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On Tyranny

Timothy Snyder

14. Establish a private life.

The most interesting and actionable advice in this chapter comes from its introductory paragraph: regularly scrub your computer of malware, recognize that email is skywriting, have personal conversations in person, use the internet less, and don’t have hooks upon which tyrants can hang you.

What the great political figure Hannah Arendt meant by totalitarianism was not an all-powerful state, but the erasure of the difference between private and public life. – page 88

If we have no control over who reads what and when, we have no ability to act in the present or plan for the future. Whoever can pierce your privacy can humiliate you and disrupt your relationships at will. No one (except perhaps a tyrant) has a private life that can survive public exposure by a hostile directive. – page 88

Words written in one situation make sense only in that context. The very act of removing them from their historical moment and dropping them in another is an act of falsification. – page 89