In On Tyranny, what are some of Snyder's lessons on resisting authoritarianism?

In On Tyranny, some of Snyder's lessons on resisting authoritarianism include staying in touch with the people around you, being alert to dangerous or manipulative language, and understanding that patriotism means acknowledging that democracy is fragile and must be protected.

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Three lessons of the twenty that Snyder includes in On Tyranny are the following.

"Make eye contact and small talk": Snyder says this is not simply a matter of being polite but part of a person's responsibility as a citizen. He notes that in countries that have been taken over by authoritarian regimes, small gestures such as handshakes and eye contact have oversized significance, as does, on the other hand, crossing the street to avoid someone. Part of insuring that we have a civil, democratic society is for people to stay in touch with each other and expect this to be the norm.

"Listen for dangerous words": When leaders begin to use words like terrorism or extremism, be on alert, Snyder says. Is there really a plausible threat, or are words being misused to manipulate emotions and take away freedoms? If we aren't really unsafe, except for a manufactured scenario, then we shouldn't be willing to give up our rights in return for an illusory "safety."

"Be a patriot": Snyder defines patriotism as wanting one's nation to live up to its highest ideals. It means thinking universally about what is good for the country as a whole. It also means accepting that a democracy is fragile and that an authoritarian government is possible. Acknowledging this means we will all be more vigilant about preventing it from happening.

Over all, resisting authoritarianism means thinking about what leaders are saying and if these words are factual. It means staying involved in the reality of one's world to maintain the line between truth and fantasy.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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