howard zinn

Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.
—  Howard Zinn

kartox8-fel-tovarish  asked:

I'm still relatively new here. What readings would you recommend?

Capital by Karl Marx
Capital in Manga by Variety Artworks
Capital Illustrated by David Smith
Reform or Revolution by Rosa Luxemburg
Workers’ Councils by Anton Pannekoek
Why Marx Was Right by Terry Eagleton
Ours to Master and to Own by Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini
Subterranean Fire by Sharon Smith
Four Futures by Peter Frase
Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici
Red Rosa by Kate Evans
Democracy at Work by Richard Wolff
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn 
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen
Socialism…Seriously by Danny Katch
The Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin
Parecon by Michael Albert
Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey

These have probably informed my own ideas the most, so I highly recommend them. I apologize for not being able to provide links to these at the moment. Capital is free online, as are Reform or Revolution, Workers’ Councils, and A People’s History. Hope this can be a helpful reading list for you!


TO BE HOPEFUL in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
—  Howard Zinn
It is part of the dominant ideology of our culture to treat damage to property - especially certain kinds of property - as terrible crimes of violence because they have been committed illegally by private citizens protesting government policy, while accepting large-scale murder because it is legal and official.
—  Howard Zinn
If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, not as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one’s country, one’s fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.
—  Howard Zinn, The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy

anonymous asked:

Have you read "A Peoples History of the United States" by Howard Zinn? While not explicitly socialist it does offer a great overview of America's history of Imperialist policies, fanatic defense of capitalism, numerous human rights atrocities, and the inability of the liberal left to offer any real change. It's a great starting point for understanding just how skewed the popular narrative of American history really is, a great cleanse after years of public school history classes.

I highly recommend that book to anybody reading this 👍👍👍 It’s an accessible rebuttal to all the bullshit we learned in school over the years.

“Patriotism to me means doing what you think your country should be doing. Patriotism means supporting your government when you think it’s doing right, opposing your government when you think it’s doing wrong. Patriotism to me means really what the Declaration of Independence suggests. And that is that government is an artificial entity.

Government is set up – and here’s what a Declaration of Independence is about – government is set up by the people in order to fulfill certain responsibilities: equality, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. And according to the Declaration of Independence, when the government violates those responsibilities, then, and these are the words of the Declaration of Independence, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish the government.

In other words, the government is not holy; the government is not to be obeyed when the government is wrong. So to me patriotism in its best sense means thinking about the people in the country, the principles for which the country stands for, and it requires opposing the government when the government violates those principles.

So, yes, patriotism today requires citizens to be active on many, many different fronts to oppose government policies on the war, government policies that have taken trillions of dollars from this country’s treasury and used it for war and militarism. That’s what patriotism would require today.”

- Howard Zinn

In a world already moving in certain directions, where wealth and power are already distributed in certain ways, neutrality means accepting the way things are now. It is a world of clashing interests - war against peace, nationalism against internationalism, equality against greed, and democracy against elitism - and it seems to me both impossible and undesirable to be neutral in those conflicts.
—  Howard Zinn

Civil disobedience, as I put it to the audience, was not the problem, despite the warnings of some that it threatened social stability, that it led to anarchy. The greatest danger, I argued, was civil obedience, the submission of individual conscience to governmental authority. Such obedience led to the horrors we saw in totalitarian states, and in liberal states it led to the public’s acceptance of war whenever the so-called democratic government decided on it…

In such a world, the rule of law maintains things as they are. Therefore, to begin the process of change, to stop a war, to establish justice, it may be necessary to break the law, to commit acts of civil disobedience, as Southern black did, as antiwar protesters did.

—  Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

A great deal of my knowledge of history, politics, and international affairs comes from the books I read. I highly recommend them, especially in the age of Trump:

  • A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn: By my junior year of college, my politics had shifted from relatively conservative (yup, I leaned Republican for most of my life) to moderately liberal. After reading this book, I was firmly liberal. The sheer amount of information Zinn presents that you never learn in school is incredible. I consider this essential reading for every single American.
  • The Zinn Reader: Writings on Disobedience and Democracy, Howard Zinn: An indispensable collection of Howard Zinn’s writings on everything from race, to war, to social justice. Some of the best essays: Machiavellian Realism and US Foreign Policy: Means and Ends, Law and Justice, The Problem Is Civil Obedience
  • Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, Noam Chomsky: Written in 1983 after the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon, Chomsky utilizes primary sources (translated from Hebrew and other languages by Chomsky himself) hardly, if ever, presented to an American audience to reveal the truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Any Jews who support the Israeli government would do well to read this, and then try to justify themselves.
  • Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, Michael Isikoff & David Corn: An indispensable book about the failures and crimes of the Bush administration that led the US into a costly, unnecessary war in Iraq. Everyone needs to read this book. Absolutely jaw-dropping.
  • Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003-2005, Thomas E. Ricks: Written in 2006 in the wake of the disastrous invasion of Iraq, this book gives extraordinary military insight to complement the focus on the political end of the Iraq War. A good companion piece to Hubris, and great insight into military strategy for those of us who haven’t studied it before.
  • Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, Radley Balko: Astonishing and infuriating, and absolutely essential. This book is no liberal anti-cop smear: It is a bold and honest look at the government’s dangerous practice of preparing our police across the nation to violate all of the constitutional rights we hold dear, and denying accountability. 
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander: A companion piece to Rise of the Warrior Cop, focusing on the racism that underlies nationwide law enforcement. 

The people who define crime are connected to those [who commit white-collar crime]. They are the ones who say what it is. If somebody holds up a store or robs someone on the street, of course those are crimes. If somebody robs consumers of millions of dollars or robs workers of their lives because of unsafe work conditions, that’s not crime. That’s business.

Howard Zinn