In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Timothy Snyder about his book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
My guest today is Timothy Snyder Timothy Snyder, as professor of history at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the institute for humans,
Sciences in Vienna. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford, where he was aim Marshall scholar.
Before joining the faculty at Yale in two thousand and one he held fellowships and pair,
as Vienna in Warsaw and an academy scholarship at Harvard, he spent
ten years in Europe and speaks
I then reads: ten european languages is also written for the New Yorker view of books, foreign affairs,
the times, literary supplement, the nation and the new republic as
As for the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers he's, a member of the committee on conscience,
the United States, Holocaust Memorial Museum and is the author
several award winning books, including the Red Prince bloodlines Europe between Hitler and Stalin and black earth, the Holocaust, as history and worn in his latest book on tyranny. Twenty lessons from the twentieth
entry, which is what we focused on, is currently number one of the New York Times best seller list for nonfiction in paper. Back as you'll hear, this is a timely conversation, but please take my early admonishment about thing. They non partisan nature of this conversation for what they are. We do talk a lot about trump, but whether or not Trump is actually an example of Schneider's thesis,
Definitely beheld to one side, you'll figure out what I think about that by the end, but is actually not the core of the conversation, and now I give you
they Snyder. I am here with Timothy Snyder Timothy thanks for coming upon cast my pleasure. You have written this beautiful little book on tyranny. When did you write this? Because this is so, it is a very short book, I'm a huge fan of short books now, both as a reader and as a writer. Most books are far too long. Certainly, argument driven books tend to be far too long, because the dirty little secret about publishing is that publishers haven't figured out how to publish short books and still make enough of a profit. The three honey
age, but could be sixty pages in many cases, but to publish a sixty page book, just not a profitable enterprise but anyway written a very short book on tyranny. Twenty lessons from the twentieth century, I just want to move through this book fairly systematically, but when did you write it because this reads as something you wrote them the moment Trump became president.
When did you actually start typing? So I'm gonna give you a slightly pompous historians answer and maybe defend publishers a little bit to its true that I wrote it very quickly, but it was a compression of longer spans of time right. So it's a compression of the the history, the twentieth century, which in turn I've spent
twenty five years, trying to understand and along the way many years have been invested, very pleasantly and friendships with people who
flip through communism and sometimes fascism and
fewer years, but still more than I'd like to admit with with students from Eastern Europe who themselves have lived through the failed promise,
democracy and who have learned about resistance or re about it and I've. I've tried to learn from them. So yeah I'll tell you when I read the book and quickly wrote the book, but it's as though all these layers of time are simultaneously present. I couldn't have just sat down and written the thing with
All of that previous time weighing down on me, what I was trying to do is to convert all of that into a format that would be immediately useful, so yeah
I mean I, I wrote the twenty lessons it in it in a few hours after the election and then the book I wrote in December in in a few days, but in a way like that, it's self demonstrates one of the points of the book, which is that we are in a critical moment. We don't have much time, and so whatever was going to make a difference had to appear immediately at the very beginning and I'm not sure them
In fact, I am sure that my press hasn't solved the problem of how to make money out of a short book. I dont think they're making any money, but what they did do was join in this venture variant.
He asked ITALY and end for that. I'm I'm really appreciative Aouda! No, it's fantastic end, so you
you have twenty lessons here and maybe we'll just get through the first ten or so, but I just want to make it clear that
I dont view this conversation as a surrogate for someone bind the book, no matter how comprehensive we seem to be in talking about it, and this is this can be generically said of the conversations I have with most authors. I try to not put people in competition with the free versions of themselves that exist online. I want people to buy people's books, but in this case this really is just such a satisfying.
Reed, so I just make it clear that our listeners should, by this book and read it. You can read it in an hour. He can probably read it more quickly than we will have this conversation, but
for so you're writing, so wonderful and so lap, aphoristic Aparicio. That is it's a pleasure.
Great I'll read a few pieces from it as we talk here. One criticism of this book and we'll get into this and people get a sense of just how
worried. You can sound about our current moment in history. One criticism is that it exaggerates the danger
of Trump and I'm wondering how you feel the book is aging over the first few months of of the trunk presidency. Is there anything
that has reassured you or are you? Are you exactly
you were when you, when you hit, send to your publisher so
I mean. Let me again take a slightly different angle on that. The whole point the book is that we have to spread out our political imagination and have a broader sense of what's possible and that that the danger, precisely
is that we just go day by day and then every day seems normal. Even if you know today is much worse than yesterday were good, very good at getting used to it
and then tomorrow the same thing happens. So I didn't write the book in fact directly about Trump, although it is striking and I'll start answer, question is striking. How
many of the things I wrote about actually have happened in the meantime. I wrote the book more for us it was clear from two thousand and sixteen
that. We are dealing with a candidate who didn't respect basic american institutions like the rule of law or democracy.
It was clear that we are dealing with a man who was not tolerant to put a very mildly. I knew at a certain vision about how things should be run, which was not consistent with checks and balances or institutional
strange. It was clear that we had a man whose political heroes were foreign dictators who had precisely done away with the rule of law after being elected, so that that is the question is not really so much from the question is us from you. What happens in these situations is a person with a kind of character that he has who finds himself in institutional situation
strains him will push against those constraints. He can't really do anything else that that's who he is, and they do so that the relevant question is more. Can those constraints hold him and even more to the point? What can we do to make sure those constraints hold him? That's that's what the book is really about so having when I first both the twenty lessons. There were a lot of people who thought that I was going overboard, but I have to say:
as time has gone past. That has ceased to be a major reaction and in the more dominant reaction has been, who? How did you see this coming and that that is the simple answer? Is that history, no doesn't repeat, but history gives you a much broader palette of what's possible and the point the book is not to go point by point in health. Particular things a trumpet do so much as to prepare ourselves to do a whole bunch of different things which make another
turn regime change, the less likely so yeah I mean some things. People have done. I've been reassured by I've, been reassured by lawyers filing briefs in advance. So I can be assured by the spontaneous protest at airports. I've been reassured by the March
being reassured by the new non governmental organizations that didn't exist before I've. Been I've been reassured by the the civic, mindedness and patriotism of some of our some of our civil servants. I've been reassured by the investing of journalism, especially basket of print journalism at the Washington Post, but
on the other side we have, but we have plenty of people who don't see that there is a problem at all. We have plenty of people.
