ON TYRANNY – Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century


I love the way the obscene word ‘TRUMP’ doesn’t appear once in Timothy Snyder’s book (Bodley Head 2017 ISBN 9781847924889) which is clearly directed that way. The ‘fascism’ that’s sweeping the whole world is entirely represented by the five letters and by anybody who associates with them – Mayhem in the UK, for instance.

“Fascism?” says the simplistic Tory MP, “Where are the Concentration Camps?” My answer is, “You don’t need them – you do things far more subtly these days. You have learned a lesson from the past – not to be quite so callous…” In the thirties, the Camps were a physical symbol of depriving individuals of their humanity, starving them, murdering them… Now there’s a Concentration Camp of the Mind. You do it by depriving the ‘plebs’ of aid & sustenance & meaningful jobs, and you force them to work till they’re too old to stand upright so they don’t have time or energy for protest. You peddle lies like the need for ‘Austerity’. Or you plug them into e-devices and they just die that way quietly at home or on the streets, sometimes by their own hand.

Here are the TWENTY LESSONS outlined by Timothy Snyder. The headings are his, the descriptors are mine. He brilliantly details the way in which the history of the 20th Century offers ‘lessons’ – the antidote to TYRANNY.

1. DO NOT OBEY IN ADVANCE When you signify approval by voting for them or falling in with their machinations against any better judgement you might have had you make them think they’re winning
2. DEFEND INSTITUTIONS The United Nations, The European Project, all regulatory organisations – institutions of this kind protect us from their greed & exploitation
3. BEWARE THE ONE PARTY STATE Resist all indications that they’re the only way, that there’s no alternative – listen out for the words…
4. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FACE OF THE WORLD Remove all their hate signs
5. REMEMBER PROFESSIONAL ETHICS Expose corruption in high places, share signs of their chicanery at all levels, support honesty
6. BE WARY OF PARAMILITARIES Resist their uniforms & insignia of power
7. IF YOU MUST BE ARMED, BE REFLECTIVE Verify everything for yourself. Be prepared to say NO to them! Thus far no further…
8. STAND OUT Say something different, speak the alternative words, don’t repeat their mantras like a parrot – many do!
9. BE KIND TO OUR LANGUAGE Study what they say carefully; read books; say your own thing; notice all abstractions – they beguile us into agreement
10. BELIEVE IN TRUTH Don’t accept all this post-truth/fake news stuff
11. INVESTIGATE Verify, verify… Don’t go for sound-bites & headlines; be prepared to read lengthily
12. MAKE EYE CONTACT & SMALL TALK Stay in touch with real people
13. PRACTISE CORPOREAL POLITICS March! – don’t let them tell you it’s pointless. They’d have you glued to the telly. Feel the truth of things deep in your somatic sensibility. Don’t go along with their emotional bluster
14. ESTABLISH A PRIVATE LIFE Resist all attempts to have them spy on you
15. CONTRIBUTE TO GOOD CAUSES Support AVAAZ, 38 Degrees, War on Want, Greenpeace – whatever grabs you. Start small
16. LEARN FROM PEERS IN OTHER COUNTRIES Relate to as many other like-minded people as you can across the world so you know you’re not alone
17. LISTEN FOR DANGEROUS WORDS Be angry about the way words snake into your being – ‘extremism’, ‘terrorism’ for example
18. BE CALM WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE ARRIVES Notice how an event (23rd March 2017) like the carnage caused by the nutter who drove into people on Westminster Bridge (Earth has not anything to show more fair/Dull would he be of soul who could pass by/A sight so touching in its majesty...) is exploited by them to keep us in a state of terror. ‘Act of terrorism’, ‘an attack on Democracy…’ [abstraction] – ‘must be willing to give up certain liberties’ [abstraction] in order to maintain security [abstraction]. Focus on the enemy without so we forget the enemy within. Hitlerian trick
19. BE A PATRIOT rather than a nationalist. It’s so nice to wake up on a spring morning in the place where you live
20. BE AS COURAGEOUS AS YOU CAN Resist all tyranny, whatever form it takes. Be content in your self

It really is a matter of them & us…

10 thoughts on “ON TYRANNY – Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century

      1. You are a blessing, Colin. I think I will also publish it in The BeZine blog later this month. I’m keen on getting as many people as possible interested in that book. Important. I’m glad you did your reivew. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks, Colin, for your concise commentary on Snyder’s twenty lessons. His book is being prominently displayed in the independent bookstore I frequent in Manhattan, and I will pick up a copy on my next visit. And thank you Jamie for posting the video of Snyder’s appearance on Bill Maher’s program.

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