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Tim Duggan Books | 2018 | Timothy Snyder
The Road to Unfreedom
pdf file ...]
INDIVIDUALISM OR TOTALITARIANISM
CHAPTER 2. SUCCESSION
CHAPTER 3. INTEGRATION
CHAPTER 4. NOVELTY OR
CHAPTER 5. TRUTH OR
CHAPTER 6. EQUALITY OR OLIGARCHY
Book Review by Will Zuzak:
In a very confusing PROLOGUE,
Timothy Snyder starts with the birth of his son in Vienna. After
re-reading the text and consulting the Internet to ascertain that
- Timothy Snyder married fellow academic Marci Shore in 2005;
- Anne Applebaum married Polish politician Radislaw Sikorski in 1992;
- Tony Judt developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2008 and died on 06Aug2010;
Tomek Merta died on 10Apr2010 along with President Lech Kaczynski and
the Polish presidential political elite in a plane crash near Smolensk,
Russia as they were arriving to commemorate the Katyn Forest Masssacres
of 21,892 Polish officers in the spring of 1940;
concluded that a
son (of unknown name) of Tymothy Snyder and (presumably) Marci Shore
was born on 08Apr2010 in a Vienna hospital utilizing a Polish midwife
and an Austrian obstetrician. [During the 4-day stay in the matermity
ward, conversations in Polish centred on the Kaczynski tragedy.]
A daughter was born two years later.
2010, everything was different. [Viktor Yanukovych became president of Ukraine in 2010.] In 2012, Vladimir Putin returned as
president of Russia. In early 2014, Putin invaded Ukraine, annexed Crimea and
occupied the Donbas area. By 2015, Russia had extended cyberwarfare
beyond Ukraine to Europe and the United States. In 2016, the British
voted for "Brexit" and Americans elected Donald Trump as president.
Next, Mr. Snyder coins two phrases: the politics of inevitability and the politics of eternity, which he attempts to popularize throughout the rest of the book.
[Personally, I find this terminology confusing, distracting and unnecessary.]
- Snyder equates the politics of inevitability
to the American belief that capitalism and democracy will make progress
inevitable and everything will evolve toward a bright future. He
contends that it is failing in the United States and around the world.
- The politics of eternity,
on the other hand, is equated to communism and dictatorship (a la the
Russian Empire and Vladimir Putin), which leads to a never-ending cycle
of repression and stagnation with no positive end in sight. He
correctly points out that repression and dictatorship is in the
ascendancy throughout the world.
[Personally, I prefer the concept of a never-ending quest for power and
money facilitated by corruption and intrigue -- particularly amongst
the political and "oligarchic" elites. At this moment in history, the
"one-percenters" have far more power and money than the "ninety-nine
- QUOTES: "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."
- "In The Peloponnesian Wars, Thucydides defined “oligarchy” as rule by the few, and opposed it to “democracy.” For Aristotle “oligarchy” meant rule by the wealthy few; the word in this sense was revived in the Russian language in the 1990s, and then, with good reason, in English in the 2010s."
In his short EPILOGUE, Timothy Snyder recommends that we step away from the myths of inevitability and eternity,
and, instead, concentrate on "living". Each individual human
being is responsible for his/her own actions in an effort to create a
better world. Collectively, we must all accept responsibility to ensure
that our political and societal instututions are working on behalf of
all citizens, not just for the select few.
[W.Z.: Healthy societies are based on a proper balance between individual decision-making and collective decision-making.]
SNYDER CONCLUDES: "We halt our thoughtless journey from inevitability
to eternity, and exit the road to unfreedom. We begin a politics of
A Ctrl-F search for inevitability yields a large number of hits in the Prologue (22), Ch.1 (17) and Ch.6 (13).
A Ctrl-F search for eternity yields hits in the Prologue (24), Ch.1 (21), Ch.2 (16), Ch.3 (7), Ch.4 (17), Ch.5 (12) and Ch.6 (39).
Timothy Snyder credits the writings of three political philosophers, as well as the Izborsk Club or Izborsky Club, in influencing Vladimir Putin's policies (or, rather Mr. Putin uses their philosophies to justify his own policies):
Ivan Alexandrovich Ilyin (1883.03.28
-- 1954.12.21) was a Russian religious and political philosopher, White
emigre publicist and an ideologue of the Russian All-Military Union. He
was born in Moscow into an aristrocratic family of Rurikid descent.
