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The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe,…

The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (edition 2018)

by Timothy Snyder (Author)

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283463,614 (4.25)15
"From the author of On Tyranny comes a stunning new chronicle of the rise of authoritarianism from Russia to Europe and America. With the end of the Cold War, the victory of liberal democracy was thought to be final. Observers declared the end of history, confident in a peaceful, globalized future. This faith was misplaced. Authoritarianism returned to Russia, as Putin found fascist ideas that could be used to justify rule by the wealthy. In the 2010s, it has spread from east to west, aided by Russian warfare in Ukraine and cyberwar and information war in Europe and the United States. Russia found allies among nationalists, oligarchs, and radicals everywhere, and its drive to dissolve Western institutions, states, and values found resonance within the West itself. The rise of populism, the British vote against the EU, and the election of Donald Trump were all Russian goals, but their achievement reveals the vulnerability of Western societies and the uncertain character of Western political order. This fundamental challenge to democracy presents an opportunity to better understand the pillars of our own political order. In this forceful and unsparing work of contemporary history, based on vast research as well as personal reporting, Snyder goes beyond the headlines to expose the true nature of the threat to democracy and law. By revealing the stark choices before us--between equality 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 uncertainty"--Provided by publisher.… (more)
Title:The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America
Authors:Timothy Snyder (Author)
Info:Tim Duggan Books (2018), 354 pages
Collections:Your library, Kindle
Tags:Kindle, History, Politics, Up Next

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The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America by Timothy Snyder



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Showing 4 of 4
Russian politics has been rotten at the top for as long as anyone can remember. This book is a report on the efforts of the Russian leadership to spread that rot to other countries through war, lies and social media. Reading it was exhausting. So much racism, misogynism, anti-semitism, homophobia and stupidity suffuse its pages that all hope for humanity seems to be lost. I'm sure this was the author's intention, and it certainly brings home the essence of Vladimir Putin's legacy to the world. The billions he has made from Russian oil seem to have been put to very cost-efficient use in the employment of hackers and trolls that creating strife and influence elections in Europe and America.

This book thereby gives a wakeup call to anyone who has underestimated the nature and extent of Russian misinformation, but I think it's perspective is a bit too one-sided and overly repetitive. For example, when discussing the invasion of Ukraine, the author quotes at length what Russian motorcycle gangs and other minions had to say about it, as if that actually mattered. It's certainly interesting to know that Putin and his immediate lieutenants feed bizarre Jewish-gay-black-conspiracy narratives to the Russian people, but parroting gang leaders are surely not accurate representatives of the reception that propaganda receives among the people. It couldn't have been that hard to find Russians who are critical of the leading junta - even I can name a few off the top of my head. I would have included one or two voices of reason in this book just to show that the rot stops somewhere.

The last chapters of the book deal with the election of Trump - on the one hand, how incredibly much help he received from Russia, and on the other how wide the fault lines of American society already were before Putin got involved. The picture it paints of American politics is akin to Fukuyama's analysis in Political Order and Political Decay: the plutocratic two-party system is not responsive to the needs of disadvantaged citizens and seems to be broken beyond repair. If Putin's dream is to generate disunity, political paralysis and disintegration in America, his biggest success stories might yet be to come.
  thcson | Jan 25, 2020 |
The Road To Unfreedom
by Tim Snyder
Tim Duggan Books
5 / 5