We are doing the normal human thing of just normalizing the situation and basically taken whatever their given from day to day, so that my fundamental reaction,
bout you. The notion that I'm exaggerating is Americans are superfluous. Provincial. We don't really have a sense of sense of possible because we ve been lucky. We overestimate how much we deserve what we get, and we underestimate how much how we can just simply get unlucky at the
moment were unlucky at which means that at the moment we more is demanded of us than would otherwise be the case here. I don't want people to get the wrong sense of the connection between your book and this current moment, because it again it does reed not as narrowly focused on trumpet you're talking about how
Mark receives can fail and how people can not realise that they are being pulled by the tide of history in a very unlucky direction with great consequence. So we can again to this specifically now it and talk about
points. Even if you were wrong about Trump, if Trump just has a stroke tomorrow and becomes magically the perfect president, the generic case still holds, if not tromp, then someone and when in the election of Trump, has proven
too many of us. Certainly, all of us who are alarm by it that our system is vulnerable to
demagogue in a way that many of us haven't anticipated end
it's scary for me to imagine someone much more competent than Trump
much more ideological, much more nefarious, but who can find the loophole in our system? The way Trump did and come to power, and so I don't like the people. The wrong sense at this is narrowly focused on Trump
and you you handle it beautifully because you, you may mention his name once in here, but you generally just refer to the president, which I thought was was very artful and the book will age well. This is not a book that five year
from now on is going to read like a magazine article, I want to pick up on the point you just raised about how provincial
arrogance. Aren't you say here in the beginning, America,
today or no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism Nazi as a more communism in the twentieth century. Then then,
One advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is the time to do so. Why are we so blinkers?
Yeah, I think, you're putting the question so so baldly because it took it's a really it's a really important when you're going to get out of this mess, we're going to have to notice some of our weaknesses
got into the habit of congratulate ourselves on our strengths, and this is what is it. This is a rich rule that both Democrats and Republicans engage
in their in their different ways,
was one of the weaknesses of of a rhetoric,
simple, that we are constantly gotta the habit of telling ourselves how good we were at certain things. I think they're there. You know there are three things at player: the
first, is the long standing, religious,
tradition of exceptionalism the notion that Americans were escaping
in a world of evil into into a pure world, which is, of course, dubbing ridiculous on a whole number, France. But it's there is a tradition that the second is the is the obvious
back, that we are in many ways a world and to ourselves, and so people
work on american history, rarely venture beyond american history. So it's a lot to expect that the american citizen could do could do better and the third thing, and maybe the most relevant, is it
move, which I think is gonna, be remembered as as one of metaphysical laziness we decided after
nineteen, eighty nine that history was was over and therefore we disarmed ourselves against the very threats which history Autobahn reminding us of, and we prevented ourselves from seeing some of the weaknesses.
In our in our own system, I'm so after one thousand eight hundred and ninety nine dimension. Ninety nine, because that's the year when communism came to an end. Of course, after that, many of us got ourselves worked into various for
the story whereby human nature would lead to a market which would lead to democracy in enlightenment, which will lead to peace, or something like that, which is basically a historical nonsense. I mean they're more leftwing versions of this as well, but all of these technological stories are are basically wrong. History is always can be full of surprises and structural forces that we don't anticipate and accidents and within the very fact of cleaning that history is over is itself a historical choice. It is its historical choice to be ignorant to forget the concepts which were once useful and it is dark choice to be vulnerable.
When, when threats start to seep up on you again, that's that's. What's happened to us here that was poured the perfect storm of two thousand. Sixteen, as it had happened, a full generation after nineteen nine. In a way it was it's the pay back for deciding that history was over. That's that's part of what happened and you describe fascism and communism, both as responses to globalization and this antipathy for globalization obviously played an important role in the two thousand. Sixteen election talk about that'll, but how is a recoil from the world responsible for these anti democratic tendencies? Think they should be led up, because that's that's. That's an important part of the answer to some of your other really good questions. So if we just take a step back and think about globalization itself, that concept is is a good example of how our we're trapped in a present and have trouble scene
the past the whole paradigm of globalization, as as we ve invented for ourselves in the twenty first century, assumes that it something new and when you assume that something is new, then you don't see that it has arc. You don't see that it has
patterns, you don't learn where might be going in the basic fact, and this is one of the things that historians bang therefore heads against the table about the basic factors it. This is the second globalization. There was a very similar movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. We had the same expansion,
a foreign trade, we had the same export, driven growth and, interestingly, maybe most interestingly, in the late nineteenth century. We had much the same thing as we know it,
a new century. We have the idea that these expansion of trade would inevitably lead to expansions of country
Thus I that universal ideas would inevitably triumph, so we ve been down this road before this is the intellectual.
History, the late nineteenth and twentyth centuries, and that back globalization ends
as we all know, the first World WAR, the great depression and in the Second World WAR, so that that the whole point of of remembering this is to be braced, on the one hand, to be braced.
I read the brazen, the sense of being sobered up realising that globalization can also go in these ways that we shouldn't be surprised that their react can contradictions in it and the reactions to it and that some of them can be quite extreme, but it's also bracing in the sunset. It reminds us that there are people who lived through this the first time around.
Two are perhaps not only more experienced and we are because they came out the other end of it. They survived, but but more particularly, perhaps wiser than we are, and we can we can. We can save
I have time by drawing on what they left behind, which is, which is the point the book, but anyway, that's just all prologue to touch it. Trying to answer your question, its natural that globalization is going to bring, even if it brings an average improvement in some kind of abstract notion of well being like gdp per capita that is going to also produce local or fractals local inequality is and is going to produce various kinds of resentments because globalization,
also the globalization of comparison. It means that people compare themselves to other people in ways that they hadn't done before and can often subjectively feel themselves to be. The victims were
whether or not they are objectively. That's clearly happened. The United States in the twenty first century, something similar,
and in the middle of Europe, in the early twentieth century and in that
environment. It's very easy, then for clever politicians to come around and say look globalization is not complicated. It's actually simple. It's not it's on a multi vector challenge. It's it's actually a conspiracy. I will put a face
globalization for you and the way that fascism in national socialism worked was usually to put a jewish vase on globalization and to say look all these problems are not the result of an an unhindered process which nobody controls completely, but there actually result of a particular conspiracy of a particular group. That's very powerfully powerful
critically, because then you can get your hands on figuratively and literally you can get your hands on members of that group or inside your country, and you can imagine that you are carried out,
some kind of political change. So slowly, although
in a minor, keep everything about the? U S in the twenty first century thing about it.
Hey! Now the presidency, Donald Trump! You see, you see basically the same reduction of globalization, that the problem is not that the United States can control everything, the
home is not, the globalization is always can be full of challenges which we need to actually face and try to address. The problem is not that we need to have some
policy. No, no, no said mister tromp. The problem is a globalization has a face. It has a chinese face, it has a mexican face, it has a jewish face and in that that is a familiar from a policy,
because what that does? Is it relieves, Mr Trump and the guy
men in general of any obligation, but actually addressing the challenges of globalization and instead to replace is that with a form of politics in which we're we are meant to just chase after
that the suppose it supposed members of these various groups and why
we do that. Then we forget about what the government is supposed to be doing for us, namely making us more prosperous, so that that the attempt at a muslim ban as terrible for Muslims but is not really about muslims- is about giving us the habit of scene Muslims assort as a source of our problems.
