An important message to be taken from “On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder is how much power the people have. I find what is often missed, but has been a theme of the course, is how much the people are involved in Authortaism. Firstly the people themselves are often the ones who put the leader of the regime in power and help in many ways to build up their power. The way to combat these regimes is then also through the people which are the guide “On Tyranny” is giving- Snyder’s opinion on how to do this.
It is interesting to consider how much Authoritarian leaders do at the beginning of their reign to please the people before they turn to their more radical agenda. For example, they play on the grievances of the people saying how much they would like to fix things before actually making them worse in many cases to attain their political goals. It is possible that educating people will never be quite enough to eradicate such types of governments because people will become desperate enough to elect them (ie. economic poverty).
There is always the interesting question that comes up when thinking about an Authoritarian regime that has come to power and the people’s role in that case. If they are complicit by doing nothing about it because they don’t want to face the consequences of not supporting or if only doing what they were told is not really there fault because the consequence of doing otherwise (ie. protesting against the regime) often means severe punishment or death. However, one must know that if nobody supports a regime then it no longer has power but if they are silently complicit then it has power even over them. The tricky thing then is knowing there are really enough of you who would protest against the Authoritarian regime to make a difference and that is possibly where most people take the safer option.
The EU has been experiencing some skepticism from those in its member states. Especially in recent times with the refugee crisis and Eurozone crisis, which have exposed weaknesses in the EU and its policies. Brexit is one of the examples of this dissatisfaction which has manifested with the people of Britain voting to exit the EU. There were many issues which were apart of this vote including the effect migrants from the EU had in the state. It appears that one of the things that are emerging in the world today, as can be seen with Brexit, is the move towards focusing on one’s own state rather than an interdependence that build a network like the EU. The emerging view is the need to protect values and the citizens themselves which begins with the exclusion of the feeling that they can help others too.
This point can be emphasized more in the dividing of those in the state that have received more education than others. Often it has been the case in Brexit that the less educated people have the less they have benefited from the openness of the EU and therefore take a more Eurosceptic view of the EU rather than those younger people who work in the city and readily experience the integration of the EU. So in saying that, the understanding of the EU, in light of Brexit, has some issues that are deeply set in society and moving forward it can be asked if other nations will follow this. Especially in recent times, the EU seems to be treated with more member states leaving but only with the unfolding of time, events and EU policies can the answer really be discerned.
President Trump will be making his first visit to Latin America next month. In light of this, there are many historical issues that surface. Latin America has experienced a lot of intervention on the part of the US. Known intervention by the CIA has occurred in influencing leadership in South America and authoritarianism has reigned for many years with these influences. Moreover, US impacts on the region continue today with economics in mind. As can be seen in the example of Chile under Augusto Pinochet the history of Latin America was marked with violence and intervention from the US often strengthened that as it had economic interests. The impacts the US has had on its southern neighbors makes it clear that authoritarianism has been supported by the US and the causes continue to have an effect on Latin America today.
Historically the reign of dictatorships and fascist governments marked Latin America and the memory of these countries until today. The recent past has proven that there are more economic motives to the US’ intervention than humanitarian as is often promoted by the White House even today. Under these authoritarian regimes, there were many atrocities committed by the government against the people including disappearances and torture. Latin America is still affected by this recent history and the evidence of it that remains. Chile is an example of this where there was a military government under Augusto Pinochet which the US supported but was brutal to the people not only causing the disappearances of many but also has had little closure in the wake of this regime as the leaders were not punished formally for their crimes.
South America has many things to offer the US in terms of resources which keeps the US having an interest in government leaders high. Without a pro-US president in South American countries then obtaining resources may become difficult. An example of US intervention is in the formerly called “US Army School of the Americas” which would Latin American leaders from countries that were allied with the US. This school was controversial and name change ensued as it has had many graduates commit atrocities such as in Chile. Although Pinochet himself was not a graduate, many people that took part in atrocities under that governments were. As the Cold War began to take shape Latin America had increasing importance.
During the Cold War, there were many reasons to keep South American countries allied to the US. At this time many proxy wars were being fought in other countries such as Africa. Chile, for example, has ways of dealing with anyone that may have supported communist ideas such as torturing them and/or murdering them. The US had interests in South America resources and large companies were involved such as in the cultivation of Bananas as was the case with the United Fruit Company so it was in their interests to have regimes that would support them and not move to the side of the Soviet government. Today there is clearly economic impacts made when such deals as TPP haven been abandoned which Southern American countries took part in. Today the US has to deal with not only the real memory of who they supported in the past but the obvious self-interest they had in doing so.