Vladimir Putin facilitated the repatriation of his bodily remains from
Switzerland to Moscow in 2005 and consecrated his grave in 2009.
Lev Nikolayevich Gumilev [Gumilyov]
(1912.10.01 -- 1992.06.15) was born to two prominent poets, Nikolay
Gumilyov and Anna Akhmatova [born in Ukraine]. His parents divorced
when Lev was seven and his father was executed when he was nine.
Between 1938 and 1956, he spent many years in Soviet labour camps.
Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin
(1962.01.07 -- present 2018) is a Russian philosopher, political
analyst and strategist and known for his fascist views, who calls to
hasten the "end of times" with all-out war.
A Ctrl-F search for "Ilyin" yields numerous hits in Ch.1 (122), Ch.2 (50), Ch.3 (25) and Ch.4 (12).
A Ctrl-F search for "Gumilev" yields numerous hits in Ch.3 (32).
A Ctrl-F search for "Dugin" yields significant hits in Ch.3 (41), Ch.4 (7) and Ch.5 (5).
A Ctrl-F search for "Izborsk" yields numerous hits in Ch.3 (15), Ch.4 (7) and Ch.5 (5).
I had heard of Alezandr Dugin, I had never heard of Ilyin, Gumilev or
the Izborsk Club. This is important information for the Ukrainian
community to analyze and digest.]
INDIVIDUALISM OR TOTALITARIANISM
"Russia reached the politics of eternity first, and Russian leaders
protected themselves and their wealth by exporting it. The
oligarch-in-chief, Vladimir Putin, chose the fascist philosopher Ivan
Ilyin as a guide."
After defining Putin's regime as a prime example of the politics of eternity, Snyder discusses the philosophy of Ivan Ilyn in great detail.
- "In the 2010s, Ilyin’s ideas served post-Soviet billionaires, and post-Soviet billionaires served them."
- "Ilyin’s view was that Russia would save the world not from but with fascism."
He then concludes the Chapter with
"The virtue of individualism becomes visible in the throes of our
moment, but it will abide only if we see history and ourselves within
it, and accept our share of responsibility."
CHAPTER 2. SUCCESSION
Chapter 2 discusses the Soviet Union and its rejection of Ilyin's ideas.
"His ideas had no effect on the end of the Soviet Union, but they did
influence how post-Soviet oligarchs consolidated a new kind of
authoritarianism in the 2000s and 2010s."
Snyder then introduces the problem of succession -- the orderly transfer of power from one regime to another or from one dictator to another.
"Credit for the political technology of Operation Successor was taken
by Vladislav Surkov, a brilliant half-Chechen public relations
specialist who served as Yeltsin’s deputy chief of staff."
- "On December 4, 2011, Russians were asked to grant United Russia a majority in the lower house of the Russian parliament."
- "The fakery was repeated during the March 4, 2012, presidential elections."
The Putin regime (which prohibits homosecuality) utilizes sexuality as a weapon to portray democracy and the West (where homosexuality is now tolerated) as decadent.
- "The West was chosen as an enemy precisely because it represented no threat to Russia."
"As a former KGB officer, Putin was a Chekist, as Russians still say,
who wished to rule Russia through the Russian Orthodox Church. He
wanted a reconciliation of what he called the traditions of Red and
White, communist and Orthodox, terror and God.
- "In 2005, Putin had
reburied Ilyin’s corpse at a monastery where the Soviet secret state
police had incinerated the corpses of thousands of Russian citizens
executed during the Great Terror."
- "When Putin laid flowers on
Ilyin’s grave in 2009, he was in the company of his favorite Orthodox
monk, Tikhon Shevkunov, who was willing to see the Soviet executioners
as Russian patriots."
Snyder continues by discussing the Ukraine dilemma, where Viktor Yanukovych had won the 2010 presidential election.
- "No one was trying to divide the Russian Federation as a sovereign state with borders."
- "Even the most servile of Ukraine’s leaders would have difficulty accepting Putin’s description of their society."
"Suddenly, in 2012, Putin’s new doctrine challenged the very notion
that Ukraine and Russia were legal equals who could sign a treaty."
