Did I just read this? Or am I imagining it?
. . . public atheist Pullman says he isn’t perturbed at all by the complete excision of theocratic corruption in the film because all forms of totalitarianism are the same.
Except they’re not. Life in a theocracy means everyone – not just members of the Communist party or the military junta – must live out the philosophy of the rulers every day of their lives. There is a peculiarity to a complete absence of the separation of church and state that doesn’t prevail in a communist or a fascist state. When there is no distinction between religious and secular power, it’s not enough to obey the rules, you have to believe in them, too. Theocracies are obsessed with sexuality in a way that common or garden totalitarianism is not. Women get a spectacularly raw deal in a theocratic state, which is what makes Mrs. Coulter such a notable character; she plays the religious hierarchy at their own game and wins, albeit at a terrible cost.
I'm sure the victims of the Khmer Rouge, the Great Leap Forward, the Stalinist purges, and the Holocaust would be surprised to hear that they didn't have to live out the regime's ideology in their everyday lives.