Timothy Snyder CBC Radio Interview


These are the “lessons”

Each chapter begins with a kind of lesson. And the following text is a brief elaboration on each of those lessons. His book hit a nerve and he’s spoken internationally about it. The lessons are deceptively powerful. Here they are — you can judge for yourself.

  • Do not obey in advance.
  • Defend institutions.
  • Beware the one-party state.
  • Take responsibility for the face of the world.
  • Be wary of paramilitaries.
  • Be reflective if you must be armed.
  • Stand out.
  • Be kind to our language.
  • Believe in truth.
  • Investigate.
  • Make eye contact and small talk.
  • Practice corporeal politics.
  • Establish a private life.
  • Contribute to good causes.
  • Learn from peers in other countries.
  • Listen for dangerous words.
  • Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.
  • Be a patriot.
  • Be as courageous as you can.

Post-Truth = Pre-Fascism

Fascists despised the small truths of daily existence, loved slogans that resonated like a new religion, and preferred creative myths to history or journalism. They used new media, which at the time was radio, to create a drumbeat of propaganda that aroused feelings before people had time to ascertain facts. And now, as then, may people confused faith in a hugely flawed leader with the truth about the world we all share. Post-truth is pre-fascism.

We can look at Trump pathological lies that Kellyanne Conway calls “alternative truth”. Trump fact checkers cite more than 15,000 lies, exaggeration, distortions and falsehoods since he took office. Some are as blatant as his inauguration crowd size which was easily disprovable to exaggerations and inflation of statistics. Trump loves the “low information voters”, or stupid, bigoted white racists and idiots because they believe his most outrageous lies, like the “birther” lie.

Authoritarianism is on the rise around the world. And Timothy Snyder wants to push back against this tide. A history professor at Yale University who’s written widely on Europe and the Holocaust, takes an unusual approach in his little book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. It’s not a sweeping historical analysis, but a collection of observations and suggestions on what forms resisting authoritarianism can take. Some of them are simple, like reading more, or not repeating popular phrases, or simply believing in the truth. Some are less intuitive, like making more eye contact. This episode features the lecture he gave in Toronto and a follow-up conversation with host Paul Kennedy. **This episode originally aired February 23, 2018.

Published by Frank Farmer

Blog owner, retired professor

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: