Oct 9, 2021 • 8M

Lesson 2. Defend institutions (podcast)

On Tyranny, illustrated for the 2020s

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Timothy Snyder
The words we need for the politics of today.
Episode details

The last podcast was about lesson one, not obeying in advance. That is the first lesson of On Tyranny because all of the others depend upon it. If we do obey in advance, if we normalize what is coming before it even arrives, we are part of the problem of tyranny. If we can preserve our own sense of values, if "normal” for us means what is good and right and not just whatever happens, then we have a chance to follow some of the other lessons. Number two is about defending institutions, and this could hardly be more timely. Our American democracy is under threat: not just from a violent attempt to overthrow it, not just by a big lie about the last election, but from a nasty legalism that instructs us that whatever becomes the law must be democratic. This is not true. All around the world democracies are ending because parliaments pass laws that make democratic institutions ever less so. Defending institutions means defending the values that should inform them, not just following along with whatever happens. Ultimately the only way to defend institutions is to make them better. This is the second podcast in a series of twenty to come, accompanying the publication of the graphic edition of On Tyranny. It was published earlier this week, and quickly (thanks to Nora Krug’s stunning graphic adaptation, and thanks to the support of you and others like you) became, on that day at least, the bestselling book in the country. I hope that means that this and the other lessons will continue to help us.