37 Great Howard Zinn Quotes

37 Great Howard Zinn Quotes

by / Comments Off / 173 View / Nov 21, 2014

Howard Zinn was an author, play write, and historian from New York City. He taught political science at Boston University for 24 years, during this time he wrote more than 20 books. One of his most famous works was his best selling book A People’s History of the United States. He died at the age of 87 in 2010.

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

“Any humane and reasonable person must conclude that if the ends, however desireable, are uncertain and the means are horrible and certain, these means must not be employed.”

“Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place.”

“But by this time I was acutely conscious of the gap between law and justice. I knew that the letter of the law was not as important as who held the power in any real-life situation.”

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

“Each situation has to be evaluated separately, for all are different. In general, I believe in non-violent direct action, which involve organizing large numbers of people, whereas too often violent uprisings are the product of a small group. If enough people are organized, violence can be minimized in bringing about social change.”

“Education becomes most rich and alive when it confronts the reality of moral conflict in the world.”

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

“History can come in handy. If you were born yesterday, with no knowledge of the past, you might easily accept whatever the government tells you. But knowing a bit of history–while it would not absolutely prove the government was lying in a given instance–might make you skeptical, lead you to ask questions, make it more likely that you would find out the truth.”

“History is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper. Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place.”

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

“I am not an absolute pacifist, because I can’t rule out the possibility that under some, carefully defined circumstances, some degree of violence may be justified, if it is focused directly at a great evil.”

“I am supposing, or perhaps only hoping, that our future may be found in the past’s fugitive moments of compassion rather than in its solid centuries of warfare.”

“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.”

“I’m worried that students will take their obedient place in society and look to become successful cogs in the wheel – let the wheel spin them around as it wants without taking a look at what they’re doing. I’m concerned that students not become passive acceptors of the official doctrine that’s handed down to them from the White House, the media, textbooks, teachers and preachers.”

“It is possible, reading standard histories, to forget half the population of the country. The explorers were men, the landholders and merchants men, the political leaders men, the military figures men. The very invisibility of women, the overlooking of women, is a sign of their submerged status.”

“Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.”

“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.”

“Scholars, who pride themselves on speaking their minds, often engage in a form of self-censorship which is called “realism.” To be “realistic” in dealing with a problem is to work only among the alternatives which the most powerful in society put forth.”

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

“Terrorism has replaced Communism as the rationale for the militarization of the country [America], for military adventures abroad, and for the suppression of civil liberties at home. It serves the same purpose, serving to create hysteria.”

“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.”

“The memory of oppressed people is one thing that cannot be taken away, and for such people, with such memories, revolt is always an inch below the surface.”

“The pretense in disputed elections is that the great conflict is between the two major parties. The reality is that there is a much bigger conflict that the two parties jointly wage against large numbers of Americans who are represented by neither party and against powerless millions around the world.”

“The white population could not possibly be unaffected by those events — some whites more stubborn in their defense of segregation, but others beginning to think in different ways.”

“There is civil disobedience against the military machine, protest against police brutality directed especially at people of color.”

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people for a purpose which is unattainable.”

“Very important thing to keep in mind, that when justice comes and when injustices are remedied, they’re not remedied by the initiative of the national government or the politicians. They only respond to the power of social movements.”

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

“War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.”

“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. War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.”

“What is called “apathy” is, I believe, a feeling of helplessness on the part of the ordinary citizen, a feeling of impotence in the face of enormous power. It’s not that people are apathetic; they do care about what is going on, but don’t know what to do about it, so they do nothing, and appear to be indifferent.”

“What most of us must be involved in–whether we teach or write, make films, write films, direct films, play music, act, whatever we do–has to not only make people feel good and inspired and at one with other people around them, but also has to educate a new generation to do this very modest thing: change the world.”