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Voops, beklager, du har sannsynligvis gått feil, dette er en side for ekstremsport av typen lengre tekster. Du risikerer å bli sittende alt for lenge.

lørdag 23. oktober 2021

Some remarks on the Ossietzky case.






To many Norwegians, the press campaign for and against Ossietzky being awarded the peace prize became a bit of an eye opener. His fate became a symbol, and also a vehicle for understanding some structural traits of the new German regime. Why is that?               

                                                                                                                                                                                            Arthur Koestler wrote in 1944: “A dog run over by a car upsets our emotional balance and digestion; three million Jews killed in Poland cause but a moderate uneasiness. Statistics don’t bleed; it is the detail which counts. We are unable to embrace the total process with our awareness; we can only focus on little lumps of reality.”

I believe Koestler’s observation is true. And that this is the reason why the atrocities of nazism – so vividly brought to our attention through individual fates, lumps of reality portrayed in countless books and films – for most Europeans still remain an arsenal of feelings that can be mobilized. Much more so than the dry facts about the millions who fell as of victims of any given communist dictatorship. Those statistics don’t bleed. In autumn 1935, it didn’t seem very likely that the German journalist and editor Carl von Ossietzky would get the Nobel Peace Prize. Today we know, through the diary entries and a letter from the foreign minister Halvdan Koht, that none of the members of the Nobel Committee in 1935 actually proposed him as their candidate. Nor was the committee able to agree upon any other candidate that year. Koht maintained that Ossietzky would not have been nominated if he wasn’t imprisoned by the Nazis, and this suggested to him that his actual peace work had not been of sufficient importance to justify the award. “So, it is correct to say that I was against it; but I wasn’t in fact called upon to offer any resistance to an award which no one proposed” Koht recalled a year later.

The campaign started in the diaspora milieus of German intelligentsia, London and Paris being most important. But it got a crucial contribution from an unknown 22-year-old German refugee, Herbert Frahm, newly arrived in Norway under his code name Willy Brandt. In a letter to Konrad Reisner, Brandt wrote that it was justified to go on pressing for Ossietzkys candidature, although he regarded it as a lost cause. He had been informed by his friend Finn Moe, the man in charge of foreign affairs in the social democratic party organ, Arbeiderbladet. To his regret, Moe assessed that so few Norwegians were familiar with Ossietzkys journalism that it would be difficult to muster a list of public names to support him.

But then, on the 22nd of November 35, the campaigners got unexpected help from a famous author and Hitler-admirer: Knut Hamsun. The attack on the German candidate was given prominence in both of the main conservative newspapers, Tidens Tegn and Aftenposten. And it was held in a personal tone. Ossietzky could have fled, Hamsun stated, but he deliberately chose to stay because he knew that there would be an outcry if he got arrested. “What does he want? Is it the German rearmament he now as a friend of peace is demonstrating against?” Hamsun inquired. “Would this German rather see his country still laying crushed and humiliated between the nations, for ever depending on British and French mercy?”

Hamsun’s blunt attack kicked off a heated debate, a debate that not only caught the attention of Norwegian authors and students, but involved practically the whole press and prompted labour unions-petitions and also eventually tied the social democratic party to the mast by statements from their own party central committee and members in the parliament. Willy Brandt thought Hamsun had in fact had helped Ossietzkys case. The German ambassador in Norway assessed the probable outcome in a similar way.

The newly elected government consisted of an unlikely coalition between the social democrats of Arbeiderpartiet and the agrarian Bondepartiet. Only two years before, the prime minister Johan Nygaardsvold had stated in a speech that “it is Bondepartiet who have adopted fascism in our country”. Now he was leading a minority government with them. Very few thought this alliance between former mortal enemies would last for long. But it did, and in the process, the centre did hold, an even thrived. But reading the views on Nazi Germany and the Ossietzky case in party-organs like Arbeiderbladet and Nationen, one would say they were worlds apart. Arbeiderbladet had supported Ossietzky from 1934 on, whereas Nationen made no secret of their fascist-friendly leanings, and campaigned accordingly against him. The German ambassador Heinrich Sahm reported to his supervisors in Berlin in 1938 that by reading Nationen, “one could get the impression that it is a national-socialistic paper one is facing”.

The Labour Party, having for the first time taken office in a governmental position lasting more than two weeks, had to manoeuvre in increasingly troubled waters. The consensus understanding of how to maintain a small country’s interest was to stay neutral and not get involved in any conflicts between the superpowers. Their Foreign minister, Koht, went out of his way to stay neutral and not provoke. It had worked well before.

What was typically motivating the campaigners for Ossietzky’s candidature in Norway? Well, apart from the author Sigurd Hoel, and the journalist Ragnar Vold, who both were exceptionally well informed, I think it is safe to say that most of the sympathizers had read next to nothing of Ossietzky. But as far as they were informed by the liberal and left leaning press, they knew that Ossietzky had bravely fought the forces that now had gained the upper hand in Germany. They knew that Ossietzky had – in his own words – chosen not the easy way, but the one necessary. They knew him as a man who did not deviate from his principles. And that he therefore now, as an enemy of the regime, was imprisoned and mistreated. He thus became a symbol of a disillusioned but bravely fighting humanitarianism. But also, a telling case in point of the despotic character of the new German regime.

Hamsun’s attack on Ossietzky got a retort in the liberal newspaper Dagbladet the very same day. The author Nordahl Grieg – otherwise a staunch defender of the judicial customs in Stalin’s Soviet - certainly did form an apt response to Hamsun’s inquisitorial questions:

“Answer Ossietzky! The horns are sounding. Here we have a grand Norwegian poet who attacks you. He is a brave man, he has carefully chosen his enemy, as you lay there silenced in the concentration camp. He wants to see you forgotten. But this may be one of those things we will not forget – the grand mighty world-celebrity asking, and the man in the convict suit who cannot answer.”

A petition penned by Helge Krog was signed by 33 members of The Norwegian Authors’ Union. It denounced Hamsun’s attack on “a defenceless and silenced prisoner, taking side with an autocratic political regime which has expelled the elite of German authors into exile.”

Aftenposten refused to publish the petition, but attacked it instead in its leader:  “About the well-intentioned signatories who had allowed themselves to be led on a leash by Helge Krog and his team of Marxists, one should use the words of the scripture: Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

The internal debate among the Norwegian authors in the Ossietzky case is material for another presentation. When the Union of Norwegian Writers later met to consider the anti-Hamsun declaration, the vote to approve it won by only 74 to 44. Let me just mention two of the authors that did not sign the petition, Ronald Fangen and Tarjei Vesaas. The first one was not asked because Helge Krog had his doubts about his attitude. Ronald Fangen, was known as “German-friendly”, and was yet one of the first authors to publicly warn against the new  regime in Germany. And the first author to be arrested during the war. The second one, Tarjei Vesaas, was just about to get his book accepted by a Berlin publisher. He did not sign, most likely because he feared it could jeopardize a promising career. He had his doubts, but the book “Das große Spiel” got published the year after, and so was the follow up “Eine Frau ruft heim”, the same year. Vesaas had in 1933 written to his wife: “I am not a fan of Hitler. But I am fond of the whole of this vigorous nation which stands so alone against the whole world. I always take side with the losers.” That was a common sentiment shortly after the first world war. A sympathy that often blurred the distinction between people of nations, and their regimes.

In 1936, the international attention had increased and the list of famous names who had formally nominated Ossietzky was impressive. The pressure on the committee from home and abroad was mounting. Just before the final decision was to be taken, Halvdan Koht resigned briefly from the Committee, and he justified it on the grounds that while the different views of the committee were kept in discretion, one could hardly avoid the government being kept accountable for their decision. And this would limit the commissions freedom of choice. But Koht was immediately followed by another committee-member, the former Foreign Minister Ludwig Mowinckel. Thus, Koht’s manoeuvre actually served to strengthen Ossietzky’s candidacy, because the deputy representative for Mowinckel was Martin Tranmæl, the chief-editor of Arbeiderbladet. Aftenposten commented that Koht instead should have remained as a guardian to “avoid that the peace prize is being misused to serve our domestic Nazi-hatred.”

As the decision in favour of Ossietzky finally fell on 23th November 1936, there were strong feelings on both sides. Willy Brandt, at the time undercover in Berlin, noticed the joy and hope it had sparked in the underground resistance, as well as the rage by many other fellow Germans. “This is tearing down for Norway all that our seamen, our businessmen and our athletes are building up” one Norwegian business-newspaper stated.

Their worries turned out to be unfounded. Although Der Führer was fuming with rage, prohibiting any German citizen in the future to receive any of the different Nobel prizes, the German diplomatic reactions were all in all muted. The whole thing became of little significance to the long-term business-relations between the countries. In 1938, Koht said in a confidential parliament meeting: “In all real matters I have not noticed anything that has disturbed the relations between the two countries or the two governments.”

Fredrik Stang, chairman of the Nobel Committee, delivered a speech in honour of Ossietzky in December 1936. Stang was afraid of “arousing irritation” and wondered whether the “polemic against the German statements is sufficiently balanced”. His ceremonial address was couched in moderate terms, after he had “struck out important sections” which he “would have liked to say”, as he later put it. The kings chair stood empty during the ceremony.

It was often stated in the conservative press that the peace prize had been politicised and hijacked by a hidden agenda, and, as Aftenposten put it; “misused as an affront against those who think differently”. “Tidens Tegn” stated that “It is not as much the love of peace as the hatred of nazism that had brought Ossietzkys name to the fore.”

