( BOOK The Road to Unfreedom ) By Timothy Snyder – latinboyz4play.com
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S of inevitability and the politics of eternity both bolster the authoritarian state because they both relieve people of any responsibility for the futureWhereas inevitability promises a better future for everyone eternity places one nation at the center of a cyclical story of victimhood Time is no longer a line into the future but a circle that endlessly returns the same threats from the past Within inevitability no one is responsible because we all now that the details will sort themselves out for the better within eternity no one is responsible because we all Lady Janes Nemesis know that the enemy is coming no matter what we do Eternity politicians spread the conviction that government cannot aid society as a whole but can only guard against threats 8With this theoretical model in place Snyder spends several chapters showing how Russia under Putin has moved from inevitability to eternity A lot of this is fairly dense intellectual history as the professor shows how the clearly fascist World War II era ideas of Ivan Ilyin were rehabilitated by Putin and other Russian elite He goes through a series of pro fascist Russian intellectuals that produced the intellectual environment for Putin s stateWhat comes through very clearly here is that Putin is a fascist Full stop That he has not been uiet about that in his speeches and writings in Russia He has openly uoted acknowledged fascist writers and promoted them to highly visible positions He has labeled America and Western Europe decadent enemies to Russia driven by a mad compulsion to homosexualize the world by forcing everybody to allow gay marriage This is apparently the most important issue in Putin s internal politics Putin has manipulated elections his own and others and suppressed anyind of democratic freedom Any gestures of friendship that he makes to America or Europe must be understood in this context he has pledged to his home audience that he will destroy usHere Snyder brings in another theoretical concept but a very easy one to understand He calls it strategic relativism which means in his words Russia cannot become stronger so it must make others weaker The simplest way to make others weaker is to make them like Russia This principle Snyder argues has driven Russia s policy towards the West since around 2008 The two primary targets have been the European Union and the United States A part of this strategy was the invasion of Ukraine in 2014 This was done because Russia s own geopolitical ambitions call for the creation of a Eurasian state that balances the EU But it was also done because Ukraine was getting too close to Europe and Putin wanted to deprive the EU and Ukraine from each other The invasion of Ukraine was only a modest success if even that as a military exercise But it was a triumph of propaganda as Russia figured out how to manipulate world opinion through bald faced lies Twitter and FacebookAnd this is the new front of the assault on both the EU and the US The Russians have figured out how to exploit democracy s design flaws by flooding social media channels with misinformation and by cultivating Westerners through huge capital transfers and overt blackmail Brexit was one example of this Donald Trump is another Both Snyder argues could not have been possible without RussiaAll of this leads up to a final chapter that is as devastating an indictment of Donald Trump as we are likely to get until the Mueller investigation comes to light Trump he shows has been groomed by the Russians for years starting in the 1990s when he was deep in debt and unable to pay his bills The Russians transferred huge amounts of money to him through unsecured loans and purchases of real estate at wildly inflated prices Trump s first campaign manager Paul Manafort made millions advising Russians and pro Russian Ukranians on political strategies and nearly every member of Trump s inner circle during the campaign had extensive contact with Russian agentsSo this is not just a few post on social media Russia created a fictional character that Snyder calls Donald Trump successful businessman It capitalized a basically bankrupt real estate developer and then started selling him to the world as a politician This does not necessarily mean that Trump himself collaborated with the Russians Snyder is careful to note that It is just as likely that he is a useful tool whose ambition and ignorance made him a perfect fit for Russian intdeligierests But there is no doubt whatsoever that pretty much everything Trump has done since becoming president is exactly what Putin and Russia wanted to happenAnd Trump has governed according to Putin s playbook which is what Snyder calls the politics of eternity Elements of this A Texas Rangers Family (The Stone Family kind of politics include Constant reference to a past era of greatness Hyperfocus on enemies who are enemies because of who they are and not what they do A profound belief in a zero sum or a negative sum world Willingness to hurt oneself if in doing so you can hurt someone else The manufacture of crises and conflicts where none exist in order to control the news