Andrey (azangru) wrote,

Youtube suggested that I watch a conversation between Yuval Harari and Masha Gessen, organized by Munk Debates. As an aside, on Munk Debates' web site the conversation is loginwalled; but Harari kindly posted it on his channel.

There are a couple of funny moments in it.

One is when Harari shows a shocking lack of historical knowledge about the daily life in 20th-century totalitarian states. Speaking about the less defined nature of present-day dictatorships, he says at around 6:40: "In the 1930s, there was no question: if you lived in Italy of Mussolini, or Germany of Hitler, or the USSR under Stalin, then you knew for a fact that you are living in a dictatorship; there was no way of hiding it; nobody tried to hide it". To anyone familiar with the Soviet history, this is utter nonsense; and Masha spends several minutes disabusing him of this schematic idea; although whether he'll remember it (has no-one of his Israeli audience yet objected to this laughable simplification?) remains to be seen.

The other was when at around 51:20 Harari asked, "Do you think the obsession of at least certain of these leaders and regimes today with gender and with LGBT community in particular — is it something new, or does it just reproduce something we've seen in the 20th century." It just sounded so ironic to hear the phrase "obsession with gender", which fits so much more organically in discourses around the political center or to the right of center, used here in a completely different sense.

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