The new denunciation office at Homeland Security, where he supposed to call up a bureaucrat in Washington. If you think you been a victim of a crime
by an undocumented migrants, that's not about the migrants, is about getting you into the habit of debt of denouncing
your neighbors, it's about bringing in a new form of politics. So this is how anti globalization politics works, its you give up. Do you say we can't handle it? We don't have the strength to deal with us working it we're in a personalize at all and that that is that that
changes politics inside the country in ways that we're starting to see when you say when you put it that way.
Say it's not about undocumented migrants- is about
ushering in a new kind of politics, right where it will you have people in forming on their neighbours. That seems to a tribute some kind of nefarious intention or agency on the part of people who are currently in government is not a a system working unconsciously in this direction. This is people will correct me if I'm wrong. It sounds like you're alleging that people are having consciously undemocratic thoughts when we want to call them fascistic or or some other flavour, of edging towards tyranny we can table at her. Second, yes, we do have people in the White House, such as Mr Bonde.
Who were quite consciously ideological and think in in far right traditions that are anti democratic. What we have at present, the United States, who spent two thousand and sixteen telling us that democracy is basically faked, which is one of the things that people say in the first stages of regime changes when it comes to denunciation. I think people half understand what they're doing and then when it
happens, they take. They take the next step, whether its ministration or whether it's a citizens doing the denouncing you, you cross a certain moral threshold. When you do it. If you denounce somebody, you get praise for doing it and then maybe
the first crack at their property or whatever might follow and then and then a new cycle begins. So, yes, I would say I would say quite clearly: there are people who do have what you're calling anti democratic thoughts absolutely part of the whole point of history.
Denies that democracy is not automatic and their plenty people who don't like it and but also their these processes and by which both civil servants
and citizens get drawn in and then find themselves in a different moral place afterwards, even if they didn't completely.
Your stand, what they were doing at the beginning, yeah yeah, ok! Well, I want to get directly into your book and into the lessons I just want. Some. This language inserted into the conversation,
The first lesson is: do not obey in advance, and then you have these summaries before each chapter. Most of the power of authoritarianism is freely given in times like these individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want. An offer themselves without being asked a citizen who adapts in this way is teaching power what it can do, and then you give it you. You talk about how the Nazis moved into Austria and how really the behaviour of the Austrians more or less unbidden taught the Nazis. How
far. They could go in victimizing the Jews, and you seem to suggest that this was there was something to learn from how readily people acquiesced to this project. Yes, thank you said the number that lesson number one dollar
being advance and its number one four for a bunch of reasons, one as you suggest it is re, the core of what historians think we
understand about authoritarian regime changes, Nazi Germany in particular, but also in general,
namely that at the very beginning whether it's the take over in Germany itself
for whether it stay the enclaves in Austria at the very beginning, authoritarian leaders require consent. This is a really important thought because, when we think of,
you know, authoritarian. We then think of
villains than we think of superveillance than we think of superpowers. You know we imagined
guys in uniforms. You can destroyed across the stage of history and do whatever they want and may be towards the end
something like that is true, but at the beginning, its not at the beginning. Interestingly, people have in a sense more power than they do normally because they also have they have the power to resist
the problem is that we don't usually realise that the problem is that we tend as human beings to take
situations as normal and then to align ourselves with them are little our little neo compasses look for the new
you know look for the new, true, north and align ourselves to it. We just
we follow along. We drift and most the time, that's appropriate, but sometimes it's an it's an absolute disaster. So you know, historians generally agree about that which is notable because historians, particularly historians of Nazi Germany, don't I'll always agree about everything. To put it mildly, the other reason it at the front. The book
Is that if you blow it, if you blow number one, then you can forget about the rest, because if you, if you can't do don't obey in advance, which is harder than it sounds, if you can't do that, then the rest of them become it will become impossible, because the rest of them will seem psychologically senseless to you
if you fail not the bane advance. Instead, you normalize and you drift, then the rest of it will make any sense to you, because
already be drifting, things which had seen, which would have seemed
abnormal to an earlier version of you will start to see
normal. Now, though, that the point to start doing
They will never seem to come you'll keep saying to Morrow tomorrow tomorrow. In fact, you'll just be internally adjusting adjusting adjusting and psychological. You become a different person and then do the fun
Why that's what's number one is political: if people, if people don't take advantage of this
moment they have in the first weeks months and me,
be at the outside the first year. If you don't do anything, then then the system changes and the costs of resistance become much much higher. So
right now, like the little things that we do, that would make a difference like looking people in the eye subscribing to newspapers, making small talk
found your neighborhood organization running for local office, protesting having political conversations like the one you are having at the moment. Do these things require just a tiny bit of courage right, not but not very much
but later when he went, leasing, start to become a legal or even dangerous, to require much more courage. So politically you have to get out front and do these things, even if you're not sure exactly what you're holding off you have to do these things at the
beginning so yeah I mean I bring up. These examples is, as you rightly say,
in thirty in Austria, because they really powerfully convey this dynamic Hitler did not know that he could absorb Austrian a few days. He did it because of the messages he got from below
Austrian Jews did not know they were in such they were in such a position of threat. They found out because of how people reacted to the arrival of of german force, these actions that the population chooses or doesn't choose to take at the beginning.
Or are really crucial to authoritarianism. It means that we have power. It also means that we have responsibility. It means that you don't have the option of doing nothing in America in spring. Two thousand: seventeen, if you're doing nothing, you're
actually doing something you for doing nothing, you're helping a regime change come about, so I want to flag the
reaction that I know is occurring in some percentage of our listeners, which is that everything you just said when mapped onto the present sounds like a symptom of paranoia
rather. This is just like we're not yet were fundamentally not in the situation we just described, and
can remain somewhat agnostic about that, and I am I can't name a person really now, who is who is more critical of trump than I am.
To some percentage of my listeners, I have completely
lost my mind on this point, but I want to try to maintain what will be viewed as a less partisan line through this conversation, because everything you're saying here
generically applies again it if not now sometime. This applies, and certainly
You know you and I are going to be enlarged agreement about how much we should be taking seriously these concerns right now, given what has happened in the White House. But again, this is not even if you're a fan of trump these dynamics.
