"To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power because there is no basis upon which to do so."
--Timothy Snyder in On Tyranny
These posters started with an interest in propaganda and how it's used to sell ideas. According to Timothy Snyder, an historian who has studied 20th century fascism in central and eastern Europe, today we are experiencing a "crisis of responsibility." Those in power say they are blocked from taking action by the opposition. Yet, in reality, the internet allows us to effectively target our messages to very specific groups. Russia successfully used the net to influence the 2016 presidential election. The reaction by the students to the massacre at of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was so effective, the gun lobby was forced to mobilize to counter and discredit them. And, just as quickly, when conservative pundit Laura Ingraham mocked shooting survivor David Hogg's college rejections, within a day, this 17-year-old successfully called for a boycott of Ingraham's sponsors on Twitter. This is a new and more efficient propaganda from that practiced by the Nazis and Soviets of the 20th century.
Snyder suggests that Factuality is one of our most threatened institutions. If we don't believe in facts, he says, we can't cooperate, leading to a breakdown of our society. This is happening in America now. His book, On Tyranny offers twenty ways we can mitigate the technological changes that have made this so easy and potentially so dangerous.
Seek different opinions, question our own biases, and find ways to engage the opposition in dialogue. A curious American is a patriotic American.
For more information, watch a dialogue with Timothy Snyder that took place at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs on February 21, 2018.
The posters in this series reflect the conflicts the American political system has been experiencing during the turbulent period between 2010-2018. They are meant to encourage an exploration and a dialogue about the cultural minefield we now find ourselves in.