Progressive Calendar 01.30.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Sat, 30 Jan 2010 03:02:01 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   01.30.10

1. Peace walk       1.30 9am Cambridge MN
2. Janitors/justice 1.30 10:30am
3. CUAPB            1.30 1:30pm
4. Northtown vigil  1.30 2pm
5. Obama change?    1.30 4pm
6. Full mooning     1.30 7pm
7. Immigration      1.30 7pm
8. Haiti benefit    1.30 7pm

9. Stillwater vigil 1.31 1pm
10. Anti-war plan   1.31 3pm

11. Laura Flanders - The state of the corporate union
12. Dave Lindorff  - Obama's fog machine/ SOTU whoppers
13. Shamus Cooke   - Taxing the rich wins in Oregon
14. Susu Jeffrey   - Depleted uranium resolution for MN caucuses 2.02
15. Paul Street    - Howard Zinn: The people's historian
16. ed             - Glorp  (haiku)

--------1 of 16--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 1.30 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street

--------2 of 16--------

From: MN Socialist Alternative <mn [at]>
Subject: Janitors/justice 1.30 10:30am

Justice for Janitors!
SEIU Local 26 Strike Authorization Vote

Saturday, January 30th
10:30am - 12:00pm
United Labor Center, 312 Central Ave. SE, Minneapolis

Come support Twin Cities janitors (members of Service Employees
International Union Local 26) next Saturday, January 30 as they vote on
whether to authorize a strike over unfair labor practices if necessary.

The big Twin Cities cleaning companies have failed to meet a deadline to
discuss real solutions proposed by janitors on green cleaning and
affordable health insurance, have repeatedly rejected green cleaning
innovations that could save building owners millions, and continue to
demand drastic health care cuts and the elimination of full-time jobs for
Twin Cities janitors and their families. They are offering NO raises for
the next two years for janitors, and NO paid sick days. Come show your
support for their struggle for decent, living wage jobs!

--------3 of 16--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 1.30 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

--------4 of 16--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 1.30 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------5 of 16--------

From: MN Socialist Alternative <mn [at]>
Subject: Obama change? 1.30 4pm

More war, unemployment, budget cuts...
A Left Reply to the President's State of the Union Speech
SATURDAY, January 30th, 4:00pm
Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Ave,
Speaker: Ty Moore, editor of
On Facebook:

After a year of the Democrats in power, what has changed? Obama is
spending more money and committing more troops to war than Bush ever did.
More families have been foreclosed out of their homes while the bailed-out
bank executives receive record bonuses. Broad public support for
single-payer health care has been ignored while the profit-hungry medical
industry gets their way in Washington. Is this what the enthusiastic,
youthful movement behind Obama's election campaign thought they were
fighting for?

Following the President's State of the Union speech, progressive workers
and young people must independently come together to map out the way
forward over the next year. Join Socialist Alternative for a discussion on
how theleft can re-group and build a new movement from below to achieve
genuine change in this country.

Read more online: "One Year of Obama - What Has Changed?

*Sponsored by Socialist Alternative*
For more info or to get active, contact us at mn [at] 
612.760.1980 <>  | <>  | <>

--------6 of 16--------

From: Sue Ann <seasnun [at]>
Subject: Full mooning 1.30 7pm

Full Moon Walk at Coldwater Spring
Saturday, January 30, 2010, at 7 PM

Story Time Moon
This is the Deep Snow Moon, Cold Moon, the Dakota Moon of the Terrible, the
time for telling stories. Bring a 2-minute story to share.
Traditional group howl!

Directions: Coldwater is south of Minnehaha Park, in Minneapolis. From Hwy
55/Hiawatha, turn East (toward the Mississippi) at 54th Street, take an
immediate right, & drive South on the frontage road for -mile past the
parking meters, through the cul-de-sac and the gates, and past the
abandoned buildings. Follow the curvy road left and then right down to the
pond, next to the great willow tree.

Sunset 5:18 PM-Moonrise 6:19 PM
Free. Open to all. Info:

--------7 of 16--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Immigration 1.30 7pm

Conference: "No Human Being is Illegal: Mobilizing for Humane and
Just Immigration Reform"

 Saturday, January 30, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Holy trinity Lutheran Church,
2730 East 31st Street, Minneapolis.
 Sunday, January 31, 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. St. Luke Presbyterian Church,
3121 Groveland School Road, Minnetonka.

Explore the faith foundations of immigration reform.
Mobilize in support of humane and just immigration reform. Endorsed
by: the WAMM Immigration Committee. FFI on Saturday: Call
612-729-8358. FFI on Sunday: 952-437-7378.

From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at]>

No Human Being is Illegal Forum - Jan. 30/31
No Human Being is Illegal: Mobilizing for Humane and Just Immigration Reform

With Noted Liberation Theologian Dr.Miguel De La Torre, author of Trails
of Hope and Terror: Testimonies on Immigration and the Director of the
Peace and Justice Institute at Illiff Seminary in Colorado

Explore the faith foundations of immigration reform
Mobilize in support of humane and just immigration reform

Day 1 - January 30
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church 2730 East 31st St Minneapolis, MN 55406
Keynote: Dr. Miguel De La Torre

Day 2 - January 31
St. Luke Presbyterian Church 3121 Groveland School Road Minnetonka, MN
55391-2877 (952) 473-7378

9:15a-10:15a Adult forum on NAFTA/CATA and structural adjustments - Luis
Alvarenga 10:30a-11:30a Service Lunch 1:00p-2:30p Keynote: Dr. Miguel De
La Torre 2:45p-4:00p Resource Center of the Americas Latino Voices

Resource Center of the Americas; St. Luke Presbyterian Church
Interfaith Coalition on Immigration; Jewish Community Action
Macalester-Plymouth Peacemakers; Minnesota Da'wah Institute
Task Force on Immigration MN UCC Conference. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

--------8 of 16--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Haiti benefit 1.30 7pm

Poets and Performers - Benefit for Haiti
Saturday, January 30, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Pangea World Theater Studios,
711 West Lake Street, Minneapolis.