Some years later, one could observe a similar pattern of thought when the board of The Norwegian Authors’ Union refused to express any support for the newly arrested Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, because “it could be perceived as an expression of a general anti-communism.”

Aftenposten tried to calm the waters and stated that “it would be very unfortunate if Germany regarded the nomination as a protest against the German system of government (nazism)”

In hindsight, the agenda was barely hidden on either side. But those who sided with Ossietzky meant that the German Nazi-system was well worth a protest. And that the dictatorship in itself is prone to threaten the peace between nations.

Ossietzky was never able to speak on “the fraternity of nations” in Oslo. At first, Hitler planned to let him to travel to Oslo, only to take away his citizenship. Goebbels spoke of letting heads roll. Göring thought differently. He tried to make Ossietzky renounce the prize and keep quiet, offering him a monthly sum of money and the best treatment possible of his tuberculosis, which according to an inmate was inflicted on Ossietzky through an injection. Göring knew full well that a Nobel-speech held by Ossietzky to the international press would be a terrible blow to Germanys reputation. Ossietzky refused his offer. So, he was sent back to his “Zauberberg for the poor”, a single 9 square meter room in an apartment for tuberculosis patients in the poorest quarters of Berlin where he was to spend the rest of his days. A guard was posted outside the door, but he was sometimes absent due to the fear of being infected. We know this, because a young Norwegian couple, Inger and Finn Lie, travelled to Germany and managed to find the place where he was kept. And after having assured Ossietzkys wife Maud that they were not journalists, the couple were invited in. Finn Lie had a long chat with Ossietzky whilst the women went out for a walk. Ossietzky was convinced that Germany was preparing another war. Lie told him about Hamsun’s verbal attack, and not holding back what he felt about it. But Ossietzky waved it aside. “I don’t know him as a person, but what a wonderful author he is. You must promise to send me his latest book”.

Was Ossietzky a communist, as the campaigners against him implied? Having read Die Weltbühne, I’d say no. Full stop. But he had as a «leftist without any party affiliation» repeatedly stressed the need for an alliance between the two socialist parties to block fascisms way to power. On the first of March 32 he would have preferred a unifying social democrat candidate, but as the social democrats opted for Hindenburg, he saw no alternative to voting for Thälmann. Ossietzky wrote: “The social democrats say: Hindenburg means fight against fascism. From where do the gentlemen get this idea? [..] The Hindenburg-coalition between the worn-out court-ladies of monarchy and the coming court-men of the dictatorial republic is a product of party offices who have lost touch with the electorate. Germany has in these last years hungered and suffered too much to let their decisions be formed by piety. Most of them have little to gain, but rather a lost existence to avenge.”

Ossietzky was never able to speak to an international public again. 



Nor did he ever see his daughter again, although she spoke to him by long-distance telephone on her 18th birthday in December, 1937. She was by then in Sweden, and he still in Berlin, where he died on 4th of May 1938.


  

torsdag 25. februar 2021

Frykt og avsky i demokratiet. Eirik Høyer Leivestad.

 




Det er mange intellektuelle som har forsøkt å forstå og forklare fenomen i samtiden som går under navn som etnisk nasjonalisme, høyrepopulisme, sammensvergelsesteorier, eliteforakt etc. Demokratiet ser ikke ut for å være en styreform som er vunnet en gang for alle.

Eller sagt på en annen måte: Mange fra snakkeklassen er bekymret over at de ikke lenger har monopol på å definere sannheten og nå ser sine privilegier truet fordi vanlige folk, som de ser på som deplorables, endelig selv kommer til orde gjennom sosiale medier og alternative offentligheter. For folk er jo ikke dumme. De har gjennomskuet løgnene i mainstream media

Forvirret? Det er  ikke så enkelt å henvende seg til en offentlighet der samme fenomen oppleves og beskrives så radikalt forskjellig, avhengig av hvem en spør. Jeg skal forsøke å si noe om en bok som trolig ikke blir lest av så mange av dem som den omhandler. De har sine egne offentligheter. Og det er synd at det ofte er så mange vanntette skott, fordi dette er av de mest skarpsindige og opplysende presentasjoner jeg har lest på lenge om demokratiets krise og det gåtefulle folket, ofte omtalt som Folk Flest. «Jeg vil vise den tause, norske majoritet at de faktisk har rett», som Asle Toje sa det. Han taler ofte og gjerne for de tause og kneblede. Eirik Høyer Leivestads bok har et annet siktemål. Den beskriver massen forstått som 

«en kollektiv personifisering av demokratiet som kulturell kraft: en kraft som iblant havner i konflikt med seg selv, og som ikke uten videre lar seg feire som «progressiv» i enhver sammenheng.»

Leivestad underviser i filosofi og idéhistorie ved Kulturakademiet i Berlin. Og det bærer hans første bok preg av på en god måte. Den er lærd og røper en fortrolig omgang med de forfattere som trekkes inn, og som, slik Quentin Skinner har lært oss, får sine ideer bedre forstått når de blir  kontekstualisert i det som var deres samtids sentrale hendelser og stridstema. Teksten er ikke skrevet i et utilgjengelig stammespråk, den åpner opp og vekker interesse for idehistorie ved gang på gang å demonstrere hvor relevant det kan være å vite litt om hva andre før oss har tenkt om fenomen som opptar oss i dag.

«I slike spørsmål er det mye å lære av de lærdes visdom, men i demokratiets navn må vi samtidig tillate oss å behandle dem med vennlig respektløshet. De lærdes refleksjoner har nemlig en tendens til å reflektere holdninger og fordommer som selv hører til det demokratiske grunnproblem. Samtidig som de intellektuelle gjerne har tjent som demokratiseringens fortropp og talspersoner, har de ofte satt ord på frykten for at den samme demokratiseringen vil oppheve skillene mellom høy og lav, viten og meninger, individ og masse. Forfatteren Stendhal oppsummerte denne ambivalensen med brutal ærlighet i 1835: «Jeg kan ikke utstå pøbelen, men under navnet folket er jeg lidenskapelig opptatt av kampen for deres lykke.»

Etter den franske revolusjon har svært mye intellektuell energi blir brukt til å forstå massen.

«De konservative fryktet dem, de liberale mønstret dem med dyp ambivalens, mens nasjonalister og sosialister etter hvert skulle tevle om deres gunst. For mange skulle det nettopp bli massen som legemliggjorde motpolen til opplysningstidens visjoner, ikke minst for de om på dr. Stockmann[1]-manér tok på seg folkeopplysningens uriaspost.»

Noe av det vellykkede ved boka er dens liberale ambivalens til sitt eget tema. Den nøyer seg ikke med å framvise de aristokratiske og antidemokratiske trekkene hos intellektuelle som har beskrevet massen eller mobben som en anarkistisk trussel mot en fungerende styringselite basert på sakkunnskap. (Anders Johansen har skrevet godt om det i boka «Komme til orde», som du kan lese om her.) Og den reduserer heller ikke disse beskrivelsene av den oppagiterte mobben til bare å være en elites ideologiske jamring over egne truede privilegier. De kan være det også, bevares, men de beskrivelsene av hendelser som hentes fram fra glemselen peker på reelle fenomen, uaktet de ulike forfatternes holdning til massedemokratiet. Her bryter Leivestad heldigvis med en lang reduksjonistisk tradisjon som høyrepopulismen nå begjærlig har adoptert fra venstresiden, en mistankens hermeneutikk som reduserer argumenter og fakta til noe man har «gjennomskuet» som vikarierende motiver for egne gruppeinteresser, og følgelig slipper å argumentere mot meningsinnholdet i.

«For folk er ikke dumme», heter det ofte med stor moralsk patos hos de krenkede. Jo, noen ganger er det nettopp det folk kan være. For eksempel når de i flokk jager eller annen minoritet som blir gjort til syndebukk. Og når de selv tror på de løgnene som skal rettferdiggjøre handlinger in the heat of the moment som de aldri ville tenkt på å utføre alene. Når de abdiserer fra plikten til å bruke sin egen dømmekraft og begeistret lar en politisk lederskikkelse «denken für uns». Det har skjedd før og det skjer igjen.[2]

Max Scheler

Det idehistoriske sveipet fra den franske revolusjon og fram mot vår tid fokuserer på fenomenet massemedia og dannelsen av en offentlig opinion. Og på fenomenet ressentiment. Nå er det skrevet mye god idehistorie om ressentiment på norsk fra før, men Leivestad utfyller bildet ved å i tillegg til Nietzsches bruk av ordet minne om Max Scheler, som påpekte det nye ved de økte forventningers misnøye:  i det føydale Europa ville den livegne bonden neppe finne på å måle seg med godsherren – mens de moderne ideer om allmuens stemmerett og deltakelse som medborgere i demokratiet åpner opp for helt andre forventninger. «Idet den universelle likhetens bakside var universell sammenligning, ville ressentimentet øke i takt med misforholdet mellom formell status og reell makt.» Og denne opplevelsen av å tilhøre de misaktede og forfordelte kan danne basis for en gruppeidentitet og en offerrolle som en ikke egentlig ønsker å kvitte seg med. Den gir tilhørighet og forklarer alt en selv ikke fikk til som en funksjon av en urett som ‘de der oppe’ har begått mot en. Ofte er dette kombinert med en form for nostalgi som dikter opp en svunnen idealisert tid som en holder opp som motbilde mot en samtid som en ønsker å unnslippe, og som beskrives i de mørkeste farger. 