If your wondering just how deep-how involved- Donald Trump is with Russia, this book will make you sweat. His ties with Putin have a long history and is much deeper and longer. Putinś ´Politics of Inevitablity´ , his stabilization of massive inequality, the displacement of policy by propaganda, the ¨fake news¨ are some ways Putin used to spread confusion, distrust and discredit journalists, beginning 20 or more years ago. How he rose to power and drove out opponents, by attacking the individual vs. totalitarianism. Russia still claims no responsibility for the war with the Ukraine.
This book shows how Putin helped Trump, a failed real estate developer, into a recipient of capitol. To portray that failed real estate developer as a wealthy American businessman on TV and to finally intervene and support this person in the 2016 election. No surprise he called Putin first to be congratulated.
Putins buying of Trump began before the 1990ś. He taught Trump one lesson: strategic relativism.
*Russia cannot become stronger, so it must make others appear weak, as weal as Russia.
*Putin can´t change his own reputation, so he must change how others view his opponents.
p. 267: ¨Trump adopted the Russian double standard: he was permitted to lie all the time, but any minor error by a journalist discredited the entire profession of journalism.¨
¨He referred to them as the ´enemy of the American people´ and claimed what they produced was ¨fake news¨. Trump was proud of these formulations, although both were Russian.¨
It was more important to try to humiliate a black president than it was to defend the independence of the USA. Putin waited to find an easy and vulnerable candidate. He has groomed Trump for years, training him to do his dirty work. Trump still does not get it.
This is a chilling and detailed history of the Soviet Union and EU- the Ukraine and Russia. The history of the countries and their political histories are detailed. And how it affects the USA-how deeply Putin has been able to begin to turn us from a democratic country to a much more vulnerable and easily controlled state of authoritarian rule. He commandeered Trump to be his pony...his boy......to make confusion, rhetoric and fake news become the norm.
Because you can´t change Russia.
But you can try to change the way the rest of the world views your biggest opponent. With Trump in the White House it is that much easier to convince the rest of the world that Russia is not much different than the USA. So Putin is just like us......Russia is innocent. Russia is pure. Its the USA that we should fear.......
Put down ´Fear´ and read this. It actually is a more true and real account of what kind of monster Trump is. ( )
  over.the.edge | Mar 11, 2019 |
Tracks Russia’s propaganda (and at times physical) assault on Ukraine, Europe, and the US. Snyder argues that Russia has fallen under the spell of “eternal time”—in which people believe that nothing can change for the better, and so all that can bring relief/pleasure is a mythic past nationhood that must always be asserted against enemies. Europe and the US were complacent, believing that there was no alternative to modern capitalism—but autocracy was waiting, and has succeeded in placing its representative in the US Presidency. Very distressing look at the theorists, if you can call them that, behind Russia’s export of autocracy, as well as at how Russia invaded Ukraine but got the world to ignore that fact. ( )
  rivkat | May 21, 2018 |
This persuasive book looks at Putin’s favorite Russian political philosopher and the template he set for fake news

Even presidents who don’t believe in history need a historian to rely on. When asked, in 2014, by a delegation of students and history teachers for his chosen chronicler of Russia’s past, Vladimir Putin came up with a single name: Ivan Ilyin.
Ilyin is a figure who might have been easily lost to history were it not for the posthumous patronage of Russia’s leader. Putin first drew attention to him – Ilyin was a philosopher, not a historian, a Russian who died in exile in Switzerland in 1954 – when he organised the repatriation of Ilyin’s remains for reburial in Moscow in 2005. Ilyin’s personal papers, held in a library in Michigan, were also brought “home” at the president’s request. New editions of Ilyin’s dense books of political philosophy became popular in Kremlin circles – and all of Russia’s civil servants reportedly received a collection of his essays in 2014. And when Putin explained Russia’s need to combat the expansion of the European Union, and laid out the argument to invade Ukraine, it was Ilyin’s arguments on which the president relied.
Timothy Snyder begins his pattern-making deconstruction of recent Russian history – which by design, he argues, is indistinguishable from recent British and American history – with a comprehensive account of Putin’s reverence for the work of Ilyin. Like much of Snyder’s analysis in this unignorable book, the framing offers both a disturbing and persuasive insight.
Ilyin, an early critic of Bolshevism, had been expelled by the Soviets in 1922. In Germany, where he wrote favorably of the rise of Hitler and the example of Mussolini, he developed ideas for a Russian fascism, which could counter the effects of the 1917 revolution. As a thread through his nationalist rhetoric, he proposed a lost “Russian spirit”, which in its essence reflected a Christian God’s original creation before the fall and drew on a strongly masculine “pure” sexual energy (he had been psychoanalyzed by Freud). A new Russian nation should be established, Ilyin argued, to defend and promote that ineffable spirit against all external threats – not only communism but also individualism. To achieve that end, Ilyin outlined a “simulacrum” of democracy in which the Russian people would speak “naturally” with one voice, dependent on a leader who was cast as “redeemer” for returning true Russian culture to its people. Elections would be “rituals” designed to endorse that power, periodically “uniting the nation in a gesture of subjugation”.
The more outrageous the official lie was, the more it allowed people to demonstrate their faith in the Kremlin
To establish that dystopian state, Snyder argues, Putin’s regime has deliberately pursued two of Ilyin’s central concepts. The first demanded the identification and destruction of the enemies of that Russian spirit to establish unity; alien influences – Muslim or Jewish, fundamentalist or cosmopolitan – were intent on “sodomizing” Russian virtue (sexual imagery is never far away in the Kremlin’s lurid calls to arms). If those enemies did not exist they would have to be invented or exaggerated. After the terror attacks on Russian institutions – the Moscow theater siege and the Beslan school massacre – Chechen separatism was used as a reason to bring first television and then regional governorship under state control. Those policies were led, Snyder documents, by Vladislav Surkov, the former postmodernist theater director who was Boris Yeltsin’s deputy chief of staff and then Putin’s lead strategist. Surkov directs a policy, borrowed from Ilyin, which he calls “centralization, personification, idealization”. With Surkov’s management, “Putin was to offer masculinity as an argument against democracy”, Snyder suggests; he was to associate, specifically, for example, gay rights and equal marriage with an attack on the Russian spirit.

