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The Big Answer


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The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America

a book by Timothy Snyder

(our site's book review)

Nationalism Inflames Europe, Abetted by Putin's Russian Propaganda and Cyberwarfare

The Amazon blurb says that With the end of the Cold War, the victory of liberal democracy was thought to be absolute. Observers declared the end of history, confident in a peaceful, globalized future. But we now know this to be premature. Authoritarianism first returned in Russia, as Putin developed a political system dedicated solely to the consolidation and exercise of power. In the last six years, it has creeped from east to west as nationalism inflames Europe, abetted by Russian propaganda and cyberwarfare. While countries like Poland and Hungary have made hard turns towards authoritarianism, the electoral upsets of 2016 revealed the citizens of the US and UK in revolt against their countries’ longstanding policies and values.

But this threat to the West also presents the opportunity to better understand the pillars of our own political order. In this forceful and unsparing work of contemporary history, Snyder goes beyond the headlines to expose the true nature of the threat to democracy. By showcasing the stark choices before us—between equality or oligarchy, individuality or totality, truth and falsehood—Snyder restores our understanding of the basis of our way of life, offering a way forward in a time of terrible uncertainty.

Once Russians found out how easy it was to corrupt U.S. political leaders, they did so enthusiastically—even dancing in triumph
Once Russians found out how easy it was to corrupt U.S. political leaders, they did so enthusiastically—even dancing in triumph

Putin's Muse/Philosopher Ivan Ilyin Regarded Fascism as the Politics of the World to Come

Ivan Ilyin, Putin's muse, regarded fascism as the politics of the world to come
Ivan Ilyin, Putin's muse, regarded fascism as the politics of the world to come

In Snyder's words, "Ivan Ilyin was a politician of eternity. His thought held sway as the capitalist version of the politics of inevitability collapsed in the Russia of the 1990s and 2000s. As Russia became an organized kleptocracy in the 2010s, as domestic inequality reached stupefying proportions, Ilyin’s influence peaked. The Russian assault on the European Union and the United States revealed, by targeting them, certain political virtues that Ilyin the philosopher ignored or despised: individualism, succession, integration, novelty, truth, equality. . . . No thinker of the twentieth century has been rehabilitated in such grand style in the twenty-first, nor enjoyed such influence on world politics. . . . Ilyin regarded fascism as the politics of the world to come. . . . If we see history as it is, we see our places in it, what we might change, and how we might do better."

Ilyin regarded fascism as the politics of the world to come; strongman Putin agrees so he befriends demagogue clown Trump, who wants to be a strongman too, and all three men agree that democracy isn't worth a hoot; history repeats itself since we refuse to LEARN from it
Ilyin regarded fascism as the politics of the world to come; strongman Putin agrees so he befriends demagogue clown Trump, who wants to be a strongman too, and all three men agree that democracy isn't worth a hoot; history repeats itself since we refuse to LEARN from it

Snyder’s The Road to Unfreedom Frighteningly Explains the Current Crisis of Western Liberal Democracy

The Road to Unfreedom is a rich and complex book, punctuated by epigrams that cast heroic clarity upon the disturbing distance the United States has already traveled to the sinister destination in Snyder’s title. If some of Snyder’s assessment seems overstated or premature, he can powerfully reply: He has perceived more accurately than his critics what has already happened. He has earned the right to be heard on what may lie ahead.” —David Frum, The Atlantic

“Of all the books that seek to explain the current crisis of Western liberal democracy, none is more eloquent or frightening than Snyder’s The Road to Unfreedom.” —Foreign Affairs

The 2016 US Presidential election went catastrophically wrong for the nation, the world, our citizens, in fact for everyone except Donald Trump, who was shocked and amazed—but pleased
The 2016 US Presidential election went catastrophically wrong for the nation, the world, our citizens, in fact for everyone except Donald Trump, who was shocked and amazed—but pleased

Snyder's The Road to Unfreedom is the most important contribution to the growing set of books analyzing why the 2016 US Presidential election went so catastrophically wrong. The Road to Unfreedom sets the events of that year in their proper historical context, reminding us once again that history not only repeats itself, sometimes it screams at us from the dark recesses of the past. Even though Ilyin died in 1954, his writings were to have enormous—and ugly—influence on the Russian oligarchs of the 21st century who oversaw their country's descent into kleptocracy, including Vladimir Putin—the head oligarch. It was due to Ilyin's influence that Putin took steps to destabilize the regions he perceived to be Russia's enemies, primarily the European Union and the United States. It goes without saying that if U.S. leaders continue to ignore the meaning behind all this Russian interference, we'll soon be watching our nation go to hell in a handbasket and it won't be the scenic tour handbasket, it will be the express handbasket.


