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Desc:Historian addresses our era.
Category:News & Politics
Tags:donald trump, history, Timothy Snyder
Submitted:godot
Date:01/23/17
Views:855
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Comment count is 8
Doc Victor
I assume this was not part of his actual class, but an extracurricular lecture.

Regardless, this is the kind of thing that would have infuriated me as a student (if, lets be honest, it didn't just put me to sleep). An overpaid professor rambling haphazardly for an hour about his personal political opinions thinly coated with some extremely vague historical context. I would like to point out exactly where I feel he went wrong here.

First and foremost, I am not sure if the lecture was originally framed in the context of the "Trump Era", but if so, it does an absolutely abysmal job of effectively drawing comparison between any of the events he references and contemporary politics. I gathered that he is effectively doing 'argumentum ad hitlerum' with a lot of big words and concepts, but he seems to do so with the assumption that we are going to automatically draw the parallells he wants us as the listener to without explicitly stating them. If, we do not inherently agree with the huge leaps in logical reasoning he makes (just for example because there are many, the Reichstag fire and 9/11 and Trump) it becomes significantly more difficult to respectfully entertain his notions.

Probably the biggest criticism I have from a historian's perspective is that his analysis seems to be entirely based on effect rather than cause. He spends little to no time examining how we got to where we are and instead focuses almost solely on what happened after the fact. Maybe someone here disagrees, that is not an approach I am familiar with.

I guess the generally smug TED talk vibe I get from this enhances my dislike of it exponentially. He refers rather obliquely and repeatedly to the "breakdown of the rule of law" without qualifying that statement. Snyder acknowledges that history and time(what a bunch of nonsense he spews about time, maybe he watched True Detective while he was writing his lecture or something) are not inherently geometric, but applies an extremely binary left-right (or north-south) paradigm to the future. His comments about extremism are also just semantic claptrap, which he quickly drops and jumps onto another vaguely contextualized anecdote predicated on the inherent correctness of his core beliefs. Which, is not really a knock against him because any historical analysis worth its salt is basically predicated upon the core beliefs of its author, but the generally insipid way in which he makes his point does neither he nor the audience any favors. It's almost like he thinks he's the smartest person in the room...

The fact that this guy is peddling this as at once educational and morally rectifying is a good example of why people are beginning to lose their patience with academics and intellectuals. Given a single topic I am sure he knows his stuff, but he is way out of his depth and he doesn't seem to care. He does himself a disservice as a historian as he attempts to make on-the-fly analysis of current events that are themselves not yet completely clear.

Good video I hope this sparks some discussion.
Doc Victor
And in case the dude I suggested "dig deeper" should see this, I was referring to stuff more like this than clips from a cable news channel and a description reading "OMG Trump"


baleen
He warns of the benefits of understanding history and the dangers of being too attached to history and the "arc of history" to define the moment. This may be what you're referring to when you say "this is not an approach I'm familiar with." That's the point-- what is happening is both inside and outside of history.

He speaks in general terms about everything that is happening in a historical context. He talks about apathy, neoliberalism, conformism, extremism, etc. and defines these abstract terms that are thrown around forums broadly and with little analysis.

He talks about Eastern Europe and what we can learn from propaganda.
He delivers the message in a simple, clean way. That is actually a good quality in a lecturer. It is not a detriment that he is so easily able to summarize such a complex system.

He does this without indoctrinating, or leaning on isms or the names of particular thinkers.

He explains quite clearly the psychological and cultural conditions that had to exist in order for Trump to be elected, with only a slight mention of Trump's Breitbart council.

I think it's a great lecture.

Doc Victor
He doesn't ever discuss the conditions that led to any of the circumstances he cites in relevant detail. He states that they occurred and that their net effect contributed to either eternity or inevitability and insinuates that one of these two binary options is clearly superior to the other despite the fact that it is fantastical in nature. I'm not familiar with the approach of rattling off events with little context and no attention paid to cause, and then passing that off as a history lecture. Actually I kind of am, I just dislike it.

I guess he does define neoliberalism but I also guess by his definition it is anything except anarchy or theocracy? He's painting in extremely broad strokes the whole time. I'm willing to give you that he did actually go a little deeper into neoliberalism and that I am being glib here but that was not exactly the focus of his lecture and his definition was lacking.

There was nothing simple or particularly clear about his lecture. His comments about Eastern Europe are one sided and don't have a lot of relevance outside playing up the modern comparisons we are expected to draw from his lecture. He discounts the multitude of differences between Eastern Europe nations that have only increased since the end of the Cold War and is happy to do so in pursuit of a point that culminates in "we are now living in Victor Yanukovich's Ukraine" which he doesn't do much to qualify.

I personally find his explanations lacking, in part because I don't agree with his base assumptions, but also because he delivers an ego-stroking generic lecture that is basically about his opinions (and I'm sure he has more ammo than he can expend in an hour) and doesn't back much of it up. This is the Wikipedia of college lectures. There is probably plenty of valid evidence he could provide, but he comes off like a guy who did a once over the world to try to prove the point that Trump=Hitler.

I don't know maybe that's his perogative. I attended a similar institution and have sat through a variety of lectures on a variety of topics. I call bullshit on this one.

chumbucket
"Trump's America"? I'm lost already on that term. The guy just barely took the office. Come back and do this, correctly, 4 years from now dude.

I'm already tired of the desperate scramble being done to understand why Don Trump got elected. As far as I'm concerned, that's old news. Again, any planned books aren't useful or likely aren't full of any real analysis unless it's done a few years down the road. How about working on collecting relevant data, shedding that initial emotional desire for explanation and turn instead, to how the country operates given the promises made during the campaign and where those take us as that's all we have to work from.
Don Taye
Deckland's head is really round.
Accidie
I totally follow that.

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