Welcome Anthony Arnove (HowardZinn.org) and Host Mark Karlin (Truthout / Buzzflash)

Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches 1963-2009

Anthony Arnove got to know Howard Zinn’s distinctive voice when he collaborated with Zinn on “The People Speak.” As a result, Arnove was selected by the Howard Zinn Trust to edit four decades of his speeches. Although Zinn’s remarks are in text form, his passion, his energy, his humor, and his desire for long-term systemic change jump off the page and inspire the reader.

Zinn’s legacy is inspirational to progressives who believe in healing the world on behalf of the public good. War and the reckless accumulation of wealth – two of the most central features to the American zeitgeist – were anathema to Zinn, who celebrated a just, multi-cultural, egalitarian society.

Noted for restoring the historical narrative of America in his “People’s History of the United States,” Zinn was never content to debunk errant jingoism from the sidelines. From his courageous support of the Civil Rights Movement while a professor of history at the academically prestigious Spelman College (where he was ironically fired in the ’60s from the black female school for being overzealous about desegregation) to his participation in the anti-Iraq war movement, Zinn was an activist who ignited the embers of justice.

The embodiment of civic engagement, Zinn represented the actualization of a true democracy, one in which the people speak — as was the name of the film on which he worked with Anthony Arnove — and create a government formed with grassroots resolve.

Of Zinn’s death at 87 in 2010, Arnove writes in his introduction to “Howard Zinn Speaks”:

As we look at Howard’s lifetime of work, and his remarkable example, he has something else to teach us that is very important. As urgent as the present moment is, we need to build and strategize for the long term and have the patience to weather the attacks and challenges that are coming. The kind of change we want, systemic change, will not happen overnight or even this year. People are now raising questions about the entire system, about capitalism, that cannot be addressed by electing a new president— as more and more people now realize—or Congress.

This moment in which popular protest worldwide is toppling dictatorships, and forcing even establishment discussions to address vital social issues, is one Howard had worked years to bring about and did so much to contribute to making possible. It was something he knew would come. He had the unwavering belief that people would eventually rise up and seek a more just society. It was something he would have been so overjoyed to see and to be part of.

As one reads Zinn’s speeches, they are unusual in that the words rise from the page as if one is listening to Howard exhort, cajole, reason, and move us closer to a nation of integrity and equality. As Arnove notes, Zinn wove droll humor and a celebration of the possibility of change into his calls for action.

Zinn was no insulated academic; he was alive with the promise of the opportunity to radically transform society and ourselves.

It is my delight to host this Firedoglake book forum with Anthony Arnove, editor of “Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches 1963 –2009.”

 

 [As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions.  Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

112 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Anthony Arnove, Howard Zinn Speaks: Collected Speeches 1963-2009”

BevW December 23rd, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Anthony, Welcome back to the Lake.

Mark, Welcome to the Lake, and Thank You for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:00 pm

It’s an honor to be hosting today and about such a terrific book. You feel Howard Zinn come off the page, as if you are listening to an audio book, when you read his resonant, compelling speeches.

dakine01 December 23rd, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Good afternoon Anthony and Mark and welcome to Firedoglake this afternoon.

Anthony, I have not read the book so forgive me if you answer this in it but was it difficult for you to edit the speeches having known Dr Zinn and worked with him?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Thanks so much for inviting me to take part in this discussion and for including Howard Zinn Speaks in the FDL Book Salon. And thanks, Mark, for hosting this.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Editing the book was a challenge — as well as a joy and a privilege. The first draft included twice as many speeches as we ultimately could print and still keep the book affordable. Actually, we had something similar happen with when Howard and I collaborated on the book Voices of a People’s History of the United States. Our first draft was probably twice as long as the eventual printed book. So I certainly had to cut some speeches that I would have loved to have included. But in the end I am avery happy with the selection we have.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:05 pm

In terms of the more personal question of knowing Howard, it was bittersweet: it was a reminder that Howard is no longer with us. On the other hand, he is so present and vital in these speeches that spending time with them and with this book makes him feel so very present and vital. Howard is very much with us.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:05 pm

My first question to the superb editor, Anthony Arnove, of Zinn’s collected speeches from 1963 – 2009 has to do with his charismatic quality to inspire change without despairing. How did he accomplish being a justice-seeker, revisionist historian, activist, captivating all at the same time. His speeches are anything but academic. They are rousing, not infrequently impishly humorous. Was it his firm belief in the capacity of the individual to precipitate positive change that made him so extraordinary?

