world

'People's History' author Howard Zinn dies at 87

41 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

41 Comments
Login to comment

He will be greatly missed, we need more people like him.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with sabiwabi 100%. He represents exactly those aspects of the U.S.(or humanity in general)which, if utilized, are greatest i.e., honesty, regardless of whether or not this incriminates his "own team", activism, which he demonstrated does work when committed, fearlessness, in spite of the fact that many of his racist critics and ignorant detractors are always trying to pull things backwards, and on and on....His accomplishments are too numerous to mention here, at least to those who know them, and should NOT be forgotten. I've seen him speak, and corresponded with him on several occasions, and he was always pleasant and willing to talk to "the average folk". He was NOT even close to being one of the "ivory tower" intellectuals, which, unfortunately, some slip into. He encouraged citizens to participate in their democratic system, honored it, and participated in it. He WILL be missed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“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.”

How true !!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A very good man, who was one of those who lived his life truly and whose writings opened the eyes of many.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

'People's History' author Howard Zinn dies at 87

I first started reading his A People's History of the United States at the Junkudo in Ikebukuro about 10 years ago and had trouble putting it down once I got into it.

We are lucky to live in a time that, no matter what obstacles various countries put in the way of people learning varying opinions on history, there is generally a way to get around them, because of the technological advantages we possess in the 21st century.

Howard Zinn's writings are well worth the time and effort to read.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

sabi: we need more people like him.

We need more Marxists? I don't think so.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We need more Marxists? I don't think so.

There's no indication that Zinn was a follower of Karl Marx. He was definitely a believer in full, participatory democracy.

Then again, idiots dismissed Martin Luther King as a Marxist too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There's no indication that Zinn was a follower of Karl Marx

...other than teaching courses and seminars about Karl Marx, writing books about Karl Marx, writing a play about Karl Marx, speaking at Marxism rallies, granting interviews with Marxist publications, sharing the politics of Karl Marx,... This guy is cut right from the cloth of the Bolshevik Revolution.

"Marx is not dead and I am going to prove it by bringing him back to the scenario. From there I would teach this same public the difference between Stalinism and Marxism. I would remind them what Marxist criticism of capitalism consists of. I would demonstrate that these ideas have much to do about the US today. In other words, that Marxist criticism of capitalism is still exact and current today."

Howard Zinn, Cuba 2004

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is certain that Zinn shares Marx's dim view and criticism of capitalism. (He did write one book on the Marx the young man in Soho. I do not know what play you are referring to.)

Marx is such a bogeyman to Americans that I'm glad Zinn and others are doing what they can to demystify him and make his thinking more accessible -- so that it can be analyzed and accepted or rejected on that basis.

Anyone can pull quotes out of context. But I'll bet you haven't read a lot of what Zinn wrote. People who are ignorant of his writings would probably confuse him with a lot of things. I know Zinn liked the philosophy of Henry George -- who was anything but a Marxist. Zinn liked to refer to himself as a socialist and small "d" democrat, but that wouldn't interest people who try to dishonestly paint him as something he was not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Marx is such a bogeyman to Americans

Good.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good

His ideas are that powerful and frightening? Wow.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That helter went through the trouble of digging something up on Zinn makes me feel even more confident that Zinn was a great man.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

yabits: His ideas are that powerful and frightening?

Absolutely, but one wouldn't expect naive progressives to understand this. Marxism brought more misery to more people during the 20th century than any other political/economic system of government.

sabi: Zinn was a great man.

Exactly what one would expect from the neo-Marxist Islamist alliance. Well done.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Marxism brought more misery to more people during the 20th century than any other political/economic system of government.

LOL! With the ongoing destruction of planet Earth, capitalism may well surpass it in the 21st.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, my friends, I don't know where to begin on this one.Tis a sad day indeed for democrats,progressives and small m Marxists everywhere, It would be hard indeed to overestimate the influence that Howard Zinn had on me.I could just start by saying that when I was at uni in Kingston, EVERYONE had a copy of A People's History.Among the crowd that I hung with if you didn't have a copy in your dorm room or your apartment you basically couldn't laid. I carried mine with me EVERYWHERE.

And reading some posts here I really want to get my hands on a copy of Marx in Soho, which, as a work of literary imagination, is astounding, and fantastic.I thought I had all of Zinn's work, so knowing that there is still a Zinn work out there i have not read is the silver lining in reading about his untimely passing.

