Democracy

Beyond Elections | HowardZinn.org

Beyond Voting

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

Barack Obama • Photo by Chuck Kennedy • WikiCommons

Changing Obama’s Mindset

Published in The Progressive • May 13, 2009
We are citizens, and Obama is a politician. You might not like that word. But the fact is he’s a politician. He’s other things, too—he’s a very sensitive and intelligent and thoughtful and promising person. But he’s a politician.

If you’re a citizen, you have to know the difference between them and you—the difference between what they have to do and what you have to do. And there are things they don’t have to do, if you make it clear to them they don’t have to do it.

Read More...
Sacco and Vanzetti • Photographer unknown • WikiCommons

Sacco and Vanzetti

Published by ZCommunications • March 11, 2009
On that 50th year after the execution, the New York Times reported that: “Plans by Mayor Beame to proclaim next Tuesday “Sacco and Vanzetti Day’ have been canceled in an effort to avoid controversy, a City Hall spokesman said yesterday.”

There must be good reason why a case 50-years-old, now over 75-years-old, arouses such emotion. I suggest that it is because to talk about Sacco and Vanzetti inevitably brings up matters that trouble us today: our system of justice, the relationship between war fever and civil liberties, and most troubling of all, the ideas of anarchism: the obliteration of national boundaries and therefore of war, the elimination of poverty, and the creation of a full democracy.

Read More...
President Barack Obama and Senator John McCain • By Pete Souza • WikiCommons

The Obama Difference

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...

Our Interview with the People’s Historian, Howard Zinn

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.'”

Read More...

U.S. ‘In Need of Rebellion’

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...

The Legacy of Howard Zinn

Interview by BigThink • July 5, 2008
What do you want to be remembered for?

HOWARD ZINN: If I want to be remembered for anything, it’s for introducing a different way of thinking about the world, about war, about human rights, about equality, for getting more and more people to think that way. Also, for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in the hands of people with wealth and guns, that the power ultimately rests in people themselves and that they can use it. At certain points in history, they have used it.

Read More...

Rebels Against Tyranny: An Interview with Howard Zinn on Anarchism

Interview by Žiga Vodovnik • Published at CounterPunch • May 12, 2008
“There is one central characteristic of anarchism on the matter of means, and that central principle is a principle of direct action. … In the South, they did not wait for the government to give them a signal, or to go through the courts, to file lawsuits, wait for Congress to pass the legislation. They took direct action; they went into restaurants, were sitting down there and wouldn’t move. They got on those busses and acted out the situation that they wanted to exist.”

Read More...

Howard Zinn on Iraq: Advice for the Next U.S. President

Interview by BigThink • 5/8/08
What should the next U.S. President do to get the military out of Iraq?

HOWARD ZINN: I think the next president should begin, announce the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. I think this will be a very healthy thing for Iraq.

The American occupation has not helped a thing. It has not stopped civil war; it has provoked civil war. It has not given the Iraqi people security or democracy; it has given them the opposite. It has ruined their country. And, of course, it has ruined our country, too.

Read More...

Zinn Speaks: An Interview on the State of the Empire

By Wajajat Ali • Published at Counterpunch • April 19, 2008
Zinn reflects on his historic and memorable time at Spelman College in the ‘60s, his thoughts on the Democratic Party, his philosophy of dissent as democracy, and his hope for America’s future.

Read More...
New Jersey Polling Station, 2008 • WikiCommons

Election Madness

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.

Read More...
Voting in the United States | WikiCommons

Let’s Come to Our Senses About the Election

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...
Diagram of Citizenship • Callum Bowsie • WikiCommons

Are We Politicians or Citizens?

Published in The Progressive • May 1, 2007
When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them. As I write this, Congress is debating timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. In response to the Bush Administration’s “surge” of troops, and the Republicans’ refusal to limit our occupation, the Democrats are behaving with their customary timidity, proposing withdrawal, but only after a year, or eighteen months. And it seems they expect the anti-war movement to support them.

That was suggested in a recent message from MoveOn, which polled its members on the Democrat proposal, saying that progressives in Congress, “like many of us, don’t think the bill goes far enough, but see it as the first concrete step to ending the war.”

Read More...
"Impeach them both" • Citizens Movement to Impeach Bush/Cheney • Portland Newswire Archive

Impeachment by the People

Published in The Progressive • March 7, 2007
The time is right, then, for a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Courage is in short supply in Washington, D.C. The realities of the Iraq War cry out for the overthrow of a government that is criminally responsible for death, mutilation, torture, humiliation, chaos. But all we hear in the nation’s capital, which is the source of those catastrophes, is a whimper from the Democratic Party, muttering and nattering about “unity” and “bipartisanship,” in a situation that calls for bold action to immediately reverse the present course.

Read More...

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

Howard Zinn discussed his latest collection of essays at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. “A Power Governments Cannot Suppress” critiques America’s response to 9/11, examines the current state of democracy and government responsibility in America and cites examples… Read More

Bringing Democracy Alive

BU Today • November 2, 2002
Howard Zinn calls for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney. Zinn accuses the Bush administration of starting a “war of aggression” against Iraq and the American public. He argues that the government and its “warmongering” organs – the mass media and the congress – are not to be relied on for information and exhorts Americans to stop believing that government has the interest of the people in mind.

Read More...

The Wartime Failings of American Democracy

BU Today • November 22, 2010
Howard Zinn discusses the wartime failings of American democracy in the first annual Howard Zinn Lecture in 2006.

Read More...

America’s Blinders

Published in The Progressive • April 10, 2006
Now that most Americans no longer believe in the war, now that they no longer trust Bush and his Administration, now that the evidence of deception has become overwhelming (so overwhelming that even the major media, always late, have begun to register indignation), we might ask: How come so many people were so easily fooled?

The question is important because it might help us understand why Americans—members of the media as well as the ordinary citizen—rushed to declare their support as the President was sending troops halfway around the world to Iraq.

Read More...

Against Discouragement

In 1963, Howard Zinn was fired from Spelman College, where he was chair of the History Department, because of his civil rights activities. In 2005, he was invited back by President Beverly Daniel Tatum to give the commencement… Read More

‘An Amazing David and Goliath Story’

Interview by Catherine Murphy • Published at Cubanow.net • March 2005
CM: Why do you think the US Government, the Bush administration in particular, does not want US citizens to visit Cuba?

HZ: I wish I could probe the minds of the people who run the United States government.… One of them undoubtedly is that they know that Americans and people from other countries that haven’t come to Cuba are intrigued by the kind of things that Cuba has, which other countries don’t have; intrigued by Cuba’s progress in literacy, in medicine, in culture and so on.

Read More...