BevW December 23rd, 2012 at 2:06 pm

How did you meet Dr Zinn, and how many years did you work with him?

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Anthony, you have a couple of questions on the table, so I’ll hold off until you have a chance to answer them.

dakine01 December 23rd, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 6

As a technical note, there is a “Reply” button in the lower right hand corner of each comment. Pressing the “Reply” will pre-fill the comment number and commenter name to whom you are replying, making it easier for folks to follow the conversation.

Note: Some browsers do not like to let the “Reply” function correctly if it is pressed after a hard page refresh but before the page completes loading.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:09 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 10

Thanks for the technical assistance.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I knew Howard for many years before we first met. A friend gave me A People’s History of the United States my first year of college, and — as with so many other people — it was a life-changing experience to read it. Then around 1997 Howard called one day to South End Press, where I was working as an editor at the time. He was calling to see if we might have work for a fried of his who was just getting out of prison. That’s exactly the kind of person Howard was. Soon after that call, he sent me an invite to a private reading of his work-in-progress, the play Marx in Soho. I was blown away by it and asked him if I could publish it. He agreed, and that started our collaboration and friendship.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:11 pm

By the way, as we await Anthony’s response, it goes without saying that this is a book well worth reading.

BevW December 23rd, 2012 at 2:12 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 12

I saw Marx In Soho in DC in the early 90s, small theater. It was great. Thank you.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:12 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 12

My first question to the superb editor, Anthony Arnove, of Zinn’s collected speeches from 1963 – 2009 has to do with his charismatic quality to inspire change without despairing. How did he accomplish being a justice-seeker, revisionist historian, activist, captivating all at the same time. His speeches are anything but academic. They are rousing, not infrequently impishly humorous. Was it his firm belief in the capacity of the individual to precipitate positive change that made him so extraordinary?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Mark. I am very happy you think the collection is well edited. In terms of what made Howard unique, and inspiring, I would have to name a few factors. Central, in my view, was his wit. He dealt with serious issues of war, racism, exploitation, poverty, state violence, his whole life. But he always found a way to find joy, humor, in the day-to-day experience. That was ultimately, I think, because he realized that there is no more meaningful life than one spent working with others to try to change this screwed up world. And if you can’t appreciate that, you won’t be able sustain the hard work and longterm commitment we need to make radical change.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I am so glad you have seen Marx in Soho, Bev. I really urge anyone who can to see it. A number of terrific productions have been touring the country, but I especially love the interpretation of actor and education activist Brian Jones. His web site is http://www.marxinsoho.com and the play is extremely easy to stage if anyone wants to bring it to their community.

BevW December 23rd, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Anthony,

Tech Note:

If you are responding to a comment – use the Reply button under the number, then type your response in the box, Submit Comment.

This locks your response to the comment you are answering.
Thanks,

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 16

Humor is indeed often absent from politics and social change of any sort. But he appeared, as you note to never forget that laughter and wit are a positive part of the human condition.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Anthony, on another point. I was fascinated you your evoking a slogan (translated) during the French leftist uprisings in the ’60s in relation to Howard: “Be realistic, demand the impossible.” Can you explain that paradox?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:18 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 19

Absolutely. And he also understood how important culture is to political change. Music, theater, film, sport. he embraced all those elements of expressing human creativity and the sense of how we all might live in a more emancipated, fulfilling, rewarding, meaningful society.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:19 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 21

Anthony, on another point. I was fascinated you your evoking a slogan (translated) during the French leftist uprisings in the ’60s in relation to Howard: “Be realistic, demand the impossible.” Can you explain that paradox?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:22 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 20

I was reminded of the slogan when thinking about how I think Howard would have reacted to the creative explosion of the Occupy movement. When some people were suggesting the movement should not have demands, I think Howard would probably have been talking about the difference between demands that are compromised by a narrow sense of “realism” or “pragmatism” as opposed to demands for what we truly do want and need but which, from the perverse logic of the system, are “impossible.” Such as universal health care. But by raising that demand, you press up against the limits of our system and help others realize that we need to press beyond it. That a system based on profit and competition has to be transcended entirely.

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 2:23 pm

As with many others, reading A People’s History was a huge eye opener for me. I had this idea (made up in my own head) that the U.S. was once a good country that had gone bad. Reading that book corrected that view quickly. The U.S. had never been that shining city on the hill.