RIP, Howard. Searching Hirakata for a copy of Marx in Soho won't be a cakewalk, but it WILL give my life some meaning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tis a sad day indeed for democrats,progressives and small m Marxists everywhere

Glad to hear it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

With the ongoing destruction of planet Earth...

Whatever. You stated, "There's no indication that Zinn was a follower of Karl Marx", and you were wrong. You lose. Best cut your loses and move along.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"We need more Marxists? I don't think so."

Two responsese to such comment. First, is that he was not a Marxist. Secondly, folks whom usually offer this charge know neither Zinn's work, NOR Marx's work. There are usually several easy ways to determine where they fall on the naivete scale. They attempt to offer arguments saying that places like China, Cuba, etc...are examples of what Marxism leads to, regardless of the fact that Marx would have despised most of these for the most part. Secondly, they have usually never read more than a phrase or two of Zinn's, an then incorrectly deduce that they know his positions. They don't. It's easy to demonstrate as well. However, I have actually met three people in the past 10 years, folks from the right, whom did read him (and Chomsky) after being challenged. Two of the three changed their positions and admitted their prior position as being incorrect. So, I guess there are actually a few folks on the right who aren't so thoroughly indoctrinated that they are unable to actually read and understand a book or two.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And what does a Marxist criticism of capitalism have to do with one being a Marxist. Anyone can make a Marxist critique of any system, but it helps to know what the critique is first. Marx wrote primarily about capitalism, and anyone whom even has a cursory knowledge of his work, or most any Marx scholars, says that he would probably not have found what has been done in his name repulsive. One must wonder how, where, and why anyone would have gotten any other impression.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You lose. Best cut your loses and move along.

Still waiting to hear the name of Zinn's play that he wrote for Marxism.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And what does a Marxist criticism of capitalism have to do with one being a Marxist

Hey, intelligent people understand that.

I suppose that the director of the recent movie on Che's life became a Marxist, as the director of Malcolm X joined the Nation of Islam.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Still waiting to hear the name of Zinn's play that he wrote for Marxism.

Marx in Soho.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Personally, I prefer the Realism of The Pentagon Papers to the fiction written by the enemies of truth and history, in which attempts are made to create nice sounding fairy tales for its citizens to consume and unquestioningly believe. I simply find non-fiction much more interesting than fiction. Also, it's much more entertaining to watch the resposnses of those encountering reality, perhaps for the first time, when folks like Zinn simply observe very simple and basic historical facts. Facts which often clash with the internalized fairy tales of the pseudo-patriots. That being said, Marx in Soho is good, too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Marx in Soho

Ah, it appears you have counted the single title as both a play and a book. OK, I see. And I suppose the writer of Jesus of Montreal is a Christian.

Let's hope there are some readers interested enough to check out Marx in Soho. As Charles Marx says in the book/play: "Don't you wonder: why is it necessary to declare me dead again and again?"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Facts which often clash with the internalized fairy tales of the pseudo-patriots.

I think you've called it correctly. Zinn's writings are not for the cowardly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Zinn's writings are not for the cowardly.

No, they're for the Marxist retreads who are clinging onto their 1960's glory days.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thanks yabits!

Yes, it really does take much more courage to tell the truth than it does to lie simply to excuse some of your own teams misbehaviors. And there's one surefire way of determining just who the pseudo-patiots are. They're usually the ones who would hear such honesty, the type Zinn, Chomsky, Said, and others have to offer, and interpret what they say as "anti-American".

Anyway....Moving on.....

Simple-minded quote of the day:

"No, they're for the Marxist retreads who are clinging onto their 1960's glory days."helter skelter

Firstly, still haven't demonstrated that you have any conception of what Marxism is. Secondly, you haven't demonstrated Zinn to be a Marxist. Thirdly, you seem to be implying, perhaps sarcastically, not to mention VERY incorrectly, that there was something wrong with the 1960's i.e., one of the most significant periods of the entire history of the U.S., as far as making advancements both culturally and intellectually. Of course there were the droolers attempting to impede progress then, as there always are, but for the most part they failed. Thanks to the moral majority, e.g. most all of the left i.e.,those who fought for civil rights(slightly earlier), women's rights, minority rights, animal rights, environmentalism, solidarity movenments, anti-war movements, and all of those other "horrors"(in the blind eyes of the right that is), the U.S. 'almost' began to become somewhat civil. Still lagging far behind many European countries in many repsects e.g., unions, free education, healthcare, and other such basics which any, even remotely, civil society would have, but still pulled us out of the antics of the racist right, etc...Yeah, those 60's were sure a "low point". I mean, just look at the list I left above of what those damn hippies started. Just horrible! They even had the nerve to make questioning authority seem reasonable. Jeez!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

yabits:"Zinn's writings are not for the cowardly."

