Articles & Interviews
You ask how I manage to stay involved and remain seemingly happy and adjusted to this awful world where the efforts of caring people pale in comparison to those who have power? It’s easy. First, don’t let "those who have power" intimidate you.…Second, find people to be with who have your values, your commitments, but who also have a sense of humor. That combination is a necessity!
"My aim is to kind of provoke people to get active, people who've got some awareness of what's going on in the world, who have enough awareness to come to one of my talks. They have a little bit of awareness, and my hope is to increase that awareness, and turn it into action.… I use history to expose information which has been concealed, and which is troubling. History has a very—you might say gloomy—message when you look at what has happened in history. And then on the other hand to counter that with the stories of social movements that have done very inspiring and marvelous things."
"Beneath the surface of youthful 'ambition'—'need to graduate,'' 'need to make a career'—beneath that surface, I believe there's always among young people a hunger to do something worthwhile and important. And if you present young people something that is happening, that touches themhellip; I find that they respond."
Last week’s announcement of the proposed merger of two oil giants, Exxon and Mobil, would create not only the largest oil company in the world, but also the world’s single largest corporation. We speak with historian Howard Zinn for the historical context of the merger, as well as his philosophy on life and activism.
HOWARD ZINN: "It’s just part of a long-term development in American history of the increasing power of corporations."
I was angry…because I did not want the suffering of men in war to be used—yes, exploited—in such a way as to revive what should be buried along with all those bodies in Arlington Cemetery: the glory of military heroism.
"We should be encouraged by historical examples of social change, by how surprising changes take place suddenly, when you least expect it, not because of a miracle from on high, but because people have labored patiently for a long time. When people get discouraged because they do something and nothing happens, they should really understand that the only way things will happen is if people get over the notion that they must see immediate success. If they get over that notion and persist, then they will see things happen before they even realize it."
HOWARD ZINN: That word "disinterested" has been used a lot. And I never believed in doing disinterested history. I didn’t believe it was possible to do disinterested history. History always represents interests of one sort or another. History always has an effect.
In 1985, Dr. Howard Zinn testified for the defense in the criminal trial of seven citizens who hammered equipment and poured blood on blueprints for the Cruise Missile and Missile X factory in Wilmington, MA. The video shows Dr. Zinn’s compelling testimony in which he makes the case for non-violent civil disobedience as instrumental in changing American history and advancing democracy.
Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land. It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause. It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President. There was a young woman in New Hampshire who refused to allow her husband, killed in Vietnam, to be given a military burial. She rejected the hollow ceremony ordered by those who sent him and 50,000 others to their deaths. Her courage should be cherished on Memorial Day.