On November 15th, one week after the results of the 2016 US presidential election were known to all, Timothy Snyder, a distinguished historian of Modern Europe, took to his Facebook page where he formulated a series of steps he urged readers to take in response to what he clearly deemed an emerging threat to the future of American democracy. Snyder’s message, which captured the sense of urgency and foreboding that was palpable across large swaths of the land, instantly went viral. In a preface to comments informed by deep knowledge of the totalitarian regimes that held Europe in their grip in the decades following World War I, Snyder wrote:
Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or Communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so. Here are twenty lessons from the twentieth century, adapted to the circumstances of today.