Yale University historian Timothy Snyder wrote a short book called On Tyranny that’s quite good. Each of its 20 chapters explains a way to preserve freedom and civilized society in the face of attacks by tyrannical government.
The book came out in 2017, so it’s clearly meant as a warning about The Devil Trump. But apart from the author’s political partisanship, the content is valid. And it’s a quick read.
None of it is about 2021, of course, but a lot of it could be:
- “Do not obey in advance.”
- “Be wary of paramilitaries.”
- “Believe in truth.”
- “Make eye contact and small talk.”
- “Be a patriot.”
Chapter 17 isn’t about 2021, but almost sounds like it is:
“The most intelligent of the Nazis, legal theorist Carl Schmitt, explained fascist government. The way to destroy all rules, he explained, was to focus on the idea of the exception. A Nazi leader outmaneuvers his opponents by manufacturing a general conviction that the present moment is exceptional, and then transforming that state into a permanent emergency. Citizens will then trade real freedom for fake safety.”
That sounds uncomfortably recent and familiar. It’s worth pondering.