cycle Constant labeling of information sources as fake in an effort to delegitimize any source of truth Repetition of blatant easily verifiable lies with no evidence to back them up other than the fact of the assertionThe end game here and there is an end game is that Americans become so distrustful of the rule of law and the political system that they no longer believe that anything they do will matter It does not matter to Putin if Trump is shown to be a corrupt bumbling liar What he wants us to believe is that everybody is a corrupt bumbling liar so one is just as good as another And if we get there we will be as miserable as the people in Russia are and Putin will have won by making us just like him Without increasing Russia s actual power he will have increased Russia s relative power by decreasing oursOr we could younow do something else This is a very focused investigation centered solely on Russia s recent history since the fall of the Berlin Wall it s becoming a pure Oligarchy or rather a Kleptocracy What s we get some rather startling and almost unbelievable details into the nature of Putin s aimLet me be clear end aim is very clear He s stated it about a million times He s so confident in his power and methods that I can t see any truly viable method to stop him And so he is open and honest about just how many lies he can get away withWhat s unbelievable is how he s been able to revise history on such a massive scale as to make Stalin a hero rewrite his involvement in WW2 drastically or taking a rel This book puts together a story we have only had hints at behind events like Brexit and Trump s election It starts with the neofascist ideology that Putin and the Russian oligarchs have adopted it centers around the ideas of a Russian exile and fascist named Ilyin and has morphed into Russian grand strategy to destroy the west The book is a lightning rod which shows a blow by blow account of the Russian attempts to export their authoritarian vision to other countries by using cyber warfare and allying with far right groups in Europe and America to sow division and chaos and bring down their perceived enemies in the west The Russians have incorporated a sinister protofascist ideology and hope to spread it Brexit and Trump were its fruits Must read Here is the author talking about his book The Road to Unfreedom is written by Timothy Snyder who also recently published On Tyranny Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century On Tyranny is short and brilliant The Road to Unfreedom is also good but it takes work and concentration But I highly recommend it to anyone trying to understand all the uickly moving pieces in Russia US relations these days If I had read this a few years ago it would have sounded like the paranoid musings of a conspiracy theorist Today unfortunately it rings all too true I listened to this as an audio but had also received a copy from Netgalley It works well as an audio but I suspect it works better as a print book because it would allow for going back over some of the dense information. Political order In this forceful and unsparing work of contemporary history Snyder goes beyond the headlines to expose the true nature of the threat to democracy By showcasing the stark choices before us between euality or oligarchy individuality or totality truth and falsehood Snyder restores our understanding of the basis of our way of life offering a way forward in a time of terrible uncertain.
Who decides that there is no truth is the citizen who welcomes the tyrant Flipping brilliant If you decide to read only one non fiction book this year make it this one Early on in the Mueller investigation and the Trump Russia scandal Steve Doocy of Fox Friends looked into the camera and asked rhetorically Do you even care seemingly asking a uestion but really telling his audience how they should think This book explains why everyone should care about Trump RussiaFirst it explains who Putin is what he believes and what he wants Spoiler alert Putin is not a communist holdover trying rebuild the old USSR Rather he is influenced by far right fascist philosophers who believe in the innocence of Russia in the face of an immoral decadent and homosexual west and he wants to weaken western democracies destroy the European Union and replace it with a Eurasian Union stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic and led by Russia Next the book examines the many actions Putin has taken to undermine democracy It s now common Racialization, Crime, and Criminal Justice in Canada knowledge that millions of Russian fake social media accounts promoted emails hacked from the DNC and attacked Hillary Clinton while promoting Donald Trump But Russian influence operations were also involved with Brexit the move for Scottish independence the French Presidential election and many others In 2012 Putin fixed his own election by electronically adding votes and when thousands of Russians took to the streets in protest he said they were paid as part of a plot initiated by Hillary Clinton and the decadent homosexual west Sound familiar Worst of all Putin invaded Ukraine and managed to convince people that the Ukrainians themselves were the fascists In 2014 Russian