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I have Zinned

By Michael J. Smith on Wednesday February 27, 2008 11:13 PM

I'm not usually a huge fan of Howard Zinn -- this subject has arisen here before -- but a kind reader just sent this along:


Today, we can be sure that the Democratic Party, unless it faces a popular upsurge, will not move off center. The two leading Presidential candidates have made it clear that if elected, they will not bring an immediate end to the Iraq War, or institute a system of free health care for all....

None of this should surprise us. The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties....

So we need to free ourselves from the election madness engulfing the entire society, including the left.

Well, day-umm, I thought, that's pretty strong stuff, and right on target. So I went and read the whole thing. Bit of a mistake:
...I’m not taking some ultra-left position that elections are totally insignificant, and that we should refuse to vote to preserve our moral purity. Yes, there are candidates who are somewhat better than others, and at certain times of national crisis (the Thirties, for instance, or right now) where even a slight difference between the two parties may be a matter of life and death.

I’m talking about a sense of proportion that gets lost in the election madness. Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes—the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.

Sigh. How long, O Lord, how long?

Comments (4)


what is it
between u
and the sugar sweet
doc zinnfindel ??

busy co eds
deserve a lefticle guru


That's disappointing. I'm reading his People's History of the U.S. now, and in it he frequently dismisses elections as manipulative tools that are ineffective mechanisms for real change.

Apart from being disheartening vis-a-vis the character of the left, I think MJS's post illustrates a central problem: The forces of reaction are winning, in no small part, because we on the left waste all our time and energy attacking each other. (Or maybe we attack each other in an attempt to avoid honestly facing real problems...) ...a shameful decision when you consider people really are 'dying out there'.

A constructive alternative...? I propose mutual support.

"The world is changed not by the self-regarding, but by men and women prepared to makes fools out of themselves."


Thus Peter Ward, above:

maybe we attack each other in an attempt to avoid honestly facing real problems....
The Democratic Party isn't a "real problem"?

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