Så den frustrerte opplevelsen av at systemet er rigget til fordel for en privilegert elite og deres barn – forskjellen mellom formell status og reell makt – fører ikke nødvendigvis til tålmodig politisk reformarbeid for økt sjanselikhet. For det forutsetter en tillit til systemet,  en tro på at organisert protest mot urett nytter og at ens stemme vil bli hørt. I Europa i mellomkrigstiden var det mange som hadde mistet troen på at demokratiet noensinne ville kunne levere varene. «De fleste av velgerne hadde intet å vinne - bare en ødelagt tilværelse å hevne», som journalisten Carl von Ossietzky skrev i 1932. Men det fantes de man kunne låne øre til som lovet oppreisning for de fornedrede:

«Massen som mente seg forfordelt av løftet om likhet, henfalt til vrangforestillinger om sin egen moralske, kulturelle og biologiske overlegenhet. Lidenskapelige angrep ble rettet oppad og nedad: mot de korrupte, rotløse elitene, mot de fremmede, parasittære, fattige og forkomne. Fabler om å gjenskape en fordums gullalder ga støtet til et opplysningsforaktende politisk delirium iverksatt i stor stil. Et par tiår etter at den var utkommet, var Schelers Das Ressentiment im Aufbau der Moralen (1912) blant de forkullede restene etter nazistenes bokbål.»  

Jeg velger å fremheve dette aspektet ved boken. Det er fristende å også gå inn på forfatterens drøftelse av Frankfurterskolens og senere Baudrillards bidrag til medie- og kulturkritikk, men du skal snart scrolle videre. Leivestad er kritisk, men det er en informert kritikk, skrevet av en som har lest de forfatterne det er tale om (ingen selvfølge, dessverre). Og denne tempererte omgangen med ulike begreper og ideer åpner opp for anerkjennelse og drøftelse av innsikter, også når de stammer  fra dem en kritiserer. Det er en velsignet ferdighet i en tid hvor mange offentlige intellektuelle og fast thinkers lanseres som om man skulle velge et fotballag en reservasjonsløst heier på - eller en farlig folkeforgifter som man må ta avstand fra, og hvor det blir vanskelig å få ørenslyd for hva det er folk forsøker å si, midt i all vreden og larmen.    



[1] Fra Henrik Ibsens dr. Stockmann i «En folkefiende». Som modell for denne figuren stod legen dr. Ernst Ferdinand Lochmann, som mot et flertall av norske kolleger kjempet en durabelig kamp for smitteteorien om kolera i 1850 

[2] Et ferskt eksempel er fra Washington 6. januar 2021. Det vil nok bli skrevet mange bøker som forsøker å analysere de hendelsene. Leivestads bok er et godt sted å begynne, selv om den ble skrevet før mobbens angrep på det hvite hus.


onsdag 13. januar 2021

Har trusselen fra Trump virkelig forsvunnet? - Timothy Snyder intervjuet av Krishnan Guru-Murthy

 



Historikeren Timothy Snyder
Utdrag av samtale med historikeren Timothy Snyder, intervjuet av Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Channel Four, 8. januar 2021. 

[intervjuet i engelsk versjon kan leses i sin helhet her eller sees her]


Jeg har i løpet av de siste året snakket med deg noen ganger om trusselen fra Trump. Og nå er Trump borte og trusselen er borte.

Jeg tror ikke Trump er egentlig borte. Jeg mener, han vil forlate sitt embete, men han har «gjort ting med folk», for å bruke en av hans egne fraser. Og det siste han har gjort med amerikanere er å overtale titalls millioner av dem til å tro at han har vunnet et valg som han tapte. Og dette er viktig, fordi rent faktisk var valget i 2020 antakelig det beste amerikanere har gjennomført på årtier. Men han har introdusert denne fiksjonen om hvordan han er et offer, og denne offerrollen er viktig fordi den hjelper folk til å tro at selv om livet deres går greit, selv om de kanskje er hvite mannlige amerikanere, så har uansett alt nå snudd seg mot dem, og det neste trekk er å tenke på hvem er det som har snudd tingene mot oss, det må være en slags sammensvergelse. Så Trump er fremdeles med oss, og han kommer fremdeles til å være med oss. Han kommer til å være et problem for landet og et problem for det republikanske partiet tror jeg, så lenge han ikke befinner seg i Russland eller i fengsel.

I hvilken grad influerte og styrket han alle de andre autoritære lederne?

Det er et utmerket spørsmål. Jeg mener, det Trump gjorde var å forandre normaliteten. I 2016 kunne man fortsatt tenke på dette som vi kaller populisme eller nasjonalisme eller autoritarisme... en kunne fortsatt betrakte det som et randfenomen som arbeidet seg innover. Men så snart USAs president er en som snakker om sine favorittdiktatorer og åpent sier at han foretrekker den ene eller andre diktatoren fremfor sin egen lovgivende forsamling eller sin egen etterretningsorganisasjon, så snart du har en amerikansk president som gjør denne praksisen mainstream, i det du har en amerikansk president som åpenbart foretrekker å være i selskap av diktatorer fremfor valgte tjenestemenn – det du har gjort da er at du tatt denne bevegelsen, populismen eller nasjonalismen eller hva du enn vil kalle den, og gjort den normal. Det har hatt en kolossal betydning. For jeg mener uansett hvor hyklersk amerikansk politikk kan være, hvor hyklersk amerikanere kan være, det var ikke desto mindre denne normen omkring demokrati og rettssikkerhet. Og det Trump har gjort er at han har sagt vel vi bare tøyset hele tiden, det var bare en løgn, det var bare hykleri. Det var aldri noe i det. Og det har store konsekvenser. Og jeg frykter at hans måte å forlate sitt embete, nemlig ved å si at stemmer teller ikke, så ikke tell dem, det vil trolig også ha konsekvenser.

Vi intervjuer deg i Wien, og du er en akademiker innen Øst-Europa og Sentral-Europas historie. Har du nå funnet ut hvorfor 70 millioner mennesker fortsatt støtter Trump i Amerika, og hva som skjer med dem nå? Hva slags bevegelse er dette i ferd med å bli? Er det en normal demokratisk bevegelse som bare forsøker å slå demokratene, eller er det noe annet?

Jeg tror det at 70 millioner stemte for Trump... Først av alt: han er det republikanske partis kandidat i et topartisystem. Og det er et topartisystem med en ekstrem grad av polarisering. Ikke bare rundt verdier og politikk, men rundt fakta i seg selv. Så de fleste av tingene som demokrater oppfatter som gode grunner for ikke å stemme på Trump er enten ukjent eller betvilt av de republikanske velgerne. Så det er et strukturelt problem her som jeg vil gå så langt som å si at ikke egentlig er republikanernes feil, og det handler om at vi ikke deler et felles faktagrunnlag for kommunikasjon lenger. Og det er et problem som har å gjøre med sosiale media og som bare kan løses ved å bryte opp Facebook og bygge opp lokale media igjen sånn at vi har en slags felles grunn å starte den store samtalen ut fra. For det som har skjedd med politikken er at alle samtaler dreier seg om ting som folk ikke vet stort om. Det er ting som skjer i Washington eller globalt, eller det er ting som ikke er sanne, en form for sammensvergelsesteori. Folk beveger seg ikke lenger på bakken, de svever rundt i løse luften.

Men hva skjer videre. Jeg mener... jeg tror republikanerne har et virkelig problem. For det er hovedsakelig to syn innenfor partiet. En oppfatning er at vi kan beherske systemet. Vi gjør de ganske bra, og 2020-valget bekrefter faktisk den oppfatningen. Jeg mener hvis vi ser bort fra Trump så gjorde de det mye bedre enn forventet. De var forventet å tape senatet, og de beholdt det. [Her er ikke Snyder ajour med den siste opptellingen] De tok nesten tilbake kongressen, hvilket ingen hadde ventet. Så deres modell, som er å oversvømme systemet med penger, undertrykke stemmegivning hvor det måtte trenges, og å kjøre på følelsesbaserte saker, den modellen fungerte bra i 2020. De fikk også flere stemmer fra latinamerikanere og svarte enn forventet. Så det er en ideologisk skoleretning.

Den andre skoleretningen sier riv ned alt sammen. Så en skoleretning sier styrk systemet, den andre sier ødelegg systemet. Jeg tror det kommer til å være et problem. Jeg tror det dette viser er at hvis du skal gjennomføre et statskupp så bør du helst vinne. For hvis du ikke vinner, diskrediterer du statskuppet. Trump prøvde å gjennomføre et statskupp. Slik jeg ser det er dette hevet over tvil. Han fikk ikke de militære med seg, de sa nei. Han har ikke den formen for voldelig paramilitær støtte som han behøver, men han prøvde. 

Når du sier at militæret sa nei, hva mener du med det? 

Jeg refererer til 1. juni 2020, da Trump, tilskyndet av Black Lives Matter-protestene, forsøkte å si at dette er en nasjonal nødsituasjon som krever USAs hær invaderer sitt eget land. Og han ble avvist. Og det er et viktig øyeblikk. For det er ikke det at det militære er på demokratenes side, det er heller ikke tilfellet, men det ble klart at de ikke ønsket å bli innblandet slikt, for ikke å snakke om å intervenere direkte i valg. Jeg mener ikke at det ikke finnes folk som ønsker at de skal blande seg inn. 

