Zinn reviewed the history of the abolitionists and the Vietnam War to encourage a new generation of resistance against the Iraq occupation and the war at home.
"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.'"
This interview was conducted at at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and included in the book, Original Zinn: Conversations on History and Politics.
"I'll remind people what Marx's criticism of capitalism was. I would demonstrate that these ideas have much to with the United States today. In other words, that Marxist criticism today is exact and current."
MP: How is your approach to History conducive for positive social change? HZ: I hope it gives people the History of previous social movements to show how they can bring about change, to show that it is possible, to give people faith that if they participate, if they do even small actions, that might have an effect, if not today, tomorrow or next year.
Democracy Now! • February 13, 2003
We go now to historian Howard Zinn. Howard Zinn is a historian and professor emeritus of political science at Boston University. He is the author of fourteen books, including “A People’s History of the United States,” and “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train.”…
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.
I want to know something about your roots, growing up in the projects on the lower east side.
I grew up in the slums of Brooklyn, a working class family. My parents were European immigrants, factory workers in New York. They met as factory workers. They were Jewish immigrants. My father came from Austria, my mother from Asiatic Russia, Siberia. I remember moving all the time. We were always one step ahead of the landlord. And changing schools all the time. My father struggled, went from job to job, he was unemployed and under WPA. I wanted to get out of the house all the time. Where we lived was never a nice place to be. So I was in the streets a lot. I understand what it's like for kids to live in and prefer the streets. That's how I grew up.