Bingo!A lot of people are uncomfortable saying they are uncomfortable with the very idea of America, but Zinn was never one of them.The right wingers can call him every name in the book,but coward is not one of them. CArrying around his book with me and being able to quote his works made look cool and like I had a really edgy perspective, and I loved the feeling.

Oh, and before the bushlovers and the suprelibs of the world TRY and challenge me about said quoting try THIS one on for size

From page 368:

"In the early nineties, the false socialism of the Soviet Union failed"

So yes, now that Zinn has fallen people such as myself, and yabits, and feathrehead, will pick up that torch, and we will shoulder it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You got THAT right, Gombei!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They're usually the ones who would hear such honesty, the type Zinn, Chomsky, Said, and others have to offer, and interpret what they say as "anti-American".

They are anti "American imperialism." So am I.

What the world doesn't need is more ignorant American fatheads. Zinn did more than almost anyone to prevent the accumulation of fat around the brains of young Americans -- and it won't be too long before his contributions start to bear fruit.

Another great writer/journalist in the vein you mentioned is I.F. Stone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Secondly, you haven't demonstrated Zinn to be a Marxist.

Hey, a book/play about an imaginary visit by Charlie Marx to New York's Soho district is proof enough.

And Connecticut Yankee proves that Mark Twain was secretly a British Loyalist.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So yes, now that Zinn has fallen people such as myself, and yabits, and feathrehead, will pick up that torch, and we will shoulder it.

All it requires is an adherence to sincerely seeking the truth and not being content with the comfortable myths and half-truths swallowed hook, line and sinker by the deluded. This is what writers like Zinn and Vonnegut did, and what a new generation of writers are doing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

featherhead

the 1960's i.e., one of the most significant periods of the entire history of the U.S.

Hehe. Thanks for proving my point about Marxist retreads clinging onto their 1960's glory days.

advancements both culturally and intellectually

Haight Ashbury, a cultural and intellectual Mecca. :-D

0 ( +0 / -0 )

helter, firstly, you haven't shown that I have "proved your point" about anything. Your point was to imply that the 60's were somehow bad. My point was that on the contrary, they were one of the best times in U.S. history. And folks who try and reduce all of the activism of the 60s down to Haight-Ashbury simply haven't a clue, not that there was anything much wrong with Haight beyond the predictable excesses which often accompany breaking the chains of indoctrination and the joy which accompanies it. The Haight hippies account for, I'd say, about .0000001% of the movement, though often a loud part, thank God. YOU seem to have missed MY main point with relation to cultural and intellectual improvements i.e., all of the various movements which were launched, and which you, unappreciatively, benefit from nowadays. Probably wouldn't hurt for you to study a little history so that you might know how. And you are probably NOT going to find such TRUTHFUL history by many folks from the right i.e., those whom are dedicated to creating nice sounding, feel-good, fairy tales about history which insulate the folks like you from ACTUAL, often uncomfortable history, which, I'm sorry to say, really DOES include some not so nice instances. Most on the left are more committed to acknowledging our shortcomings and those of our country, instead of, like many on the right wish to remain blissfully ignorant of, and prefer to wallow around in denial, all the while mistakenly believing themselves to be patriots of some sort. By the way, which of Zinn's books did you say you had read? ;)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

they were one of the best times in U.S. history.

Every neo-Marxist who foolishly worships Europe as a socialist utopia would agree with you.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why are you still babbling about neo-Marxism when you haven't demonstrated that you know anything about Marxism in the first place. Now, which of Zinn's books did you said you've read?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, my friends, another thing rightists and bourgeois readers don't know about Zinn is that he completely eschewed footnotes in his work, which was a revolutionary step, and it turned bourgeois history studies on its ear!

"Howard Zinn was a Marxist"? Oh please, I guess SOME people need to pick up a history book. Since he was born AFTER Marx died he was a STALINIST, not a MARXIST. Get it straight!