Folk som Michael Flynn, som var en enstjernes general, og som noen få dager var rådgiver for nasjonal sikkerhet, uttalte at vi burde innføre unntakstilstand, vi skulle sette inn militære tropper, vi skulle ha nyvalg med militæret ved roret. Så slike strømninger finnes der ute. Men militæret selv ville ikke ta del i dette. Men mitt større poeng er dette: Republikanerne har nå en kupp-fraksjon og en benytt systemet-fraksjon, og de to fraksjonene er nå i åpen konflikt med hverandre. Så så lenge Trump er inne i bildet har de et problem. Fordi han vil hele tiden lede en kupp-fraksjon, og en kupp-fraksjon vil ha problemer med valg fordi deres budskap er at valg fungerer ikke.

Så hvis du må vinne et kupp, sier du at Trump for øyeblikket vil føle at han har tapt, at han ikke har fått gjennomført sitt kupp, og følgelig vil ønske å vende tilbake?

Jeg vil si at han trolig fortsatt er i et stadium hvor han ikke er helt sikker på at han må gå.

Så han slåss fremdeles?

Ja han er fremdeles... jeg mener jeg tror at han fremdeles slåss i den tro at han har en sjanse for å vinne. Men selv om han ikke har noen sjanse for å vinne vil han aldri innrømme det. Han kommer til å forlate det hvite hus mens han sier at han har vunnet. Og han kommer til å fortsette å si at han har vunnet. Det er hans versjon. Jeg mener fyren har sine sterke sider. De er ikke fortrinn i noen konvensjonell politisk forstand, og han stod ikke egentlig for noen politikk. Hele hans politikk gikk ut på å gjøre rike folk rikere, noe som ikke er noen politikk, bare tyngdekraft. Han er ingen virkelig politiker i den forstand, men han har sine gaver. En av dem er at han er virkelig sta. Han vet å si samme ting om og om igjen, på tross av hva folk instruerer ham i å si, på tross av hvordan verden faktisk ser ut. Så jeg vil tro at han kommer til å holde fast på sin versjon hele veien. Hva han tror er vanskelig å si. Han kommer til å holde fast på sin versjon, og det er problemet. Det betyr at hvis han kommer tilbake til embetet vil det være basert på en historie om at systemet er fullstendig ødelagt. Så imens han forteller denne historien, forteller han amerikanere at en av de få tingene som faktisk fungerer utmerket i vårt land, valgene, faktisk ikke fungerer. Men ja, han ønsker nok ikke å forlate det hvite hus, og han ønsker å komme tilbake, det er det ingen tvil om. Jeg mener, han har grunnleggende gode gamle grunner til å holde seg ved makten: Han skylder masse penger og han kommer til å bli etterforsket for kriminelle forhold. Dette er virkelig gode grunner for å ønske å være USAs president, og han har dem begge.

Så hvordan kommer han ut sammenlignet med Putin? For Putin skylder ikke store beløp, han har ikke samme typen problemer. Men det er mange likheter her også.

Ja. Jeg mener Trump er en bråmoden tyrann, han ligger et hakk foran de andre. Han er mye mer av en autoritær leder enn det amerikanske systemet tilsier. Det er det Denzer sier. Jeg mener, det amerikanske systemet er mangelfullt, det var jo det amerikanske systemet som gjorde Trump mulig, åpenbart. Men han ligger flere hakk foran. Han er av dem som virkelig ser mulighetene som sosiale media gir, og har utnyttet dem til deres yttergrenser. Han er av dem som ønsker å få Amerika til å ligne mer på et oligarki enn det allerede er, hvilket sier noe. For vi beveger oss allerede i oligarkiets grenseland. Trump er ikke en ordentlig oligark. Putin er en skikkelig oligark. Jeg mener, vi vet ikke hvor mye penger Putin har, men det dreier seg om titalls millioner dollar. Putin har så mye penger at hvis du er en tilfeldig bekjent av Putin, ikke en gang en skikkelig venn, men en klassekamerat fra 3.trinnet, så kan han finne på å gi deg to milliarder dollar. Det er seriøst med penger. Trump har ikke slike midler. Trump kan ikke en gang drømme om den slags penger. Så jeg mener det første vi kan si er at Trumps relasjon til Putin er klientens forhold til sin beskytter. Du vil ikke se Putin lovprise Trump, men du vil se Trump lovpriser Putin. Og vi har vært vitne til dette nå i over 4 år.

Men den andre forskjellen er naturligvis strukturell. Det russiske systemet er det systemet Trump halvt bevisst styrte i retning av. Det russiske systemet er et slags normalt 21. århundrets autoritære system, hvor du legitimerer deg selv gjennom valg, selv om alle vet at du ikke egentlig vant. Fordi i det 21. århundret er det ingen som har noen ideologi lenger. Du har intet storslagent rasjonale som kan legitimere din makt, du har bare valg. Så du gjennomfører valg. Du bare jukser dem eller lyver om resultatene. Så det interessante ved Trump november-desember 2020 er at det er dette han gjør. Han forsøker å legitimere seg gjennom et valg. Han bare hevder at han har vunnet det, men han har ikke makt til å jukse valget. Hvis han hadde hatt makt til å gjennomføre valgjuks ville han naturligvis ha gjort det. Han prøver veldig hardt. Så det er bare hans sviktende evne til å gjøre det som Putin faktisk kan gjøre som skiller USA fra Russland på det nåværende tidspunkt.

Så for å låne fra det som er temaet i «The Road to Unfreedom»; har det at Donald Trump har tapt plassert oss på veien tilbake til demokratiet? Eller er dette bare et slags midlertidig avvik fra en gjennomgående trend?

Jeg tror det er et sted midt imellom. Jeg tar den enkleste løsninger her: Ting ville ha sett mye verre ut hvis Trump hadde vunnet. Imidlertid, det at Biden og Harris vant kjøper oss bare litt tid til å gjøre andre ting. Fordi grunnene til at Trump vant er fortsatt der. Amerika har fortsatt en elendig velferdsstat som gjør at folk er mye sintere og mye reddere enn de burde være. 2020 og coronaviruset ga enda et bevis for det. Vi har fortsatt økende forskjeller. Folk har fortsatt problemer med å se noen fremtid, alle de underliggende problemene er fortsatt der. Så det du nå har er 4 år med mulighet for å ta tak i noen av disse underliggende problemene, ellers vil du få et tilbakeslag igjen. Jeg tenker ikke på Trump i 2024, men at en mer glattslikket, ung og fysisk bedre utgave av Trump kan fortsatt komme tilbake i 2024. Så jeg tror det har betydning. Men først og fremst er det som betyr noe hva du gjør med den tiden du har til rådighet.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy

Fordi… jeg mener, det du sier antyder jo at demokratiet bare er dømt til undergang. Fordi hvis du i de utviklede landene har voksende klasseskiller eller et stort antall fattige - for selv om du måtte kalkulere deg fram til at klasseskillene ikke er økende så har du tilstrekkelig mange som føler seg deklassert og ikke får ta del i veksten – og dessuten all den makten som sosiale media og utenlandsk innblanding utgjør, hvordan kan demokratiet ha mulighet til å klare å håndtere en slik krise?

Jeg elsker det at du slår meg på pessimismefronten. Det er bra… godt jobba. Nå har du meg, nå må jeg være optimisten. Så ok, det første jeg vil si er at 80 millioner kom og stemte på Biden, og det var en akt av… det var en human handling. Mange mennesker jobbet veldig hardt for å oppnå det resultatet. Så alt dette fryktelige som vi har snakket om, Trumps påstander om valgfusk, sosiale media osv.: vi må huske på at 80 millioner fortsatt tok seg bryet med å stemme. For i USA er det virkelig å ta seg bryet. For alt for mange er det ikke lett. Det andre er at noe av dette er reparerbart.

Som du vet, 48 stater appellerer nå om å bruke antitrust-lovgivning mot Facebook – noe som er ingen liten sak. Facebook er ikke et naturfenomen. Vi må ikke ha Facebook på samme måte som vi må ha tornadoer. Det er mulig å forandre. For hundre år siden brukte Amerika antitrust-lovgivning for å bryte opp ting. Det er ingen grunn for at ikke vi skulle kunne gjøre det nå. Jeg tror noe av dette er reparerbart, og jeg tror så avgjort ikke at demokratiet er dømt til undergang.  

Kan vi ta en slags pause og snakke litt om deg og hvordan du er kommet dit du er? Du har blitt denne advarende røsten omkring samtidspolitikk, mens det jo er historiker du er? Så jeg forestiller meg nå… så du noensinne for deg at det var hit du ville komme, hvor ditt akademiske arbeid ville implisere å skrive bøker som forsøker å si til folk de må våkne opp og se hva som foregår rundt dem? Var det en slik vei du la ut på da du begynte ditt akademiske løp?  

 Vel en hver god historiker vil si deg at det er veldig vanskelig å forklare et individs handlinger. Jeg kan gi deg et par svar. Et svar er at vi har gjort en stor feil i nedprioriteringen av humaniora de siste 30 år eller så. Etter kommunismens fall i 1989 har alt for mange folk i Storbritannia, USA, og i Vesten generelt sagt at kapitalismen kommer til å frembringe demokrati, det er uunngåelig. Så da gjenstår bare tekniske problemer. Og hvis alt som gjenstår bare er tekniske problemer er det eneste vi trenger ingeniørkunst og vitenskap og økonomi og slikt. Vi har underfinansiert historie og humaniora-fag. Og når du tar bort finansieringen av historie og humaniora blir det faktisk mye vanskeligere å snakke om den typen problemer vi snakker om nå.  