What sustained Howard Zinn to keep looking in the face of the reality when the reality was (still is) so difficult?

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:23 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 23

Yes, changing the frame of the debate can make the impossible possible, but you need inspiration to accomplish that, which Howard provided in abundance.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:24 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 25

How did his service in the military during WW II change his outlook on American history, particularly our notion of “exceptionalism”?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:26 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 24

I think Howard was sustained by his family. His amazing connection with his life partner, Roslyn. His friendships. His appreciation of simple pleasures, such as a good meal, a glass of wine. His appreciation of sports (especially the Boston Red Sox), music (Dylan, Watermelon Slim, Big Bill Broonzy, Kronos Quartet). But also his sense of historical perspective. He had the ability to step back from the apparent impasse of the present to see a moment in its broad historical perspective. And he understood how in so many moments in the past that people had felt despair, a bold, creative action brought about change no one at the moment could ever have imagined,

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I’m so grateful you published the book, Anthony. It’s an amazing resource. Are there plans afoot to get this into the hands of youth, potential and current activists?

SanderO December 23rd, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Did Howard Zinn go through any major changes in his world view or was it a slow evolution? How about his WWII experiences?

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:31 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 27

Anthony, any thoughts on the impact of his WW II military service in terms of the evolution of his outlook?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:32 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 26

Howard was profoundly changed by his experience as a bombardier in World War II. In a way he and Kurt Vonnegut make an interesting comparison. Kurt and Howard were friends and both greatly admired each other’s work. (Kurt read in the very first Voices of a People’s History of the United States performance we ever did.) Both were radically changed by the experience of World War II. In Kurt’s work, we see the horror of the war as seen from the ground, where the bombs were falling. In Howard’s work, we see the horrors of the war from the bomb site: the abstraction of modern warfare, where the people dropping the bombs do not hear the cries or see the carnage from thousands of feet above — or now thousands of miles sway. Hoard wasn’t supposed to see what he ultimately came to see: what war looks like when you are on the receiving end of the bombs. And he dedicated the rest of his life to ending war.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 31

Needless to say, he would be out today lambasting the use of killer drones.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:34 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 28

Thank you. The team at Haymarket Books, the independent publisher that brought out the book, are doing some outreach to schools, but we’d love to see more done on this front, and would really welcome whatever FDL readers can do in terms of making teachers aware of the book, donating copies to school and community libraries, and giving the book to younger people who, I think, will be inspired by Howard’s words.

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I had taken the newspaper with me one day when I needed to go to a lab for a test and was reading the headlines saying Howard Zinn had died and I just let out this involuntary cry.

Was he in ill health or was his death sudden?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:35 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 32

Absolutely. Howard would be thrilled to see the growing awareness of the horrors of drone warfare and would be cheering on those who have been protesting drone strikes, both at home and abroad.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:36 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 33

Can you speak to Zinn’s rousing defense of civil disobedience as found in his famous “Speech Against the Vietnam War on Boston Common?”

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 2:37 pm

How has the book been received? Has the mainstream media commented?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:38 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 34

Fortunately, Howard did not have any prolonged illness. He passed away very peacefully, while swimming, on vacation, and after a very long, fulfilling, and meaningful life. I was especially touched that Howard was able to see the film we worked on together, The People Speak, have its theatrical premiere in New York and its national television broadcast, and to see the wonderful accolades that came in for him and his life work in connection with the project.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:41 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 36

Yes, but first a plug for the great film You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train. If you haven’t seen this documentary, I highly recommend it. The film has a wonderful scene featuring the speech. (I also strongly encourage you to read Howard’s memoir of the same name, published by Beacon Press.) But, in effect, what Howard odes in this speech, as in so many others, is to reframe the debate. Instead of focusing on the alleged harm of civil disobedience, he challenges us to think of the harm of not speaking out against war crimes being committed in our name, crimes that will continue if we don’t engage in civil disobedience to disrupt them.

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I wish I’d discovered Zinn earlier in life. He knew that much of what doesn’t work for the 99% is a feature not a bug.

For example, I didn’t realize until I was reading Howard Zinn Speaks that much of what is unworkable was already written into the Constitution. Can you speak to that?

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Can you explain the rather ironic situation surrounding Zinn’s termination at Spelman College during the Civil Rights Era? After all, here was this white professor at a prestigious black woman’s college fired for being too vocal a Civil Rights advocate. That’s a bit weird.

