Lessons on Tyranny

I have just had the pleasure of reading “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” by Timothy Snyder – a best selling author and Professor of History at Yale. He has 20 well argued pieces of advice, one of which is:

Defend institutions. It is institutions that help us to preserve decency. They need our help as well. Do not speak of “our institutions” unless you make them yours by acting on their behalf. Institutions do not protect themselves. They fall one after the other unless each is defended from the beginning. So choose an institution you care about—a court, a newspaper, a law, a labor union—and take its side.”

He cites the example of Germany, where in 1933 the nascent, democratically elected, Nazi regime took just a year to consolidate power and humble and emasculate the institutions of a sophisticated modern state. It’s easy to dismiss this and say it won’t happen now and it can’t happen here. Snyder tells us why that is an idle fallacy. It can and will happen if we are not vigilant and active in defending what we value.

It’s a very short read and easy to digest and I would highly recommend it if tyranny is something that weighs on your mind, as it does mine at the moment.

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