For dette er ikke egentlig tekniske problem. Det er moralske problem, det er estetiske problem, de er spørsmål som krever dømmekraft. Og for å kunne ha begreper og redskap og referanser for disse tingene trenger vi humaniora. Og jeg skisserer dette fordi det er en del av svaret på det du spør om: Jeg tror historie alltid har noe å si om samtiden. Det er ikke det at historien gjentar seg, ikke en gang at den rimer. Men det er det at historien gir den bølgebevegelsen fra fortid til nåtid som kanskje kan hjelpe deg til å se mulige utgaver av fremtiden.

Historien gir deg et inntrykk av de strukturene som begrenser oss, men den gir deg også en ide om hvordan du kan være i stand til å komme forbi disse strukturene og finne veier inn mot nye strukturer. Historien… jeg mener, i motsetning til andre måter å betrakte verdenen på, understreker den at det finnes en viss ureduserbar mengde menneskelig innvirkning, valg mellom alternativer.  

Så derfor: uansett hva som skjer er det sannsynligvis noe du kan gjøre som kan gjøre en forskjell, selv om du føler deg overveldet av øyeblikket. Så nei, jeg så ikke meg selv i en slik rolle, men jeg ønsker bare å si at det er normalt at historien kan lære oss noe om livet, og at… Jeg mener, jeg tror ikke at jeg er så viktig, men jeg tror at hvis det er en generell lærdom å trekke her så må det være at vi trenger mer humaniora og vi trenger mer historie hvis vi ikke skal bli tatt på senga hele tiden av begivenhetene. For det som skjer hver gang noe litt annerledes inntreffer – og der er 9/11 et godt eksempel – så sier vi hvordan kunne vi ha visst, ikke noe som ligner dette har skjedd før. Mens enhver historiker vil kunne si: vel, ikke noe nøyaktig slikt har skjedd før, men det minner litt om a og b og c og d. Og hvis vi ser på a og b og c og d vil vi kanskje kunne avdekke noen mønster og bli i stand til å tenke igjennom dette, istedenfor å bare bli overrasket. For når du blir overrasket vil du lett bli lurt av den som har det beste overblikket og er raskest til å komme opp med en løgn. Historie hjelper oss med alt dette.

Har vi også i en slik grad blitt forblindet av skalaen over myrderiene på midten av forrige århundre at vi ikke kan sammenligne noe av det som skjer i vår moderne verden med det?

Det er et glimrende spørsmål. Jeg mener, et trekk som folk ofte gjør er å si… så snart du i det hele tatt snakker om fortiden så sier de at nå gjør du en sammenligning. Og det er ikke bra. Eller du drar en analogi. Det er ikke bra. Det er ikke nøyaktig likt, følgelig er det ikke til å tenke på. Så siden det ikke nå blir myrdet 6 millioner jøder er det ingen grunn til å tenke på hva som foregår for øyeblikket. Det er  galt å trekke fram. Men før de 6 millioner jødene ble myrdet – jeg trekker fram dette eksemplet fordi det er velkjent for meg – så hadde du disse forandringene i retorikk og disse forandringene i institusjonene, og du hadde disse nye institusjonene. Hvis sammenligningene og analogiene som blir gjort framstår som skjeve på grunn av skalaen over hendelsene på midten av det 20. århundre, så er en slags ironisk konsekvens av det at du ikke kan bruke historie i det hele tatt. Du kan ikke henlede oppmerksomheten mot disse fryktelige hendelsene og si hør her, disse grusomhetene var ikke en følge av at noen monster var utstyrt med superkrefter. Disse grusomhetene oppstod skritt for skritt. Og vi vet hva noen av disse skrittene består i. Så vi bør følge våkent med når vi ser ting som ligner litt på disse skrittene.    

Men så er det en ting til å si om dette viktige spørsmålet: På 30- og 40-tallet var måten stater kontrollerte folk på mye mer direkte enn det må være nå. Så vi kan få et tyranni som visuelt virker mye mindre sjokkerende, for å si det sånn, enn tilfellet var på 30- og 40-tallet. Denne tiden endte med millioner av døde. Men en kan for eksempel se for seg et land som Kina, det er et veldig effektivt og moderne tyranni som ikke behøver å ta livet av millionvis av mennesker. Det kan det naturligvis, men det behøves ikke, fordi kontrollmetodene er mye mer subtile. Så vi trenger sammenligningene. Ikke fordi ting er nøyaktig de samme, men vi trenger sammenligninger fordi uten sammenligninger vil vi bli overrasket av alle hendelser og ikke ha noen referansepunkt.  

Jeg mener det gjør det jo også veldig vanskelig å forklare folk hva de har å frykte. Hvis du ikke trenger å frykte at holocaust eller millioner som blir utrensket må du forklare hva som vi faktisk har å frykte, hvilket er noe mye mer sofistikert.   

Jeg tenker det er et glimrende poeng. Jeg tror at hvis vi kommer dit hen at folk bare frykter millionvis av drepte, så har vi trolig tapt diskusjonen. Fordi det som taler for demokrati og rettsstat må være noe bedre enn at dette er måten du forhindrer millioner fra å dø. Det som taler for demokrati og rettsstat må være noe mer positivt. Det må være noe i retning; dette er livsformer som tillater deg å leve fritt, dette er livsformer som tilsier at du ikke konstant må være i konflikt med din nabo. Dette er livsformer som impliserer at du ikke må utkjempe meningsløse kriger. Dette er livsformer der du ikke må ydmyke deg foran andre mennesker. Dette er livsformer hvor du ikke blir født inn i en kaste eller klasse som vil holde deg nede hele din tid. Det må finnes en positiv begrunnelse. Hvis vi bare gir en negativ begrunnelse tror jeg vi sannsynligvis kommer til å tape.

Det bringer oss til din siste bok, som er om helsevesenet og din egen erfaring med å være syk og forhandle med helse-system. Du vet det er et klassisk tilfelle av noe, spesielt i Storbritannia hvor National Health Service er noe hellig, og hvor du kan spørre folk hva som er blant de viktigste tingene i Storbritannia, hva som gjør landet spesielt, og de vil svare helsevesenet. Men helsevesenet har aldri vært tema for et valg eller noe som vil få folk til å stemme på en bestemt måte. 

Demokratiet er, som jeg har nevnt, ingen naturtilstand. Det er heller ikke bare et sett av prosedyrer. Det er også et slags institusjonelt og sosialt bakteppe som muliggjør at disse prosedyrene gir mening. Så min erfaring, som du referer til, minnet meg på om hvor elementær politikk kan være. Om at hvis du er virkelig redd, hvis du er virkelig skrekkslagen, hvis du står overfor noen risiki hele tiden, unødvendig kanskje, så er du, la meg si det slik, ingen glimrende kandidat til å bli en demokratisk velger. Så sammenhengen mellom helsetjenester og demokrati kan kanskje virke uklar, og du vil kanskje si at folk kan stemme for eller de kan stemme mot dem. Jeg vil si det er mer som dette: Hvis du vil at folk skal være i stand til å se for seg en fremtid som involverer deres egne interesser, deres barns interesser, den kommende generasjon, så må du som en del av den sosiale kontrakt bringe dem til et sted hvor de ikke er umiddelbart engstelige. Fordi vi er ikke… du vet, vi er rasjonelle vesener når tidene er gode. Så, en del av de styrendes jobb blir å skape slike gode tider. Eller for å formulere seg med motsatt fortegn: Du kan torpedere demokratiet ved å skape unødvendig frykt, smerte, utålmodighet og lidelse. Det er Trumps modell. Du kan forsøke å gjøre det på den måten. Så hvis du ønsker at demokratiet skal fortsette må du ha institusjoner. Og jeg tror helsetjenester er i særklasse den mest viktige og som vil si at folk ikke er utsatt for umiddelbare eksistensielle trusler. Hvis du er mindre bekymret over din fremtidige pensjon, mindre bekymret over dine barns utdannelse, mindre bekymret over sykdom, da reduserer du nivået av eksistensiell angst. Og du gjør det mer sannsynlig at folk skal være i stand til å stemme over vannkvalitet eller over spørsmål som de faktisk kan diskutere med hverandre. Så jeg tror det er en klar sammenheng mellom disse institusjonene som vi trenger for å bringe folk til et slikt trygt sted hvor de demokratiske prosedyrene kan bære oss videre inn i framtiden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tirsdag 12. januar 2021

Has the threat of Trump really gone? - Timothy Snyder interviewed by Krishnan Guru-Murthy

 

  

Timothy Snyder

Dette intervjuet foreligger også som youtube-video. Du kan se det her

 8th January, 2021

Hello, and welcome to ways to change the world.

I'm Krishnan Guru-Murthy and this is the podcast in which we talk to extraordinary people about the big ideas in their lives and the events that have helped shape them. Now, this week's episode was recorded a couple of weeks ago, before the storming of the capitol building by those pro-Trump protesters. But my guest had foretold what would happen in all sorts of really interesting ways. Timothy Snyder is a professor of history at Yale University but he's also a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, which is where we usually speak to him from. And after the events in Washington DC, I actually invited Tim onto the news. And so, I want to begin this podcast by playing his immediate analysis of what happened during what some people have called a protest, others have called domestic terrorism:

The people who stormed the Capitol building were fascists. When we use the word fascist, people immediately are talking about comparisons and analogies and whatnot. You don't need comparisons or analogies. The far-right white supremacists who organize this storm into the Capitol building are themselves fascists without qualification. Point number one. Point number two; this is being organized on behalf of a big lie which is very characteristic of fascism. Point number three: it's being organized in order to do away with democratic elections - also fascist, right. And point number four, and this is a little more subtle but very important: this has everything to do with the race from top to bottom. The lie that Trump won the election is based upon the claim or the equivalence of black voting with fraud. When they say fraud, what they mean is people of colour voting, right. When Ted Cruz invokes – I know this is obscure to the British – but when Ted Cruz invokes the 1877 Compromise as a positive model and as a model for what congress should be doing now: The 1877 Compromise was the creation of apartheid in the American South, that's what 1877 Compromise is. And of course, the people who are doing the actual storming are in large measure white racists.