forces crossed into Ukrainian territory and shot down a civilian aircraft Nearly three hundred people including children died on flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur and the Russian government put out numerous stories in the aftermath including that this was a Ukrainian plot to assassinate Putin Finally this book delves into the many connections between Trump and Russia and how Trump willingly accepted Putin s help in the 2016 election It talks about how Russian money helped create the fictional character of Donald Trump successful businessman and how Trump s associates participated in Russian influence operations on social media and Trump himself lied calling these events a hoax Snyder also analyzes some of the deeper socio economic issues in the United States that made all of this possible His theories of the politics of inevitability versus the politics of eternity are nothing short of brilliant Importantly impeaching Trump alone does not solve the problem Putin and similar leaders will return and unless the US addresses its racial and economic ineualities it will remain vulnerableI want to be clear that I have nothing against the Russian people They are victims in this as well and they deserve a functioning democracy just like everyone else As world citizens we are all in this together and must all resist fascismI also enjoyed Snyder s On Tyranny Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century review here It s much shorter and reads like a how to guide for resisting fascism in the age of Trump Anyone who likes that book will love this one This book is astonishingly bad Bloodlands by this author was a decent book This one is confused in theory biased in orientation and paranoid in psychology Essentially the book is a Russophobic rant with Vladimir Putin at the center of a global web of evil with Donald Trump at one of its outer nodes Putin in the author s narrative pulls the strands connected to the Donald I have many uarrels with this book I will list them until I run out of wrath and gasFirst As a conceit to give a theme to his work Snyder contrasts two concepts of history as employed in political language the eternity view eg we are victims and we have forever enemies vs the view of the present as culmination as in the much discussed albeit trivial The End of History This distinction makes little sense either in terms of intellectual history or as an analysis of propaganda It s justind of goofySecond Snyder constantly uses the word fascist with as much vigor as the Stalinists did when they denounced social democrats as social fascists or Jonah Goldberg does when he finds fascism in contemporary liberalism Because it s a term of political abuse fascism has lost much of its meaning and there is certainly little consistency in what it means from one writer to another I don t think it has much use beyond Mussolini s Italy and perhaps those who consciously emulated itThird Snyder completely ignores the geopolitical factors that freuently drive Russian policy Russia has no strong natural barriers to the West or to the East as nd has freuently been invaded from both directions Europe s insistence on swallowing up Central Europe and More information with links to my review coming soon stay tuned The Road to Unfreedom was not the book I was expecting it to be which is not necessarily a problem since the thing it was is at least as good as the thing I thought it would be What I was expecting was a sort of parallel history study of Russia the European Union and the United States showing how various global trends have influenced each of these entities in similar ways What I got was a very learned history of Modern Russia under Vladimir Putin and an clear explanation of how he has influenced both Europe and the United States for his own political endsThe book is part theory and part journalism and the theory is important to understanding the journalism The basic theoretical narrative that Snyder offers goes something like this the two major dysfunctions in a society are the politics of inevitability and the politics of eternity The politics of inevitable are fueled by wrongful optimism the belief that history is guaranteed to take a certain direction so there is no need to worry about anything Classical Marxism is a manifestation of the politics of inevitability because it sees history as inevitably ending up with a socialist revolution and the overthrow of capitalism A similar politics of inevitability saturated America after the end of the Cold War as neoconservatives touted the end of history or the belief that free market capitalism and liberal democracy remained the only viable ideology in the worldThe politics of inevitability is pretty straightforward The politics of eternity is harder to understand partly I think because Snyder s terminology doesn t really work here What he means is something like politics unmoored from history Where the politics of inevitability are driven by hope the politics of eternity are driven by despair In this phase leaders portray their nation as a uniuely moral entity that has been historically misunderstood and besieged by enemies It looks to the past for challenges and then presents those past challenges