Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative and has recently joined the Substack “ecosystem” like so many other prominent journalists and writers.
Being conservative these days in the US is a perilous business: you’re threatened every step of the way by “woke” saboteurs manning the trenches of traditional liberal media, which have surrendered completely to “diversity” and “inclusion” and almost exclusively promote people of (mainly black) color (irrespective of talent).
In the olden days, a primary job for political commentators/writers/journalists, who kept an eye on the world and America’s politico-strategic interests, was monitoring the USSR’s flagship newspapers like Pravda and Izvestia. This was a rather “orderly” business: Soviet motifs were well established; and everybody knew news flowing from Moscow was basically propaganda concocted by party hacks closely associated with the agitprop organs of the Kremlin.
With the advent of “woke” schizophrenia in the US, those who still remember “the Moscow days” have no trouble identifying strong similarities between Soviet communist practices and the deranged tactics of US “wokeness” today. The aims of both were/are practically the same:
Relentless attack upon those who dare question the edicts of accepted dictated “truth,” and the world views emanating thereof;
demonization, vilification, and degradation of the “enemies of the people,” who, in today’s America, are those who reject “wokeness” and its sweeping attacks upon social and political norms rejecting political, social, and ethical degeneracy and deviance;
and tight totalitarian control of the public forum enforced by the ubiquitous personal and professional ostracism of those who refuse to see “reason” and bend the knee before the “woke” terrifying new world.
Dreher’s reasoned analysis of why so many writers, both known and unknown, are joining Substack is long but beautifully constructed and richly reasoned. I highly recommended it.
The Substack Threat
You will by now have heard that a number of marquee writers are moving over to the Substack model. Substack is a platform for writers to publish newsletters that go out to subscribers. Usually these subscribers pay some amount (the least you can charge is five dollars per month) for exclusive access to the content. It has drawn some big names. Former National Review writers Jonah Goldberg and David French, among others, are doing very well with The Dispatch, their political newsletter (which is now the No. 1 Substack in the country). Andrew Sullivan, angry that New York magazine wouldn’t let him write critically of the Black Lives Matter protests and race riots, jumped to Substack and has tripled or quadrupled his income. Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi went Substack, and the other day, so did Vox co-founder Matt Yglesias.
I started a Substack about three weeks ago, to do a different kind of writing from what you see on this blog. I wanted a place for my less polemical and more reflective writing. For now, I’m sending it out for free, and have about 3,400 subscribers. But I’m putting a lot into it after I finish my day’s work here at TAC, so I’m going to start charging before long, because I need to replace my sidestream of speaking income lost to Covid. Check out Daily Dreher to see what you think. To repeat: on this TAC blog, I write a lot about the culture war, politics, and so forth, but on the Substack I step a bit back from the heatedness of these topics. If you come here for hot takes alone, you might not like Daily Dreher. But I’m finding that certain readers appreciate the more conversational, less combative tone and content of Daily Dreher. I want to emphasize, though, that unlike Sullivan, I did not start my Substack because people at my magazine were trying to censor me. TAC has been and continues to be a great place to work.