So that's what Tim Snyder said about what had happened immediately afterwards. Let's go back now to the full podcast interview.

I've spoken to you a couple of times over the last year or two about the threat from Trump. And now Trump has gone. Has the threat gone?

I don't think Trump has really gone. I mean he will leave office, but he's done things to people, to use one of his phrases, and the very last thing that he's done to Americans is persuade tens of millions of them that in fact he won an election which he lost. And this is important, because in actual fact the 2020 election was probably the best that Americans have run in decades. But he's introduced this fiction of how he's a victim. And that fiction of victimhood is really important, because it helps people to believe that even though maybe their life is going all right, even though maybe they're white male Americans, nevertheless somehow everything has turned out against them. And the next move is to think okay, who made things turn out against us, there must be some kind of a conspiracy. So, Trump is still with us and he's still going to be with us. He's going to be a problem for the country and a problem for the Republican Party, I think, for as long as he's not in Russia or in prison.

How much do you think Trump has changed the world?

I mean, to use a technical term, that's a counterfactual question. You have to imagine what it would have been like if Hillary Clinton had been president. And I think if Hillary Clinton had been president, things would have been very different. I think the welfare state in the United States would be doing much, much better, Americans would have much less reason to be angry. America wouldn't have been the best country responding to Covid, but we also wouldn't have been the worst. So, there would have been a lot less anger and suffering and emotions swilling around the American system than there is now, and that has consequences for the world.

But the direct consequences to the world… I mean Hillary Clinton would have been a traditional institutional politician who would have tried to support the European Union. That would have had consequences.  Hillary Clinton would have supported American alliances, Hillary Clinton would have made American aid depend on all kinds of things. Hillary Clinton wouldn't have pulled out of the Iran deal. So, if we follow the counterfactual, I mean very quickly we're in a different world. I mean, one more thing is that I think Trump has accelerated things which were going to happen anyway. From an international point of view probably the main one is the decline of American power. I think he basically took 40 years of American decline and packed it into four.

And to what extent did he influence all the other authoritarians as you see them and empower them?

That's a great question. I mean what Trump did was change normality. In 2016 one could still think of this thing we call populism or nationalism or authoritarianism… one can still see it as on the margin working its way in. But once the president of the United States is someone who talks about his favourite dictators and openly says that he prefers this dictator or that dictator to his own legislature or to his own intelligence services, once you have an American president who makes these practices mainstream, once you have an American president who clearly prefers the company of dictators to the company of elected officials, then what you've done is that you've taken that movement, whatever you want to call it, populism, nationalism, and you've made it normal. That's had a tremendous effect. Because I mean as hypocritical as American policy can be, as hypocritical as Americans can be, there was nevertheless this norm around democracy and the rule of law. And what Mr Trump has done is he said well, we were just kidding the whole time, it was all just a lie, it was all just hypocrisy. There was never anything to it. And that's had major consequences. And I fear also that his way of leaving office, namely saying votes don't count so don't count them, that will probably also have consequences.

Well, I mean let's just talk about those for a second. I mean in the short term those consequences are a huge amount of money being raised by his political supporters. You know those 70 million people who voted for him, perhaps donating to a future movement. Where do you think it goes?

Well, I think that I mean the money is really important. I mean you've hit on something which is essential to American politics. There's just too much money in the system. It takes too much money to become president. So, I mean let's imagine that you're in the very particular situation that your whole shtick is that you pretend to be a billionaire. That’s your shtick, that's it. You know you don't actually have a billion dollars, but you have you're an entertainer and you can convince people you've got a billion dollars. You're very good at converting a certain kind of charisma to money, right. That's what Trump can do. And November and December of 2020 is that. He raised more money losing the election than he did in trying to win it. I mean, the story that this is all the sham, it's all the fraud, I need your help - that gave him his best fundraising month. 

His best fundraising month was after he already lost. And the money that he's raised he can do basically anything he wants with. What he can do now is he can have an event at his golf course and pay himself five million dollars to give a speech. He can just do that over and over again. And the reason why this is so important is that Trump is in debt. He's not really a billionaire. He has half a billion dollars of debt; he has no real way of paying this off. So in the short term what we have is obviously a grift, but in the medium term what we have is a story, and the story is about how I got stabbed in the back, and I got stabbed in the back by the black people, I got stabbed in the back by the democrats, then by the courts, and then by the supreme court - to where it becomes a kind of all-embracing conspiracy theory. And that's going to last longer. Our eyes are going to divert away from the money soon, but that story that this supposedly impermeable, undefeatable heroic leader was brought down by this terrible stab in the back, that's going to stay with us. That's going to poison politics for a while.

Well, I mean, we're talking to you in Vienna, and you're obviously a scholar of Eastern European history and Central European history, so have you now sort of worked out why 70 million people still support Trump in America, and what happens to them now? What kind of movement does it become? Is it a normal democratic movement that just seeks to overthrow, to defeat the Democrats, or is it something different?

I think that 70 million people vote for Trump… first of all, he's the candidate of the Republican Party in a two-party system. And it's a two-party system with, as you know, extreme polarization. Not just around values and policies, but around facts themselves. So, most of the things which Democrats think would be a very strong reason not to vote for Mr Trump are either unknown or disbelieved on the part of the Republican electorate. So, there's a structural problem here which I would go so far as to say is not really Republicans’ fault, which is that we don't actually share a factual basis of communication anymore. And that's a problem which has to do with social media and can only be solved by breaking up Facebook and can only be solved by building up local media again so we have some kind of common ground to actually start larger conversations on.

Because what's happened to our politics is that all the conversations are about things that people don't know anything about. You know, it's all about stuff that happens in Washington or globally, or it's just stuff which isn't true, you know, some kind of conspiracy theory. People are no longer walking on the ground, they're floating in the air. But what happens next… I mean I think the Republicans have a real problem. Because they're basically two views inside the party. One view is that we can game the system, we're doing pretty well. And 2020 actually supports that. I mean, if you put Mr Trump aside, they did much better than they were expected to do. You know they were supposed to lose the senate, they kept it. [nope - though it seemed so for a while] They almost took back the House of Representatives, which nobody was expecting. So actually, their model, which is flood the system with money, suppress the vote wherever we need to, run on emotional issues, that model did really well in 2020. They also got more Latino votes and more Black votes than were expected. 

So that's one school of thought. The other school of thought is tear it all down, right. So, one school of thought says game the system, the other school of thought says destroy the system. And now Trump has put himself at the head of the movement which says destroy the system. I think that's going to be a problem. I think what this is going to show is that if you're going to carry out a coup d’état, you better win. Because if you don't win, you're discrediting coup d’état. So, Trump tried to carry out a coup d’état. I mean in my view there's no question about it. He couldn't get the military to go along, they said no. He doesn't have the kind of violent paramilitary support he would need, but he tried.

When you say the military say no said no, what do you what do you mean by that?

I'm referring to June 1st 2020, when as prompted by the Black Lives Matter protests Trump tried to say that this is a national emergency which requires that the United States army invade its own country. And basically, he was refused. And that's a very important moment, because it is not that the military is on the side of the Democrats, that's not true either. But it became clear they were not going to get themselves involved in that sort of thing, let alone directly in electoral politics. I mean not that there aren't people who want them to, right, like

Les om det her.
Michael Flynn, who was a one-star general and who was for a few days national security adviser, said we should declare martial law, we should bring in the troops, we should have a new election with the military in charge. So that current is out there. But the army itself wasn't going to take part. But my larger point is here: the Republicans now have a coup faction and they have a game the system faction, and those two factions are now openly in conflict. And, so long as Trump is in the picture, they're going to have a problem. Because he's always going to be leading a coup faction, and the coup faction is going to have trouble with elections because their message is elections don't work.


And so, if you have to win a coup, are you saying Trump will at the moment feel that he's lost, that he hasn’t completed his coup, and therefore would want to come back?

I would say he's probably still at the stage where he's not entirely sure he has to leave.

So, he's still fighting it?

Yeah, he's still… I mean he's… I believe he's still fighting, believing he has a chance for victory. But even if he doesn't have a chance for victory, he's never going to admit that. He's going to walk out the White House, saying that he won. And he's going to keep saying that he won. That's his story. And I mean the guy has strengths, right. They're not conventional policy strengths and he didn't really pass any policy. You know all of his policies are about making rich people richer, which is not policy, that's just gravity. 

He is not a politician in that sense, but he does have gifts. And one of his gifts is that he's really stubborn. He knows how to say the same thing over and over and over again, despite what people tell him to say, despite what the way the world actually is. So, I would guess he's going to stick with this story all the way through. What he believes is going to be hard to ascertain. He's going to stick to that story, and sticking to that story is the problem. It means that if he comes back to office it's going to be on a story about how the system is completely broken, right. But along the way, so long as he tells that story, he's telling Americans that one of the few things that actually does work in our country very well, which is elections, that that thing doesn't actually work. But yeah, he's not going to want to leave the White House and he's going to want to come back, there's no question about that. I mean and the reason he has to be… I mean he's got basic old-fashioned reasons for being in power. He owes a lot of money and he's facing criminal investigations. I mean those are really good reasons to want to be president of the United States, and he's got them.