Either Our Leaders Wake Up or Our Nation Will Go to Hell in a Handbasket

It goes without saying that if U.S. leaders continue to ignore the meaning behind all this Russian interference, we'll soon be watching our nation go to hell in a handbasket and it won't be the scenic tour handbasket, it will be the express handbasket
It goes without saying that if U.S. leaders continue to ignore the meaning behind all this Russian interference, we'll soon be watching our nation go to hell in a handbasket and it won't be the scenic tour handbasket, it will be the express handbasket

As one Amazon reviewer sees it, "Russian media is managed to present the story the government wants presented and bears absolutely no connection to the truth. It is the ultimate in 'fake news.' This is so blatant that Americans really cannot imagine the breadth and depth of its lies. Russia is actively working to destabilize America and Europe in order to bring them down to the economic and undemocratic level of Russia. Since Russia cannot improve due to its kleptocracy and oligarchy, it's only option is to ruin the West. The Russians have financed Trump to cover his failed businesses and massive debts—putting him in their pocket.

Vladimir Putin interfered in our 2016 election
Vladimir Putin interfered in our 2016 election

"The ties between the government and the oligarchs enable Putin to use them as intermediaries so that support is not directly tied to the government. Hence, 'no collusion.' Russia backs Trump because they realized how destructive his personality and illogical actions would be to U.S. government. Snyder lays out the fact that all of Russia's efforts were for Trump and against Clinton to make that point. America is in an information war for the truth in order to save it's democracy. Fox News and the far left are not helping as both get baited and ensnared by Russia misinformation." (Source: You've gotta read it, but it can be a struggle in spots. See why here..., Top Dawg)


Voters Enable Our Greedy Leaders to Endanger Us, by Being Distracted by Social Networks

U.S. voters enable our current crop of deceitful, greedy, underhanded, ignorant, and anti-democratic leaders to endanger us, by their obsession with such social networks as Facebook and Twitter
U.S. voters enable our current crop of deceitful, greedy, underhanded, ignorant, and anti-democratic leaders to endanger us, by their obsession with such social networks as Facebook and Twitter


Democracy requires vigilant citizens, but ours are Tweeting, Facebooking, and chasing shiny objects
Democracy requires vigilant citizens, but ours are Tweeting, Facebooking, and chasing shiny objects

It is not just our current crop of deceitful, greedy, underhanded, ignorant, and anti-democratic leaders or our insufficiently regulated cybertechnologies that are to blame for the dangerous, vulnerable position our country is in. It’s also the voters who enable them to endanger us, by their obsession with such social networks as Facebook and Twitter.


Trump Is Being Used by Russia to Demolish American Democracy

Trump is being used by Russia to demolish American democracy and disrupt civic society, and the Republicans were willing accomplices
Trump is being used by Russia to demolish American democracy and disrupt civic society, and the Republicans were willing accomplices

Trump is being used by Russia to demolish American democracy and disrupt civic society. Trump is targeted by Russia at the essence of America. Snyder contends that Vladimir Putin, rather than trying to bring Russia up, uses his energies and those of the Russian state to divide and degrade the EU and the U.S. in order to bring them down to Russia’s level. Russia wants hegemony over Ukraine and other former USSR states and to legitimize his own rule. It seems that he’s succeeded in doing this by exploiting America’s divisions, inconsistencies and inequalities.

Europe suffers from very high unemployment rates and mass migration of refugees, which has also led to Brexit and the rise of extremist right wing political parties in many European countries. Vladimir Putin and his close network of political, FSB, military and oligarchical allies have seen the poor political conditions in the U.S. and Europe, which they exploited. They financed and helped generate and strengthen right wing groups. In today's bizarre political climate, there now is a fraternal camaraderie and alignment of objectives between Trump, the alt right, Fox News, etc. in America, their European counterparts and the Kremlin. Trump has some fascist ideas and so do his followers and so does Putin. What a cozy group! See Understanding the F-Word: American Fascism and the Politics of Illusion.


