Tyranny, Timothy Snyder

From Timothy Snyder, Yale professor of history:

"the moment where we move [politics] immediately to emotions like offense, is the moment where democracy really is in trouble. [...] If we don't understand that democracy, or more fundamentally the rule of law, is something that requires constant human effort, among other things a human effort at reasonability, if we don't realize that democracy and the rule of law are not the natural results of history but buck up against history all the time and require our input, that's when we really have trouble."

"the idea that politics is not about reasoned dispute towards constructive policy but politics is in fact fundamentally about friends and enemies that's a basic fascist idea"

"the reason why we have law is that law comes before the king or in modern times law comes before the ruler which means law comes before whatever momentary urges the ruler might say that he is embodying. So if we say whatever we think at this particular moment is what goes that means we're saying goodbye to law we're saying goodbye to predictability we're saying goodbye to the basis of the system that we have"

"one of the fundamental question of propaganda is that it always creates a vacuum of responsibility on your side and puts the responsibility on the other side, they must be doing something wrong, they must be pushing us around. It's not that we're taking foolish decisions that are likely to doom our order, it's that someone far away is doing something in accordance with our national stereotypes of them. That's a classic way the propaganda evacuates responsibility, it makes you feel like you're right".

"authoritarianism today depends precisely on citizens thinking I can't do anything, it depends precisely on citizens being willing to adjust to the next outrageous thing and call it normal, it depends precisely on citizens thinking well there's somebody else so there's some other institution who's eventually going to show up and clean this up. If we take those attitudes then everything does get worse".


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