On Tyranny: Twenty lessons from the twentieth century – Timothy Snyder

Hi guys!

This book has 20 lessons from the 20th century that we could all learn a great deal from.

«History does not repeat, but it does instruct. 

In the twentieth century, European democracies collapsed into fascism, Nazism and communism. These were the movements in which a leader or a party claimed to give voice to the people, promised to protect them from global existential threats, and rejected reason in favour of myth. European history shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary people can find themselves in unimaginable circumstances. 

History can familiarise, and it can warn. Today, we are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to totalitarianism in the twentieth century. But when the political order seems imperilled, our advantage is that we can learn from their experience to resist the advance of tyranny.

Now is a good time to do so.» – Timothy Snyder 

This book made me think about certain things in our world today and how it seems to work without many people knowing. The book is built up in lessons and with introductions to each one and then a little chapter about each lesson. This makes the book super easy to read. The language isn’t difficult so it’s easy to read the book.

My favourite of the lessons was number 9 which says in its intro; Be kind to our language – Avoid pronouncing the phrases everyone else does. Think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey that thing you think everyone is saying. Make an effort to separate yourself from the internet. Read books. I think this is very true, but we don’t realize it. Words like ‘selfie’ and ‘bae’ sneak into the vocabulary because someone uses these phrases and people think they are catchy and start using them. There is also that fact that quite many people, myself included, use words they don’t know the full meaning of. These two factors both creates a mainstream of people without originality and I think Snyder points out a wise thing when he says that we should try to separate ourselves from the internet more. I know I for sure could do with some time without being connected everywhere. Of course, one can just switch off one’s phone and computer for a while, but when do we ever really do that? I think the last time my computer was off was because I was out flying. Otherwise, both my phone and my computers are in sleep mode or active, which is quite a disturbing thought in many ways.

I also like lesson number 11; Investigate – Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on the internet is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate propaganda campaigns (some of which come from abroad). Take responsibility for what you communicate with others.How often don’t we just read the headlines of an article and think that we know what it is about? I’ve done this mistake several times, and then I think the better of it and start reading the article just to discover that I was completely wrong. We should spend more time reading journals and articles. It is so easy to feel the lack of motivation when you see how long an article is, but just keep reading! This school year has truly shown me how much you can get out of an article if you just read the whole thing. If you don’t understand it all then that is fine, but at least you have tried to understand as much as possible by reading the article. I think that with all this technology that our society possesses we sometimes forget that it can harm us. Some people put stuff up on the internet to confuse and lure people to think that their false information is true. People start believing it and someone takes advantage of it. We have to be critical towards what we read and we have to remember to be critical. The world isn’t black and white, it has so many shades of grey that we can’t even count them all.

I will try and remember these lessons when I wander around in this weird society of ours. It is developing every minute and things change so quickly that it is easy to forget how quickly things can change. I highly recommend this book for everyone. It will inform you and make you think about things you may not pay too much attention to otherwise.

Published: 2017

Genre: Nonfiction

Theme: History, politics

– The Book Reader

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