The fascination of fascism

Timothy Snyder: About tyranny. 20 things we can learn from that 20. century Gads Forlag. Denmark

About tyranny 20 things we can learn from the 20 century
Forfatter: Timothy Snyder
Forlag: Gads Forlag (Danmark)
The truth can die in four ways, warns Timothy Snyder. The most dangerous thing is to develop hostility towards obvious facts. 


How solid is democracy in the United States? Many answers are possible here. Some claim that the United States has never been a democracy and that the country is and has always been fascist. Others claim that the United States is the largest democracy in the world. Timothy Snyder, author of About tyranny. 20 things we can learn from that 20. century, believes that the United States, especially in recent years, has shown signs of fascist and totalitarian features. He tries as hard as he can to strengthen our will to resist, because it is precisely he who is crushed by totalitarian regimes.

Snyder has previously excelled with books on the Holocaust and Nazism. IN Black earth He wrote, among other things, that ecological panic or anxiety about food supplies, as well as the fear of state destruction, was the main reason for the Holocaust. In other words, the author has the ability to see well-known phenomena from new angles, but his pursuit of new points of view is not always justified. In the same way, in this small book, which is clearly written very quickly, he tries to appeal to the democratic sense of the individual, and the possibility of activism. Hanna Arendt is obviously one of his favorite thinkers.

Arendt-inspired. One thing is certain: Where the interest in politics is small, the danger of tyranny and totalitarian movements is great. It's no wonder Snyder is preoccupied with Hanna Arendt, because i Origins of Totalitarianism The German philosopher explains that the rise of Nazism was first and foremost made possible through obedience, the development of racial ideology and uncritical regime metro. But what she never did was to equate Germany in 1933 with the American reality of her own time.

Snyder quotes an editor from a German-Jewish newspaper from 1933, where it is stated, among other things: "We do not share the view that Mr. Hitler and his friends, having finally come into possession of the power they have so long wished for, will carry out the proposals made in Nazi newspapers; they will not suddenly deprive German peoples of their constitutional rights or lock them up in ghettos, and rather not expose them to the envious and murderous lusts of the mob.

From there, he draws a straight line to today's reality: “[…] this is how many sensible people see things today. The error of assuming that rulers who have come to power through the institutions will not be able to change or destroy the very institutions themselves, even when that is exactly what they have said in advance that they will do. "

Where there is little interest in politics, the danger of tyranny and totalitarian movements is great.

Strong institutions. Although the rise of Nazism in the early XNUMXs was due to widespread political naivety and ignorance of the danger posed by Hitler and emerging Nazism, that does not mean that Donald Trump could cause the same. I agree with Snyder that one can learn a lot from history, but then one must also have a clearer understanding of the mechanisms that actually apply, and not look blind to the fact that the present is copying the past. So, cheater writes with a blindfold. "One might be tempted to believe that America's democratic heritage automatically protects the country from such threats," he writes. "It's a fallacy."

But Congress's ability to stop unpopular political decisions is just a sign of democracy working. Given that the Republican Party has a majority in Congress, but still chose to stop Trump when he demanded entry bans for all foreigners and Obama scrutiny, is good enough evidence of democracy.

Snyder gives us an absolutely useful lesson in the mass ideological and totalitarian development of the 20th century, but his advice on how to avoid people ending up in the hell of mass ideology becomes too cartoonish: "Be calm, when the unthinkable happens," he writes. "Do not obey in advance." "Defend the Institutions," and "Remember Your Professional Ethics."

An advice to read Dostoevsky to avoid totalitarianism is too superficial. In a modern totalitarian system, it will certainly be allowed to read Dostoevsky, but he will hardly matter.

The death of truth. "There are four ways in which the truth can die," the author writes: One is that giving the truth in favor of fiction, and here there is undoubtedly similarity between Trump and fascism, but that does not mean that it is fascism, even if it is similar . The other is using so-called shamanic spells. Obviously, the facts and constant repetitions that Trump uses in his political work may be similar, but again: Is it fascism because it is similar? The third way is through so-called magical thinking, that is, through acceptance of contradictions. The fourth lies in self-delusion, that is, by making people believe that only he can solve the problems.

Is it fascism because it is similar?

The United States will never be a one-party state, until that is the democratic institutions too strong. The rise of Nazism in Germany was due to quite different conditions than those mentioned by Snyder in his book. It was due to massive unemployment, racial ideology, economic decline and a weak Weimar Republic. Democracy in Germany was very weak at all. When the author writes that one should be calm, and simply not fall for the state's propaganda against terrorism, it becomes too easy.

Totalitarianism can only be fought through the creation of massive resistance groups, where people stand together against oppression – not by sitting at home "and not falling for propaganda". As if sitting still and not being influenced should help anything.

Unfortunately, this is a book that, despite good historical summaries, lacks the crucial point, namely where it should convince us that developments in the United States through Trump are fascism and Nazism again. With his simple advice on "believing in the truth," Snyder himself is in danger of developing totalitarian traits.

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