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“For a moral commitment to factuality”

The Call with Timothy Snyder

11. March 2021
Magazine > Voices > “For a moral commitment to factuality”

One of the ironies of this moment, the early 21st century, is that history is so palpably necessary to explain what’s going on. And yet at the same time, it’s generally dismissed.

“I think this in a way is the revelation of the 21st century, that you have to make a value commitment to factuality. You can’t stand up to the government, you can’t stand up to corporations, you can’t stand up to power in a fake world. You just can’t do it. It can’t be done. So, there has to be a value commitment, and then there also has to be an institution. We have to say, look, factuality doesn’t arrive naturally. And this is a revelation of the 21st century, too. I think there has to be a moral commitment to factuality on the left, on the right, in the centre, and we have to do what it takes to support institutions, especially local journalists, which keep producing facts day after day after day after day.”

In the special edition of The Call the world-renowned historian Timothy Snyder and Boris Marte talk Trumpism, semi-authoritarian regimes, historic importance of pandemics, cyber-wars, limitations of the digital world, power of new media – and the necessity of a moral commitment to factuality in the 21st century.

This text and video is published under the Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0. The name of the author/rights holder should be mentioned as followed. Author: Jovana Trifunović and Igor Bararon / magazine.erstestiftung.org. Cover picture: Filmstill from the Video “For a moral commitment to factuality” – The Call with Timothy Snyder. Illustration: © Norma Nardi


The Call

The COVID-19 pandemic shattered lives, put social contracts and international relations to test, disrupted economies. Governance systems, good and bad, are in distress. The better off are confined to home offices uncertain of their livelihoods. The less lucky face new heights of digital authoritarianism or sheer violence. The omnipresent media seem to be failing its watchdog function even in world’s oldest democracies. Already eroded, global democracy standards are yet to receive the full blow of pandemic’s political, social and economic consequences.

The video series The Call is an attempt to try to understand better the political, cultural and social implications of the pandemic by asking thinkers and doers from the ERSTE Foundation Community to weigh in with their thoughts and predictions.