Populism, tyranny, and the lessons of the past

Populism, tyranny, and the lessons of the past

In the opinion pages of this morning’s Guardian there’s an article by Timothy Garton-Ash on the worsening situation for free speech and human rights in Turkey as Erdoğan’s increasingly authoritarian regime tightens the screw. ‘To travel to Turkey today is to journey into darkness,’ writes Garton-Ash; ‘tens of thousands of state employees and thousands of academics dismissed, more journalists locked up than in any other country, and a chilly mist of fear.’

Erdoğan crops up in Jan-Werner Müller’s concise guide, What Is Populism? which I read recently. For the epigraph to his book Muller chose the words of Bertolt Brecht: ‘All power comes from the people. But where does it go?’  It’s a good question, and Muller provides a readable analysis of populism, a term that’s been bandied about a great deal post-Trump, post-Brexit, and in the context of fears of what might happen in Europe in 2017. Even more timely and urgent is On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, a brand-new, slim volume by Holocaust historian Timothy Snyder. Continue reading “Populism, tyranny, and the lessons of the past”

Citizenfour documents the monitoring and curbing of dissent

<em>Citizenfour</em> documents the monitoring and curbing of dissent

I’ve come to this late, but I must salute one of the finest documentaries I’ve seen in recent years.  Filmed in real time, Citizenfour documents the tense negotiations leading up to whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations about the massive state surveillance of British and American citizens.  The film appeared last autumn, and I have just caught up with a recording of its Channel 4 broadcast some weeks back. Continue reading Citizenfour documents the monitoring and curbing of dissent”