Are in play potentially everywhere all the time, no matter how stable you're democracy seems its vulnerable to this kind of thing. So when a moot point two, which is defend institutions- and you say that institution
do not protect themselves. They fall one after the other unless each has defended from the beginning, and then you use Nazi Germany as an example, and then you quote from an edit
coral that I had never read over. I've read a lot about the Holocaust. I had never seen an editorial like this, and this was it was written in a newspaper for german Jews and this the editorial from the newspapers,
the editorials positions or imagine you know the New York Times writing an editorial like this in nineteen thirty, three on the eve of the decade, that would usher in that the final solution. This is the perspective of german Jews in nineteen thirty three. We do not subscribe to the view that Mr Hitler and his friends now finally in possession of the power they have so long desired will implement the proposals circulating in nazi newspapers. They will not suddenly deprived German Jews at their constitutional rights nor enclosed them. In ghettos, nor subject them to the jealous and murderous impulse
the mob. They cannot do this because a number of crucial factors hold powers in check and they clearly do not want to go down that road. When one acts as a european power, the whole atmosphere tends towards ethical reflection upon ones better self, and
way from revisiting ones earlier oppositional posture, and then you say so
it was the view of many reasonable people in nineteen. Thirty three, just as is the view of many reasonable people. Now the mistake is to assume that rulers who come to power through institutions cannot change or destroy those very institutions. Even when that is exactly what they have announced, they will do so. Many suggests the phrase. Cautionary tale doesn't really do this moment. Justice, it's just amazing, to put yourself in the position of people before the Holocaust was ever known to be possible right before that kind of
implosion of ape a very cause. My part in society was thinkable before you either you you could even dimly imagine that people would start in a marking places of business as jewish owned, and that would be the precursor
or to your neighbour, is coming and seizing your property out of this kind of ecstasy of reappropriation of wealth based on tribal hatred. I will talk about the defence of institutions and again this kind of natural myopia that people don't see that their swimming in history.
Let me start with with history, so I'm its I'm glad. You cited that that paragraph from
the editorial from the jewish newspaper. For for a number of reasons, one is that it gives me a chance to see to express my appreciation for my colleagues in the history of Nazi Germany. We just know so much about those days and weeks in nineteen. Thirty, three and its thanks to thousands of historians have been working very hard on these problems for three generations now. So I didn't you note SAM. It's not that I knew that up at either. It's that it was published in a very important collection of documents about the nazi period and one of my points in writing a book is that confusing, as the present is, we can take advantage of the clarity that we have on some moments of the past, even if that clarity
is confusing to us. Even if it strikes us a strange that that people could do the things they did or think the things they thought. That's precisely the wake up call we need because we will otherwise fall into the same rights. So I mean it's interesting to me that the beginning to question you used the word paranoid
If someone had told the editorial board of that newspaper, which was a jewish newspaper, that what was going to come, they would have likely had the same reaction that people are being.
Paranoid. The advantage we have is that we can get some distance on our own default reactions by looking back at the past. The second thing I want to say is that, since I
the book, a number of new reasons, have emerged. Why we should take precisely ninety,
Thirty, three seriously in the book. I say history doesn't repeated that instruct and I meant that in two senses, in one sense is that we can learn from people in their failures and their insights. But the other is that history is instructing people who, like the nineteen thirties, who will
in writing theories to come back and unfortunately, there is more of that going on the one would like to think. If one thinks so, for example, you know Mister spices out appearance where he said that Hitler near the preset ineffective Hitler did not kill his own people.
By which he meant that the handicapped in the german Jews were not actually german people, those extraordinary when we think of MR sessions, saying that you know
Can somebody on an island, the Pacific till the president? What to do, thereby forgetting that we,
we entered the second World WAR, because if those islands in the Pacific, when we have Mr Byrne,
in saying that the nineteen thirty's were an exciting time when we have
Mr Tromp branding our foreign policy and our energy policy. America first, when America first was precisely in its essence, I'm not just a populist, but very often a white supremacist and isolation is movement which was trying to keep us out of the Second World war. There are all kinds of references to nineteen thirty's here which are coming from the administration. It itself the lasting one,
as he knows as its because it so striking salmon. Your question, you said imagine the York Times in nineteen, thirty three publish an editorial like us, but they did. They do
had, I been one of the reasons why the times in the post or so much on their toes right now. Is it if you look back to how the New York Times covered both Nazi Germany
and the Soviet Union and nineteen thirties. They did not cover themselves with glory. There is a huge amount of
of explaining and normalizing in the case of both stolen and Hitler, it's very striking, so we and it's not just that
Germans are german, Jews tended to normalize Nazi, the possibilities are newspapers did as well, and that's that's one more reason to be to be cautious anyway. This is all kind of like the atmosphere are around your question, the technical part. The question is: why is it
It is important and the answer is that we need a plurality of them and if we don't recognize that election.
Somebody with authority and propensities is a threat to this those institutions. They will fall elections
an important part in Hitler's rise to power. If we look
the authoritarian regimes around today, in the twenty first century, in the majority of cases there was,
also an election in the story somewhere. So elections don't necessarily bring about democracy. Unfortunately, if you elect a tyrant that tyrants gonna push against the institutions and try to pick them off one by one,
and we know from the play book of Twentyth century authoritarianism, whether it's from the far right or the far left that that's the way you go, you can't
power all at once. You have to pick off. One thing
At a time, often, it's often its journalism at the beginning, often it's the high court at the beginning
but the point is that if you dont DORA liner on the first institution, there's a tendency, then for the dominoes to fall. You reminded me about that disastrous press conference with chance by Sir delivering what what I think is inadvertently one of the greatest comic masterpieces of all time when he was talking about the holocaust.
Enters and just flooding his answer as badly as any beauty pageant. Contestant has ever flood her answer to why she wants to be Miss America so that she can usher in world peace or whatever it is. It was brutal in terms of the conduct of
american media during the Holocaust yeah, I'm aware of how,
we were in how short sighted we were. I guess I was imagining had Nazi ism taken hold here and we heard the same thing from the New York Times at that point. These come mapping that it that case onto our own, this is,
amazing document. I think it's better homes and garden you might you may correct me here is one of those poem
magazines from me, the thirties. Yes, I can just a tour of Hitler's Eagles nest. I thank and just two out of pure puff piece of good PR for Hitler
was well into the first years of the thousand year Reich and just suggests are complete delusion at the time
and I'm sorry. I want to apologize to you and into our listeners little bit where were experiencing some Skype issues here with the latency, so, for instance,
I cannot break in on you and you really can't break in on me. It's a little odd, so I want to come back to now. Point number three
which is the where the one party state the parties that remade states and suppressed rivals were not omnipotent from the start, the exploited, a historic moment to make political life impossible for their opponents.
