On Tyranny

Here are seven favorite quotations from historian Timothy Snyder’s superb short book of the same name:

When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching with torches and pictures of a leader, the end is nigh.

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

Post-truth is pre-fascism.

Before you deride the mainstream media, note that it is no longer mainstream. It is derision that is mainstream and easy, and actual journalism that is edgy and difficult.

Extremism certainly sounds bad, and governments often try to make it sound worse by using the word ‘terrorism’ in the same sentence. But the word has little meaning. There is no doctrine called ‘extremism.’ … In this way the notion of extremism comes to mean virtually everything except what is, in fact, extreme: tyranny.

In the most dangerous of times, those who escape and survive generally know people whom they can trust. Having old friends is the politics of last resort. And making new ones is the first step towards change.

The hero of a David Lodge novel says that you don’t know, when you make love for the last time, that you are making love for the last time. Voting is like that.

We are being lulled – and history suggests that that is just one among many bad signs. Something far far worse than the present is a genuine possibility, and should be taken seriously. (Your house may never burn down, but only fools look back and wish they had not wasted all that money on insurance.)

Before it’s too late, buy copies for all your friends here.