The Shadow Government of Neoconservative Oligarchal Warmongers Controlling Our Government Forces Trump to Keep Our Wars Going

There is a shadow government of neoconservative oligarchal warmongers controlling our government behind the scenes
There is a shadow government of neoconservative oligarchal warmongers controlling our government behind the scenes

"Actual control [of the U.S.] has finally passed to the oligarchic elite [shadow government] controlling the government behind the scenes.— John W. Whitehead (Source: Fascism, American Style)

For many years, millions of Americans have been complaining that it doesn't matter who we elect to office, we end up with the same corrupt Corporatocracy and the same wars we don't want get started by the same warmongering, empire building neocons, totally regardless of the will of the people, the wishes of the people, and totally against the best interests of the citizens. The powers-that-be use the cover story of a War on Terror to rationalize their imperialism, but it is a very weak cover story indeed. See Psychological Dysfunction.

The powers-that-be use the cover story of a War on Terror to rationalize their imperialism, but it is a very weak cover story indeed—in actuality, our military has becme a terrorist factory, creating more terrorists than it kills
The powers-that-be use the cover story of a War on Terror to rationalize their imperialism, but it is a very weak cover story indeed—in actuality, our military has becme a terrorist factory, creating more terrorists than it kills

"Dissent is being marginalized both at a domestic level and globally."—OpenDemocracy

Dissent in our future will not be repressed but marginalized. It will be mostly absent from the mainstream media reports and, when present, it will be painted with the brush of "fake news." Dissent will be all over the alternative media in several forms, truth from competent investigative reporting, fake news dissent from many sources, and planted CIA stories that smear everything they don't like, and that make everything in alternative media look like fake news and conspiracy theory. Far from being stamped out, dissent will be manipulated to play into the hands of mainstream media, the shadow government, our leaders, the neocons in charge, and the Corporatocracy. See 8 Reasons Young Americans Don't Fight Back: How the U.S. Crushed Youth Resistance.


Snyder Warns Us That We Are Now an Oligarchy Like Russia and We Are Being Manipulated by Putin with the Willing Assistance of Trump and the Republicans

Wrecking ball Republicans representing the radical rightwing neoliberal insurgency are blindly playing into Putin's hands as they deconstruct our democracy
Wrecking ball Republicans representing the radical rightwing neoliberal insurgency are blindly playing into Putin's hands as they deconstruct our democracy

Snyder warns us that we are now an oligarchy not unlike 21st Century Russia and we are being manipulated by Putin with the willing assistance of Trump and the Republicans in Congress who are enabling the unraveling of our society. These losers think they are just being greedy, but they are following Putin's playbook to the letter.

The conspicuous freedom and prosperity of Russia's western neighbors is a threat to them and their response to this threat is of two types. At home, the other nations are demonized and portrayed as an existential threat to Russia. Daily on state-controlled Russian television there are scary stories of some foreign plot against Russia. Abroad, very aggressive and strong measures are taken to disrupt and degrade democratic systems. Russian foreign policy is therefore tagged "strategic relativism." It has the willing assistance of Trump and the Republicans in Congress, although none of them realize what they are doing. The power of fake news and propaganda is amazing. Of course, the U.S. has been spewing anti-Russian fake news and propaganda about the USSR and Russia for decades, so the Russians simply ratcheted up their anti-Western game.

8 Republican states introducing legislation to criminalize peaceful protests—not only are those kinds of laws unconstitutional, they are fascist: the exact same laws were enacted in Nazi Germany when Hitler assumed power
8 Republican states introducing legislation to criminalize peaceful protests—not only are those kinds of laws unconstitutional, they are fascist: the exact same laws were enacted in Nazi Germany when Hitler assumed power

Many have wondered why the U.S. finds itself unwilling or unable to shut down the Trump clown show and have a new election not decided by Russia and the fake news creators. The answer: Trump has made sure that all U.S. oligarchs benefit greatly from his presidency via his immoral, regressive tax plan—himself and his cronies included—and since these are the people who really run the show in the U.S., they will stop any such dump the Trump movement, since Trump's taking from the nonrich and giving to the rich has them all laughing like spotted hyenas all the way to their money bins. See Fake News: How Propaganda Influenced the 2016 Election, A Historical Comparison to 1930's Germany.