Again that something that is a phenomenon that we can inch toward. Imperceptibly, I would imagine where it's just the one pot
de requires more and more power, and this allows
more and more of them. What we used to be the legitimate
political norms of a multi party system. How are we functioning with respect to that particular criteria? Now, in your view, yeah? This is this is part of the
confluence of things that came together in in twenty sixteen, it's related to Mr Trump, but but it's also in a way distinct. So there's there's a story that Americans tell themselves, which is that we've had to moxie for two hundred years right and therefore we'll just keep having democracy. Where is really, I mean wee wee pad democracy for a few decades, since the Civil Rights ACT and in in in the last half of those two decades, we've been drifting away from democracy quite markedly, allowing unlimited money into politics, so they can affect a couple of people with lots of money outside of a state can determine the state's elections. Is
do we not democratic gerrymandering? You know to take the example of Ohio, where I am from where, if you are a member, if you vote for one party, your vote based accounts for half of what someone else, someone else's vote for the other party counts. As the electoral college, you know we're a voter from California has so much less weight than a voter from let's say: Wyoming nets. Leaving aside the voter suppression laws, which are probably going to get worse you. My point is that we were drifting away from democracy already and in Mr Trump took advantage of that mean obviously it in the simplest sense. He couldn't have one
without the electoral college, but a more profound sense. The fact that people are quite rightly aware that there is too much money in politics means that he could pose, as as a friendly oligarchy could say,
well, everybody knows the system is corrupt. It's oligarchical, but I'm on your oligarch and Hillary Clinton is somebody else's oligarch. You know there are these mysterious places where the global conspiracy comes down. You know they're, mysterious people behind the curtain who are behind this is Clinton, but I stand before you me myself, Donald Trump, I'm your oligarch and, of course, that wasn't true, and in many senses I mean
Mr Trump actually have that much money is also not true that that there were no oligarchy behind him. There were they just weren't american citizens, but he couldn't have ridden all of that without the basic problem of there being too much money in politics, and you know that
that's that's one of the issues in an another. Another issue is the way that the game is now structured, so that Republicans tend to win, and that creates a problem even for themselves in. Oh, so that the fact that what is it was thirty one of the fifty state houses, I think, a Republican that that the way that gerrymandering has become so surgically precise, it doesn't actually help Republicans in long run, at least if they were
to be a party in the two parties system, because it puts them in a position where they win like this time when they don't really have any ideas and they don't really have the policies which could
them, so I mean their power their policies. Now, let's
warm, the environment, omelettes poison, the water.
Europe must take way: health insurance from twenty five million people and let's and let's give a lot of money to rich to the rich. Ok I mean you can I it's fine people support those policies, it just a matter of fact
The fact that the majority of american voters don't so the Republicans find themselves in a position of undeserved success,
and then when they look out at two thousand, a teen. What are they gonna think exactly, and this becomes than a danger for democracy when you have a party, the controls, all the levers of power, in that
he doesn't really have a way of democratically legitimate yourself and start to become tempting to do other kinds of things to stay in power, and this is again not about Republicans about Democrats is about. Human nature is about the need for checks and balances, which the founding fathers quite rightly foresaw, so we're edging
this situation, which I hope we can avoid in which I am you know, I hope and trust that that many in a decent minded patriotic.
Constitutionally oriented Republicans will also understand ready
For the moment, where what has we really careful not to slip into a one party situation, its cause? It's it such as that is unhealthy. For Democrats, that's not the point. It's also and healthy food. For Republicans and above all, what's you know? It leads to a situation but very hard to get out of again when people just get used to having power without being demo
we will get a made it it's very hard to get out from under that again you have this line from a David Lodge novel. That is really poignant and beautiful. You did it. You dont know when you make love for the last time that you're making love for the last time, and then you say voting is like that
Obviously everything is like that. Generally, you me don't know the last time you you are going to pick up your child. You know they can suddenly they're too large to pick up, and you now realize it's been months since you picked them up and either that's just. That is a feature of life that renders it even more precious. But there's this the application to our to this political situation
is obviously apropos when you say that, no doubt the Russians who voted and ninety ninety did not think that this would be the last free and fair election in their country's history, which thus far has been and will further down the page the russian oligarchy established after the ninety ninety elections continues to function and promotes a foreign policy designed to destroy democracy elsewhere. This is a generic human experience that people can take the actions in this case democratically, that usher in the end of their democratic privileges, and they they do this without any idea that this is what's happening. Vegas in other contexts I may have some
idea or a well informed person should have some idea. You can respond to that point, but also I'd like to know in this context. What do you make of the fact that so many
people on the right, really, all really all of trumps defenders that their republicans, who don't defend him, obviously, but anyone whose defending trumpet this moment has to be perfectly sanguine or oblivious
about the russian meddling in our democracy and just the transparent attempt at this point to undermine it. This that we're talking at the party that won the cold war or think they did we're talking about. If you had just gone back three years ago, you could have reasonably expected no one on earth to harbour more bias against Russia and its history,
of communism, then the Republicans. How did we get her? So let me try to follow my own advice and start not with America but start with the world because of one of the elements of our provincialism, which is where you so nice
The conversation is that we, we imagine that things happen here and then they rule outwards whether its politics are economic surplus.
Go theory or movies or fashion. We imagine that it
sincere and than everyone else receives it. But that is so true anymore, and it's it's it's. At least it's not nearly as true as we think it is, and in some crucial respects the reverse is really happening in some crucial respects.
In political ideas and trends are not reading, outwards are not moving from the west to the east, but a really coming from the east to the West. I'm not saying that the russian system is stable. I don't think it is, but they have found a certain equilibrium point where you can institutionalized and stabilize radical.
Economic inequality by way of a very steady and efficiently and beautifully produced diet of fake news, complemented by a series of manufactured, quoting quote, triumphs abroad. This is a certain model and blackening for a moment that the actual contacts between Russia,
and Trump trumps campaign. It's the model that we have to be aware that we have to know that it's out there and its attracted a certain kinds of people now that model cannot generate wealth. It can only can stable
inequality? It can give reasons why there should be an equality, namely that we are in a constant struggle against the evil forces of the world in the Russian.
Pesos. Evil forces are terrorism and America and the Russia
As you know, one trump is not looking constantly say were responsible for terrorism, so he bit it. Would it can't do as it can generate reform, because reform would take the club. The crowds out of power in it can generate wealth can only justify a status quo of extreme.
Inequality in since, in since Russia is not alone in the world with the Russians came to understand what MR
who turn whose a very intelligent man in many respects came to understand- is that you have to remove the competition you have to make the rest the world more like Russia. If Russia knock me more, like Europe, make Europe more like Russia and the way to make Europe a like Russia is to sit
or right wing populists, rhetorically with propaganda with money and as for written,
Populous the United States as well? We didn't going on
some time ago, to give a kind of telling example when Mr Tromp started talking about birth tourism, russian propaganda also started talking about birth tourism way back in two thousand, and ten
so they have an idea. It's a smart idea, just a disaster for humanity. The idea is to
bring everyone else down to Russia's level and to do so partly by supporting the far right, but also partly by trying to spread this idea that there's no such thing as truth that everything is relative, that there are no
acts. You know it because that environment, political activity and click opposition position becoming coherent and impossible. They succeeded that at home,
Now they been trying to spread that abroad, and it done so with some success and one has to recognise their intelligence and one has to be clear about there.
Games, because we are now in the middle of that. What's happening to us has been much more result of intense.
