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On Tyranny, by Timothy Snyder

Timothy Snyder is an American author and professor at Yale University who focuses on the history of Eastern and Central Europe. On Tyranny, written by Snyder focuses on how threats to democracies still exist in today’s day and twenty different strategies that citizens could utilize to uphold democracy against authoritarian government regimes.

In the book, it was implied that history does not repeat but it does instruct. It could be seen that studying major historical events, could help us to observe a totalitarian regime and how could we overcome it by observing past events that are related to tyrannical dictatorship and fascism. Snyder argued that people feared that democracy would be overthrown by an authoritarian government, thus Snyder provided twenty strategies to overcome it. Furthermore, I would be evaluating Snyder’s take on democracy and authoritarianism in the US and Russia and I would also evaluate Snyder’s suggestions to overcome an authoritarian regime and whether I agree or disagree with his ideas.

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In chapter eighteen Snyder stated that every American needs to try to “be a patriot”, It is crucial for Americans to keep their national interest in mind, preserve democracy, and refuse to fall for Trump’s regime to convince their citizen to do whatever he thinks best as the national interest. Moreover, President Putin successfully used a similar tactic in the 1990s that was used in Nazi Germany, Putin exploited terrorist attacks launched by his own secret agents in order to destroy his opponent. Trump expressed his appreciation for Putin’s strategy and his determination to stimulate similar action, Snyder then stated that Americans need to be equipped and observant if such a thing were to happen. In my opinion, Snyder is very attentive regarding this issue, Planning a terror attack in order to gain more power could be dangerous and not to mention could result in dire consequences, the citizens have the right to feel safe and it is very inhumane for the President to plan such an elaborate scheme.

In the sixteenth chapter, Snyder stated that Americans tend to not acknowledge that other countries are tackling similar issues to theirs. Snyder argued that this is a problem since American’s perspectives of politics and knowledge are very limited and they tend to think that American democracy could not collapse. As a matter of fact, Snyder noted that Ukrainian and Russian journalists were able to analyze Trump’s election more precisely in comparison to the American journalists, Snyder believes that this is due to the Ukrainians and Russians having experienced their democratic institution overthrown by nepotism and authoritarianism. From my standpoint, it is important that Americans acknowledge the consequences of being ruled under a totalitarian rule, as Putin’s regime does not comply with a democratic institution. Additionally, The US has never been in a totalitarian government as their country is based on a representative democracy where the people hold the ultimate power, as opposed to Russia which is currently under Putin’s rule and is said to be under a democratic government, even though it has always been under Putin’s control.

Snyder stated that Putin’s regime slowly transformed into an authoritarian regime, in order to avoid a totalitarian government it is crucial that people need to battle the temptation to believe what they would like to believe but instead, go towards the truth. I agree with Snyder’s point as in the US, people are constantly bombarded and are easily influenced by media talks, although Americans could use their rights to voice out their opinions and the twenty-second amendment exists to prevent the president from being elected and served in the office more than twice, while Putin has served three terms and served in the office for 18 years. In the US, Trump was impeached for abusing his power (Sear and Fandos, 2019), while in Russia, anyone who is against Putin would be given dire consequences, as there is little to no democracy in Russia.

In conclusion, it is important that we learn from past historical events to prevent mistakes from happening as people’s political choices have the power to shape their future. As I have mentioned before, Russia is under Putin’s rule, which could be argued as tyrannical or authoritarian with little to no freedom, while the US is not as US citizens have the Constitution to protect their basic human rights and in this case, it is important for Americans to defend their democratic institution, in an effort to prevent falling for a totalitarian government.

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