Let me tell you what will scare the fuck out of anyone with a brain and a sense of history — a little teeny, tiny book my father gave all his children when Trump was elected.
Snyder is a historian who specializes in 20th Century Europe — especially Eastern Europe — you know with Hitler, Stalin and the little tyrants and dictators who followed in their jackbooted footsteps from 1930-1990. You want to talk about dark and depressing — my Bullshit is a fucking ray of sunshine compared to a basic course in actual history.
On Tyranny is not really a book — more of a long essay. Even a Bullshit reader could finish it (I’m looking at you, Gibson).
Snyder looks at what Obama and Trump have done and assumes the US is headed in the same direction as Italy in the 1920s or Spain in the 1930s. The history of 20th Century Europe is littered with democracies turning to dictatorships.
He could be completely wrong. This could be but a blip and everything will be fine in 2021. We’ll laugh about Trump the way the eldery remember Earl Butz.
But that’s exactly what they thought in 1932 Germany, and 1918 Russia, and later all the way from Latvia to Bulgaria . Nobody knew the last election was “the last election“. They wouldn’t get a real vote again without a revolution or until their grandchildren were old and gray.
The playbook to turn democracy to dictatorship is so simple even Eric Trump could follow it:
- Attack the media
- Attack the judiciary
- Put your cronies in control of the military
- Spread confusion, disillusion and cynicism with your propaganda machine (Fox News)
- Find easy scapegoats (illegals)
- Praise a single personality
- Reward sycophants for their blind loyalty and ambition
- Punish honesty…
It works because democracy (or a republic) is hard. There’s no fucking magic to making decisions together — that’s why Congress has always sucked.
But the alternative is letting a narcissistic egotist run the world as he (it’s almost always men — fucking embarrassing to those of us with a penis) sees fit. It usually ends in mass imprisonment and mass killings.
On Tyranny lists 20 things people can do to protect themselves in a coming totalitian state. I won’t repeat the whole list — just the ones that were not obvious to me, but can be scary as shit.
- Stay out of legal trouble — they will use the courts against you.
- Stay out of debt — they will collect in ways you can’t predict.
- Build a network of people you trust and a private life — you may need help to escape.
- Vote and stay active but don’t leave a paper trail (they will track you down by what you write or even what you read).
What’s happened in other countries also shows how it’s up to individual people to fight dictators. They do that by enforcing professional ethics, weeding out managers or local leaders who are anxious to follow the new ruler and keep telling the truth in the face of an avalanche of lies.
Apathy is the real enemy. It feeds the dictatorial beast.
Fight the Power
For my part, I’m going to follow the sage advice of humorist Art Buchwald. When asked if he was a Republican or a Democrat, he said, “I’m against whoever is in power…”
So I’ll hold my nose and pick whatever weak candidate the Democrats are going to nominate so we get rid of the Orange Putin Puppet. But the second that shithead gets in, I’ll be against them too.
Congress sucks, but if we learned anything in 2020, we need the House and Senate to do their fucking number one job — keep a budding presidential dictator in check. But that didn’t happen, so it’s up to us.
If history has any value, we have recognize when Trump or any other power-mad asshole is trying to become a tyrant. We may not be there yet; but we are definitely living “in Tryanny.”
We need to treat this next election like it could be the last election.