Faculty host community read, discussion: 'On Tyranny'

By: Yvette Lisa Ndlovu,  A&S Communications
October 24, 2017

“History doesn’t repeat, but it does instruct” is the ethos of Timothy Snyder's new book, ‘On Tyranny-Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.” Four Cornell professors will be holding a community read and public discussion of Snyder’s book that has been described as presenting “twenty lessons from the twentieth century adapted to the circumstances of today.”

Snyder’s book looks at the history of Europe during the 20th century, seeking to uncover what sparked the change from democratic governments to authoritarian regimes in several European countries.

“The Founding Fathers tried to protect us from the threat they knew, the tyranny that overcame ancient democracy,” writes Snyder, the Levin Professor of History at Yale University. “Today, our political order faces new threats, not unlike the totalitarianism of the twentieth century. We 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.”

By drawing parallels between the actions of tyrannical leaders of the 20th century and political actions taking place in the United States today, Snyder’s book offers practical advice on how citizens can help fight tyranny and stop democratic governments from becoming authoritarian dictatorships.

The panel of Cornell professors will include Mabel Berezin, professor of sociology; Jonathan Boyarin, the Mann Professor of Modern Jewish Studies and director of the Jewish Studies program; Kevin Gaines, the W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Africana Studies and chair of the Africana Studies and Research Center and Aziz Rana, professor of law.

The event will be held on Monday October 30, at 4:30pm in the Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium in Klarman Hall. Community members can sign up to receive a free copy of “On Tyranny-Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth century,” in advance of the public event at http://events.cornell.edu/event/on_tyranny. The free copies will be available to pick up at Africana Studies Room 103, Triphammer Road between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or at Society for the Humanities 27 East Avenue between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The event is organized by the Jewish Studies Program, the Society for the Humanities, the Africana Studies and Research Center and American Studies Program.

Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.

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