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Howard Zinn’s July 4 Wisdom Stands the Test of Time


Howard Zinn’s July 4 Wisdom Stands the Test of Time

Howard Zinn

Editor’s note from The Progressive: The late historian and Progressive columnist Howard Zinn shared these words with us back in 2006. Eleven years later, for July 4, 2017, his message is still just as compelling A World War II bombardier, Zinn was the author of the best-selling book A People’s History of the United States.


Howard had a Kindred Spirit :

"Imagine there’s No Countries,

It isn’t hard to do,

Nothing to kill, or die, for.

And No Religion Too."


I’ve been sitting here digesting the news about the NK missile success within the context of it being the Fourth of July. An EXTREMELY worrisome realization dawned on me.

Combine the following to paint a picture of a “perfect storm”:

  1. The propensity of Americans to get all enthusiastic and starry-eye over attacking other nations. Americans, including the media, find it SOOO much more fun than streaming a war movie rerun on NetFlix.

  2. Lyin’ Donnie setting the stage for attacking NK under the guise of blaming China for it.

  3. The mindless nationalism brought about by the Fourth of July. In this case, keep in mind July 4, 2018. Nicely timed for the midterm elections.

What more of a “perfect storm” is there for Lyin’ Donnie to exploit? And the IMPORTANT thing is, the MAIN concern is NOT about the US getting entangled in NK. That’s bad enough, but not actually the worst problem.

The MAIN concern is it’s the perfect “shock doctrine”. Lyin’ Donnie, the cronies in his failing administration, and the craven GOP in congress, will exploit it as an excuse for reelecting the GOP to congress, and the GOP carrying through massive legislative changes under the cover of “American Patriotism”. Using “you’re either with us or a traitor” messaging to freely pursue their wish list of destruction to our country.

What’s needed is a progressive preemptive messaging strike to cripple this agenda before they have a chance to spring it. Given the mindless patriotic stupidity that occurs around this stuff, it’s difficult to stand against it out-right. However, setting an environment ahead of time which pits two sides of the GOP agenda against each other is one approach. This can even attract some conservative support.

For example, “No more unfunded wars, AGAIN!” “No free war for the wealthy, AGAIN.” “Fund education, not wars.” “Fund roads, not wars.” Basically pit the war against everything else. In particular paint the wealthy as unpatriotic freeloaders for getting tax cuts.


Family law in every state I know of requires that in suits involving children, the best interests of the children takes precedence over the best interests of their parents, or anyone else involved in the suit. We should adopt that principle generally. We should be proud of our nation if we sincerely believe the best interests of our children are being protected, and we should act with regard to other nations bearing in mind that the best interests of the children must be honored. To my knowledge, no one has made this argument before. I can applaud Donald Trump for showing deep concern about the children in Syria who were gassed, but not for ignoring the effects of U.S. actions on the children of ISIS members, or of U.S. inaction in saving the starving children in Africa.


The lawsuit brought by the children of the Northwest U.S., regarding the damaging effects of climate change upon their collective future, is still working its way through the federal court system. Let’s hope it gets a fair and impartial hearing. The suit is very much the people’s day in court. This climate change issue will cause the future wars, and has caused some of the wars of the MENA, already. The U.S. has never signed an official treaty with N. Korea, so they’re really an exception.
As a son of a WWII highly decorated veteran, I certainly know what war does to family and friends, of the people who are actually tasked with fighting in one. The people who benefit most economically from war, never fight in them. They get someone else to do that. Corporations are not people who die in war but they are its biggest benefactors.
Trump is no friend of peace anywhere but he’s ceded his executive power to the Pentagon, for all practical purposes. Which may, or may not, be a good thing. As the world well knows, some of those lying bastarxs are capable of almost any thing.


Howard Zinn is the perfect antidote for all the nationalist hysteria on the 4th. His insights are honest and stunning to actually remove the ideological tripe and tell the real truth. My views have been reshaped after reading his excellent book. It should be taught in all the schools. Maybe then we could have peace that lasts and end the insanity of the Pentagon’s policies of endless wars. Most all my life the 4ths had a goodly dose of war along with the festivities and fireworks. Peace everyone and have a 4th as best you can!


At some point in the future, say the Star Trek era, humans, if any of us survive to that time, will shake their heads in disbelief and consider nationalism, capitalism and protestant evangelicalism as 3 of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, the 4th being their offspring, mindless, elective warfare.


By killing more children?

As Seymour Hersh has shown, the evidence supports the conclusion that Assad did NOT gas children and people in the administration told Trump that. But unfortunately he was ready to be used by the forces who want to escalate the war into regime change and by the media’s constant egging him on.

There is nothing to applaud here.


Respectfully, Trump did apparently react to the photographs of Syrian children. If that was deception on his part, it remains true that many others were genuinely disturbed by what happened to the Syrian children. I certainly won’t accept, without further truth (which you hint Seymour Hersh has), Trump’s conclusion as to who did the gassing, and I don’t believe he helped matters by his unauthorized bombing in Syria. This doesn’t negate my point about making the best interests of children everywhere a fundamental ground for foreign policy.


