On Tyranny shook me. It’s supposed to do that. Timothy Snyder offers 20 concrete actions to take that can resist tyrannical behavior. Some of the actions he recommends are internal – such as believe in truth. However, he also takes that thought process and suggests external changes or stands you can take. For example, subscribe and support investigative print journalism.
Snyder compares today to a variety of twentieth-century regimes, and the historical parallels are chilling. As you can imagine, Snyder draws extensively from the Third Reich and Holocaust. However, he also references Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and Putin’s Russia. Each moment in history is directly connected to current events – there’s no mistaking the relevance.
For me, one key takeaway was Snyder’s recommendation to get out from behind our computers and make human connections. (Yup, I see the irony of blogging this review!) It’s one thing to hashtag #resist and wholly another to get involved in resistance-oriented conversations and organizations in your local community. He also reminds his readers that totalitarian regimes use personal information against their citizens. Maybe it isn’t such a good thing to post every little event of our lives on social media.
In terms of writing style, Snyder’s professorial roots show. But there are no trick questions or hidden meanings, just straight out information that’s beyond important. I found it interesting that Snyder never once uses the current U.S. president’s name. He never capitalizes the word president. He’s making it clear where he stands in the #notmypresident movement, without ever resorting to a hashtag.
This is 128 pages we all need to read often in the next four years. Once we read it, taking action is the next and more critical step.