On Tyranny – Timothy D. Snyder

How Trump got elected will be the genre that just doesn’t die. It seems to pop-up everywhere, and rather by accident it has appeared numerous times within this site in the few months it as been up. Whether we like it or not, that event represents a sea-change to the American political landscape, and it has a good number of people reacting. This thin volume is just one such result.

The thin volume examines is not exactly what it says on the tin. Rather than talking about Tyranny per se, the book offers twenty pieces of advice that, if heeded, can either thwart of slow the progress of Tyranny. Each piece of advice is often accompanied by a vignette offering an explanation on the piece advice (often explaining what the piece of advice will do) or an anecdote about when the advice was lost in recent history, and the troubling consequences therein.

A point to consider about this book is that Donald Trump is never mentioned overtly. He is always there, but never really expressed. I found this Voldermort-ization puzzling, particularly because one knows that this is exactly what the author is alluding to. In fact, there is a certain ponit in the book where it ceases to be about the past and seems to put all its money on the future, almost as if the author was working on a different book before the election of Trump and then suddenly decided to run it into the direction of what was happening in current evens.

The book in itself makes a pretty damning accusation, though it decided to never outright say it: namely, that America is being led to Tyranny by the current administration. It is difficult for me to this too seriously because I have already heard this twice in my life time, once during the Bush administration and once during Obama’s. The book does this subtly, by just letting us know what the lessons from the twentieth century (the book’s subtitle is Twenty lessons from the Twentieth Century) are, and how we can use them to fight the encroaching tyranny.

Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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