It’s a tiny book as books go, all of 126 pages, fairly big type, small enough to carry in your back pocket or next to your phone in your handbag. But it is full of wisdom, little eye bites, and all of them on the same topic: Tyranny.

In 2017 Professor Timothy Snyder wrote it, oh he of Yale University, a Levin Professor of History and the full title is: On Tyranny—Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.  It was sold out when I went first to buy it on the ThriftBooks site, so I sprang for the full price, cheap enough still, on Amazon. Thinking it was maybe seven bucks. Need another copy already; mine is almost in tatters. (Disclosure: I do not know Tim; I wish I did.)

The longest ones of his 20 lessons run to approximately seven or eight pages each, but there is first a less-than one page summation of the particular wisdom lesson that follows it.

Several of them are appropriate for today certainly, when we are being inundated from the very top of our government with wild cries of hoax, hoax, fake news, wild and crazy mobs trying to destroy our heritage, “our” America, “and the beat,” as Sonny and Cher used to sing, “goes on.”

But for today I’ve selected just one, just the summation, this one, Lesson 10, Believe in truth:

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 is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights. (On Tyranny,…, Snyder, pp. 65-71)

The kicker in this one? At the end of the seven pages Snyder says, “Post-truth is pre-fascism.” And this is no less than where we’ve been heading for more than three years; and it is why all of us writing, marching, thinking, talking to anyone we can, are all in on this. It is not breathless hyperbole to say our hair is on fire.  We’ll vote sure; we’ll support our candidate, and our down-ballot candidates too; but we need to send whatever money we can spare, use our bucks judiciously for the most impact and effect; get involved in phone banking; whatever will work to end this march to fascism and the end of the unfinished story of our democracy. “We the people…” have the power to end this nightmare.

Liked it? Take a second to support Carroll Ann Robinson on Patreon!

This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


  1. This struck home with me:
    ” If nothing is true then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights. “


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here