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••• The International Writers Magazine: Review

The Road to Unfreedom by Timothy Snyder
Vintage 2018
ISBN: 978-1-78470-857-3
• Sam North review
Professor Snyder is Housum Professor of History at Yale University.
'Centralisation, personification, idealisation'


You may not be familiar with the name Ivan Ilyin but like it or not, you are now living in a world shaped his poisonous ideas.  Author of 'Our Tasks' and many other titles in support of an extreme fascism, he died forgotten in 1954, but his ideas were revived by President Putin in the early 2000's as he sought to justify his stolen election and create myths around him that connected a 1000 years of history to a previous Vladimir who controlled a mythical Eurasia and no doubt killed a lot of people to make it so.

Ilyin is the reason Russia maintains its white heterosexual ‘purity’, and aims to undermine the ‘decadent gay loving’ European Union.  Ilyin is the reason Ukraine must be destroyed and rejoined to the Russian Empire and Crimea invaded and occupied.  The lawless fascism that Ilyin espouses is why Putin spends so much money supporting causes such as Brexit, the reason he finances the AFD in Germany and the Far Right in Austria.  Everything to destabilise ‘law and order’.

Putin’s concept of democracy is similar to O’Brien’s in 1984, ‘If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever.’

The law in Russia is for the few, not the many.  Only the Oligarchs can control the economy, bank the riches and divide the spoils. Ilyin, like Putin’s cronies, despised the middle-classes.  Ilyin wrote, ‘Evil begins where the person begins.’ This is Putin’s goal. Not to improve the lives of Russians but to reduce the world outside Russia to the same level of poverty and chaos.

The role of Russia now is to create anarchy, lawlessness, create doubt where there is none, and undermine credibility. Fake News is a Russian concept, not Trumps.  Nothing can be trusted, especially democracy.  There can only be one leader in the world for all eternity and we aren’t talking about ‘God’ here.

The West is weak because there is a belief in law, property rights, integrity, and the value of a man’s word. All this is to be undermined. The world made safe for a kleptocracy of the Russian elite and their favoured stooges. Their mantra: Lying is truth; whatever we say is the truth.

The Road to Unfreedom is a frightening book (the appendix is useful for verifying quotes and sources).  It is full of people in the news right now.  Trump’s ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort was also Yanukovych’s, the Pro-Russian President of Ukraine’s manager in 2014, the guy who was supposed to hand over the whole country to Putin before he fled the protests in Maidan square and the country itself.  Putin’s snipers killed protesters and his soldiers invaded Ukraine all the while denying any involvement and the West did nothing. 

Snyder’s detailing of the shooting down of flight MH17 is chilling. Official propaganda suggested that the Russian missile attack on the Malaysian plane was executed by Ukrainian forces to assassinate Putin. 24 hours later Russian TV was suggesting that the CIA had sent an aircraft filled with corpses overhead to provoke Russian forces - despite the aircraft being on a legimate flightpath supervised by ground control. Constant lies destroy truth. Investigating anything that offers alternative 'facts' is always 'fake'.

Manafort of course went on to run Trump’s campaign at the behest of his Russian masters and bring a whole slew of people all compromised by Russia with him. Which is why he is was under investigation by the FBI. 

Putin's investment in RT, the TV network that specialises in untruths is paying off in countries across Europe where they are ready to be sceptical. Willing not to believe verified facts. Because no one trusts 'experts' anymore right? It is now off air in in the UK because of it's support for the war against Ukraine.

We all know by now (read Fire and Fury if you’re not sure) that Trump was made by Putin. The American loser – the four times bankrupt candidate they groomed and schooled with Russian friendly ‘advisors’.  $20 million for him to host the American beauty pageant in Moscow.  Russian mafia opened an office in the flat below him in Trump tower to run a spectacular money laundering operation that enriched Trump as they bought hundreds of his properties.  They opened hotels using his name, which he didn’t finance, which gave him 18% of the take.   To be honest I doubt they thought they’d be this successful in getting him all the way to the White House, but they spent big on Facebook and other social media to soften up the vulnerable and carefully selected ‘racist’ and/or gun loving electorate so they’d come out for ‘one of their own’. Now in 2023 they are more active than ever covertly supporting extreme Republicans who support 'National Divorce' ie: Civil War. And to elect Republicans who will withdraw support for Ukraine.

We live in a world shaped by a fascist and orchestrated by Putin.  The financial and political meltdown that is happening now across the world is because Putin wants this.  The destruction of value and values, the desecration of trust and faith is the road to unfreedom and his puppets, like Trump or Fox News is chipping away at everything that holds civilisation together. The environment, healthcare, legal frameworks, foreign trade agreements, voting rights, and gay rights – it’s all a target and could vanish before our eyes.

The Road to Unfreedom is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand our current politics and just how extreme it will become as Russia exploits every avenue in fascist views using the many useful idiots on the far right. The Republican’s in particular have been almost completely captured by Putin’s digital warriors.

This is disturbing, well-informed reading for anyone concerned about the future. Read and then hide it – because one day they might come for you…

‘The untruths will set you free,’ as Orwell never actually wrote.

© Sam North July 2023
author of Another Place to Die: Endtime Chronicles and The Cure for Sceptics

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