His parents immigrated to America from Russia, and undoubtedly they regretted the decision, especially when it meant living through the McCarthyism that affected EVERY single American in the 1950s.

How do I know he was a Stalinist and NOT a Marxist.Well, my many friends, that one is quite easy. In his magnum opus, A People's History of the United States, Zinn points out that America was to blame for the bombing of Pearl Harbour, a view which I can7t say I disagree with.

But rightists and the sargies of the world will try and protest and say that Zinn joined the US AirForce and particpated in bombing raids. Well yes, he did.But Against Germany, which had ATTACKED Russia! Zinn joined to help Stalin fight Hitler. Sheesh!I get so tired sometimes of having to be a teacher, 24/7.

Well, anyways, tis a sad thing that he has passed.

But we still have Ben Affleck.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sorry, Gombei, I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. Zinn was not a Stalinist in any way, shape, or form, and despised Stalin as much as he did Hitler. Perhaps you were being sarcastic? And even though McCarthy was a thug and criminal, I doubt seriously that Zinn OR his parents felt this to be worse than Stalin. True, he did help bomb Hitler, and felt that getting rid of Hitler was a good thing, to which most folks would agree(perhaps not Bush's grandfather given he was doing lots of business with the Nazis, even AFTER it was illegal in the U.S. to do so), he also felt that there were instances where the bombing of certain German cities was not called for either.

I'm also not sure I would say that Zinn would "blame" the U.S. for the bombing of Pearl Harbor, though it would be completely naive to think that there were not reasons. After all, if one accepts a common U.S. argument regarding "preventive war", there was absoluetly nothing wrong with Japan bombing the U.S. AFter all, this is an exact duplicate of the Bush doctrine in action i.e., Japan was quite certain the U.S. was about to enter the war, and so they "struck first in self defense". I guess it's perhaps wise NOT to make rules which may work against one's self. Absurd thing is is that we, and by we I mean folks like Bush, etc...evidently didn't learn a thing from it.

Funny last line! Though it's sort of sad/funny in the sense that he probably IS much more attuned to the real world than most on the right, even those IN politics full time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, my friends, another thing rightists and bourgeois readers don't know about Zinn is that he completely eschewed footnotes in his work

Regarding the topic of footnotes, Zinn writes in the comprehensive bibliography to People's History..: "To indicate every source of information in the text would have meant a book impossibly cluttered with footnotes...therefore, as often as I can, I mention in the text authors and titles of books for which the full information is in this bibliography."

If Zinn was making things up, and his sources didn't prove true, the right wing would have had a field day by now showing where he was inaccurate about what he was presenting as a point of fact. Those on the right, like this Gombei, know that they can't do that so they attack Zinn on flimsy stuff as his decision to provide a comprehensive bibliography for each chapter rather than footnotes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"> How do I know he was a Stalinist and NOT a Marxist.Well, my many friends, that one is quite easy. In his magnum opus, A People's History of the United States, Zinn points out that America was to blame for the bombing of Pearl Harbour, a view which I can7t say I disagree with.

Quotes from Zinn's book: "What brought the United States fully into the war was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor." Zinn relates some of the history that lead up to the attack, quoting from Judge Radhabinod Pal who was one of the presiding judges in the Tokyo War Crimes Trial: "[Pal] argued that the United States had clearly provoked the war with Japan and expected Japan to act."

Zinn relates the forces (Japan, U.S., et. al.) who were all carving up and exploiting China at the time, and how the U.S. responded when Japan started eyeing more that what the U.S. thought was Japan's "fair share," initiating harsh sanctions against them.

I understand that relating documented historical facts can cause a person to be called "marxist," "stalinist," etc. by some -- especially by those who want to adhere to the Big Lie, and demonstrate that by practice.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

yabits:Quotes from Zinn's book: "What brought the United States fully into the war was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor." Zinn relates some of the history that lead up to the attack, quoting from Judge Radhabinod Pal who was one of the presiding judges in the Tokyo War Crimes Trial: "[Pal] argued that the United States had clearly provoked the war with Japan and expected Japan to act."

Bang on, mate. And extreme kudos for bringing Radhabinod Pal into the discussion.Pal, as the SOLE dissenting judge at the Tokyo Trials, is a PERSONAL hero of mine, and I often ask my students about him.Even though japanese nationalists erected a statue of him at Yasukuni I still think he is fabulous, and was all about social justice.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites