You're listening to Comedy Central now. Timothy Snyder. Welcome to the show. So glad to be here. You have written a book about tyranny. Now, I don't understand why why would you do this now?
I can't think of one good reason. Yeah. The reason is everything that we know about history and the reason is the best American tradition, which is that when you're in a moment of peril like this one, you look around for how other people have failed and you learn from them.
So that's what the framers of the Constitution did. But now we have two hundred more years of failed democracy and two hundred years of smart people we can learn from. The book tries to get that across in about 20 minutes. You know what I will say? What I enjoy about the book is it's it's tiny. It's easy to get through. And it's super interesting. You've got a lot of history in this field, excuse the pun. But you you've studied the rise of fascism in the nineteen thirties.
You've published, I think, a dozen books or so. If you were to look at the Trump administration, not to be hyperbolic, but what similarities would you see or would you say you see between the rise of fascism in pre World War to Germany and in the US right now.
History history's great because history is bracing. On the one hand, it's bracing because it tells us how bad things can get. Right. So we're in the second globalization now. The first globalization had opponents that had crises, that had contradictions like the First World War, the Second World War, the Great Depression, Hitler, Stalin. On the other hand, Hitler was history is bracing because it tells us what we can learn and what we can do, that there are alternatives.
So how are we like the nineteen thirties? Globalization is being challenged. That's similar. There are people coming from the far right and saying globalization has a face, maybe a Jewish face, maybe a dark face. That's also similar. Mr. Trump in particular in his rallies and his habits of speech is a bit like a fascist. There are things here we have to watch out for, but history also empowers it helps us to get out of these traps.
So we have to look at it first. So if we're looking at history and we're looking at the core differences, what what what are the differences, the differences that Hitler knew when he was leaking information, like what would you say the core differences are in terms of what America is dealing with now versus any leader, not just Hitler in the past.
So there's a reason why I don't use Mr. Trump's name in the book, which is that it's not really about Mr. Trump. It's really about us. History is there for us. It expands what we can see. It expands what we can learn. So although it is really important that Mr. Trump invites Russians to the Oval Office with digital equipment at their side and then spills national security secrets, yes, that's important. That is important. Yeah, right.
So I'm agreeing with your opening.
OK, but it may be even more important that the Germans and the Soviets and the other people, the 20th century who saw democracy collapse were just as smart as we are or maybe smarter. So it may be time for us to learn from them what we can do to defend democracy.
That's the book. It's interesting that you say that because, I mean, like some of these these chapters are really fascinating in what they say, like, for instance, Chapter Ten Heroes believe in truth and you right to abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all the spectacle, the biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.
That's a powerful statement to make. Why is post truth so powerful? It goes back to your other question about fascism. So fascism says nothing is true. Your daily life is not important to facts that you think you understand are not important. All that matters is the myth, the myth of one nation that's together, the the mystical, mystical connection with the leader. When we think of post truth, we think it's something new. We think it's something that campuses we think it's something irrelevant.
Actually, what post truth does is it paves the way for regime change. If we don't have access to facts, we can't trust each other without trust. There's no law. Without law, there's no democracy. So if you want to rip the heart out of a democracy directly, you want to go right at it and kill it. What you do is you go after facts and that's what modern authoritarians do. Step one, you lie yourself all the time.
Step two, you say it's your opponents and the journalists who lie. Step three, everyone looks around and says, what is truth? There is no change and then resistance is impossible when the game's over.
Wow. You know, my favorite thing about the book, other than the steps that I and it's on the stories you tell is that it's tiny. You can keep it in your pocket. And then when the tyranny's chasing you, you can be like, oh, what did he say again?
Oh, you don't want as well. I like your style. Thank you so much for being here. Opportunity is available now for. The Daily Show with Criminal Ears Edition, watch The Daily Show weeknights at 11:00, 10:00 Central on Comedy Central and the Comedy Central. Watch full episodes and videos at The Daily Show Dotcom. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to The Daily Show on YouTube for exclusive content and more. This has been a Comedy Central podcast now.