I read this in about an hour or so. It’s 20 lessons drawn from analyzing authoritarian regimes from the 20th century. As a small start on a bigger issue, it does a pretty good job of getting at the heart of the issues. Some patterns to recognize, some behaviors and positions to adopt, and some ways of being.
The lessons range from understanding the purposes of a cultivated private life to how language does matter in both its preciseness but it in its uniqueness in specific speech acts.
It’s just a primer though and it focuses a little too heavy on the current administration.
If we want to be honest about how we ended up here and where we’re going from we have to start recognizing where some of these issues began or coalesced and how future administrations profited and expanded upon them.
So this is a start for sure.
I think the author, here, who is a professor, understands how to present a readable and understandable document for a wider audience. And he comes at it from a very particular focus, which is political sciency and political philosophically. His adherence to Arendt works in the purely political angle, but it’s too limited when we want to work against the social science aspects of control and power.
I recommend Kant’s discussions of public citizenship, Foucault’s notion of docility, and various other texts are anot fully explicit in their analysis.
After this, I highly recommend a handful of different other texts to balance this out.
Agamben – Homo Sacer
Agamben – State of Exception
Arendt – Origins of Totalitarianism
Bacevich – Empire as a Way of Life
Bacevich – Limits of Power
Foucault – Discipline and Punish
Schmitt – Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy