Sunday, June 11, 2017

is it too late for the united states?

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth CenturyOn Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a primer on how to avoid letting the United States (and any other democracy) fall into tyranny. He uses the many lessons of the 20th century to demonstrate how easy it is to let democracy slip away. If you don’t think it can happen here, Professor Snyder points out: “The European history of the twentieth century shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary men can find themselves standing over death pits with guns in their hands.”

His prescription isn’t easy. It involves actual thinking and avoiding knee-jerk reactions to every outrage, real or imagined. It involved paying attention to what’s real and ignoring the distractions thrown up by would-be tyrants to obfuscate the real issues. It involves not tolerating bigotry, discrimination, and bullshit, and calling them out wherever one sees it. It involves supporting the real press, the investigative journalists, and other truth tellers.

Snyder points out that tactics employed by Trump during is rallies are precisely the same tactics Hitler used in his rise to power. He cautions that the rise of a paramilitary echoes the SS. And he stresses that so many people allow tyranny to take root because it’s the easy way.

It’s a deeply disturbing book. And painful to read. But also inspiring—there are things we can do to help avoid our slide into tyranny. I wish more people would read it.

posted by lee on 06/11/17 at 04:24 PM

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