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Going Down Timothy Snyder's 'Road To Unfreedom'

Professor Timothy Snyder. (Courtesy Bundestagsfraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen / Flickr)
Professor Timothy Snyder. (Courtesy Bundestagsfraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen / Flickr)

With Robert Siegel

We’ll talk with Timothy Snyder about his warning on the rise of authoritarianism from Russia to Europe and America.


Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. His new book is called “The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America”. (@TimothyDSnyder)

From The Reading List:

Excerpt from “The Road to Unfreedom”: 

The New York Times: “Are We Traveling the ‘Road to Unfreedom’?” — “We are living in dangerous times, Timothy Snyder argues forcefully and eloquently in his new book, ‘The Road to Unfreedom.’ Too many of us, leaders and followers, are irresponsible, rejecting ideas that don’t fit our preconceptions, refusing discussion and rejecting compromise. Worse, we are prepared to deny the humanity and rights of others. In his chilling ‘Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin,’ Snyder explored the ghastly consequences of tyranny and the breakdown of human values and norms in the center of Europe.

The road to unfreedom, as Snyder sees it, is one that runs right over the Enlightenment faith in reason and the reasonableness of others — the very underpinning, that is, of our institutions and values. Recent examples, found around the world, demonstrate both how important conventions and mutual respect are as a way of maintaining order and civility — and how easily and carelessly they can be smashed. Just think of President Trump’s regular impugning of the loyalty of those who work for the American government, in the F.B.I., for example.”

Vladimir Putin has muzzled his political opponents, seized territory from neighboring Ukraine and aligned himself with European parties of the Far Right.

Historian Timothy Snyder finds method to the madness: he writes about the undemocratic ideas that Putin has latched onto, along what Snyder calls the Road to Un Freedom. Are we Americans capable of a journey down that same road?

This hour, On Point: Un Freedom as political philosophy.

– Robert Siegel

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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