On Tyranny – Read It Now

On his CNN show last Sunday, Fareed Zakaria recommended that viewers read On Tyranny, by noted Yale University Professor of History, Timothy Snyder. You can read about him here: http://history.yale.edu/people/timothy-snyder.

The subtitle of the 126-page book is “Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.” Using examples from the history of Europe and other places where dictatorships and far-right authoritarian regimes have arisen, Snyder sets out advice, well-grounded in history, of how people in the United States should respond to the threats to democracy that are now flourishing in the United States. Some of the “lessons” may seem simple in their expression, but Snyder powerfully connects them to historical experience elsewhere. It is a “how to” guide to resisting the slide toward authoritarian governance.

The compelling first chapter, for example, is entitled “Do not obey in advance” and explains the concept of “anticipatory obedience” and where it can lead. I found Chapter 17 particularly compelling. It’s titled “Listen for dangerous words” and explains it this way:

“A Nazi leader out-maneuvers his opponents by manufacturing a general conviction the present moment is exceptional, and then transforming that state of exception into a permanent emergency. Citizens then trade real freedom for fake safety.” [On Tyranny at 100].

On Tyranny is an important work that should be read by everyone interested in the disrupted and disruptive political situation faced by the United States under the Trump administration.

I have thought a lot about the source of this book’s power. In part, I think, it derives from the very brevity of the messages and supporting material. The 126 pages are only 4.5 by 6.75 inches – you can carry in the back pocket of your jeans

But the call-outs are not merely cheap and easy aphorisms. They are deep concepts that should be absorbed and acted upon by all who want to preserve the Land of the Free. If you are concerned about what is happening to America under the Trump administration, you should read this book. You can find it here: http://amzn.to/2ouLXHs and here: http://bit.ly/2oRXmx8.


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