as present realities And it presents the problems to be solved as so great that no government could ever solve them All that a leader can do is protect the country from its eternal threats and preserve its eternal righteousness Fascism is perhaps the clearest example of a form of government based on the politics of eternityThe politics of eternity reuires not only the suspension of historical understanding but a suspension of truth It cannot exist in a world of verifiable facts that motivate actions so it must go to great lengths to separate the people from the facts This means authoritarian suppression of speech of course but it also means massive propaganda But the propaganda is not so much aimed at convincing people to believe that a lie is true as it is aimed at convincing people that NOTHING is true so they might as well believe whatever is most convenient The propagandists of this ind of state as their most basic mode of communication work to undermine people s belief in facts When this is gone then the state assumes the right to declare what is true and the leader lies with impunity simply to force other people to become complicit in the charadeIn different ways the politic. As nationalism inflames Europe abetted by Russian propaganda and cyberwarfare While countries like Poland and Hungary have made hard turns towards authoritarianism the electoral upsets of 2016 revealed the citizens of the US and UK in revolt against their countries' longstanding policies and valuesBut this threat to the West also presents an opportunity to better understand the pillars of our own.
For the first time The Road to Unfreedom Russia Europe America enabled me to see the relationship between the lies and fascism of Vladimir Putin Russian interference in the politics of the United States and Europe and the lies and fascism of Donald Trump Seeing the big picture is no less depressing but at least Timothy Snyder gives us a coherent sense of what is ailing us and a chance to defeat these monsters Everyone should hear his message before the United States embraces the politics of eternity as Snyder calls it in which lies manipulation and artificial nostalgia for times that never were propel us into the abyssI have also been reading lately much of the history of Nazism including the extraordinarily expert manipulation of the German people by Hitler and Joseph Goebbels Putin though intelligent and cunning lacks the maniacal ideological commitment of Hitler and his cronies But he does understand how to establish an oligarchy of outrageously rich leptocrats including himself and his family while eeping the common people confused and repressed Trump can aspire to that idea given that ineuality and racism in the United States parallels that of Russia that billionaires like the Koch brothers the Murdochs the Mercers and the Trumps have been empowered by Citizens United and that the political deck is stacked but Trump is too stupid in himself to implement it I do believe given America s overall wealth power and proud political traditions not to mention common decency that we can avoid the sad fate of the Russians and the unfortunate UkrainiansWe must however recognize that Putin s cyberwar against the United States and Europe threatens us all He has already done great damage Barack Obama gave a mild reproof and Trump is delighted Let us use our superior digital capabilities to ensure that Putin fails and takes Trump with him Timothy Snyder has coined two terms to reflect political states of mind that are ahistorical The first is inevitablilty as in the politics of inevitability the second is eternity as in the politics of eternity Once defined both will feel familiar to us The politics of inevitability is a childlike state in which we assume the way things are is inevitable unchangeable and meant to be since we ve gotten used to it and forgotten about alternatives In the West once the Berlin wall came down and once the Soviet Union had collapsed we thought liberal small l democracy had won once and for all After a while too no one had experienced anything else This is akin to the logical error that says because things have always been some way they always will be When the politics of inevitability prevails we as individuals really have no meaningful political responsibility since the current situation is after all inevitable And for the same reason we don t have concern for caution or limits since what is inevitable can neither need support nor suffer damage Then some new mental framework or attitude against which we have no ready defenses descends on society perhaps in response to some unexpected trauma or shock to the system think Trump or Brexit perhaps aided and abetted by a new disruptive form of media In the sixteenth century that disruptive media was the printing press at some earlier point it was writing itself Now we re talking the internet and social media After the politics of inevitability is dispatched the politics of eternity settles in The politics of eternity is us them on steroids We are innocent victims of them for all eternity in an endlessly repeating cycle of drama and spectacle with nothing to be done except get with the program get on board get brainwashed and accept