on Tyranny (20 lessons from the 20th century)
Timothy Snyder, 2017
Leszek Kolakowski, Polish philosopher,
In politics, being deceived is no excuse.We learn history not in order to know how to behave or how to succeed, but to know who we are.The destructive work of totalitarian machinery, whether or not this word is used, is usually supported by a special kind of primitive social philosophy. It proclaims not only that the common good of ‘society’ has priority over the interests of individuals, but that the very existence of individuals as persons is reducible to the existence of the social ‘whole’; in other words, personal existence is, in a strange sense, unreal. This is a convenient foundation for any ideology of slavery.
Do not obey in advance.
Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then offer themselves without being asked. A citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do.
be kind to our language.
Make an effort to separate yourselves from the internet. read books.
In daily media, everything happens fast, but nothing actually happens.
Video may constrain our thinking because much more things are not ready to visualize, and we accept the absence of a larger framework. To have such a framework requires more concepts, and having more concepts requires reading.
establish a private life
Nastier rulers will use what they know about you to push you around. Consider using alternative forms of the internet, or simply using it less.
Have personal exchanges in person. For the same reason, resolve any legal trouble.
Totalitarianism removes the difference between private and public not just to make individuals unfree, but also to draw the whole society away from normal politics and toward conspiracy theories. Rather than defining facts or generating interpretations, we are seduced by the notion of hidden realities and dark conspiracies that explain everything.
Once we accepted the politics of inevitability(history could move in only one direction: toward liberal democracy), we assumed that history was no longer relevant. If everything in the past is governed by a known tendency, then there is no need to learn the details.
In the politics of eternity, the seduction by a mythicized past prevents us from thinking about possible futures. The habit of dwelling on victimhood dull the impulse of self-correction. Since the nation is defined by its inherent virtue rather than by its future potential, politics becomes a discussion of good and evil rather than a discussion of possible solutions to real problems. Since the crisis is permanent, the sense of emergency is always present; planning for the future seems impossible or even disloyal. How can we even think of reform when the enemy is always at the gate?
History permits us to be responsible: not for everything, but for something. Such a notion of responsibility worked against loneliness and indifference.