Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century
Although a short book, this is a very important read. Timothy Snyder is an American historian who is able to pull together lessons from history on how to recognise and resist dictatorships and facism. Some reviewers feel that it is essential reading for all Americans. I disagree. I think it would be good if people of all nations could read it and learn from it.
Because it is a short book I don’t want to rob the author of his thunder by outlining all the content. However, just to give you a flavour of what it contains, I will summarise the chapter that had most resonance for me – Chapter 10 Believe in Truth.
Synder states that submission to tyranny happens when you renounce the difference between what you hear and see and what is actually the case. He then goes on to outline four ways in which truth has died in various societies, and how it is dying in America as you read this.
Continue reading “On Tyranny”
While is may sometimes be true that personality is more important than policy, it isn’t always so.
On 12 February 1999, Bill Clinton survived his impeachment, despite having lied under oath and having committed “sexual acts” with a junior member of staff – things which would have resulted in the departure of most politicians. In chapter 10 of his book, Lessons from the Top, Gavin Esler describes how, at the time, the Senate majority leader, the Republican Trent Lott was utterly bewildered:
There are only a couple of things in my career that I still have not been able to understand. One is the fact that the American people apparently continued to support Clinton through the whole thing, knowing what he did, knowing what he said, knowing how he demeaned the office … I still think history needs to try to explain why the American people thought that was all okay.
I felt something of the same confusion over Trump’s election. Continue reading “Towards Solving the Trump Mystery”