Russian sacking intelligently coins, what they see as their own interests than it has been a result of our figuring out what is actually going on when it comes to so now. To get your question me when it comes to Republicans in Russia. First of all, one has to accept that
plenty of people who do see Russia as a positive model. It's not just Richard Spencer. You know who talks about
Russia is a positive bottle, their plenty of evangelical Christians who perhaps more quietly regard Russia's stand against what they see as
an islamic problem, and they regard what they see as Russia's embrace of orthodoxy. Positive model, what they see as Russia's appropriate line about homer
Well is positive: there's been a fair amount of circulation of ideas and people through MOSS
oh and back through the American Heartland of their plenty of their plenty of people who see Russia as quite properly
leader of a right wing movement and in this also addresses what you say about the cold war. I mean we, you and I might
you'll. Think about the cold war, maintaining Russia, but the modern that the amount
and right really no longer does the american looks at Russia and they see what they think
is a model of an anti terrorist. You no religion,
loving leadership. That, of course, is all just complete hogwash manufactured for broad, it's just
bogus as the image of the Soviet Union and lighting thirty's. That attracted elements of the American left in many ways is very similar
Russia is a very poor country where people are not free where, but, basically nobody goes to church and where
I know that the number two were number three person in the country is himself
muslim terrorist right, so it's it's not what people on American might think it is, but nevertheless they have they have bought into that.
Image and is partly a result of their travelling to Russia, is partly
It is partly a result of russian propaganda, so mean we have to accept that in some sense you know that
when the american writer correct, if you want to know
If you want to kind of kleptocratic, extremely unequal authority
in nominally, though not really christian regime, then they can see Russia as a positive model that makes that makes a certain kind of sense. Now, if that's not, you
if you don't have those ideas- and you still think the russian meddling is not an issue, then there are just Psmith There- some factual issues here and mean at a different level. So I think there are plenty of people who are trump support.
There is a Republicans who think the trumpeting who think that Russia thing or, as Mr Trumpets it there
and trumpet russian trumpeting, if you think it
real, I think, that's probably an information following problem, because if you follow even the russian Press, which is where I started, I mean I broke. The
story well over a year ago, writing from russian sources, because it was quite clear from open russian sources.
The russian political and media elites were siding with Mr Tromp. Not it was.
In the general election than it was during the primaries. They were already siding with Mr Trump
and there are a whole series of revelations over the course of two thousand sixteen which everyone should know right. Everyone should know that the first foreign policy speech
was written by somebody on the russian payroll that the first Russian and what
Russia adviser Mr Tromp, was on the russian payroll that that Mr Flynn, who is who was the advisor for security affairs and
briefly actually the National Security Visor, was on the page
of russian propaganda allege that Paul men of war,
Was the campaign manager was not paid by Mr Trump, but that he was someone who had offered up to MR?
and the possibility of starting up american Doc democracy for russian influence. These are all things that are publicly known right. It's also publicly known that, MR
you had to lie about his contacts with Russia, nor to get security clearance, its publicly known that Mr Sam
She had to lie about his contacts with the Russians in order to reproach it himself.
On confirmation. Hearing should become the most important law fish on the land, which has just absurd and grotesque. These things are all public
They're not deny their there in the record, so I think that there is also the question of asylum.
For information where people some people think ok, Russia, connection bad for Trump, therefore must be manufactured by his enemies and that's a way of thinking. We,
is dangerous and anti democratic. Coming if we're citizens, we all have to confront the facts as they are and and welcome an investigation, because if there was no collusion than than fine, then
and everything that ok than there was no collusion. If there was collusion, it benefits us all to fit to know about it,
yeah? Well, the silo end of information is an enormous problem which have been
they can about more and more, and I will we'll get to it more excited. I want to talk about the hostility to facts, which is, I think, it's your point, ten, which is crucial and cuts through. All of this,
but the silence of information. Is this enormous problem which we're going spend the rest of our lives grappling with, but, of course, everyone whose just heard what you said about the current situation about Russia's influence, who doesn't believe any of that will
just view what you said as a symptom of your own silo. When you ve been taken in by fake news, you read the fake news at the Washington Post and New York Times and whatever you're
russian language sources are, and you have you have been banned
Basel the way you are claiming. Other people are banned
Basel by their echo chamber, of bright barred and fox and all the rest in it, and that's it
a stalemate. Obviously you and I there's no parity between the two sides. In our view, so we Vienna, we return that favour and with neither of us will lose
Leap tonight wondering whether we were
generally right to trust the Washington Post.
The New York Times and the land
more than our opponents are. Critics are generally right to trust, bright Barton Fox by this silent problem. This this allegation
and of silencing, goes both ways and it is, it does make these particular conversations almost impossible to have across the sides. Is that you want to say about that yeah there's something really basic. I want to say about that. It has to do with what
We actually accept facts or not. It's one thing to say I know
a new fact be it's a nice
their thing when the Euro leaders are trying to teach you to be suspicious of acts as such
which is why I'm afraid, where we are now so when, when when Miss Conway tells us that we have alternative facts or when the president says that journalists are the enemies of the people. When Mister Brandon says the journal.
So an opposition party. What we have is not once had a fax and those are the facts which can mutually enrich
How are people who are actually trying to instruct Americans to be ignorant and occur?
it'd way and that's the language of authoritarianism, and we should just face
that's the way authoritarianism, works and authorities an attractive. For that reason, it's more comfortable to hear the
things that you want to hear over and over no, I mean I know Keynes kings. Put it very nicely when the facts, a change. I changed my mind, you know what do you do, sir? That's my view too. I might my views about Russia and Trump could be changed by a preponderance of evidence on the other side. Thus far, there is no
no such evidence and we keep the evidence that we have included in your right down to the fact that the president keeps trying to cancel the investigation spirit, which is, in my view, basically a confession. I mean let's face it. If we saw an end of it,
behave. That way in some other sphere of life we say well that person is cruelly guilty. But if the facts change, I'm happy to change, I'm happy changed my mind and it seems to me that that's the basic, that's the basic issue. Are we actually open to facts? Can we actually change our change our minds? So you know that's that
That's where I stand. If there's a lot of evidence on the other side, I will I will. I will change my mind. It happens to be the case that I do read russian
Do read Ukrainian when I know a lot of people who are fairly close. These events. Personally, I spent time in the country's I'd watch these things unfold.
The name comment afford has been familiar to me for a very long time. The whole cast of characterised were now appearing.