Agree with Olhippy. The People’s History should be the required history text taught at all levels in this country.


Manning, I agree with you about the universal and critical need for us to think of all the planet’s children. Good point.

I vehemently disagree with your saying Drumpf showed deep concern about the children war victims in Syria. Nothing but manipulative bullsht comes out of that maniac’s mouth. Please don’t be kind, generous, or naive about a monster who can’t even be called a snake without insulting snakes. News stories that showed the dead and dying babies in Syria were also showing the dead and dying children in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, and YEMEN. Did that orange piece of sht decry their tragedies?

To paraphrase that cynical joke: how can you tell when Drumpf is lying? When his lips are moving…


Hip, have you seen the DVD The People Speak (based on Zinn’s writings)? Have Kleenex nearby.

Your views have been reshaped???


ToniWintroub, Trump is mentally a child. I doubt he even knows about dying children in Gaza, Iraq, etc. He really did show deep concern about the Syrian children, but it could have been an act. In any event, you’re totally correct to call him out for ignoring the other children. And I do appreciate your agreement about my basic point. Perhaps I shouldn’t try to give Trump credit for even pretending to be sympathetic to the plight of children in Syria, but millions of Americans supported his claim that the reports moved him and I would like for those millions to consider what I’m saying.


Fascist mass murderer rump does Nothing for Peace; and Must be removed; impeach and imprison!


Manning, I can understand your wanting to err on the benevolent side of the spectrum, but I can’t do it any longer. I’ve been in politics and activism too long and have long lost any idealistic or quixotic tendencies …or hope, for that matter. I’m cynical and very, very worried. I never truly wanted to believe in Evil even though there’ve been plenty of examples to prove its existence. Somehow, the last ten years or so have convinced me that Evil really does exist, and the extant fascism here, now conquering democracy…gleefully and deliberately…and well… I just don’t have your kind heart anymore…:cry:

If you can catch the last segment of today’s episode of Democracy Now!, I highly recommend it. Henry Wallace’s grandson…


Howard Zinn was my father’s compatriot and co-worker at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1947. Howard and my father were sheetmetal workers in Local 28. My father led a group with Zinn, Milt Rosenstein, and Maxie Gimpel who forced the Navy Yard to accept the first Black apprentces into the skilled construction trades in New York. This was due to pressure put on then President Harry Truman by the CIO, and in particular by the communist led UAW and the UE at General Electric. Truman, an ex-Kluxer, had to issue an executive order banning discrimination in federal facilities. My dad, Herb Wechsler, used that as a tool to organize this group of sheetmetal workers to force the Navy Yard’s and Local 28’s hand. Zinn wrote a letter to my dad for his 80th birthaday in 2000 calling my father the “consummate organizer” Zinn passed in 2010 and my father in 2013. They both were giants who were the products of the class struggle of the Great Depression and were greatly influenced by communist ideas like anti-racism and international class solidarity, though neither joined the old Communist Party. My dad’s sister was a leading communist in New York state until her death in the late seventies. I borrowed on some of their ideas, not reformism though, and joined the revolutionary communist Progressive Labor Party in 1969. I am still active today, despite poor health in my elder years.
Socialism today is damaged goods, as history has shown, through the ultimate failures of socialism in Russia and China that its maintenance of the capitalist wage system was divisive and corrupting of the Communist Party leadership in both countries. We desperately need to build an egalitarian world where privilege is abolished.That means egalitarian communism must be the end game of the progressive working class movement, not any form of socialism. See www.plp.org. That does not mean that we do not participate in the mass movement, we must many times lead and organize within these movements. But the kicker is that we must always bring to our base the primacy of fighting for revolutionary egalitarian communism and recruiting workers, students, and soldiers into our international party. Anti-racism, anti-sexism, and international solidarity are the core principles of building sharpened class struggles as an integral part of communist practice and ideology.


I guess that I was deprived somehow as a child because I never was told that America was better or worse than other nations or cultures. Additionally I discovered on my own that saints come in all colors and that so do ass hats as well.
A far as nationalism is concerned I can’t get too worked up about it since we have only had a problem with it for a couple of thousand years. Not so very long when you realize that Homo Sapiens have been about for 200,000. Our population has become a bit too much and we have reached a very trying period in our racial history.
These things have a way of working out, or not.


The earth’s people have always been interconnected. A global elite would like to rule them unchallenged. What we need is a multipolar world, not a world run by a global elite.


i don’t know if “progressive” is the correct word to describe howard zinn. most who self-identify as progressives adhere to the democratic party. zinn denounces nationalism, devotion to a flag and all that which creates false and political boundaries among our species. well, anyway i’m not sure what defines a progressive . . .


Great ideas!