along with everyone else the acceptable beliefs Don t think and without thought there is no dissent A modicum of coercion and a dash of violence will season the stewBetween the two inevitability and eternity is a space for history Only in history can we think and act and make a difference That s what the author is aiming for That s the good His heroes are the investigative journalists who see and observe often at risk to themselves enabling us to remove from our eyes the enveloping and blinding shroud of eternity His book s dedicationFor the reporters the heroes of our timeSnyder organizes his book into six chapters with the title of each a political virtue juxtaposed to its opposite The first is Individualism or Totalitarianism In that first chapter he describes Ivan Ilyin the rehabilitated fascist and conspiracy theorist of the early to mid twentieth century whose thinking informs the political ideology of Putin s Russia where the politics of eternity is in full sway helped by the fact that most Russians receive their news via state controlled TV and at the national not local level Russia white and Christian and meant to be at the forefront of the nations is for all time the pure and innocent victim of fascist violation the West along with its liberalism freedom and factuality is by definition that violator and in the defense against it all is justified The individual too is evil except as a part of the state about which status the individual has no choice The second chapter is Succession or Failure either the state has a succession principle by which power changes hands lawfully or it doesn t the Ilyin ideal being a manly leader who mystically embodies and represents his country and retains power the model that supports Putin s Russia in its current oligarchical manifestation In contrast if the rule of law prevails at the top meaning a real principle of succession then imperfections in the system such as corruption or ineuality are potentially correctable Chapter Three is Integration or Empire In contrast to Yoram Hazony s book The Virtue of Nationalism which has been making waves lately Snyder argues that our notion of independent states is rooted in myth He says that in actuality what we formerly had were empires whose attempted persistence as independent states could not be maintained and from which failed effort they were rescued by the EU The imperial mode is colonization which is familiar so far but what Snyder points to is colonization within Europe with disputes settled not by diplomacy but by invasion and annexation That s the mode to which a Russia looking backward to the age of empire aspires and which its fascist and totalitarian ideology aims to justify Inherent in those views is that circa 2010 or 2012 Russia gave up early efforts to modernize and liberalize that is to compete with the West on its own terms embarking instead on its current courseNext comes Chapter Four Novelty or Eternity About halfway into that chapter Snyder gets to what happened in Ukraine in 2013 and eventually 2014 Novelty means Ukraine as an independent democracy pursuing country intent on closer integration with Europe while eternity as used here refers to Russian mythology that Ukraine is and always has been Russian so that Russia was going to put its foot down and put a halt to Ukrainian independence Thus Snyder at this point in his book reaches recent history He movingly describes the solidarity resulting from the Maidan protests some of which I believe found expression in his earlier book On Tyranny Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century And he tells what happened a lot of which received inadeuate attention in the West In Chapter Five Truth or Lies he continues with the information war how Russia played Ukrainian and Russian speakers within Ukraine against each other created propaganda that the Maidan independence demonstrations were fascist endeavors engineered by the US and also propagandized its own citizens from outlying parts of the country with outrageous stories for example that Ukrainians had crucified a three year old Russian boy in ord All of the virtues depend upon truth and truth depends upon them all Final truth in this world is unattainable but its pursuit leads the individual away from unfreedom The temptation to believe what feels right assails us at all times from all directions Authoritarianism begins when we can no longer tell the difference between the true and the appealing The cynic. With the end of the Cold War the victory of liberal democracy was thought to be absolute Observers declared the end of history confident in a peaceful globalized future But we now now this to be premature Authoritarianism first returned in Russia as Putin developed a political system dedicated solely to the consolidation and exercise of power In the last six years it has creeped from east to west.
( BOOK The Road to Unfreedom ) By Timothy Snyder – latinboyz4play.com
Timothy Snyder is Housum Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997 where he was a British Marshall Scholar He has held fellowships in Paris Vienna and Warsaw and an Academy Scholarship at Harvard His most recent book is Black Earth The Holocaust as History and Warning p