In conclusion, there has been a wide range of issues that have and continue to face Latin America especially in light of President Trump’s visit to the region. Chile, under Augusto Pinochet, is an example that was marked by violence and the US often strengthened that as it had economic interests. Latin American authoritarianism has been supported by the US and makes it clear that authoritarianism which has been supported by the US for their own interests has strong current impacts on Latin America.There are new issues that are facing the relationship between the US and countries south of their border but these are hugely impacted by the history the two share.
There are a lot of ways the migrant population has affected Europe. Especially since the recent refugee crisis, the EU has seen some tension resulting in the distribution of migrants. Values are one of the issues that are seen to be facing the Europeans that encounter the refugees, ie. can they be integrated into a culture that is secular when they are from a country that does not have that system? It was viewed by some in the group that if a person chooses to go to a country then they must adopt the values that are held there and this was agreed to work for migrant workers, such as is often an issue in the EU due to freedom of movement. However, refugees do not get the luxury to choose where they want to go. Being forced from their homeland, which they may very well want to remain in, refugees are fleeing death so accepting the values of another country is a point that is not as easy to think about.
As many Europeans are opting to not take refugees regardless of what the EU expresses there is the increasing feeling that Europeans are looking to protect their countries from some outside influences that are seen as negative. It is possible that if countries such as Germany had a clear strategy and openness with the public in dealing with refugees people may feel like their culture is less attacked. With openness and clarity, citizens would have the ability to understand what the future will look like with refugees in it.
Tactics an authoritarian regime, such as the one in Chile under Augusto Pinochet, often employ are those that are oppressive. Not only disallowing choice in the government but also the way the people have to be kept from expressing those choices. With all the atrocities that take place in a regime like the one mentioned above, there is the question of what happens after. In the case of Chile a democratic government was put in place so that is one arguably good outcome in the aftermath but what happens to the perpetrators of crimes against the people is also important.
The memory of the past does not go away as soon as a dictator is out of power and thus some sort of action is taken after to prosecute the criminals. However, when this does not happen and the criminals go free to live lives that are in many cases better than their victims the past is really not the past because there is was no punishment. The people who perpetrated that past are continuing to be rewarded for the crimes they committed and the people they hurt to continue to suffer. What can happen to a country that is not able to leave the past behind or if they can forget/forgive even if the criminals are not punished are questions that come to mind when thinking about a situation such as the one in Chile. Another question is what would happen to a country’s relationship with a county that has been liberated from a dictatorship if that country has been affected by the past doctor negatively and he is still living freely. These questions may only be answered as time goes on and in different ways by different people.
Recent headlines for the Olympic games have North Korea as their subject. What will happen to the Athletes that have failed to win medals is in question. It seems that in the past, North Korea has sent athletes who represented their country and failed to win medals to what has been termed “gulag” like places. There the athletes are to be to be punished for their poor performance and thus a poor representation of North Korea at the Games. Along with a large number of cheerleaders that accompanied the athletes to the Games, there is something to be said for how important it is for authoritarian regimes to project a certain appearance of unity and nationalism which is what will be seen here.
It appears that participating in the Olympic Games is certainly a way to create nationalism as many countries experience the excitement behind cheering for one’s own country while their representatives compete. Social media battles ensue and everyone is talking about their country and how well they are doing or how well they should have done. However, The Olympics have had a historical connection to being propaganda for countries with authoritarian regimes as was seen in 1930’s Germany as well as in the 2008 games held in China (although technically a communist regime has many similarities to a fascist regime) and now with North Korea as examples.
For many countries, this is a fun and exciting time but when a fascist regime looks at something like the Olympics there is a much more serious tone put over the event. Nationalism can be seen through fascist history has an important component to keeping the support of the people and creating a feeling of unity. Many efforts can be seen in Nazi Germany, for example, to keep the people unified and promote nationalism.The 1936 Olympics is just one of the many ways this was done. Nationalism was promoted in Nazi Germany sports as they were seen to create unity among the youth. Another way the Olympics were used at that time was, as these games were the first ever to be televised, to show German ideals to the world and certainly how great Germany was including a stadium that was built with 100 000 seats to top the last Olympic games that were held in another country. North Korea, on the other hand, may not have been successful at winning metals but it did certainly show signs of its attempt to display unity and nationalism with its large number of cheerleaders.
