Oxford Graduate, Timothy Snyder, a doctor of philosophy in

Oxford Graduate, Timothy Snyder, a doctor of philosophy in modern history writes in 2017 a slim book that can fit alongside your pocket size Constitution “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” In this book Snyder writes about his research in the history of the Holocaust and the interwar of Germany and the horrors that followed, while providing 20 plain and mostly actionable lessons on preventing or at least forestalling the repression of lives and minds.He starts off by talking about how “Americans today are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism or Communism in the twentieth century,” Possibly foreshadowing the possible fall of our democracy as we know it and the birth of system that quite frankly doesn’t work and has proven to not work with the short amount of time that they were able to keep power. They only thing we have going for us that the Europeans might not have saw, is we have already witnessed the fall of the European’s who turned fascist Nazis or communist and we can learn from their experiences. Mark Twain once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes” and lets just hope that we can change they rhymes so it doesn’t mess up our melody. Snyder often dwells on the everyday politics to show the small ways people fend off the encroachment of tyranny. A lot of the power granted to nondemocratic leaders is given freely via “heedless acts of conformity.” He recalls Hitler’s threat to invade Austria and they citizens just looked on, or even joined in as the local Nazis detain the Austrian Jews or robbed them of their things “Anticipatory obedience is a political tragedy,” Snyder writes warning us on the view of conformity and how we shouldn’t be so easy to conform to something new. Conformity is a major lesson Snyder is trying to warn citizens of democracy about. He often says “Thing up your own way of speaking.” He challenges the reader to form their own opinions and own ways of thinking. When we repeat the same words and phrases that appear in the daily media, we are accepting a larger framework permitting a narrow view on society and empowering the strongman and the message they want to get out to the world. We can relate this to the use of propaganda(information to advance the group’s agenda) When a society blindly follows or is persuaded into an agenda by information “spoon fed” to them through media or news, there is a possibility of a cruel and oppressive government aka tyranny. While this isn’t the only and the most favorable possibility, it is definity one that we would like to avoid at all cost.An all powerful state or Leviathan often times leads to a totalitarian state like a Tyranny. When a leader uses coercion rather than persuasion, they might be able to get power easily but it will be very hard to keep power. Machiavelli says that the liberal prince is better and more efficient than the authoritarian prince. The ability to be the fox and the lion at the same time is the best recipe to become the best prince according Machiavelli. Wise the uses of persuasion and Strong though the use of coercion. Now Snyder devotes several of his lessons to a kind of minor choice we all should make, especially ones who are running our country. He argues “The minor choices we make are themselves a kind of vote…our words and gestures or their absence counts very much.” Simple things like making eye contact or being able to obtain a civil conversation he and I agree with is a big part in being a citizen. If people are living in fear of repression they will remember how they were treated back on the “playground” Snyder alludes to Hitler a lot in the book and brings up his language and how he also meant some people and not others. Like it was THEIR fault not OURS. This kind of rhetoric is dangerous and Snyder warns against the treacherous repetitions of patriotic expression and mindless repetition of political catchphrases where it’s from the media or the government. Again “Think up your own way of speaking” he challenges us. When the popular understanding of our administration words and catchphrases like “SAD!” “Fake News!” and when we now are unsure of the concepts of reality and made up nonsense. Some are saying we live in an era of “Post Truth” or as Snyder puts it “Pre Fascism” “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.” This is the 2016 Oxford Word of the Year and ironically Snyder went to Oxford University but that isn’t point. Silly me! However, when we are living in an era which facts are less influential in shaping public opinions than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs is a very scary thing to process. Maybe this tyranny things might be easier to come by than we might think, I mean if all it takes is a crazy motivational speaker to tell us what is true and not true rather than facts and data that it maybe be easier and easier, But let’s just hope that that power doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Or did it, I don’t know.

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