Trump's taking from the nonrich and giving to the rich has all the oligarchs laughing like spotted hyenas all the way to their money bins
Trump's taking from the nonrich and giving to the rich has all the oligarchs laughing like spotted hyenas all the way to their money bins


Many have wondered why the U.S. finds itself unwilling or unable to shut down the Trump clown show and have a new non-fraudulent election not decided by Russia and the fake news creators
Many have wondered why the U.S. finds itself unwilling or unable to shut down the Trump clown show and have a new non-fraudulent election not decided by Russia and the fake news creators


Why can't we have a new, non-fraudulent election not decided by Russia and the fake news creators?
Why can't we have a new, non-fraudulent election not decided by Russia and the fake news creators?

The Corporatocracy Gameplan: "Oligarchs First and Citizens Be Damned"

When the corporatocracy prevails, democracy takes it on the chin
When the corporatocracy prevails, democracy takes it on the chin

"Trump is not the crisis. He is a symptom of the crisis," says Naomi Klein, explaining that the corporatocracy has been ratcheting up its game for years. First it snuck a few things in. Then it snuck a lot of things in. Then there were stealth candidates saying they were for one thing but doing another. Then most politicians were doing this. And they got bolder as the years went by. The corporatocracy was disguised at first, but lately it has "come out of the closet" and we do not mean the gay closet, we mean the "oligarchs first and citizens be damned" closet. Trump's policies are simply the distilled essence of corporate interests, in contradistinction to the people's interests. He represents a new unwritten constitution that is by the oligarchy, for the oligarchy, and of the oligarchy, not by the people, for the people, and of the people.


Trump Alone Is Very Bad for Democracy; Trump Plus Putin Is Doom for Democracy

David Cay Johnston shines a light on the political termites who have infested our government under the Trump Administration, destroying it from within and compromising our jobs, safety, finances, and more
David Cay Johnston shines a light on the political termites who have infested our government under the Trump Administration, destroying it from within and compromising our jobs, safety, finances, and more

Although the Trump administration is no friend of democracy either here or abroad, it should be noted that the U.S. neocon elites running things in this country have been no friend of democracy for many decades—especially since the end of WWII. See:

Will these two bozos lead a fascist, pseudo-democratic wolf pack of strongman-led autocracies that rob the nonrich to enrich the oligarchs?
Will these two bozos lead a fascist, pseudo-democratic wolf pack of strongman-led autocracies that rob the nonrich to enrich the oligarchs?

Snyder recounts the thought and adventures of figures in 20th century Russia—like Ivan Ilyin—who laid the theoretical groundwork for Putin's propaganda state. Snyder goes over the strange war that didn't happen in Ukraine beginning in 2014. Snyder outlines the massive evidence that Trump is a tool of Russian oligarchs who probably owes his victory to Russian hackers and propaganda artists.

Snyder presents an excellent overview of Russia's growing influence in the elections in Europe and in the United States. Snyder explains in detail how American democracy is being assaulted from without and within, and our democratic institutions are being dismantled one by one. He names names and describes exactly how it is being done before our eyes. It's a quick read with no fluff or filler, and when you're finished you will have a real sense of urgency about why it is crucial to become involved to save our democracy.


Snyder Warns That What Has Already Happened in Russia Is What Might Happen in America and Europe

Snyder warns that what has already happened in Russia is what might happen in America and Europe: the stabilization of massive inequality, the displacement of policy by propaganda, the shift from the politics of inevitability to the politics of eternity. But has it already?

We already have massive inequality due to the concentration of wealth and power, just not as bad as Russia. The displacement of policy by propaganda has happened with a twist. Here we get both at once. Our military and CIA has an actual policy of imperialistic neoconservative neoliberal empire building and plundering the resources of any nation it desires, but we call it democratization in our propaganda. This is no more an actual policy of democratization than Trump is a deep thinker. But it is the propaganda.

The real purpose of the Patriot Act is surveillance of our citizens
The real purpose of the Patriot Act is surveillance of our citizens


The real purpose of the Patriot Act is surveillance of our citizens so when people get so sick of being screwed over by the greedy oligarchs in charge they plan to take action, the NSA will know who and where they are and lead them away in chains
The real purpose of the Patriot Act is surveillance of our citizens so when people get so sick of being screwed over by the greedy oligarchs in charge they plan to take action, the NSA will know who and where they are and lead them away in chains; here the NSA burns our constitution

The same disingenuous doublespeak applies to the Patriot Act, whose purpose on paper and in stated policy is "U.S. security." The real purpose is surveillance of our citizens so when people get so sick of being screwed over by the greedy oligarchs in charge they plan to take action, the NSA will know who and where they are and lead them away in chains.