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 2:43 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 38

I’m so glad his passing was peaceful and that he got the reward of the praises for his life work before he passed. You must miss him terribly. I know I do and I’ve never met him.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:44 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 37

I would personally be shocked if the mainstream media commented on the book. But I have been extremely pleased with the early feedback from readers of the book, from the people who first read it and gave us comments (such as Howard’s longtime friend Noam Chomsky) to the people at Truthout and Rethinking Schools and other important independent media outlets who have read the book since it came out.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:45 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 43

In his speech at Reed College about his seminal book, A People’s History of the United States, Zinn said that legislation is passed and history written from a class bias; i.e., the bias of the ruling elite. What did he mean in that speech when he said, “The history of legislation in this country is a history of class legislation?”

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 41

Howard had no plan to teach in the South or at one of the historically black colleges. He was approached by Spelman when he first went on the academic job market, but eventually he embraced the opportunity to work with stuedents — African-American women — who were regarded as second or third class citizens, or worse. And there he met his students Alice Walker, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Marian Wright Edelman, and others, and soon was a part of a nascent and then exploding civil rights struggle in which he played a very important role. As aresult of that activism, Spelman fired him.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:49 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 45

that is so sadly ironic that he would be fired by a black college for being too outspoken about equal rights

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Zinn was trained as an academic, but all his speeches are impassioned and easily accessible; there is nothing pedantic about them. What in him propelled him to speak with what Naomi Klein calls “moral clarity?”

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:51 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 44

Howard had a ken appreciation of class politics, in particular how legal claims of “universality” mask class inequality. There is one law against sleeping in a park, for example, and on paper that applies equally to a rich person and a poor one. But that law means something very specific in a society that generates whole surplus populations of people without jobs, without health care, without housing. With that lens, Howard pointed out over and over legislatures passed laws that reflected the narrow class interests of the narrow political and economic elites that have dominated our society from its inception.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 2:54 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 48

Is this why he also had somewhat of a jaundiced view toward the application of the First Amendment, in so much that is applied in different ways depending upon class. Take for example what happened to the Occupy Movement. If those were bankers protesting, would the same police tactics have been used?

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Can you speak a bit about Zinn’s feeling that even World War II wasn’t a just war, that there’s no such thing as a just war?

He said “War corrupts everyone who engages in it.”

A quote from one of the speeches in the book, which really struck me:
“I did not think about that until I read later about the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I visited Royan (a village he’d bombed on the coast of France) twenty years after the war, did some research, and realized that people had died because someone wanted more medals, and someone on high wanted to test what napalm would do to human flesh.”

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:55 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 47

Howard came to academia as on outsider, a working class activist with years of experience organizing in the shipyards of Brooklyn, raising a family, studying in reading groups with political organizers. So he had a keen sense of the limits of academic language. he saw how it cut people off from other people, especially working class people, how it professionalized people and blinded them to profound moral issues. So Howard always pushed against those institutional limits and those barriers of language and culture. He knew how to connect with audiences in a way the vast majority of academics, by occupational training, cannot.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 2:58 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 49

I think that Howard was keenly aware of how the First Amendment was honored more in the breach than in protecting speech,especially dissident speech. The history of the United States is one of repeated violations of the right to protest, especially in times of war. Bit Howard also understood that the fight for greater freedoms to speak, protest, dissent, assemble, organize are vital. So he was not cynical in the sense of dismissing the importance of such rights.

hpschd December 23rd, 2012 at 2:59 pm

The Toronto library system doesn’t have the book yet, I’ve put in a request for it.

I’ve been going to YouTube for Zinn’s speeches. Are any of the speeches from the book on YouTube?
(I’m having trouble reading lately and I’m hoping for an audiobook version).

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 3:00 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 52

In terms of the war in Iraq, what did Zinn have to say about confronting government lies?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 50

The last speech of Howard Zinn Speaks is called “Three Holy Wars.” I think Howard saw it as a culmination of much of his life’s work. In it he really calls into question what war inevitably means in the modern world, where the technology of war guarantees that war will be devastating to civilians. In the essay he also struggles with how noble can come into conflict with the means used to achieve them.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:04 pm
In response to hpschd @ 53

Thanks for requesting this from your library. I greatly appreciate that. The audio and video of many of the speeches are available in a forthcoming enhanced ebook version that is coming from Haymarket Books (www.haymarketbooks.org). Some of the audio is also available from the wonderful program of David Barsamian’s called Alternative Radio (www.alternativeradio.org). David was a longtime friend of Howard’s and has a wonderful archive of his work and recordings of other wonderful speakers.