"In his first address to the Russian parliament as president in 2012,
Putin described his own place in the Russian timescape as the
fulfillment of an eternal cycle: as the return of an ancient lord of
Kyiv whom Russians call Vladimir." -- [rather than the Ukrainian Volodymyr or Viking Norse Valdemar.]
concludes the chapter witth a map of Eastern Europe circa 900 AD
which includes the boaundaries of Kyivan Rus to illustrate Putin's
CHAPTER 3. INTEGRATION
In this chapter, Timothy Snyder
discusses Europe, the European Union and Eurasia illustrated with 4
maps designated as Europe 1930, Europe 1956, European Union 1957-2013,
and The Gulag - Labor camps 1938-1956.
According to Snyder:
"The major European powers had never been nation-states: before the
Second World War they had been empires, where citizens and subjects
were unequal; afterwards, as they lost their empires, they had joined a
process of European integration in which sovereignty was shared."
"The First World War brought the collapse of the old European land
empires: not only Ilyin’s Russia, but the Habsburg monarchy, the German
Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. Thereafter, an experiment in the
creation of nation-states was undertaken on their territories."
- "The east European nation-states that had been founded as such ... collapsed in the 1930s or 1940s."
the end of Second World War both fascism and communism had been
discredited. The totalitarian Soviet Union had reincorporated Estonia,
Latvia and Lithuania, and imposed communist regimes in Romania, Poland,
Hungary, Czechoslovakia and a good fraction of Germany. The remaining
countries of Western Europe scrambled to establish democracies and to
integrate their economies. As the map indicates, the European Union
started from six democratic countries in 1957 to grow to 28 countries
- "The EU’s economy was larger than that of the United
States, larger than that of China, and about eight times larger than
that of Russia. With its democratic procedures, welfare states, and
environmental protection, the EU offered an alternative model to
American, Russian, and Chinese inequality."
- "In the half century between Ilyin’s death and his rehabilitation, a Europe of integration replaced the Europe of empire."
the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, everyone (including the
Russians) expected that the 15 now-independent republics of the FSU
would integrate their economies with the European economies.
Unfortunately, by the end of the Yeltsin era in 2000, Russia had
transformed itself (with the help of Western "advisors") into an
- "The decade of the 2000s was the lost
opportunity for the creation of a Russian state that might have been
seen as such. Russia managed no democratic changes of executive power.
What had been an oligarchy of contending clans in the 1990s was
transformed into a kleptocracy, in which the state itself became the
single oligarchical clan. Rather than monopolizing law, the Russian
state under Putin monopolized corruption."
To protect their
ill-gotten wealth, the oligarchs (including Putin) rejected the "rule
of law" required in the EU and started promoting an authoritarian
Eurasian Union as proposed by Ilyin, Gumilev, Dugin and the Izborsk
Club (see above).
- "Beginning in 2013, the principles of Eurasia guided the foreign policy of the Russian Federation."
"For the Eurasianists of the Izborsk Club, facts were the enemy,
Ukraine was the enemy, and facts about Ukraine were the supreme enemy."
CHAPTER 4. NOVELTY OR
counter Vladimir Putin's claims in 2013 that he is the legitimate heir
of Volodymyr/Valdemar of Kyivan Rus, who accepted Christianity in
988, Snyder produces 3 maps titled Eastern Europe 1054,
Poland-Lithuania 1386 and Black Sea Rivals 1569.
- In 1054
Kyivan-Rus extended to the Gulf of Finland to the north; Moscow did not
exist; and extended considerably short of Crimea to the south.
1386, Kyivan-Rus lands were first incorporated into Lithuania and then
the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth; Moscow in Muscovy had appeared in
- By 1569, The Polish-Lituanian Commonwealth was
sandwiched between Muscovy to the east, the Hapsburg Empire to the west
and the Ottoman Empire to the south.
than reproducing the very concise and readable history of Ukraine up to
1922, I will refer the reader to the original text.
Snyder notes that in the middle of the twentieth century both Hitler and Stalin attempted to colonize Ukraine.
"Taken together, some ten million people were killed in a decade as a
result of two rival colonizations of the same Ukrainian territory."
"In a series of deportations in the late 1940s and early 1950s, they
and their families were sent by the hundreds of thousands to the Soviet
concentration camp system, the Gulag."
- [Snyder does not mention
the 1947 Aktsia Visla deportations of Ukrainians from Eastern Poland to
the former Prussian territories in northwestern Poland.]
Next, Snyder discusses the Orange Revolution of 2004; the hiring of Paul Manafort and the Euromaidan Revolution of 2013.
