Excerpts

‘Je Ne Suis Pas Un Marxiste’

By Howard Zinn. Article. ZCommunications, June 1988; Failure to Quit, and excerpted from The Zinn Reader.
Howard Zinn writes: For a long time I thought that there were important and useful ideas in Marxist philosophy and political economy that should be protected from the self-righteous cries on the right that "Marxism is dead,” as well as from the arrogant assumptions of the commissars of various dictatorships that their monstrous regimes represented “Marxism.”
B&W photo of street scene, people arrested

‘The Problem Is Civil Obedience’: Chapter 20 from Voices of a People’s History

By Howard Zinn. Speech given in debate with philosopher Charles Frankel on civil disobedience in November 1970. Excerpt from Voices of a People’s History.
I was supposed to appear in court that day in connection with the charges resulting from the army base protest. I had a choice: show up in court and miss this opportunity to explain—and practice—my commitment to civil disobedience, or face the consequences of defying the court order by going to Baltimore. I chose to go.

A Marvelous Victory

By Howard Zinn. Excerpt from Power Governments Cannot Suppress published by City Lights Books.
In this world of war and injustice, how does a person manage to stay socially engaged, committed to the struggle, and remain healthy without burning out or becoming resigned or cynical? I am totally confident not that the world will get better, but that we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble.

A Veteran Against War

By Howard Zinn. Excerpt from You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.
August 6 and 9 mark the anniversary of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. In the following excerpt from You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, Howard Zinn, a WWII bombardier, recalls, “Hiroshima and Royan were crucial in my gradual rethinking of what I had once accepted without question—the absolute morality of the war against fascism.”
Beyond Elections | HowardZinn.org

Beyond Voting

By Howard Zinn. Excerpt from The Zinn Reader.
The political culture of the United States is dominated by voting. Every election year is accompanied by an enormous amount of attention, with the media and the politicians joining forces to try to persuade Americans that voting for one candidate or another is the most important act of citizenship. I decided to challenge that idea in this column, which appeared in the Boston Globe at the start of the election campaign of 1976.

Columbus and the Lens of History

For Indigenous Peoples' Day, we feature an excerpt from Chapter One of A People’s History of the United States. Howard Zinn describes why he tells the story of Columbus’s arrival “from the viewpoint of the Arawaks” and "the inevitable taking of sides which comes from selection and emphasis in history."
Failure to Quit | HowardZinn.org

Failure to Quit

By Howard Zinn. Z Magazine, 1990; excerpt from Failure to Quit.
This essay, written for Z Magazine in 1990, and reprinted in my book Failure to Quit, was inspired (if you are willing to call this an inspired piece) by my students of the Eighties. I was teaching a spring and fall lec­ture course with four hundred students in each course (and yet with lots of discussion). I looked hard, listened closely, but did not find the apathy, the conservatism, the disregard for the plight of others, that everybody (right and left) was reporting about "the me generation."
If History Is to Be Creative • HowardZinn.org

If History Is to Be Creative

By Howard Zinn. Excerpted from A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.
We revisit Howard Zinn's essay, "If History Is to Be Creative," a reflection on the role and responsibility of the engaged historian, and is an inspiration for us all to continue the fight for justice. Zinn writes, "If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, and occasionally to win. I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past's fugitive moments of compassion rather than in its solid centuries of warfare."
Akwesasne Notes Poster by Bruce Carter | HowardZinn.org

Indian Resistance and Thanksgiving Declarations

By Howard Zinn. Excerpt from A People’s History of the United States
Chapter 19 highlight Native American resistance during the 1960s and 70s. As Howard Zinn states, “Never in American history had more movements for change been concentrated in so short a span of years.” This is followed by additional resources on Native American history and resistance.
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