tattoos on their foreheads or hands, to mark them as property). Well, now I know. And so do you.

Read it all, and please subscribe to The Upheaval — this is a Substack you cannot afford to miss.

There is a quickening now in the world, on multiple fronts. This would be happening even without the Russian invasion, but it is a prompt, a rationale for its acceleration. Putin, the self-styled great protector of the family and traditional values, is playing an unwitting role in bringing it about. The Russian people are now not allowed to buy or sell in the global economy. And you watch: he is going to learn from his new best friends, the Chinese, how to do this to his own people too — and he, or his successor, will do it, all in the name of fighting the West.

I talk about the coming totalitarianism in Live Not By Lies, and how to start preparing for it. We are now accelerating into that world. What Putin has done is what tyrants have always done: invaded a nation he wanted to subdue by violence. But the swift global response that is destroying his nation’s economy — that’s new. The willingness of corporations to act in unison, beyond government orders, to suffer economically themselves in order to punish a bad actor — that is new too. The power of global communications platforms to decide which narratives will be allowed and which will not, and to suspend rules designed to prevent the expression of violent hatred against others for the sake of allowing Two Minutes Hates directed against Russians — also new. And all this is happening with our suspicions having been disarmed because if you question any of this, what are you, a Putin apologist?

We are being prepared for something. And if you are not preparing for how you and your family are going to live in this diabolical new world order, you are a fool. You might be sitting there thinking that this will all pass you by. It’s going to be a different story twenty years from now, when your child or grandchild tells his teacher that he thinks he’s trans, and your objection to this, and refusal to take him immediately to the trans clinic to start cross-sex hormones, gets you reported to Child Protective Services, and suddenly you find your digital bank account frozen by government order.

This is not crazy speculation. This system is being built right now, this very day. Our passions are being generated and manipulated to manufacture consent to this global system. Fifteen or twenty years ago, I would have laughed at such claims. I don’t anymore. Read the signs of the times. See. Judge. Act.

 

UPDATE: To clarify my remarks above about Helena, I have no idea if what she dealt with was literally demonic. I have no idea if she was “possessed,” though I doubt it, because she was able to get free without intervention from an exorcist. I only wanted to say that the process of what happened to her mimics the process of demonic possession.

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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