Watch: ‘For fascists, politics is about friends and enemies’, says historian Timothy Snyder
‘The moment where we move immediately to emotions like offence (to the proposition of a threat of fascism) is the moment where democracy really is in trouble.’
Appearing on an interview on British television’s Channel 4 News with host Krishnan Guru-Murthy, historian and Yale University Professor Timothy Snyder spoke about the “lessons for democracies on how to resist authoritarianism”. Snyder is a historian who specialises in the study of fascism.
“The reason we know fascism is possible is that it already happened once and it happened in places not so distant from us – either in place or in time,” Snyder said, talking about the rise of fascism among governments around the world. Elaborating on the “tactics of fascism that have been borrowed from the 1920s and 1930s”, Snyder commented, “There’s a notorious manual to propaganda which was composed in a Munich prison beginning in 1924 which advises that what you should do in political propaganda is always find simple slogans and repeat them over and over again with the effect of dividing your listeners into us and them.”
The historian, however, thinks that the fascism of the early 20th century and the fascism we see today are not identical. “Fascists were really aggressive and really did believe in an empire and war, but today’s people on the far right or the populist right are rather passive-aggressive, that is, they ascribe all agency to other people to the system, to the other side and claim that everything they’re doing is just a reaction to that and they don’t really want to commit themselves to actions that might be risky.”