Dec 2, 2020
“Where books are burned, in the end people will burn”.
19th Century German author and literary critic, Heinrich Heine, spoke these words, and they were more than just a well sounding maxim. Totalitarian regimes thrive wherever ideas contrary to their own are suppressed. They thrive when books are burned.
Harvard literary professor Duncan White echoed these sentiments, penning a piece for the New York Times called The Authoritarian’s Worst Fear? A Book. He referenced authoritarian regimes around the world - those of China, Hungary, Brazil, the Philippines, North Korea - and their attempts to curb the internet and censor books. White critiqued the United States’ diminishing role in standing up against the erasure of intellectual freedom abroad.
He wrote that “wherever authoritarian regimes are growing in strength, literature that expresses any kind of political opposition is under a unique, renewed threat”.
However, he need not look to distant shores for examples of this. North America is facing its own form of authoritarianism and attacks on freedom of expression.
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Written and narrated by Steve Glaveski: steveglaveski.com