Howard Zinn was one of the greats. He may not have freed the slaves or created the nation, but it is safe to say that his every action and his every belief furthered the dream and the ideals of the American state. After eight years of Bush policies dragging down the nation, and a year of Obama sounding increasing like an echo of Bush, it is truly tragic that we are losing this thinker.
I posted this quote from Zinn’s Passionate Declarations some time ago, but now more than ever it seems relevant:
What sorts of values and ideals are encouraged in the young people of the coming generation by the enormous emphasis on the Founding Fathers and the presidents? It seems to me that the result is the creation of dependency on powerful political figures to solve our problems.
Consider how much attention is given in historical writing to military affairs–to wars and battles–and how many of our heroes are military heroes. And consider also how little attention is given to antiwar movements and to those who struggled against the idiocy of war.
As a result of omitting, or downplaying, the importance of social movements of the people in our history…a fundamental principle of democracy is undermined: the principle that it is the citizenry, rather than the government, that is the ultimate source of power and the locomotive that pulls the train of government in the direction of equality and justice. Such histories create a passive and subordinate citizenry.
If you haven’t read Passionate Declarations, you should.
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