hpschd December 23rd, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I was in Boston ’68 to ’73 and heard Zinn on a couple of occasions. I recall that he was often at odds with the Administration at BU. How did he manage to stay there so long?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 54

Howard was fond of quoting I.F. Stone’s dictum “governments lie.” Stone’s basic point to his audiences, frequently journalism students, is that this truism is vital to being a responsible journalist and to being an activist. If you realize how often governments have lied in history, you are going to have a greater ability to think critically each time a new president or general or secretary of state tells us we must bomb some country or topple some government.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 52

In Madison, in 1991, he delivered a talk on the legacy of Columbus. Was that basically as detailed in a “People’s History” the legacy of colonialism?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to hpschd @ 57

BU president John Silber tried to fire Howard many times. But ultimately he failed for two reasons. The first was Howard’s toughness. He just ever backed down. But equally important is that Howard has the support of thousands of students who were inspired by his classes and colleagues at the university who rallied to his defense.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 59

Howard saw the legacy of Columbus being one of colonialism and of genocide. But he also was encouraged by the changes in the culture that were happening in the late 1980s and early 1990s by educators, Native Americans, activists, and others to bring to light the true story of Columbus’s conquest.

hpschd December 23rd, 2012 at 3:11 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 56

Thanks, I’ll check into those.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 3:13 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 60

How important a role did the Vietnam protest era play in Zinn’s life?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:16 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 63

I think the experience of Vietnam was decisive for Howard. He moved to Boston in 1963, after his firing from Spelman, and threw himself into the antiwar movement. It was in the movement that he forged some of his most important relationships, including ones with Marilyn Young and Noam Chomsky. And it is where I think he found a national audience for his ideas, particularly with the breakthrough success of Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal, which I think played a decisive role in galvanizing the idea that the United States had not right to be in Vietnam and that the only solution was to end the war entirely.

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 3:17 pm
In response to hpschd @ 53

Oh, great idea. Austin Public Library doesn’t have it either. I also put in a request for it. Thanks for the idea.

eCAHNomics December 23rd, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Late to the party, so haven’t read all the comments.

The most cogent criticism of Zinn was wrt his argument that all
FDR did was the bare minimum FDR needed to do with the goal of preserving capitalism for his class, rather than real structural change in favor of the 99ers.

The ease with which the 1%ers have destroyed New Deal lends credence to that way of looking at FDR.

Others argue that FDR’s changes were more fundamental.

Comments? Counterarguments?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 65

Thanks for requesting it. Haymarket has published both a hardcover edition, with a dust jacket, and a paperback edition. So libraries may want to order the cloth edition.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 64

In the collection is a speech Howard gave on February 2, 2009 in DC. It’s entitled “Standing Up for Justice in the age of Obama.” What were Zinn’s feeling as a progressive about Obama’s many political disappointments to those who elected him?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 66

Welcome to the party. Howard understood well the limits of FDR but also understood that what positive reforms did occur under FDR came about as a result of the organizing of radicals such as Genora Johnson Dollinger and Rose Chernin, to name two of the voices we include from this era in our film The People Speak (and in our Voices book).

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:23 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 68

I don’t think Howard was surprised that Obama let down or betrayed so many of the people who elected him. He was very clear on the limits of Obama’s politics, as he makes clear in the speeches at the end of the book, and equally clear about the limits of the institution of the presidency. He was relieved to see an end to the Bush era and to see an African American elected president in a country based on slavery and racism. But he knew that we could not for one minute rely on Obama to deliver change from above.

hpschd December 23rd, 2012 at 3:23 pm

“Organize, Organize, Organize” said Howard

We are trying to!

In a sense, it was easier to organize in Boston during the VietNam war. We got together, in public and private. That was first-hand, personal and contagious. And intense. And we had Howard Zinn!!

Blogs are great (especially FDL) but we are all spread out all over everywhere.

Occupy was an inspiration (even in Toronto), but very little is left of it here.

We march for Quebec ‘casseroles‘ and ‘Clean Trains‘ but it is difficult to sustain.

On a very positive note: Naomi Klein lives in our neighborhood!

