Timothy Snyder, in his small but powerful book On Tyranny (2017), points out that history can familiarize and it can warn. In our past, both fascism and communism were responses to globalization - to the real and perceived inequalities it created, and the apparent helplessness of the democracies in addressing them. He offers twenty lessons from the twentieth century that are relevant today and here are just a few:
- Take responsibility for the face of the world. The symbols of today enable the reality of tomorrow. Notice the swastikas and other signs of hate. Do not look away, and do not get used to them. Remove them yourself and set an example for others to do so.
- Stand out. Someone has to. It is easy to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. Remember Rosa Parks. The moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow.
- Be kind to our language. Avoid pronouncing the phrases 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.
- Believe in truth. To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. THe biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
- Investigate. Figure things out for yourself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on the internet is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate propaganda campaigns (some of which come from abroad). Take responsiblty for what you communicate iwth others.