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Quotes of the day: Howard Zinn

Published Tuesday, January 26, 2016 @ 8:22 PM EST
Jan 26 2016

Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 – January 27, 2010) was an American historian, playwright, and social activist. He was a political science professor at Boston University. Zinn wrote more than twenty books, including his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United States. In 2007, he published a version of it for younger readers, A Young People's History of the United States.

Zinn described himself as "something of an anarchist, something of a socialist. Maybe a democratic socialist." He wrote extensively about the civil rights and anti-war movements, and labor history of the United States. His memoir, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train, was also the title of a 2004 documentary about Zinn's life and work. Zinn died of a heart attack in 2010, aged 87. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


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

Capitalism has always been a failure for the lower classes. It is now beginning to fail for the middle classes.

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

Historically, the most terrible things- war, genocide, and slavery – have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience

How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?

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

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.

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

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

No flag is large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.

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

Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act.

Politics is pointless if it does nothing to enhance the beauty of our lives.

The cry of the poor is is not always just, but if you don't listen to it, you will never know what justice is

To be "realistic" in dealing with a problem is to work only among the alternatives which the most powerful in society put forth.

Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.

War itself is the enemy of the human race.

We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.

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.

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


(Hyman G. Rickover, Lewis Carroll, and Samuel Gompers.)

Categories: Howard Zinn, Quotes of the day


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