The Olympics in China, (although not exactly a fascist regime it shares many similaterites to one) had some very negative headlines as well when it hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. There have been many controversies over whether it had open media as it had pledged and not to mention the many human rights violations that have been reported as a result of the games. The cost of the games is high, along with controversies that usually ensue but for a resume like China, it can be understood there is an importance of the nation wanting to portray itself as powerful and unified for its own citizens and the world to maintain control of the country. As a result, bringing home no metals to North Korea in this years Olympics can be devastating to the image of power North Korea has been trying to build certainly in the last few months with the missile controversy between it and the US.
In short, the Olympics have proven throughout history up until today to be a platform for countries to not only strengthen nationalism within their borders but to display strength to other countries. This does not manifest itself more strongly than in those countries that have authoritarian regimes such as in 1930’s Germany, China or currently in the competing North Korea. For most people, the Olympics are a fun way to have national pride and competition with neighboring countries, albeit at times with some issues over things like doping and corruption, but the thought of the use of the Olympics as propaganda is usually far from the minds of people just having fun.
Hitler’s Furies as a book poses an interesting case. Many ways of how one could be caught up in a regime such as the one at the time of Nazi Germany are brought up, especially regarding women. One of the first questions that came to mind was how people could be complicit in such atrocities as the ones that occurred in WWII Germany. The book offers some good insight to this in what was offered to people who were. New opportunities were presented to people that they did not have before in achieving status, women could travel to new places and could reach a high status in the work they were doing. Wages were better than were possible for women in most instances so that joining a military role would be something appealing.
As there was no doubt a lot of people who didn’t necessarily vote for the government or were for it the, to begin with. Once the regime had taken power, however, it seems as though those who were acceptable to the vision of the regime, had a pretty easy time because the programs were put in place to benefit the people that it saw as meeting its standard. The government, having so much control is not something that one would think fighting against (as that probably would evacuate too much change) but rather joining it would help them become better off- those who did try and fight never had big results in their favor until the end of the war.
The last thing that I thought of was: how do you tell the difference from those just being part of the system and those that really believed in what they were doing. Who was taking advantage of opportunities and who were really happy about killing other people? This is certainly something the post-WWII Germany faced and something to consider about any fascist regime. Who has the guilt, everyone who didn’t protest or only the people who were looking to create their vision of the word?
After the last class’ discussions there were some really great points to take away. The concept most interesting for me was the idea of how things are remembered. It appears more clearly from the lecture and discussion that history has a very large part in supporting ideas whether or not they be good or correct. Using history as some sort of propaganda will, as was seen, lead to some kind of distortion whether it be generalizations or misinterpreted facts. One example that Dr. Evans brought up was how some German people think about a “German Culture” when, in fact, there were times in German history were this culture was very different and diverse -not how they see it as being today. There are many other examples of this that can come up as well including the concept of “Making America Great Again.” There is more to the discussion than just whether one even thinks America is already great but if it ever was (“again”) or what made it great to begin with? Are the “great” factors of the “old” America exaggerated in the memory of American people?
Another topic that was discussed in our group is the use of words such as “fascism.” Often what is labeled “fascism” is not actually something that can be classified as that but rather populism. Labeling things or putting them “in a box” are not ways of fulling understanding what is happening. If everyone goes around calling people fascist, what do the real fascists become? Again a good critical analysis of history can help with this problem because people can then see the different types of fascist regimes that existed like the classic examples of Germany and Italy and then apply that knowledge.
I’m Kathleen, I’m in 3rd year at Carleton and am a Political Science major and also a History and German minor. Politics interacting with history seems to be a big theme in both History and Political since courses and I like to keep that connection in mind when choosing my courses. Large events in history are often linked to political events and in the present we can often see events occur that are similar to these in the past. This is one of the main reasons why a class in populism is not only relevant to the world but also to what I like to study in mixing history and politics together. With all this said it might seem a bit odd that I am actually aspiring to go to law school and not pursue a career in political science, my goal is to be an international lawyer which I haven’t found to be overly connected to the subject so far. However, for my undergraduate, I really wanted to study something relevant and interesting as this subject turned out to be.
My site can be found at https://thentonowph.wordpress.com/ it is entitled to reflect the point of interest I have mentioned in History meeting Political Science in current times.
Blogging is not really something that I have done before so I am looking forward to the new experience of actually publishing my opinions in a public place.