"But what the history of this country shows, and especially in this century, is that democracy comes alive when people who see that the formal structure of government doesn’t help them. The formal structure of government does not change the 12-hour day, doesn’t change the conditions of work, doesn’t change the power of the corporations over working people. When people see that that formal structure doesn’t work, then they organize. They go out on strike. They demonstrate."
Howard Zinn looking back at the millennium.
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."
"HOWARD ZINN: Whatever we’re doing, we’re urged to be neutral. And to be neutral in an unneutral world, that is, to be neutral in a world where thing are already happening—that is, children are already going hungry, wars are going on, and terrible things are going on—and you can’t—to be neutral in a world like that is to collaborate with whatever’s happening. And we don’t want to—the people we’re honoring here tonight have chosen not to collaborate."
"Today we’re going to play a speech [Howard Zinn] gave in California for the founding convention of the Alliance, a political movement led by Ronnie Dugger. HOWARD ZINN: After you lived a little and struggled a little and been involved a little, you learn at some point along the line that that’s not quite democracy. It’s very far, very far from democracy. I remember seeing—that voting is a puny act in a society which is much, much more complex and where power and people have a much more intricate relationship than they could possibly have in a voting booth.
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.