A lot of us probably don’t agree with the late historian Howard Zinn on a lot of things. However, the man certainly got a lot right when looking at American history, particularly the conflicting interests of the government and the people and the nature of state-sponsored war. In light of his passing Jan. 27, I thought it might be useful to reflect on some of his best observations about the nature of American history. The Center for a Stateless Society has compiled a great list of just a few of these:
A careful reading of history might give us another safeguard against being deceived. It would make clear that there has always been, and is today, a profound conflict of interest between the government and the people of the United States. This thought startles most people, because it goes against everything we have been taught….
…Our present leaders are not so candid. They bombard us with phrases like “national interest,” “national security,” and “national defense” as if all of these concepts applied equally to all of us, colored or white, rich or poor, as if General Motors and Halliburton have the same interests as the rest of us, as if George Bush has the same interest as the young man or woman he sends to war.”
Skepticism is one of the most important qualities that you can encourage. It arises from having students realize that what has been seen as holy is not holy, what has been revered is not necessarily to be revered. That the acts of the nation which have been romanticized and idealized, those deserve to be scrutinized and looked at critically.
I think [an anarchist world] would be a world in which people would not have to work more than a few hours a day, which is possible with the technology available today. If this technology were not used in the way it is now used, for war and for wasteful activities, people could work three or four hours a day and produce enough to take care of any needs. So it would be a world in which people had more time for music and sports and literature and just living in a human way with others.
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