By Howard Zinn • Excerpted 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… Read More
Interview by Jessica Lee and John Tarleton • Indypendent • Nov. 14, 2008
“Significant changes occur when social movements reach a critical point of power capable of moving cautious politicians beyond their tendency to keep things as they are — or when these movements, by direct action, bypass the political system and bring about change by acting directly on the obstacles to change.”
Published in The Progressive • October 7, 2008
It seems that Barack Obama and John McCain are arguing over which war to fight. McCain says: Keep the troops in Iraq until we “win.” Obama says: Withdraw some (not all) troops from Iraq and send them to fight and “win” in Afghanistan.
As someone who has fought in a war (World War II) and since then has protested against war, I must ask: Have our political leaders gone mad? Have they learned nothing from recent history? Have they not learned that no one “wins” in a war, but that hundreds of thousands of human beings die, most of them civilians, many of them children?Read More...
The Boulder Weekly • Oct. 2, 2008
“We resemble other times in history before the movements were effective — when they were just growing, when they were just developing. The anti-slavery movement had to develop over 30 years. The anti-war movement against Vietnam had to develop over four or five years. The Civil Rights movement had to develop over decades and decades. So, we are in a stage of development. You can’t just look at where we are right now and say, ‘Well, we’re not doing it, we’re incapable, we’re hopeless.'”
Interviewed by Al Jazeera • Sept. 13, 2008
Q: Is there any hope the US will change its approach to the rest of the world?
“If there is any hope, the hope lies in the American people. [It] lies in American people becoming resentful enough and indignant enough over what has happened to their country, over the loss of dignity in the world, over the starving of human resources in the United States, the starving of education and health, the takeover of the political mechanism by corporate power and the result this has on the everyday lives of the American people.”Read More...
Interview by Rob Kall • OpEd News • Aug. 28, 2008
Do you have any advice for Obama?
“Yes. Speak boldly to the American people, the American people want to get out of Iraq. Speak boldly and say, ‘I’m going to withdraw from Iraq as fast as ships and planes can carry them,’ and I think that Obama will have a much better chance of winning the election because he will be speaking to the hearts of the American people, who really are sick of the war.”Read More...
Published by ZCommunications • April 2, 2008
We might wonder why no Democratic Party contender for the presidency has invoked the memory of the New Deal and its unprecedented series of laws aimed at helping people in need. The New Deal was tentative, cautious, bold enough to shake the pillars of the system but not to replace them. It created many jobs but left 9 million unemployed. It built public housing but not nearly enough. It helped large commercial farmers but not tenant farmers. Excluded from its programs were the poorest of the poor, especially blacks. As farm laborers, migrants or domestic workers, they didn’t qualify for unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, Social Security or farm subsidies.
Still, in today’s climate of endless war and uncontrolled greed, drawing upon the heritage of the 1930s would be a huge step forward.Read More...
Published in The Progressive • March 8, 2008
The very people who should know better, having criticized the hold of the media on the national mind, find themselves transfixed by the press, glued to the television set, as the candidates preen and smile and bring forth a shower of clichés with a solemnity appropriate for epic poetry.There’s a man in Florida who has been writing to me for years (ten pages, handwritten) though I’ve never met him. He tells me the kinds of jobs he has held—security guard, repairman, etc. He has worked all kinds of shifts, night and day, to barely keep his family going. His letters to me have always been angry, railing against our capitalist system for its failure to assure “life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness” for working people.
Published in The Progressive • March 5, 2008
Now that Ohio and Texas are over, can we take a deep breath and come to our senses?
Election fever has seized the country, as it does every four years.
We have all been brought up to believe that voting is crucial in determining our destiny, that the most important act a citizen can engage in is to go to the polls and choose one of the two candidates who have already been chosen for us.
Now I’m not saying elections are totally insignificant, and that we should refuse to vote to preserve our moral purity.Read More...
Published in The Progressive • March 2, 2005
As I write this, the day after the inauguration, the banner headline in The New York Times reads: “BUSH, AT 2ND INAUGURAL, SAYS SPREAD OF LIBERTY IS THE ‘CALLING OF OUR TIME.’ ”
Two days earlier, on an inside page of the Times, was a photo of a little girl, crouching, covered with blood, weeping. The caption read: “An Iraqi girl screamed yesterday after her parents were killed when American soldiers fired on their car when it failed to stop, despite warning shots, in Tal Afar, Iraq. The military is investigating the incident.”Read More...
Interview by Joshua Glenn • The Boston Globe • Nov. 14, 2004
IDEAS: Don’t presidential elections reflect the will of the people as much as protest movements do?
ZINN: More important, I think, than who sits in the White House is who sits outside it. Whenever social injustices have had to be rectified, they were rectified not at the initiative of the president or Congress or the Supreme Court but because of social movements.…Only after thousands of black Americans demonstrated and were beaten, jailed, and killed was segregation in the South done away with. Despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize for it, it was not only Kissinger alone who ended the Vietnam War, but the antiwar movement.Read More...
AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us. If you could comment overall about this presidential contest right now. We are just weeks away from the election. HOWARD ZINN: Well, the contest, unfortunately, is not giving us… Read More
Published in the Miami Herald • September 16, 2004
If John Kerry wants to win, he must recognize that our military intervention in Iraq is a disaster — for Americans, for Iraqis, for the world. He must stop boasting about his courage in Vietnam and instead start talking about his moral courage in opposing that war. He needs to stop saying, as he did recently in the Midwest, that he defended this country when he was fighting in Vietnam. That is not an honest statement. If it were true, then he would not have turned against the war.
He was not defending this country when he fought in Vietnam. He was defending this country when he said that we were wrong to be in Vietnam and we should get out.Read More...
Barsamian: You have called attention to the role of artists in a time of war. What attracts you to artists?
Zinn: Artists play a special role in social change. I first noticed this when I was a teenager and becoming politically aware for the first time. It was people in the arts who had the greatest emotional effect on me.Read More...
Published by ZCommunications • December 16, 2000
As the prize of the presidency lurched wildly back and forth in the last days of the year, with the entire nation hypnotized by the spectacle, I had a vision. I saw the Titanic churning through the waters of the North Atlantic toward an iceberg looming in the distance, while passengers and crew were totally concentrated on a tennis game taking place on deck.
Democracy Now! • December 8, 2000
“I mean, what’s astonishing, or maybe not so astonishing, is here over 200 years later, we are still operating with an undemocratic system of electing the president of the United States, a system which not only was flawed from the beginning by the requirements of the founding fathers, but had become more and more flawed as the election process has become dominated by two major parties, which monopolize the political arena, and dominated more and more by the fact that money decides who can reach the American people.”
Published by ZCommunications • September 29, 2000
There came a rare amusing moment in this election campaign when George Bush (who has $220 million dollars for his campaign) accused Al Gore (who has only $170 million dollars) of appealing to ‘class warfare’.… I noticed that neither of the accused responded with a defiant “Yes, we have classes in this country.”
Only Ralph Nader has dared to suggest that this country is divided among the rich, the poor, and the nervous in between. This kind of talk is unpardonably rude, and would be enough to bar him from the televised debates.Read More...
Published by 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…Read More...