On Tyranny


Libraries and book stores are full of books explaining what and why the social and economic worlds are the way they are. In many cases there is much supporting information about the environment around the problem, but not much about the problem, or issue. Recently, my wife ran across a review of the small book listed below, bought a couple of copies, and read one. She was most impressed and (highly) recommended that I read it, which I eventually did. In the meantime she bought several copies, one of which we sent to our Marine grandson. He took it to the office to read in his spare time, began it that morning and didn’t put it down until he had finished it shortly before lunch. He then gave it to his office mate and insisted that he read it.

There are twenty topics, framed as orders. Each one has from a half to two page comment that explains what Snyder intends each topic statement to mean. If there is a repository of advice about dealing with what is happening in this country, for me this is it.

(I have included three samples from his lessons)

On Tyranny; Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century
Timothy Snyder

Do Not Obey In Advance
Defend Institutions
Beware the One Party State

The parties that remade states and suppressed rivals were not omnipotent from the start. They exploited a historic moment to make political life impossible for their opponents. So support the multi-party system and defend the rules of democratic elections. Vote in local and state elections while you can. Consider running for office.

Take Responsibility For The Face Of The World
Remember Professional Ethics
Be Wary Of Paramilitaries
Be Reflective If You Must Be Armed
Stand Out
Be Kind To Our Language
Believe In Truth

To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.

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 alert for the use of the words extremism and terrorism. Be alive to the fatal notions of emergency and exception. Be angry about the treacherous use of patriotic vocabulary.

Be Calm when The Unthinkable Arises
Be A patriot
Be As Courageous As you Can

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