Tag: howard zinn

George Orwell and Howard Zinn on Nationalism

Crossposted at Daily Kos

Writing in 1945 in his remarkable essay see Notes on Nationalism, author George Orwell noted the following distinction between patriotism and nationalism

go here Nationalism is see url not to be confused with patriotism.  Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved.  By “patriotism” I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people.  Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power.  The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

click Author and journalist George Orwell

Arun Gandhi, Martin Luther King, And Looking Beyond The Impossibly Perfect Standard

From reining in Wall Street to preventing the next oil spill and tackling global climate change, we often hold back from taking important public stands because we’re caught in a trap I call “the perfect standard.” Before letting ourselves take action on an issue, we wait to be certain that it’s the world’s most important issue, that we understand it perfectly, and that we’ll be able to express our perspectives with perfect eloquence. We also decide that engagement requires being of perfect moral character without the slightest inconsistencies or flaws.

* * *

Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi, tells the story of how his grandfather’s family mortgaged everything they had–their land, their jewelry, everything of value–to send Gandhi to law school. Gandhi graduated and passed the bar, but was so shy that when he stood up in court all he could do was stammer. He couldn’t get a sentence out in defense of his clients. As a result, he lost every one of his cases. He was a total failure as a lawyer. His family didn’t know what do to. Finally, they sent him off to South Africa, where he literally and metaphorically found his voice by challenging the country’s racial segregation.

I love viewing Gandhi not as the master strategist of social change that he later became, but as someone who at first was literally tongue-tied–shyer and more intimidated than almost anyone we can imagine. His story is a caution against the impulse to try and achieve perfection before we begin the journey of social change.

“I think it does us all a disservice,” says Atlanta activist Sonya Vetra Tinsley, “when people who work for social change are presented as saints–so much more noble than the rest of us. We get a false sense that from the moment they were born they were called to act, they never had doubts, were bathed in a circle of light. But I’m much more inspired learning how people succeeded despite their failings and uncertainties. It’s a much less intimidating image. It makes me feel like I have a shot at changing things too.”  

An Idiot’s Guide to Handling Radical Right Hate

We old codgers have to smile at the surprise and near panic on the Left generated by some recently publicized instances of Radical Right hate and violence directed at supporters of the health care bill.  Radical Right terrorism is older than the horseless carriage, and so is a media and government response that emphasizes looking the other way.

There’s another thing that’s been around as long as Radical Right violence, and that’s Left Wing courage.  If we’re going to do our ideological ancestors proud, people ranging from Eugene Debs to W.E.B. DuBois to Walter Reuther to Martin Luther King, Jr., we need to follow a little four-step plan to counter this hate with the firm love of Leftist solidarity.

Four steps is all it takes, and you can begin today:

1) Know the history.

2) Build your courage.

3) Demand justice.

4) Organize.

Details after the break.

Where have you gone, Albert Einstein?



In a recent diary by Cassiodorus, one point of his in particular struck me:

Thus the comparison between the Great Depression and the current Great Recession falls flat, because go site the popular upheavals of the 1930s are only in evidence today among the least helpful segments of the population.  This of course is a major reason why we can expect no FDR-like President to save us from the…economic collapse…

…During the 1930s… go intellectual figures such as John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck, Kenneth Burke, and Richard Wright were actual socialists and not just mere liberals offering occasional plugs for John Kerry.

Another prominent socialist, albeit a bit later than the Depression, was Albert Einstein.  He was an all around brilliant man, someone whom I admire greatly.  And he wisely said this, although today it would probably be considered way too radical for anyone respectable to utter:

Glenn Greenwald: ‘This is what the Democratic Party does; it’s who they are’

In a post on Salon today, Glenn Greenwald reveals to readers the essential tactic of the Democratic Party leadership.  It’s not trying to get Republican support, it’s not filibuster reform, it’s not registering people to vote.  It’s much more manipulative than that.

It is an explanation for the “lack of spine” that Democrats are often said to have – which, we can now see, is merely a convenient illusion for prominent Democrats.  It is a scapegoat that they can use so that progressives will continue voting for them even though we get nothing that we ask for, and instead have to take whatever crumbs are given to us.

So what is it?

This is what the Democratic Party does; it’s who they are.   go They’re willing to feign support for anything their voters want just as long as there’s no chance that they can pass it.  

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – Mad Hatters and Tea Parties

Crossposted at Daily Kos

enter THE WEEK IN EDITORIAL CARTOONS

This weekly diary takes a look at the past week’s important news stories from the perspective of our leading editorial cartoonists (including a few foreign ones) with analysis and commentary added in by me.

When evaluating a cartoon, ask yourself these questions:

1. Does a cartoon add to my existing knowledge base and help crystallize my thinking about the issue depicted?

2. Does the cartoonist have any obvious biases that distort reality?

3. Is the cartoonist reflecting prevailing public opinion or trying to shape it?

The answers will help determine the effectiveness of the cartoonist’s message.

here :: ::

Steve Sack

Steve Sack, Comics.com

When Words Have No Meaning

In “Illiteracy: The Downfall of American Society”, Education Portal reports that 50 percent of adults in America cannot read a book written at an 8th grade level.  20 percent of Americans are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level.  42 million American adults can’t read at all.  The number of American adults classified as functionally illiterate increases by about 2.25 million each year.

Many of those people are Teabaggers . . .

Offical Language Fail Pictures, Images and Photos

Yeah.  That’ll help.  