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 3:26 pm

It seems to me that Zinn’s main messages from the speeches in Howard Zinn Speaks are for no war, for justice and that the government is not working in the interests of the ordinary people. Are there other main messages either in the book or from what you know of his life and work?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:26 pm
In response to hpschd @ 71

Howard and I came to the Toronto Film Festival and had a wonderful mean with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis at a great restaurant. I have very fond memories of our visit. Naomi and Avi ate two of the many people continuing Howard’s legacy…. And very movement starts out small and confronts numerous obstacles. I am not sure it’s ever been easy to organize. But it’s absolutely necessary.

eCAHNomics December 23rd, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 69

As a pink diaper baby (now 60+) said to me years ago, there is no Left left. Certainly true in the U.S. And even in Europe, where the 99ers got used to their benefits and richly mixed economy, but are now more heavily under attack than in the U.S., western Europeans have taken to the streets in large numbers.

While the U.S. 99ers wait for what?

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 3:27 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 70

If one can speculate, what would Zinn make of the Tea Party?

hpschd December 23rd, 2012 at 3:28 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 73

What restaurant?

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 3:28 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 64

I was a student at BU in the 1960-61 and 1961-62 school years and then transferred to New York University. Too bad I missed him. I bet my eyes wouldn’t have been slamming shut every time I opened a history book if he was my professor!

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:29 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 72

I think there are many messages Howard conveys in the speeches gathered together in Howard Zinn Speaks. To add just a few more to your list — by no means exhaustive: the working class still very much matters and can play a key role in social change and that history matters — how you see the past affects how you understand the present and te possibility of a future that would be different.

eCAHNomics December 23rd, 2012 at 3:29 pm
In response to hpschd @ 71

Lefty blogs, I have come to think, were set up by PTB to divide lefties into ineffective microcosms.

JMO from observing it closely for past decade.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to hpschd @ 76

Wish I could remember. Chinese or perhaps pan-Asian….

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:31 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 77

History was my most hated subject in school until I encountered Howard’s work.

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 3:33 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 81

Ditto, until A People’s History.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 3:33 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 78

Can you discuss a bit more on how Howard saw civil disobedience as an effective tool of change in the US? Was his model the Civil Rights Movement?

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Can you speak about Zinn’s views and awareness of the government’s suppression of oppostion to war?

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:38 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 83

Howard drew on many sources of inspiration for understanding civil disobedience. Certainly the civil rights movement was crucial. His book SNCC; The New Abolitionists is a brilliant exploration of these themes. (Haymarket Book will be reissuing the book in 2013, along with Marx in Soho, and seven other books by Howard.) He also found new forms of inspiration from the draft resistance and other forms of civil disobedience from the Vietnam era antiwar movement. But in history he found other examples to draw on, including the sit down strikes in Flint, Michigan, and other examples of workers withholding their labor power to demand change.

hpschd December 23rd, 2012 at 3:40 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 79

I am sad to agree.

But I don’t think it’s necessary for the PTB to set them up. It’s something we do for ourselves. Preaching to the choir.

The marchers at the 2010 G20 in Toronto were in many small and uncoordinated groups.

A local effort to coordinate and act as a resource for all groups was raided by the police and many were arrested. It was in a residential area and it was just a meeting place with coffee and tea and and tables and chairs.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:43 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 84

Howard speaks about this issue extensively in his speech “Second Thoughts on the First Amendment” in the book. Here is a short selection:

“They passed the Espionage Act in World War I. The Espionage Act—another lesson, don’t think you can tell a law from its title. Espionage Act, you think, “Oh, good, we don’t want espionage. Who wants espionage?” It turns out the Espionage Act does have some things on espionage. It also has other things, like “You can’t say this. You can’t write this. You can’t print this. You can’t publish this. You can’t utter this.” They love the word “utter.” I guess if you say it but don’t utter it it’s okay. The act said you can’t say or publish things that will discourage recruitment in the armed forces of the United States. They passed this in 1917. The United States had just gone to war, joined that noble crusade World War I, where ten million men died in the battlefields and at the end of it nobody knew why the war was fought. Not an atypical situation for wars. At the end of it people look around at the debris and say, “Hey, what happened here?” The Espionage Act is passed. You can’t say things that would discourage recruitment or enlistment into the armed forces of the United States. In other words, you can’t speak against the war. That’s what it meant. Do not criticize the war.”

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 3:45 pm

removed

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 3:48 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 87

Isn’t one of the great ironies that the US broke free of Britain, as a colony, to become independent, but by the end of WW II had replaced it as the leading empire in the world through economic colonization backed by military force? How did he believe that one could resist such a powerful force?

hpschd December 23rd, 2012 at 3:49 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 87

I think I can hear Howard saying that.