"Yanukovych’s career demonstrates the difference between Ukrainian
oligarchical pluralism and Russian kleptocratic centralism."
- Mustafa Nayyem calling students to Maidan on 21Nov2013.
- Beating of students in early morning of 30Nov2013, followed by huge "viche" on 01Dec2013.
- On 10/11Dec2013, Kyivans came out in huge numbers to counter riot police sent to disband the protesters.
- [Snyder omits several Saturday/Sunday viches, especially the speech of Oleh Tyahnybok on 29Dec2013 and other actions archived on my website.]
- [Neither does he mention the all night Euromaidan sessions spearheaded by Eurovision singer Ruslana Lyzhychko.]
- On 16Jan2014, "Yanukovych retroactively criminalized the protests and legalized his own use of force." -- [Dictatorship Laws]
- On 22Jan2014, Serhii Nihoyan and Mikhal Zhyznevsky were shot. [See archive]
- On 18Feb2014, snipers shoot demonstrators on Maidan.
- On 20Feb2015, snipers shoot over 100 demonstrators on Maidan. [See archive]
"On February 20, there was another Russian delegation in Kyiv, led by
Vladislav Surkov, and including Sergei Beseda, a general of the FSB."
on 20Feb2014, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław with French and German
colleagues persuaded Yanukovych to step down by the fall of 2014, but
this was rejected by the Maidan via a Volodymyr Parasiuk speech that evening, such that Yanukovych fled on 22Feb2014.
describes that the Kremlin had already decided to abandon Yanukovych
and switched to Plan B to invade and annex Crimea, followed by invasion
of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. [Similar attempts in Kharkiv and
Igor Girkin, a GRU officer, was sent first to Crimea and then to
Sloviansk in Eastern Ukraine to establish the "Donetsk and Luhansk
Peoples Republics", financed by Konstanitn Malofeev.
- "In a policy
paper of February 13, 2014, the Izborsk Club repeated the contents of
the confidential Kremlin memorandum." -- [Yanukovych is finished;
Russia should seize some Ukrainian territory.Vladislav Surkov arrived
in Crimea; next day he flew to Kyiv; Lavrov promoted the Eurasia propaganda in Kommersant on 14Feb2014.]
Russia unleashed its trolls in its Internet Research Agency to
disseminate "fake news" as a cover for its invasion of Crimea and the
rest of Ulraine.
- Snyder provides a littany of events and people involved in the Russian disinformation campaign and actions within Ukraine.
Rather than trying to summarize all the information we encourage the reader to read the original text.
CHAPTER 5. TRUTH OR
Two maps highlight this chapter:
Ukraine 2014 -- Claimed by Russian "Novorossia"
Crimea is cross-hatched and highlighted are the Oblasts of Luhansk,
Donetsk, Kharkiv, Zaporizhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Mikolaiv, and
- This would connect Russia to Trasnsnistia, the break-away region of Moldova (sandwiched between Ukraine and Moldova).
We also note that this would completely isolate the rest of the Ukraine
from access to the Black Sea and would extend contiguous Russian
territory down to the Danube River in Romania.
Russia's Frozen Conflicts
These include South Ossetia (2008), Abkhazia (2008), part of Luhansk
oblast (2014), part of Donetsk oblast (2014), Crimea (2014), Crimea
(2014) and Transnistria (1992). [Vladimir Antyufeyev appears to be the
mastermind behind these frozen conflicts.]
- "Russia arrived
first at the politics of eternity. Kleptocracy made the political
virtues of succession, integration, and novelty impossible, and so
political fiction had to make them unthinkable."
- "Factuality was replaced by a knowing cynicism that asked nothing of the viewer but the occasional nod before sleep."
- "After implausible deniability, Russia’s second propaganda strategy was the proclamation of innocence."
continues in this vein and accuses the Russian Eurasia propagandists of
inverting the meanings of words and Biblical passages. He refers to
personalities such as Dmitry Kiselev, Surkov, Borodai.
- "By May 2014, disaster was looming for Russia, even in the parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions under Russian control."
forces routed Girkin's from Sloviansk to Horlivka; Russia responded
with the Vostok Battalion (mostly Chechens); but an attack on the Donetsk airport
on 26May2014 resulted in 31 Russian deaths.