Finding America on a map is also a problem.  According to National Geographic News, 11 percent of young Americans can’t locate the United States on a map. The location of the Pacific Ocean is a mystery to 29 percent, 58 percent don’t know where Japan is, 65 percent don’t know where France is, 69 percent don’t know where the United Kingdom is.

Knowledge of current issues and historical events is just as abysmal. Saul Friedman notes that 34 percent of Americans still think Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11, nearly one-third of Republicans don’t believe Obama was born in the United States, more than two-thirds don’t know what’s in Roe v. Wade, 24 percent could not name the country we fought in the Revolutionary War.

Many of these people vote, with predictably appalling results.  According to Freedom Daily . . .

Political scientist Michael Carpini analyzed thousands of voter surveys and found that there was “virtually no relationship” between the political issues that low-knowledge voters said “matter most to them and the positions of the candidates they voted for on those issues.  It was as if their vote was random.  

Low knowledge voters comprise 36 percent of the electorate and provide the deciding margins in almost all contested congressional and presidential elections.  Here in the 21st century, with multiple crises facing us, with the worst crisis of all–global warming–steadily intensifying, we have little if any chance of dealing with any of these crises through the political system, because our elections are not decided by the well-informed voters who make rational decisions in the voting booth, they’re decided by the voters who have no fucking idea what’s going on.  

Zinn on Pressuring Obama and the Democrats

I originally posted this interview with Howard Zinn back in April 2009 following the then recent revelations of President Obama’s DOJ under Eric Holder betraying Obama’s campaign promises to instead embrace the Bush administrations claims for immunity and “states secrets” in the case of clear FISA violations and illegal wiretapping.

So much more has gone down since then, including his troop increases in Afghanistan, his expansion of drone strikes, his coddling and enriching of Wall Street investment bankers at your expense, and his effective sellout of the American people to the health insurance industry.

And Obama has turned his back on so many of his campaign pledges to make his administrations policy decisions so far essentially a direct extension of the policies of the the Bush/Cheney years, with most of the bigger points outlined in Paul Street’s recent article The Dawning Age of Obama as a Potentially Teach-able Moment for The Left that I thought that in light of Obama’s SOTU speech that this might be a good time time for revisiting what Zinn had to say in this interview.

I also suspect that Zinn would be honored to have us honor his ideas more than himself.

RIP Mr. Zinn. We’ll do our best.

In part three of what was a series of interviews, historian, political scientist, social critic, activist, author and playwright Professor Howard Zinn talks here with Real News CEO Paul Jay about why so many people seem to be convinced that Obama is anything more than what he appears to be given his actions and policies implemented since inauguration, and about how to create a mass popular movement to pressure Obama for progressive results in a supportive way, and concludes that social turmoil is not only not bad but necessary if it leads to something good in the sense of creating real change.



Real News Network – April 10, 2009


Send a message to Obama

follow site Howard Zinn: Social turmoil is not bad if it leads to something good

A Recent Howard Zinn Interview

Cross-posted at Progressive Blue.

Howard Zinn, Historian and Activist, Dies at 87. The New York Times described Mr. Zinn.

…an author, teacher and political activist whose book “A People’s History of the United States” became a million-selling leftist alternative to mainstream texts, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif.

I recently wrote a DKos diary called Will you be watching “The People Speak” tonight? As a “leftist alternative” and as a dedication, I’ve updated the part of that diary about the the December 4th interview between Howard Zinn and Bill Moyers.

It was amazing to see these two great Americans sit down and discuss history from the bottom up, focusing on historic successes of the people. Looking at the Bill Moyers Journal link you can read the transcript and view clips from “The People Speak” or below the fold are the YouTube links and a few small thoughts about a man who dedicated his life to the people.

Howard Zinn, RIP

The New York Times reports:

Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose book “A People’s History of the United States” became a million-selling leftist alternative to mainstream texts, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 87 and lived in Auburndale, Mass.

The cause was a heart attack, his daughter Myla Kabat-Zinn said.

Published in 1980 with little promotion and a first printing of 5,000, “A People’s History” was, fittingly, a people’s best-seller, attracting a wide audience through word of mouth and reaching 1 million sales in 2003. Although Professor Zinn was writing for a general readership, his book was taught in high schools and colleges throughout the country, and numerous companion editions were published, including “Voices of a People’s History,” a volume for young people and a graphic novel.

“A People’s History” told an openly left-wing story. Professor Zinn accused Christopher Columbus and other explorers of committing genocide, picked apart presidents from Andrew Jackson to Franklin D. Roosevelt and celebrated workers, feminists and war resisters.

Even liberal historians were uneasy with Professor Zinn, who taught for many years at Boston University. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. once said: “I know he regards me as a dangerous reactionary. And I don’t take him very seriously. He’s a polemicist, not a historian.”

In a 1998 interview with The Associated Press, Professor Zinn acknowledged that he was not trying to write an objective history, or a complete one. He called his book a response to traditional works, the first chapter, not the last, of a new kind of history.

May he rest in peace.

RIP Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn has died at 87.  The author of the People’s History of the United States.  

Just last week he wrote this in the nation:

One of Professor Zinn’s last public writings was a brief essay, published last week in The Nation, about the first year of the Obama administration.

“I’ve been searching hard for a highlight,” he wrote, adding that he wasn’t disappointed because he never expected a lot from President Obama.

“I think people are dazzled by Obama’s rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president – which means, in our time, a dangerous president – unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01…

I was surprised to learn that the People’s History sold a million copies.  

The People Speak

The People Speak



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

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