Democracy

The Toll of War

By Howard Zinn • The Progressive • August 8, 2002
Democracy flies out the window as soon as war comes along. So when officials in Washington talk about democracy, either here or abroad, as they take this country to war, they don't mean it. They don't want democracy; they want to run things themselves. They want to decide whether we go to war. They want to decide the lives and deaths of people in this country, and they certainly want to decide the lives and deaths of people in Iraq and all over the Middle East. Faced with this attitude, our job is just a simple one: to stop them.

Dissent In Pursuit Of Equality, Life, Liberty And Happiness

Interviewed by Sharon Basco • Published at Tompaine.com • July 3, 2002
"When you say the country was founded by people who believed in dissent, well, they believed in their own right to dissent in the relationship with England. But it happens very often that people who believe in their own right to dissent, when they gain power they don't really accept the idea that other people have the right to dissent. And so, for instance, when the Founding Fathers, who very powerfully defended their right to dissent against the British when they expelled the British, and then they were faced with dissenters, like the former rebels of Shay's Rebellion in 1786, they sent an army to put them down."

Robert Birnbaum Talks with the Author of A People’s History of the United States

Interviewed by Robert Birnbau • IdentityTheory.com • January 10, 2001
"I talk to audiences in Oklahoma and Texas and here and there and mostly to audiences of people who don't really know my work. I certainly don't expect them to be sympathetic to my ideas. When I express my ideas — and they are radical ideas — except that I don't start off by saying, 'I'm now going to tell you radical ideas.' Or, 'I'm now going to expound ideas of socialism or attack capitalism. Or, 'This is going to be a hate imperialism talk.' None of that. People respond to common sense ideas about foreign policy and domestic policy. It encourages me about the potential in this country, despite who is running it."

A Fourth of July Commentary

By Howard Zinn • ZCommunications • July 4, 2000
In this year 2000, I cannot comment more meaningfully on the Fourth of July than Frederick Douglass did when he was invited in 1852 to give an Independence Day address. He could not help thinking about the irony of the promise of the Declaration of Independence, of equality, life, liberty made by slaveowners, and how slavery was made legitimate in the writing of the Constitution after a victory for "freedom" over England. And his invitation to speak came just two years after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, committing the national government to return fugitives to slavery with all the force of the law. So it is fitting, at a time when police are exonerated in the killing of unarmed black men, when the electric chair and the gas chamber are used most often against people of color, that we refrain from celebration and instead listen to Douglass' sobering words…

Notes for a Gathering

By Howard Zinn • ZCommunications • December 16, 2000
I have been asked to imagine this situation: "The progressive third party movement has captured the White House, 60% of Congress and 30 Governorships. What do we do now?" First, we have a party, maybe three, with the third party being special. Then, we have Congress pass, and the President sign, the following legislation…

‘History as a Political Act’

Interviewed by Raymond Lotta • Revolutionary Worker • December 20, 1998
"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."

Freedom Day in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Chapter 6 in Zinn's biography You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train • Beacon Press • Sept. 1994; Sept. 2002 Mrs. [Fannie Lou] Hamer told me that a few months earlier she and five other movement people had been returning to Greenwood from a meeting in South Carolina. The bus stopped briefly in Winona, Mississippi, and some of them went into the “white” waiting room. They were all arrested, taken to jail, separated from one another. Annelle Ponder, a graduate of Clark College in Atlanta (her younger sister was a student of mine at Spelman), was beaten to the point where her face was so swollen she could barely speak. Mrs. Hamer was beaten with blackjacks all over her body.

Howard Zinn’s Testimony in the Cruise Missile and Missile X Factory Trial

Testimony by Howard Zinn • "Trial of the AVCO Plowshares" • November 26, 1985
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.