The Benedict Option’s False Premise

Rod Dreher’s book proclaiming that Christians embrace a Benedict Option to separate from society and protect the faith is a wonderful idea. A review thoroughly examining it can be found here with a basic message of “Dreher’s not going far enough”. Dreher is an easy target, but the subject of this essay is the shaky foundation that Dreher rests his idea on: the parallel polis.

Dreher has admitted to being influenced by Vaclav Benda, creator of the parallel polis idea, and in the Benedict Option, one can see it clearly. The parallel polis is an appealing idea of creating parallel institutions that people could find refuge in from a totalitarian regime. The totalitarianism of the Soviet sponsored communist regimes did allow for some cracks, but Benda’s crowd had limited success. Once the Soviet sponsored regimes were dissolved, some dissident groups with American aid became parts of governing coalitions. Benda’s crowd was one such group, but they did not meet with electoral success.

Benda’s parallel polis is appealing to dissidents struggling through the liberal dark ages, but the game has changed. Look over Benda’s list for parallel institutions and laugh at the goals while facing 1970s technology and the Soviet style communism that is not as all encompassing as our progressive societies. Advocate for civil rights and be branded an outcast. Parallel education is possible with homeschooling but not much else nor is parallel science possible. A parallel information system gets scrubbed by Big Tech and labeled hate facts. Parallel economy? Enjoy getting the cancelled letter from Chase the moment they disapprove of your politics. A common Internet meme is to see the progressives do a phone call campaign or just send a few tweets and magically, some corporation jumps and answers their wishes. The response “if you don’t like it build your own ___”.

With the rate progressive totalitarian policies and behavior is going, build your own society is next. This of course would be separatism, which the left will absolutely not allow. Oh no no no, they need your tax dollars and services for now, and will not tolerate you not being under their thumb. You may be an evil racist moron, but they still need you. Dreher’s desire for separation would require a level of separation beyond the parallel polis. It would have to be economically self-sufficient like a homestead or compound, which one can ask the efficacy of to any of the FBI’s and ATF’s victims of the last generation.

There is a lie throughout Dreher’s work. At any moment, he could arrange with his fellow Orthodox parishioners a housing development. They could pool resources with the church’s assistance to buy land, employ architects, contractors and build a small community. They could pick out land in a favorable area and would be astounded how cheap they could build an Ortho-land. He does not because defection from society and coordination like this is difficult. It takes an institutional leader, not a writer LARPing as an Orthodox member. Dreher and his readers may want this but it is merely a wish for they have not the will.

The parallel polis is not capable in the mental and spiritual totalitarian culture we live in today. The simplest sign of this is how family members will no longer agree to disagree or reveal basic opinions on topics because of fear of shaming and ostracism. Perhaps the better parallel polis is to let your immediate circle be aware that you reject this game. They can be free to share with you. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s with a good joke at the lunacy of Caesar’s latest proclamations but build the safe ground under your feet. If you create a spiritual and mental safe space in your presence, one that is true and will not back down at the first sign of pressure, others will crowd around you. Like an inkblot, the more added will make it grow until it has covered the page.

-By Fred Watson, Jr. and originally published at The American Sun


  1. Yep. They still need your tax dollars because, well, you are one of the few who still create real wealth, and therefore pay any (honest to God taxes). This is a principle that modern liberal man (right or left) has a very hard time wrapping his head around; the idea that if a man is “gainfully employed” he is not necessarily paying any taxes. But strive always to “render unto Caesar” that which actually belongs to Caesar, and nothing more.

    I don’t like big corporations anymore than the next guy, but I always find it extremely humorous when some jackass government apparatchick screeches about them (or the wealthy, or whatever) not paying their “fair share” of taxes. Meanwhile, Mr. average govt. worker never minds paying his “fair share” of taxes; indeed, he is more than willing to pay his “fair share,” and then some. So he says, anyway. Sometimes I wonder whether people can really be so damn dense as to believe a man employed in an inherently unproductive occupation can possibly pay his “fair share” of taxes. Then reality sets in and the answer is an emphatic, “yes, they can.”

    But to stay on topic, the fundamental thing to keep in mind here is that liberals cannot survive without big-C Conservatives to essentially pay their way. They love to “create” government jobs for themselves and force productive people to pay their salaries and benefits, as well as the so called “taxes” deducted from those salaries. Meanwhile, forty percent (give or take) of the population cannot possibly pay one-hundred percent of all the national debt, the accumulation of unfunded liabilities and blah blah, but they still need your taxes to pay the interest on that debt and keep the system functioning and “viable,” for the time being and as long as it can last. They make examples out of certain productive people because they can better afford to lose a few while they “pay their debt to society” in prison for a few years, or are otherwise murdered, than to lose a bunch. So there ya go.

    Anyway, for anyone interested in this subject (which has been discussed at length in other places), here is a link to a Zippy Catholic article on the topic of the so called Benedict Option and why it’s inherently rife with problems. Take your time and read all of the links:

    The main thing for the average guy is to think of himself as a kind or type of “liberal alcoholic,” and ultimately to give up liberalism cold turkey. You can do it, but you also have to be smart about it as well. It’s easier for someone like myself who is self-employed; much more difficult for one who is not. That is a big reason why I never criticize guys in the movement who write under assumed names or aliases or whatever. Meanwhile, I totally agree with the advice in the O.P. to start building these coalitions at the very smallest level. i.e., within your own family and circle of influence. Get married early young southern man, have a bunch of kids and train them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Easier said than done? Well, maybe, but it has to be done, and you are the ones called to do it.

  2. I can’t tell if this article is suggesting that a “sepratist” life is attainable or if it is not attainable. The bulk of the article seems to imply it’s not, but the last few lines suggest that it is, at least, the psychological roots of such a life is, and ought to be pursued and attained.

    I’d argue, and strongly, that it’s not only what we *ought* to be pursuing, but that it is the easiest, most pragmatic, and attainable course of action right now.

    Homeschooling was mentioned, but that’s a big step down the road to separation. There are many smaller precursor steps – turning off the television for example. Moreover, it is still completely legal to pursue many economic independence options, including Nelson Nash’s strategy of infinite banking, and being savvy about the tax-code (to avoid paying as many taxes as possible).

    This idea – a series of “micro-secessions” and utilizing a grey-market – is far superior to the pleb-tier idea of creating our own massive counter-state. Creating a counter-state requires trillions of dollars, and likely, a very real cost of life, blood, and wealth. A series of micro-secessions, on the other hand, can be done now, legally, and, relatively-speaking, very cheaply. If done successfully, we might even discover we don’t need a “state” at all.

    1. Encouraging to see someone mentioning Nelson on this blog (he died recently by the way in case you haven’t heard). Using life insurance, trusts, real estate, and other tax-advantaged strategies to grow and protect wealth from government confiscation is an important component of any family’s long-term planning. For now, these strategies aren’t going anywhere, as all of our elites are using them for their own benefit. By getting savvy about these financial tools we can prepare ourselves, our communities, and our descendants for the coming disaster.

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