An american news, our people, that I've been reading about, for we know years or even decades. So I think I have some sense, a larger larger patterns. I think I'm pretty well informed, but I'm happy yield to someone who's, whose better informed and, above all, what I want is an investigation. So I mean if like, if, if you are, if you dont want investigation, why not? It seems like nothing. No harm. Can company investigation, if Mr Trumpets innocent, then of more, produces a wonderful investigation which shows that Miss
trumpets innocent, that's fine. That means all we have is a big intelligence problem, because a foreign power was able interviewed our elections in it, but if he produces facts in the other direction that further Mr Trump is guilty,
and I think we should all be willing to recognise that. But if your hostile to an investigation,
then, for me I mean the question is why no hope point of investigators to figure things out now? I want to extend that two. Why not release trumps tax returns? I'm pretty sure. I know why trumped doesn't want to release them, but because, as you say, he is, he was almost certainly not as wealthy as he claimed and was probably largely indebted to the Russians, neither of which is a crime, but all that's politically inconvenient. But the question is: why would a defender of Trump actually not want him to release his tax returns? If you think,
he's not this con man of a sort that with scarcely ever seen whose line about everything. Why wouldn't you than the men? What's the hurry,
ARM and having him releases, tax returns
is on you to explain: why do you think that would be a bad idea? One every candidate in recent decades has done that. I think we should just jump to the lesson ten here, because just its of a piece with what you just said and then go back and touch lesson for, but less than ten is believe in truth to abandon fax is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticise power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all the spectacle
The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights. That's really what has been so an to me and infuriating more than anything else has been this assault on truth,
this eroding of
the norms of civil conversation where, when something is as plain as day, you are forced to acknowledge it. They are forced to acknowledge it by the press. There is personal shame associated with
failing to acknowledge their reputational costs. No one listens to you ever again. If you are sufficiently out of register with what is true and and and deny it, we seem to have crossed over into some new place,
air someone I Kelly and Conway Arena Sean spice. Her can endlessly get on television and confabulate and to its credit, the media has become less and less patient. With this, since he had you, ve had these delightful moments where journalists have pressed both of these people in ways that people on the other side would no doubt think it is a sign of media bias, ended and lacks civility, but that, in the time for civility has long past with respect
characters like spices, Conway, mistress, unbelievable, how they attempt to you for my eyes and lie outright. So this is the less talk about that. I'm going to be a little bit more of your language here.
You submit to tyranny. When you were announced the difference between what you want to hear and was actually the case, this renunciation of reality can feel natural and pleasant. But the result is your demise as an individual and thus the collapse of any political system. That depends upon individualism, and then you, U references Victor Clamber, who talked about how truth dies in four modes and the first mode back to your text. The first mode is the open hostility to verifiable reality which takes the form of presenting inventions and lies as if they were facts. The president does this at a high rate and at a fast pace, one attempt during the two thousand sixteen campaign to track as utterances found that seventy eight percent of his factual
claims were false. This proportion is so high that it makes the correct assertions seem like unintended oversize on the path towards total fiction demean in the world, as it is begins the creation of a fictional counter world, so they salt, untrue. That is more fundamental, too
authoritarian regime change, then we sometimes realise- and- and that's because if we do read histories of communism, earnest
of fascism. The words were reading are are produced by historians who naturally or from
a kind of reasonable factual mode, and it's very hard to recall the poetry, the magic of the ideology as it functioned in the time, and that's why my book, I'm very careful to cite people who experienced national socialism.
Or fascism or communism and their own recollection of their own,
comparing experience of propaganda so that we have a sense of how people are
are vulnerable and how the propaganda works. Propaganda isn't just it's not it's not just a kind of muddling through
quality or meddling reality. Propaganda basically works by trying to replace our own individual apprehension of facts with something else. So the fascist said it's not what you think or were you?
feel you think you know this important. The only truth is whether or not you feel subjectively spiritually part of a larger national community, and if you do wonderful and if you dont, then you're an enemy and that the communist said,
The only truth is the vision of the beautiful utopian socialist future. Therefore, what what seems to be happening today is not applied,
today's only important insofar as it leads to that future. Therefore, it's only justified but actually required that we lie about things happening today, because that's going to help us get to that future that the difference in the twenty first century,
is that the people who are trying to bring about authoritarian regime changes don't have the same kinds of Grand VIC's grand visions. Their attack on truth is entirely negative, but nevertheless it's really effective and wandered about what about to describe has high,
and in Russia and its happening in the. U S, world role vulnerable to it. First step is what MR jumped into the sixteen, and you already described it. You fill the public sphere with things that are true, and you contradict yourself all the time, not just
on convenience, but because you actually you're going after the notion of of truth, will discussion then step to you, blame the people who are actually responsible for actually, you called the journalists you, you held a journalist end
or opponents you talk about, having a discipline them crackdown on them and so on. You you blame
everything on on them and then the third step, if you win, is that then
but he knows what truth is any more. Nobody trusty authority of Journalists- and you yourself end up having
monopoly, or at least the strongest position in the manufacture of the day of the symbols of the day. That's spinach that that's clearly what they're up to
I think it's, it's probably more central and more more important than gently realise, because it democracy, no one. No one
say where we're going, but we can say what democracy requires. Democracy requires the rule of law. There will fly recourse, trust and trust requires that we all think that their fur
out there. If you can give you can do away with that belief that there are facts out there. Then you ve gone straight to the heart of the matter and we ve. While Europe, you destroy democracy. That's this does a cheap and easy way to do it
and that's what the twenty first century authoritarian, have discovered, announced the process which is under way before our eyes named John,
been around with impunity here, because what you just said connects to the ninth lesson which
is be kind to our language, avoid pronouncing the
raises everyone else, does think up your own way of speaking, even if only to convey the thing you think everyone is saying, make an effort to separate yourself from the internet, read books and
You say something very relevant in that chapter: two, the weather press has
inadvertently or not normalized Trump, say, say politicians in our times feed their cliches to television or even those who wish to disagree. Repeat them. Television purports to challenge political language by
vain images, but the succession from one frame to another can hinder a sensor resolution. Everything happens fast, but nothing actually happens. Each story on television is breaking until this displaced by the next one.
So we are hit by wave upon wave but never see the ocean there's something in there that
I'm aware has been bothering me, but I really haven't thought about it in those terms, which is we're hostage to the new cycle, in a way that I guess with something I've. I've often said on his podcast, which, which is if tromp were one tenth, is bad.
He would see. Much worse is like that: the velocity of a line and the scandal and the conflict of interest. The fact that there is just something new to absorb every four hours, it seems, puts the the new cycle in
perpetual spin where just
right- and I do not have time to absorb the significance of what just happened, because four hours later something new will be in the news and the way in which this is especially true of television. The way in which journalists are forced to try to interact with the people in power to get their defence or exploit
asian or what's going on, causes them to normalize the quite crazy terms that are spewing from these people in power. Again this
and happens even in the mode where they day their seeming to be critical. They are
opt in the language that is already distorting our perception of of what is politically normal here that this is? This is one of the reasons why I am so careful with language in the book and where the formulations in the book, I think what will often seem
different than the kinds of formulations when with vines on television or even the newspapers, because I'm trying really hard on the basis of the things that I think I know to do. Conceptualize the present- and I think that
we we can all do it. I'm not gonna put a more optimistic spin on your question because I agree with all your premises. We were not really trapped by all this, though
we act like we are, but were not really trapped by it. We can decide that we're all gonna watch news on television for
you know, half an hour a day or a couple of hours a week and and schedule it rather than getting lost in it. Likewise, with the internet, we can decide that we're spend, you know happen
ordained and schedule it rather than just getting drawn in that. The truth is that we don't actually game
anything by watching more. We can do
you if you want to know the news reading a good newspaper and and mean oh, by the way subscribing to it
for half an hour. A day is going to be better than watching television or clicking on the internet for three or four hours a day we can. We can do that. We just have to have it. We have to say okay, this. If this matters to me, I'm going to display,
a little bit, because I want to be a free person and that also clear that the time for for reading and for speaking with with other people, so in order me out, I thought I'm not telling
people. What to think I'm just what I'm trying to remind us all of us that that the smart critics of authority
them, and this goes all the way through the night, the and eighties, into our own history of being a country that was once again spacious
at once against communism, at least in big parts of its elites. We once had all these concepts and we had these concepts speaking part because you're reading books, but all
in part, because just general reading, just the ability to bring to bear to bring to bear constructs to bring to bear phrases that that might apply to something which has struck Yucas when something happens,
you can react one of two one of two ways you can react in terms of the owned, the print the mental preparation you made yourself or you can react in a
according to the way people want you to react, and that includes, even though this administration is in many ways, incompetent.