So how does he compare to Putin? Because Putin doesn't owe huge amounts of money, you know, have those same sorts of problems. But there's a lot of similarities there too.

Yeah. I mean Trump is like a precocious tyrant, like he's out ahead of the curve, right. He's much more of an authoritarian than the American system is. That's what Denzer is saying. I mean the American system is flawed; the American system made him possible, obviously. But he's ahead of the curve, right. He's somebody who really sees the possibilities of social media and pushed them to the limit. He's somebody who wants America to be more like an oligarchy than it actually is, which is saying something. Because we're already pushing the boundaries of oligarchy. Trump is not really an oligarch, right. Putin really is an oligarch. I mean we don't know how much money Putin has, but it's in the tens of billions of dollars. I mean Putin has so much money that if you are a random friend of Putin, not even a first-rate friend but like a third-grade school friend, he might just give you two billion dollars. That's you know, that's actual money. Trump does not have that kind of money. Trump can't even dream about that kind of money. So, I mean the first thing to say is that Trump's relationship to Putin is one of a client to a patron, right. You don't see Putin falling over Trump, but you do see Trump falling over Putin. And we've been watching that now for more than four years.

But the second difference is of course structural. The Russian system is what Trump was aiming for, semi-consciously. The Russian system is a kind of normal 21st century authoritarianism where you legitimate yourself by elections, even though everybody knows you didn't really win, right. Because in the 21st century nobody really has ideology anymore. You don't have some grand reason to legitimate yourself, you just have elections. So, you have elections, you just fake them, or you lie about the results. And so, the interesting thing about Trump in November - December of 2020 is that that's what he's doing. He's trying to legitimate himself with an election. He's just claiming that he won it, but he doesn't have the power to fake it. If he did have the power to fake it, obviously he would. He's trying very hard. So, it's just that slight inability to do the thing that Putin can actually do which is what separates the United States from Russia politically at this point.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy


So do you think in the West we have really misunderstood who the real example is, where the real power is, that we've kind of assumed that Trump being in the White House has being the catalyst all around the world for the rise of authoritarians and the rise of populism, whereas that the real power lies in Moscow?

I would say… I mean I'm going to partially agree with that. I would say that there are underlying trends. The first of them is rising inequality of wealth and income, which makes it harder for people to see a future, which makes it harder for people to believe in normal democratic politics, which requires that you think two years ahead, four years ahead, whatever it is. Another underlying trend is global warming, which also closes down the future. It makes it harder for people to see how things are going to be better. And another underlying trend is social media. Russia was ahead of the curve on using social media, but social media makes polarization much easier, it makes appeals to emotions over facts much easier. So, that said, I think Russia mattered so much because it was ahead of the curve on these things. Russia gets to extreme economic inequality faster than other people, and so Russian politicians have to decide how you govern with that. And then they can export some of what they learned. 

Russia learns how to use social media to divide not just its own population, but above all other people, and it uses that in 2016. So, Russia matters, and it probably contingently matters, because without the Russian intervention in US politics in 2016, Trump probably would not have won. And that's a pretty big…. I mean they're nudging something which was going to be a close race anyway, but that's a pretty big effect, right. Russia also intervened. I mean it is still surprising me how little in Britain this is reported on. But Russia also intervened in Brexit digitally in a very, very significant way. And so, you know if you count those as Russian victories, then of course Russia looks like this mega power. But what I would say is that Russia is exploiting some trends that we've been slow to see, and the best way to deal with Russia is to try to deal with those trends.

I mean part of the problem is that we are told as citizens very little about precisely what Russia did, because the governments in the US and in Britain are very vague about precisely what influence Russia tried to wield. Either in the 2016 election or in the Brexit referendum or in the Scottish referendum. There are hints, but there's nothing very conclusive that's ever announced. And so, it becomes a bit of a conspiracy theory. How much evidence is there around these things in truth?

Well the simplest example in the US in 2016 would be the email dumps. So just to recall; the Russians were able to get into important email accounts of important Democratic party institutions and operatives, and then at crucial moments during the election they would then dump things along with a narrative that they'd worked out. So, for example there was a moment late in the campaign where it seemed that Donald Trump was bound to lose because it had just emerged that he had been caught on tape saying that it was fine to sexually assault women. Which would seem like a big deal, and even he thought it was a big deal. Mike Pence thought it was a big deal. However, about half an hour after that there was a big email dump from the Russians with a cover story which involved Democratic paedophilia and selling children as pros… prostituting children, which of course seemed ridiculous to all the people who cared about Trump and sexual assault. But he was out there within half an hour, and what happened very quickly was that it quickly became on the one hand on the other hand. Well maybe Trump said this, but on the other hand did you realize that Hillary Clinton is selling sex with children in the basement of a pizza parlour? - which again… that might seem absurd but if you just follow the numbers, 30 plus percent of the American population believed that story at a certain point. So, if you don't have these email dumps coming in and changing the dynamics, Trump has a hard time. 

And then the other thing they did in the US was the social media, which is harder to measure the effect of that, but you know, it was pretty massive. In the UK there are some things which can be quantified, having to do with Brexit. I haven't investigated this, but other people have. If you look at a great deal of the social media debate, especially over Twitter in 2016, a lot of it was coming from abroad. So, you have a lot of British people responding to a lot of Twitter material which they think is coming from a person, but which is actually coming from a Russian bot. And this happens over and over and over again. And when more than half of your Twitter conversation on a given subject is being driven from abroad - you know I can't prove that that affects people's minds, but if you were asked would you like to have your Twitter conversation driven by Russian robots, your answer would probably be no.

But how do you know that so much of Twitter was being driven from abroad?

Because there are scholars who work on that and who have the algorithm that they're able to test it. And they publish their results in 2016, 2017. I mean there's a whole… I can't now cite this chapter and verse, but I do in my book ‘The Road to Unfreedom’. There were British scholars and other scholars who were following this, and you have the computer programs which allow them to measure this. And this is all on the record. That part's not mysterious.

So, I mean if to pick up that sort of theme of The Road to Unfreedom… I mean has the defeat of Donald Trump put us back on the road, as you would have seen it, to democracy? Or is this a sort of a blip, you think?

I think it's somewhere in between. I mean I'm going to take the easy out here. Things would have been much worse if Trump had won. However, Biden and Harris winning basically just buys you time to do other things. Because the reasons why Trump won are all still there. America still has a terrible welfare state which makes people much more angry and much more frightened than they should be. 2020 and coronavirus was one more bit of evidence for that. We still have growing inequalities. People still have trouble seeing the future, all those underlying problems are still there. So, what you have are now four years of a chance to try to get at some of those underlying problems, or else you know you bounce back. I think not Trump in 2424, but a slicked down younger, and in better physical shape, version of Trump in 2024 can still come. So, I think it matters. But basically, what matters more is what you do with the time that you've got.

Because… I mean, what you're saying suggests that democracy is just doomed. Because if you have in developed societies growing inequality or a vast number of poor people, even if you calculate inequality in a way that suggests it's not growing, you've got enough people who are feeling disenfranchised, not part of growth, and all the powers of social media and foreign interference - how can democracy possibly weather that?

I love that you've outflanked me on the pessimism front. That's good… good job. Now you've got me, I've got to be optimistic. So okay, first thing I'm going to say is that 80 million people came out to vote for Biden and that was an act of…. you know that was a human act. A lot of people worked very hard to get to that outcome. And so, all this terrible stuff that we're talking about; Trump's claims of fraud, social media and so on, we have to remember that 80 million people still took the trouble to vote. In the United States it IS taking the trouble. For too many people it's not easy. The second thing is that some of the stuff is reparable.

So, you know, 48 states are now appealing to use antitrust legislation against Facebook, which is a big deal. Facebook is not a feature of nature. We don't have to have it the same way that we have to have hurricanes. It can be changed. You know, 100 years ago America was using anti-trust legislation to break things up. There's no reason why we can't do it now. I think some of this stuff is reparable, and I definitely don't think democracy is doomed.

Can we sort of pause and talk a little bit about you, and how you got to this point? You've become this voice of warning around contemporary politics, when… you know, you're a historian? So, I'm guessing, did you ever imagine that this is where you would get to, where your work, your academic work would mean you writing books trying to sort of say to people wake up and look at what's going on around you? Was that the sort of the road you were sort of heading down when you were starting out as an undergraduate?

Well, any good historian will tell you that it's very hard to explain the actions of an individual person. Look, I'll give you a couple answers. One answer is we have made a mistake in doing down history and the humanities these last 30 years or so. You know since the end of communism in 1989 too many people in Britain, in the US, and the West generally have said; well look, capitalism is going to bring about democracy, it's all inevitable. So, all we have are technical problems. And if all we have are technical problems, then all we need is engineering and science and economists and so on. We've defunded history, we've defunded the humanities. And when you defund history and the humanities, it actually becomes much harder to talk about the kinds of problems we're talking about now.

Because these are not really technical problems, they're moral problems, they're aesthetic problems, they're questions of judgment.  And to have the concepts and the tools and the references for all these things you need the humanities. And I'm laying that out because it's part of an answer to your question; I think history always has something to say about the present. It's not that history repeats or even that it rhymes. But it's that history gives you that flow from the past into the present which maybe helps you to see possible futures. History gives you a sense of what structures there are that are limiting us, but also gives you a sense of how you might be able to get around those structures and find ways into new structures. Also, history… I mean unlike other ways of looking at the world emphasizes that there's a certain amount of irreducible human agency, of human choice and things.