- "One of his Russian
interviewers correctly described Girkin as a man who would willingly
sacrifice the lives of women and children to advance a military goal. "
"The Russian counterattack against the Ukrainian army was launched in
July 2014 from the territory of the Russian Federation." -- [at
Zelenopillya, Luhansk oblast on 11Jul2014 with 79 Ukrainian soldiers/volunteers killed.]
goes into considerable detail of the downing of flight MH17 by a
Russian Buk missile on 17Jul2014. and especially the Russian denial and
He also describes the Epic Night Wolves Biker Rally on 09Aug2014 in Sevastopol, Crimea orchestrated by Alexander Prokhanov.
"Russian volunteers arriving at the frontier were massively outnumbered
by regular Russian troops." -- [Snyder lists numerous examples.]
Snyder next describes the political situation in Europe in 2015 and 2016 with an emphasis on Russian disinformation efforts.
He describes the case of Polish Antoni Macierewicz, suspected of being a KGB/FSB agent.
"Russian propaganda was transmitted by protégés on the European far
Right who shared Russia’s interest in the demolition of European
- "None of these people -- Milne, Pilger, Cohen,
vanden Heuvel, LaRouche, Paul -- provided a single interpretation that
was not available on RT."
Snyder specifically names Seumas Milne,
John Pilger, Stephen Cohen, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Lyndon Larouche, Ron
Paul and many others in promoting the Russian disinformation campaign.
CHAPTER 6. EQUALITY OR OLIGARCHY
Timothy Snyder dedicates the last chapter to the situation in the United States:
"Vladimir Putin’s eternity regime challenged political virtues: undoing
a succession principle in Russia, assaulting integration in Europe,
invading Ukraine to stop the creation of new political forms. His
grandest campaign was a cyberwar to destroy the United States of
America. For reasons having to do with American inequality, Russian
oligarchy won an extraordinary victory in 2016. Because it did,
inequality became a still greater American problem."
politics of eternity are full of phantasmagoria, of bots and trolls,
ghosts and zombies, dead souls and other unreal beings who escort a
fictional character to power. Donald Trump, successful businessman was
not a person." -- [But a fantasy]
Snyder describes Trump as an unsuccessful businesman, whom the Russians manipulateded for their own purposes.
- "Russian gangsters began to launder money by buying and selling apartment units in Trump Tower in the 1990s"
"The Russian war against Ukraine was always an element of the larger
policy to destroy the European Union and the United States."
- "Russian attackers exploited Twitter’s capacity for massive retransmission."
- "Leaked emails came to the rescue when Trump faced difficulties."
highlights the extraordinary connections between Trump and the
Russian/Ukrainian oligarchs -- Paul Manafort, Oleh Deripaska, Viktor
Yanukovych, Rinat Akhmetov. etc.
He discusses Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, George Papadopoulus, Carter Page, Michael Flynn, Rex Tillerson, James Comey, etc.
Snyder concludes the chapter by discussing inequality in the United States.
- "The road to unfreedom is the passage from the politics of inevitability to the politics of eternity."
- "It is easy to see the appeal of eternity to wealthy and corrupt men in control of a lawless state."
- "In the 1980s, the federal government weakened the position of trade unions."
" Since the 1980s, the tax rates paid by the top 0.1% of American
earners fell from about 65% to about 35%, and for the top 0.01% from
about 75% to below 25%."
- "In the 2010s, the United States approached the Russian standard of inequality."
- "It was in the localities where the American dream had died that Trump’s politics of eternity worked."
"An American politics of eternity takes racial inequality and makes it
a source of economic inequality, turning whites against blacks,
declaring hatred normal and change impossible."
- "To break the
spell of inevitability, we must see ourselves as we are, not on some
exceptional path, but in history alongside others."
"America will have both forms of equality, racial and economic, or it
will have neither. If it has neither, eternity politics will prevail,
racial oligarchy will emerge, and American democracy will come to a
Will Zuzak Comments:
A Ctrl-F search for Holodomor yields 0 (zero) hits -- Timothy Snyder refuses to use this term.
A Ctrl-F search for Holocaust yields 21 hits in the text and 7 hits in the Endnotes -- Timothy Snyder utilizes this term as frequently as he can.
a charter member oif the Holocaust Industry, one would be expect him to
publicize the term Holocaust as often as possible (and downplay the
competing term Holodomor). Throughout the book he often refers to
incidents and people that are anti-Jewish or Judeophobic.