He had a wonderful voice and a distinctive speaking style. And wry sense of humor (with an irresistible grin).

A very special and a very great man.

Thanks for the book.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:49 pm
In response to Mark Karlin @ 88

This is certainly one of the great ironies of US history. Though the US is not alone in throwing of one form of oppression only to impose the same or a similar form of oppression.

Howard believed in the poet Percy Shelley’s line from the poem “The Mask of Anarchy”: “ye are many, they are few.” The powerful have of course immense resources at their disposal. But they rely on our consent, or obedience, or cooperation. And in the end, they live in a world where their power can be stripped through collective action — action which is actually in the interests of the vast majority of the people and is necessary to our survival and the survival of other species on this dying planet.

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to hpschd @ 90

Thank you for reading it and sharing it with others.

nonquixote December 23rd, 2012 at 3:52 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 79

They’ve been enormously instructive to me as I always thought I knew so much (a personal problem ;) ), but I tend to agree with your opinion. Rural area, I’ve had adequate and affordable internet for only about three years.

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 3:52 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 91

action which is actually in the interests of the vast majority of the people and is necessary to our survival and the survival of other species on this dying planet.

Amen!

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 3:53 pm

We’re running out of time alas, but I want to ask one question Anthony which is a constant question mark in my head, although we have seen some progress in this area in the Wisconsin uprising and other recent events. Howard was from the working class, but the working class is split: particularly between unions and non-union hourly works with just a college education. How do those two groups join with the young, the old, the middle class, minorities (soon to be a majority) to create an irresistible force?

hpschd December 23rd, 2012 at 3:54 pm
In response to Anthony Arnove @ 91

This is certainly one of the great ironies of US history. Though the US is not alone in throwing of one form of oppression only to impose the same or a similar form of oppression.

It is a bizarre and incomprehensible phenomena. And it is profoundly disturbing that the US directly supports so much of it everywhere it can.

BevW December 23rd, 2012 at 3:54 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon discussion,

Anthony, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book, and the life and works of Howard Zinn.

Mark, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Anthony’s website and book (Howard Zinn Speaks)

Mark’s website (Buzzflash/Truthout)

Thanks all, Have a great week. There will not be any Book Salons next weekend. Wishing you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

FDL Book Salon has a Facebook page too

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 3:55 pm
In response to nonquixote @ 93

Thank you, nonq, eCAHN and hpschd. I’ve been feeling very frustrated by the same thing. Thanks for bringing it up eCAHN.

eCAHNomics December 23rd, 2012 at 3:56 pm
In response to nonquixote @ 93

Wayne Madsen called leftie bloggers the “laziest generation.”

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Thank you for the opportunity to chat with you all about Howard Zinn Speaks. Thanks again, Bev and Mark.

eCAHNomics December 23rd, 2012 at 3:57 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 98

Frequenting whole diff set of blogs these days.

Mark Karlin December 23rd, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Thank you Bev for pulling this together as always!
Mark Karlin
Truthout/BuzzFlash

Anthony Arnove December 23rd, 2012 at 3:58 pm

¡Howard Zinn presente!

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Again, Anthony, thank you so much for this book. It’s an incredible resource.

And thank you, Mark, for hosting.

greenwarrior December 23rd, 2012 at 3:58 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 101

Have you gone over to the knitting channel? /s

eCAHNomics December 23rd, 2012 at 3:59 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 105

The opposite direction.

hpschd December 23rd, 2012 at 4:03 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 101

Which ones?

eCAHNomics December 23rd, 2012 at 4:04 pm
In response to hpschd @ 107

My reputation is already mud on FDL. Not gonna tell.

hpschd December 23rd, 2012 at 4:07 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 108

eCAHN

I have always been interested in what you have to say.

FDL is not a mutual admiration society.

Keep coming back here, please.

eCAHNomics December 23rd, 2012 at 4:09 pm
In response to hpschd @ 107

I;ll give you one link. I was unwitting dupe of eugenics data collection 50 years ago & didn’t find out about it until 2-3 weeks ago.

nonquixote December 23rd, 2012 at 4:17 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 108

Hardly, but I did comment to ddayen that he spoiled us rotten (with giving so damned much of himself and his talents).

nonquixote December 23rd, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Thanks to all involved, today.

Peace, Joy, good health and Resolve.

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