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Empire or Humanity?


Empire or Humanity?

Howard Zinn

[Note from TomDispatch editor Tom Engelhardt: Here’s how I described Howard Zinn in 2005 when I met him for a TomDispatch interview:


"The American Empire has always been a bipartisan project -- Democrats and Republicans have taken turns extending it, extolling it, justifying it."

The two parties vociferously debate socioeconomic issues in the Homeland at the top of their lungs to detract from this truth. When that fails it's Kardashian time. We live in interesting times as the saying goes.

Zinn was a national--no, even more so--a world treasure.


As the much-decorated General Smedley Butler, who participated in many of those interventions, wrote later: "I was an errand boy for Wall Street."

If one takes a critical look at the never-ending military interventions and interference across the globe, there is only one conclusion that makes any sense when seeking the truth of the matter. That conclusion is that there is grotesque amounts of money to be made from non-stop military interventions and war.

Furthermore, the profiteers aren't limited to Wall Street. Believing that the designers of this immoral and hideous profiteering are limited to the U.S. is an illusion. The patriarchs of capital who profit from this continuous upheaval, destruction, death and Empire expansion are global.

-- Capitalism and democracy are not compatible.


We really need a careful examination to the question of why in the USA, even the farthest left of the possible -Bernie Sanders and before him even Michael Harrington and the DSA, embrace, or at least quietly support, US imperialism - even though anti-imperialism is fully half - a vital half - of what being a leftist is all about!

The Jeremy Corbyn led British left has trouble renouncing war and imperialism. When will we do the same over here?


War, what is it good for? It is good for maintaining the hegemony, hubris and profits of the Amerikan Empire, the #1 terror empire in the world.


Zinn attributes our occupation of Vietnam to a quest for its tin, rubber and oil. During that occupation, I heard George Wall, Nobel laureate visual physiologist, say at the University of Michigan that the pot of gold in Vietnam was not their natural resources, but rather, the United State's military budget.


These issues always seem to hinge on political mileage. The endemic problem with politics seems to be that it is hard to get mileage without being a conservative... the political class does not undermine itself any more than turkeys vote for Xmas.

However, we are living through times when both the far left and the far right are upsetting a few things.


Could it have been both?


Zinn's " A People's History of the U S" is a must-read for everyone. I am absolutely positive that not one of the Repugnicants in the Kandiate Klown Kar has read this book...why read something that undermines their entire distorted agenda and version of history. It is not light reading but the content is memorable and the history captivating. So many great minds like Zinn's have produced a wealth of truth and information that is invaluable yet they remain labeled as reactionary rebels. Since when is seeking the TRUTH reactionary?

Even with the last two terms of a self-avowed progressive president whose actions belie his words, not much has changed for the good. Indeed, with TPP passage impending, drones, military incursions with intent to monopolize natural resources including water, and continuous saber-rattling all to keep the coffers of the MIDC full and the corporatists fat and happy...the record shows that the changes have netted negative, destructive, devastating results.


Do you notice that the US right - Going back to Goldwater - never plays this game? They always say exactly what they mean - using every brilliant rhetorical trick in the book - convincing the US worker to work totally against their class-interests as they kiss their fucking capitalist bosses asses! Consequently, the right wing has and have won-won-won fabulously.

If the left in the political sphere took a solid, democratic-socialist stand, and backed it by fiery class-war-charge rhetoric - exhorting the working class to take power back and tell their fucking billionaire bosses to go to hell! They would win - maybe not immediately - but soon enough.

How do you think Jeremy Corbyn - who is a real leftist unlike Sanders, has won the adoration of his party and now has people signing up and paying dues for membership in his party by the thousands every day. (In the rest of the world outside the US political parties are real organizations that ordinary people join, pay dues, go to meetings and social events, etc.)


Empire won at all levels. Right here and now, even liberals scorn the notion of "humanity," as we can see in the public discussion and in our policies. The US has remained engaged in wars more often than not, usually by choice, for the past century, and are now widely regarded is the greatest potential threat to all life. Meanwhile, we have spent decades earning the anger/rage of nations around the world. Should these nations decide that the survival of all humankind requires putting an end to the US, all the American arrogance in the country won't be able to save us.

If you wonder how much Americans value humanity, learn how we actually treat our very poor, and many of the unemployable, today. It's disturbing, to say the least.


In the US, the left haven't had the public microphone in decades. A legitimate left would be focused on socioeconomic issues, but not to the exclusion of the poor, as today's liberals do. The left "get" the fact that our very poor are the proverbial canaries in the capitalist coalmine. Today's liberals have merely maintained a pep rally for the middle class. They think everyone is able to work, there are jobs for all, therefore no need for poverty relief. (That, or they regard our jobless poor as mere "surplus population" that should be disposed of.) Our own sense of humanity is seen in the fact that we deny the jobless, and many of the unemployable, the most basic human rights of food and shelter. Empire instead of humanity, profits instead of people.

It's popular to "stand in solidarity" with workers -- until they lose their jobs. The US shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s. We know that not everyone can work (health, etc.) and that there aren't jobs for all, and we utterly turn our backs on them. This defines us.The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 people who are desperately trying to find one, and this doesn't even include all those who were already permanently pushed out. What do you think happens to them? The rent comes due. Once you no longer have a home address, phone, bus fare -- you're just out.


I guess if he were alive today, Prof Zinn would be accused of supporting Hillary (and in another 8 months, Trump or other republican.


I think what Jeremy Corbyn has demonstrated is the big disconnect between the political class and the ordinary people - which is big in the UK too. The Labour party laughed at him, then ridiculed him, then fought him, and only grudgingly accepted that he had won. Too many old Labour conservatives from Tony Blair's era saw him as a threat to their safe positions. He only stood as a reminder of what the left is and did not initially think he had any chance. It was really new blood into the Labour party that got him elected. To some extent he has undone some of the copious hypocrisy that Blair represented. Whether he can keep the party on his rails or whether the old timers will operate a cloak-and-dagger trick remains to be seen. What he has at least shown already is that one way to get on in politics is to listen to the people's demands rather than bullshit them with spin. I could almost have faith in the process if there were more people with such integrity in politics...