R.I.P. Howard Zinn, Historian of the People


[Viggo Mortensen, Perceval Press]
Thank you, Howard. It is an honour to have read you, heard you, learned from you, known you at least a little. You will always be missed, always be celebrated. Your history is our history, irreplaceable, unforgettable, as contagious as your smile, a blessing, a warning, a measuring stick, an example to us all.

Photo: Robin Holland


“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

“If the gods had intended for people to vote, they would have given us candidates”

“Americans have been taught that their nation is civilized and humane. But, too often, U.S. actions have been uncivilized and inhumane.”

“We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children”

“In the United States today, the Declaration of Independence hangs on schoolroom walls, but foreign policy follows Machiavelli.”

“If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television – can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.”

“(Nationalism is) a set of beliefs taught to each generation in which the Motherland or the Fatherland is an object of veneration and becomes a burning cause for which one becomes willing to kill the children of other Motherlands or Fatherlands”

“One certain effect of war is to diminish freedom of expression.”

“I’m worried that students will take their obedient place in society and look to become successful cogs in the wheel – let the wheel spin them around as it wants without taking a look at what they’re doing. I’m concerned that students not become passive acceptors of the official doctrine that’s handed down to them from the White House, the media, textbooks, teachers and preachers.”

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people,
can transform the world.”

“I don’t think there’s any question that the United States is going to have to get out of Iraq. The only questions are: How long will it take? How many more people will die? And how will it be done?”

“War itself is the enemy of the human race.”
“People like Eugene Debs, Helen Keller, Emma Goldman, Jack London and Upton Sinclair were wonderful writers who joined the movement against war and injustice, against capitalism and corporate power. That was a very exciting period in American history.”

“The UN should arrange, as US forces leave, for an international group of peacekeepers and negotiators from the Arab countries to bring together Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, and work out a solution for self-governance that would give all three groups a share in political power. Simultaneously, the UN should arrange for shipments of food and medicine, from the United States and other countries, as well as engineers to help rebuild the country.”

“Most wars, after all, present themselves as humanitarian endeavors to help people.”

“When people don’t understand that the government doesn’t have their interests in mind, they’re more susceptible to go to war.”

“I suggest that if you know history, then you might not be so easily fooled by the government when it tells you you must go to war for this or that reason -that history is a protective armor against being misled.”

Howard Zinn