In this culture war, disinformation was critical. Russian TV and social media would create a climate in which news became entertainment, and nothing would quite seem factual. This surreal shift is well documented, but Snyder’s forensic examination of, for example, the news cycle that followed the shooting down of flight MH17 makes essential reading. On the first day official propaganda suggested that the Russian missile attack on the Malaysian plane had in fact been a bodged attempt by Ukrainian forces to assassinate Putin himself; by day two, Russian TV was promoting the idea that the CIA had sent a ghost plane filled with corpses overhead to provoke Russian forces.
The more outrageous the official lie was, the more it allowed people to demonstrate their faith in the Kremlin. Putin made, Snyder argues, his direct assault on “western” factuality a source of national pride. Snyder calls this policy “implausible deniability”; you hear it in the tone of the current “debate” around the Salisbury attack: Russian power is displayed in a relativist blizzard of alternative theories, delivered in a vaguely absurdist spirit, as if no truth on earth is really provable.
The second half of Snyder’s book explores how Russia has sought to export this policy to those who threaten it, primarily through a mass disinformation war, a 2.0 update of Sun Tzu’s “confusion to our enemy” principle, with the aim of dividing and polarising pluralist democracies – in particular the EU and the US – against themselves.

Wreckage of flight MH17: official propaganda suggested the attack on the Malaysian plane had been a bodged attempt to assassinate Putin. Photograph: Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters
Snyder is very astute at joining the dots in how Russian propagandists, human or digital, sought to spread fake news to undermine faith in the democratic process, at the same time giving overt support to European separatists and Russia TV regulars such as Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage. He details how, for example, Russian “news” sources spread the idea that the Scottish independence vote had been “rigged” by “establishment forces” with the aim of undermining faith in democratic institutions in Britain before the EU referendum. We are still awaiting, of course, the full disentangling of Donald Trump’s complex relations with Putin’s government, and the many links between his campaign organization and Russian operatives. As with Luke Harding’s book Collusion, however, there is more than enough here to keep Robert Mueller busy for a long while yet.
One unavoidable conclusion of this depressing tale lies in the acknowledgment that Putin’s strategy has been so successful in shaking faith in the sanctity of fact and expert knowledge. A measure of that assault comes when you examine your reaction to this meticulously researched and footnoted book as you read it. Timothy Snyder is professor of history at Yale. His book Bloodlands, about the fallout of second world war atrocities on the eastern front, won the prestigious Hannah Arendt prize and was described by the late, great Tony Judt as “the most important book to appear on this subject in decades”. And yet as he unfolds this contemporary sequel, you might well hear, as I did from time to time, those sneery voices now lodged in your head that whisper of “liberal elitism” and “fake news” and “MSM” and “tempting conspiracies”, and which refuse ever, quite, to be quieted. How did we get here? Snyder has a good idea.
1 vote burkenorm | Apr 27, 2018 |
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