"Russia’s relationship with the EU, and especially with the US and NATO, had been deteriorating for some time. Russia certainly uses these 'external enemies' as foils in its domestic propaganda, but there were specific geopolitical reasons for its growing hostility, notably the eastward expansion of the EU and NATO after the end of the Cold War, as well as NATO’s 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, which infuriated Russia. . . . In 'the politics of eternity,' which Snyder identifies with Russia and with 'fascism' in general, politics is a cycle of victimhood in which 'no one is responsible because we all know that the enemy is coming no matter what we do…progress gives way to doom.' . . . Snyder’s conspiratorial thinking undermines his own insistence on the importance of individual responsibility." (Source: Zombie History: Timothy Snyder’s bleak vision of the past and present, Sophie Pinkham, the Nation)

Blacks are hopeless victims of whites who may as well riot since no help is coming according to the PC liberal's party line—this is another version of Snyder's politics of eternity
Blacks are hopeless victims of whites who may as well riot since no help is coming according to the PC liberal's party line—this is another version of Snyder's politics of eternity

If we take Pinkham's (above) "cycle of victimhood in which 'no one is responsible because we all know that the enemy is coming no matter what we do…progress gives way to doom'" and apply it to the US, we get politically correct liberals talking about blacks in their cycle of victimhood in which no black is responsible because they all know that the white victimizer is coming no matter what they do, so black progress gives way to rioting, arson, and drug-pushing. This is the PC liberal's party line—their scripture, if you will. Snyder identifies this "politics of eternity" with Russia and with fascism. Russia, feeling itself surrounded aggressively, would feel victimized "because we all know that the enemy is coming no matter what we do…progress gives way to doom." A doom that leads to Ukraine, Brexit, cyberattacks, fake news, supporting Trump as well as supporting the rise of the anti-EU far right which Russia exploited. A cornered animal bares its teeth, preparing to fight.

So Russia's growing hostility to the EU and the US, when they felt the West was attempting to surround them with unfriendlies right up to their borders, is understandable. As Western aggression increased, Russia reached a tipping point. We overplayed our NATO and strangling hands, so it was time for The Empire Strikes Back. So Ukraine, Brexit, cyberattacks, fake news, supporting Trump as well as supporting the rise of the anti-EU far right which Russia exploited. The fall of democracy in Europe has Russia's fingerprints on it, but remember that they gave democracy a chance from 1991 to 2010 and it failed. You can paint zebra stripes on a white horse, but that doesn't make it a zebra. So they took the kleptocratic path, as greedy oligarchs often do. The US may have this form of "government" in its future. If Trump is already on such a path, so far he's off to a rocky start. Being president has so far lost him over a billion dollars!

The new ayatollah of the alt-right and white supremacists: the Ayatollah Trumpowski
The new ayatollah of the alt-right and white supremacists: the Ayatollah Trumpowski

The Most Important Duties of Patriots Are to Dissent and Oppose in a Dysfunctional and/or Corrupt Nation

Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano
Wall Street Protest: Occupy Wall Street—Copyright © 2011 by Louis Lanzano

What changed after the heartfelt, sincere Occupy Wall Street protests where we were telling the powers-that-be that their transference of wealth from the 99% to the 1% was getting sickeningly unfair? Nothing. Who listened? Only others of us 99%ers. Not a single 1%er even bothered to glance in the protesters direction. But it's the duty of patriots to dissent and oppose, so the protesting patriots did the right thing.

'You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters'
'You know, Archibald, my bladder is a tad too full—do these windows open? I'd like to send my regards to those pesky OWS protesters' (this Wall Streeter was about to spontaneously re-invent Trickle-Down Economics!)

The most important duties of patriots are to dissent and oppose in a dysfunctional and/or corrupt nation. And the future rests with Americans ourselves, not some political superhero who will come and "save us." There is no chance that our corrupt political system will allow such a person to get elected to any high office. We haven't had a true statesman since FDR, and there is zero chance of a person of real character and values getting elected to the presidency in the 21st century. Politicians are selected by skimming scum off the top of the bucket, not cream—they're selected by oligarchs, not the people, and their eligibility criteria centers on willingness to sell out to the elite, to support the rich and screw over the regular people.

Read The Despot's Apprentice: Donald Trump's Attack on Democracy—and resist!
Read The Despot's Apprentice: Donald Trump's Attack on Democracy—and resist!