And so therefore no matter what's going on, there probably is something you can do that might make a difference, even if you feel overwhelmed at that particular point. So, no I didn't see myself being in this kind of a role, but I just want to say that I think it's normal that history can teach us about life, and that… I mean I don't think I'm that important, but I think that if there's a general lesson to be learned here, it would be something like we need more of the humanities and we need more of history if we're going to not be surprised all the time by things. Because what happens is like anytime anything slightly new happens, like you know 911 is a good example, we all say well how could we have known, right, nothing like this has ever happened before. Whereas any historian will say well, nothing exactly like this has happened before, but it's a little bit like a b c and d. And if we look at a b c and d we might get some patterns and start to be able to think about it instead of just being surprised. Because when you're surprised you then get deceived by whoever has the best spectacle and who comes up with the lie the quickest. History helps with all of that.

Have we also just been blinded by the scale of killing in the middle of the 20th century to the extent that we don't think that anything in our modern world can compare?

That's a wonderful question. I mean one move that people make very often is to say… as soon as you talk about the past at all, they say well you're making a comparison. And that's bad news. Or you're making an analogy, and that's bad news. It's not exactly like that, so therefore, we don't do think about it. So, six million Jews that haven’t been murdered [this time], so there's no reason to think about what's going on right now. It's wrong to say. But before those six million Jews were murdered – I'm just taking the example that's familiar to me – you had these changes in rhetoric, and then you had these changes in institutions, and then you had this new kind of institution. You know, if the comparisons the analogies that are made are put out of balance by the scale of the middle of the 20th century, then the sort of ironic consequence is that you can't use history at all. You know you can't draw attention to those horrors and say; well look, those horrors they weren't a matter of super villains having superpowers. Those horrors arose step by step by step, and we know what some of those steps are. And so, we should pay attention when we see things that look a little bit like those steps. 

But then there's another thing to say about this really important question: In the 1930s and 1940s, the way that states controlled people was actually much more direct than it has to be now. And so, you can get at tyranny now in a way which is visually much less shocking, let's put it that way, than in the 1930s and 1940s.  Things did end in the 1930s and 1940s with millions of deaths. But one can imagine a country like China for example, that is a very effective modern tyranny, which doesn't have to kill millions of people. I mean it sure would, but it doesn't have to, because the methods of control are much more subtle. And so, we need the comparisons, not because things are exactly the same, but we need the comparisons because without the comparisons we're just going to be surprised by everything and not have any points of reference.

I mean that also makes it quite difficult to explain to people what it is they have to fear. If you don't have to fear a holocaust or millions of people being purged, you have to explain what it is people have to fear, which is much more sophisticated.

I think that's an excellent point. I think if we are at the point where people are only afraid of millions of people dying, then we probably lost the argument. Because the case for democracy and for the rule of law has to be something better than this is the way you prevent millions of people from dying. The case for democracy and for the rule of law has to be more positive. It has to be something like: these are the forms of life which allow you to live freely, these are the forms of life which means you're not at your neighbour's throat the entire time. These are the forms of life which means that you're not fighting pointless wars. These are the forms of life where you don't have to humiliate yourself in front of other people. These are the forms of life where you're not born into a caste or a class which is going to keep you down the entire time. There has to be some kind of a positive case. If we're only making the negative case, then I think we're probably going to lose.

I mean, that takes us to your latest book, which is about healthcare and your own experience of having been ill and negotiating healthcare systems.  You see… you know that's a classic case of something particularly in Britain where the National Health Service is totemic, where you ask people what are the most important things about Britain, what makes Britain special – and they'll say healthcare. But healthcare has never been the issue of an election or the thing that will make people vote a particular way.

Democracy, you know like I said before, it's not a state of nature. It's also not just a set of procedures. It's also a kind of institutional and social backdrop which makes it possible for those procedures to make sense. So, my experience, to which you kindly refer, reminded me of how elemental politics can be. That if you're really afraid, if you're really terrified, if you're facing certain kinds of risks all the time, unnecessarily maybe, you're not a great candidate for being a democratic voter. Let's just put it that way. So, the relationship between a health service and a democracy might seem obscure, you might say well people could vote for, people who vote against it. I would say it's more like this: if you want people to be able to contemplate a future involving their interests, the interests of their children, the next generation, you have to as part of the social contract get them into a place where they're not immediately terrified. Because we're not… you know we're rational beings at the best of times. And so, part of the job of government is to create those best of times. Or to put it conversely: you can torpedo a democracy by creating unnecessary fear and pain and impatience and suffering. That's Mr Trump's model. You can try to do it that way.

So, if you want democracy to keep going you need to have the institutions. And I think healthcare is probably the single most important, which means that people aren't immediately facing existential fears. If you are less concerned about pensions, if you're less concerned about education for your children, if you're less concerned about illness, then you're pulling back the level of existential fear. And you're making it more likely that people are going to be able to vote on water quality or on issues that they can actually talk to one another about. So, I think that there's a very close relationship actually between these institutions that we need to get people into that better place where the procedures can then carry us into the future.

Can I finally ask you about Boris Johnson, which we haven't really talked about, and how you see him. Because, obviously, I think in the current context he'd like to see himself as a sort of a Churchillian figure taking on the modern-day war of the pandemic. Where do you think he fits in?

Yeah, I mean I haven't lived in Britain these last these last few years, so I've been observing this from afar. I think the main problem of democracy after empire, going back to that really high level, is how you find a way to build an us which is ever bigger rather than ever smaller. And the US and Britain face the same issue; can the US become a country where yes, the immigrants are real Americans, and yes, the Blacks are real Americans, and can you keep that story going where spiritually and also electorally you're including more and more people. Can you do that after empire, or do you pull back and say we the people who had the privilege, we're going to keep the vote to ourselves and the money to ourselves and so on. 

I mean Britain faces a similar challenge, right, what do you do after empire. And there was once an answer. If you look at the debates of the 1960s, the British were well aware that Europe was what you do after empire. That's what the whole debate was about. It was we were aware of losing our empire – look, here's a substitute. It may not be perfect, but if we get in there we can probably throw our weight around a little bit and make deals that are good for us. And that turned out to be absolutely correct. I mean de Gaulle kept the British out for a while, but once the British were in, they had a disproportionate role in the European Union, they punched far above their weight for a couple of decades there. But, more importantly, it was being more rather than less. It's a bigger Britain rather than a smaller England. And I think that's the whole trick: where after empire do you find a way to be bigger rather than smaller, to have a future rather than just a past.


So, when I look at the whole sweep of Boris Johnson’s career, the thing that I see is 
that as a journalist and then as a politician – for whatever reason, I don't know what he actually believes in – but for whatever reason he's turned the argument towards something smaller. Not Europe but Britain. I think in the end not Britain but England is where it's going to all end up.

So, we are on a trajectory of shrinkage. Less influence and less power?

It's interesting, because you can't stay put. That’s the kind of the magic… part of the magic of a Trump or the magic of Boris Johnson is that you first conjure up this moment when you were great, and then you imagine that stasis is somehow powerful – impossible! But stasis is never possible, right, you're always either rising or falling. And if you're going to rise, you have to rise in the conditions you're in and not in the conditions of the 1930s or whatever your moment of greatness is in your own mind. If you decide against going big, you are deciding in favour of going small, and that's what Trumpism looks like. 

So, the US lost a huge amount of influence around the world in every respect very rapidly, and the democratic project within the US also suffered. You either go bigger or you go smaller. And with Britain it's not just that.  Britain had so much influence inside the European Union, it had so much influence, and that's now all gone. And as a member of the European Union it had disproportionate influence around the world in trade negotiations. That is also now all going to be gone. And then the next question is what does Britain look like. Because remember; Britain has always been in modern history either an empire or it's been part of the European project. There's never been a moment in British history where Britain has been this thing called the nation state. And I think once it is this thing called the nation state, it's probably not going to last for very long. I think something else is probably going to emerge out of it like in England for example.

Well, I mean it's been fascinating Tim. We spent this conversation talking about how other people have been changing the world and other movements. What if you could change the world, what would you do?

That's a funny question. My son had a question in school; decide that you have a superpower, what is it. And his superpower was I can do anything. But then of course he applied his superpower to get himself less homework. So, you're asking me what I can do if I could do anything. Let me just try to narrow that down a little bit. For me, you know, there is no us and them among people. The politics of us and them is what's bringing us down. That's you know… it is Britain against Europe, or in America the real Americans against everybody else. 

That us and them, it freezes us in time, and it makes us angry, and it makes it very hard to do policy. There isn't really an us and them, and you can't be morally coherent and think that there's really us and them among people. I do think there's a real us and them in the world, though. And the us and them is people and machines. So, if I could change anything it would be to create larger awareness of that. That the humanities, the study of humans, like thinking normatively, aesthetically, politically about humans, is really important. Because something is closing in on us, and that is the world of the machines. And I don't mean this in a kind of dark, obvious, like they're shooting lasers at us and it's Terminator sort of way. What I mean is that more and more of how we spend our time, more and more of how we think, what we read, how we communicate, is being driven by logics that are not human. So, if I could change one thing, it would be that. I would just create an awareness of that, so that we would have some purchase on how we spend our days. We would read a little bit more, have more conversations live, not think of other people as being the other. Because ultimately that's just not only destructive, but I think intellectually and morally untenable. But realize that there is an other out there, and that other is the way that the world is being digitalized. And think of that as something that maybe we could all together think collectively about and change.

Timothy Snyder thank you very much indeed.