And we can laugh out it sometimes in its messaging, as we say. Nevertheless,
have their way that they want us to follow and many people many people do just follow. But I guess that the fundamental thing
I would want to track here. It would be. Freedom were not really free unless we can put our own words on subjects
and unless we can put our onwards on subjects, we also can't really talk to other people, because if we speak the words of the internet that
look out or the television we watch, the other
people will recognise that, because in the internet they look out or the tv they watch the
the very words and phrases there being criticized. If we can find some other way to frame our concerns them.
We might of in the minds of others, some associations which go beyond
and what they were just watching, so that the reading is all
a precondition to the conversation. I think the conversation is also something that we very much need politically and our common upon
over an hour. I am mindful of your time Timothy's. I think I'll. Take one more chapter here which is chapter four: take responsibility for the face of the earth,
world. The symbols of today enable the reality of tomorrow notice, the swastikas and other signs of hate
not look away and do not get used to them, remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so, and then you use start this chapter saying life is political, not because the world cares about how you feel, but because the world reacts to what you do, the minor choices we make are themselves a kind of vote, make it more or less likely that free and fair elections will be held in the future. And then you go on to talk about something that Vaclav Havel Road in the the power of the powerless and
He was pointing out that this back your text, the continuity of an oppressive regime in whose goals and ideology few people still believed can be maintained and on a backdoor text. He offered a parable of a greengrocer who places assign reading workers of the world unite in his shop window. It is not that the man actually endorses the content of this quotation from the communist manifesto. He places the sign in his windows so that he can withdraw into daily life without trouble from the authorities when every one else follows the same logic. The public sphere
covered with signs of loyalty and resistance becomes unthinkable. They sat withdrawal into daily life. That is interesting to me. You know that I think people feel it on both sides here with people who would never, at least at this stage, post or utter any sign of loyalty, still find it in certain cases, too painful to express any dissent or too risky. Socially order is just not worth the hassle. What's the point of going public with one's feelings on this
maybe I'll talk about that that the risks in the rewards by by returning to some of the is some of the remarks you made the began, the conversation where you are true,
gather in listeners, who who might find the direction of this conversation to be two extreme. I just want to stress that in the connections that I'm making, I am I'm being instructed not just to store Clia,
also personally by people who have lived through these kinds of of regimes, and it's it's that that cause it's not just that the knowledge or the appreciation of the generosity, of the political theorists whom I am citing in its also the contiguity the personal contiguity, which makes this all seem.
Real to me, so I mean just before I started talking to you. I was returning an email from a woman,
who is the daughter of a german holocaust,
survivor and who talked about how her mother before she died. Her mother for gave her german friends for their embrace of on freedom, and so she she watched it have
then she she was chief. She fled is a girl, her family flood. She survived,
she remembered this this this process or into those up? There is a polish
holocaust survivor, who I know, I should say, knew who had a wonderful career,
in literature and was still was. Writing
to the very end but who suffered from cancer
and when Trump One decided to no longer treat the cancer and other word she decided to die, she didn't want to see it happen. So I mean those are just two examples of an awful lot of communication that happens still happens between
me and other people who work on those parts of the world and an earlier generations. Hobble was also somebody who, at the end of his life, I knew, and so it's just that I appreciate his wisdom,
also that his presence in my life and life, so many others reminds us that this happens to people like us were learning from these people, because their people, like us things nothing ever repeats, but similar things can have.
Open and it's not at all clear that, whereas wise as as someone like hobble, but that the fundamental point in lesson number four about the face of the earth
world and also in a number of the other point and the other. The other lessons like the one about small talk, has to do with everyday power. What hobble is saying is a bit like what we're talking about before with less than one each AIDS, its precise, ironically, gets precisely
it when we're facing incipient or weak authoritarianism, though we actually have.
More power than we do at other times, because gestures and words and handshakes count for very much more
they count in terms our own psychological alignment of ourselves as free people. They can
in their affirmation and their encouragement of people who might be marginalized. We'll know that people are, but if we affirm everybody than
No people are going to feel better and it also- and we also able to change the general atmosphere. No so for people think yeah. This is bad, but I don't want to take the risk. I mean I guess the fundamental thing is the most. These things are pretty small and you really don't change. Take very many risks by
our gene or by subscribing to a newspaper or by running for local office or by giving too
Non governmental organisation or at least at this particular moment,
risks that we're running are so small compared to others who have gone before us and who have so generously left for us all of this. Wonderful writing. You know that's one of the things I was struck by writing his book.
People like Victor Cleverer Hunter. Aren't they weren't rating for themselves. They were writing because they knew people later on with pay similar challenges. We have what they ve left us, and all we really have to do is
use it and then the other thing. I would say me with the last thing about the risks. It will all these things. The twenty lessons are basically good for you anyway, you know like, even if some, if, if I'm complete,
wrong about Trump, and you know it turns out that is in the middle of writing the treatise about the fourteenth amendment. You know we ve got him all wrong, even if I am completely mistaken. These are all these are daily practices that are
good for civil society in general, regardless of your political convictions. But let's say that there is some chance that I'm right or basically right, there's some chance that that that we could lose the kinds of freedoms that many Americans are used to taking for granted. That's the risk right, that's that's the risk, the risk that children and grandchildren will not know what is
like to be free, that's the risk. You know that that the coming tens and hundreds of millions of Americans will not know what it's like to be a free country, we'll just not know what we're
talking about when we talk about freedom, because that's what happens at me, freedom is not like it's not like cake. It's not like it's. There are not there when it's gone, the way that is gone,
is that you, people no longer know what it is and then you have a real struggle to get it back. I see so much in the United States now, which tends towards people forgetting forgetting what
is an that's. What I worry about us use me, that's the risk, which is so much greater than the risk that we might faced by whatever talking to a stranger sometime, that's a great place to leave it Timothy
tell you how much I enjoyed this conversation and your book, it's just you. You have a a very unique voice and you are speaking at the right time. So please keep it up, and- and I look forward to speaking to you-
on the package. It's my pleasure and I appreciate your preparation and in all of your work, I'm really glad that we have a chance to do this and I hope that we can talk again. You know whether, in this in this former her in person, I open person yeah. No doubt ok, we'll take care. Timothy
You too thanks a lot. If you find this punk asthma
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Transcript generated on 2020-03-23.