Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Power to Change

Part 1: New World Notes #546, 28:01 (August 21)
Broadcast quality MP3 (38 MB)
Decent quality MP3 (13 MB)

Part 2: New World Notes #547, 28:06 (August 28)
Broadcast quality MP3 (39 MB)
Decent quality MP3 (13 MB)

Part 3: New World Notes #548, (September 4)
Broadcast quality MP3
Decent quality MP3

Howard Zinn

A very good talk by Progressive historian Howard Zinn (d. 2010)--delivered three days after the 2008 presidential election. It deals with key themes in Zinn's writing (and social activism): social justice, war, economic power, the anti-democratic behavior of governments (including ours), propaganda, and the power of the people to organize and compel justice.

Part 1 focuses on the inadequacy of politicians' programs (notably President-elect Obama's) to bring about social justice--especially when those programs are compared with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Two major impediments to social justice in the U.S. are entrenched economic interests and the government's staggering expenditures on war.

Part Two focuses on this country's extravagant military expenditures and "absurd" wars. Zinn explores the American "mindset" that supports wars and imperialism--for example, "American Exceptionalism"; denial of our imperialism; and false definitions of "national security," "terrorism," and "patriotism."

Zinn in earlier days

In Part Three, Zinn concludes his remarks on war by discussing how war corrupts everybody. He draws on both his study of history and his own combat eperiences in World War Two. (He was a bombardier in the Air Corps.) He then discusses the need to learn real history ... how "disobedience is essential to democracy" ... and how "the people" have the power to change their world by joining together in social movements. Selections from the Q&A finish out the program.

KD introduces Part Three with the story of the American bombing of the town of Royan, France, in the last days of World War Two--an important event in the development of Zinn's views on war. Zinn himself dropped some of the bombs that destroyed Royan.

Of note: In 2016, candidate Donald Trump said that having been imprisoned by enemy forces in war does not in itself make John McCain a "hero." Fot this, Trump was--and continues to be--loudly denounced from both left and right. (New World Notes happens to agree with Trump on this particular point.) In fact, Howard Zinn said the same thing of McCain in 2008 (in Part Two). For Zinn, the real heros of the Vietnam War are those who tried to stop it.

Zinn spoke on "The Power to Change" in Binghamton, NY, on November 8, 2008. Original 90-minute recording courtesy of Lyn Gerry and the Unwelcome Guests Collective ( I have shortened a few pauses and removed a few stumbles: Zinn's talk is otherwise uncut.

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