Please join poets, spoken word artists and performers to raise money for
Haitians affected by the earthquake. Great thanks to Pangea World Theater
for donating their space for this event. Performers include: Khary
Jackson, Ayanna Muata, Gabrielle Civil, Ellen Marie Hinchcliffe, and more.
Hosted by: Juma B. Essie. Suggested donation: $10.00 to $15.00. All money
raised will go directly to Paul Farmer's organization, Partners In Health . Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Call 612-822-0015.

--------9 of 16--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 1.31 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------10 of 16--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Anti-war plan 1.31 3pm

Student Planning Meeting for March 20th Protest
Sunday, January 31, 3:00 p.m. University of Minnesota, Blegen Hall, Room
110, 269 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Join other students at an organizing meeting for student action around the
March 20th anti- war protest. Hosted by: Student Coalitions.

--------11 of 16--------

The State of the Corporate Union
by Laura Flanders
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The Nation

The State of the Union will be a little different this year. Thanks
to a last-minute switch the annual address will be presented by
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and Chairman of Goldman Sachs, known
henceforth as CEO of America.

While a final text is not yet released, insiders suggest that CEO
Blankfein will declare the state of the union excellent, and
announce significant bonuses for five of nine Supreme Court

In a departure from tradition, senators and representatives will be
charged for seating in the hall this year but several prominent
seats will be put aside for lobbyists for the Pharmaceutical
Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the industry trade
group America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and drug companies
Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Amgen.

According to insider accounts, those individuals will be recognized
for the $144 million dollar investment they made in the democratic
system in 2009. Other honored guests likely to be recognized for
their participation in the process are said to include Exxon Mobil,
Xe (formerly known as Blackwater) and Chevron.

CEO Blankfein is expected to declare his presence at the dais
historic. "The Framers of Our Constitution were always very clear
that the right to free speech belonged only to those who could pay
for it. 2010 marks the culmination of the process by which
corporations are recognized as full and equal citizens.

"Forty years on, the dream of Dr. King has finally been recognized.
Corporations can finally be seen for what they are, endowed with
full personhood, along with accompanying rights to life liberty and
pursuit of profit,"

Blankfein's comments as currently released make no mention of

Barack Obama, asked for his response, said he was sure that he and
Lloyd Blankfein would come to an agreement soon about the
relocation of the Oval Office from the White House to Wall
Street."This is no time to polarize and divide the American
people," said the former president.

Commented his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel: "It's time our democracy
was handed over to corporations, who have the expertise to know how
to use it."

Said consumer advocate Ralph Nader, now hosting a late night comedy
show: "Let 'em have our Consitution, we weren't using it."

(C) 2010 The Nation
Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on
Free Speech TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415) on cable (8 pm ET on Channel
67 in Manhattan) and online daily at and

--------12 of 16--------

Obama's Fog Machine
SOTU Whoppers
January 29 - 31, 2010

President Obama gives a good speech. He's smooth, unruffled by audience
response, good at a timely ad-lib remark, and knows how to win over a
tough crowd - all skills that were in evidence at last night's State of
the Union address. But he's also good at telling whoppers.

Here are a few.

Talking about health care, and the stalled bills in House and Senate which
have become so encrusted with pro-industry amendments that the whole
process should be referred to as the Health Industry Enrichment Act, Obama
said at one point, addressing the doubts many in Congress and among the
broader public have about those bills, "If anyone from either party has a
better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit,
cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors and stop insurance
company abuses, let me know. Let me know. Let me know. I'm eager to see

Hm-m-m. Actually, he has not been eager to see other ideas at all. John
Conyers has had another idea: extending Medicare to cover everyone. He had
it in the form of a bill, HR 676, but at the urging of the White House,
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kept that bill from even getting a hearing.
Earlier, almost a year ago, Obama held a conference at the White House to
hear ideas about health care reform, but he excluded from that conference
any advocates of what is called "single-payer" - shorthand for a
Canadian-style health system in which the government insures everyone, and
sets the reimbursement amounts for doctors and hospitals, medical services
of all kinds, and drugs.

And yet, expanding Medicare to cover everyone, as I've written several
times on this site, would probably end up costing less than the federal
government and state and local governments (and of course ultimately
taxpayers) already are spending on Medicaid, Veteran's health care,
hospital charity care, and other public medical programs, and in any event
would, even if raising taxes slightly, simultaneously eliminate the health
care costs for insurance currently paid by employers, employees and the
self-employed, while also giving the government enormous power to
negotiate lower costs for drugs, doctors and hospitals. Because the
program would be larger and more powerful with respect to the private
health care delivery system, it would also be able to reduce the cost of
providing health care to the elderly who are already on Medicare.

That is to say, there is, already operating for 45 million elderly
citizens, a health care program that, if expanded to all, would, as the
president asked, "bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the
uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors and stop insurance company

But the truth is, he doesn't want to talk about it and doesn't want to
even hear about it.

The second big whopper was Iraq. There the president, to loud applause,
said he would have all combat troops out of Iraq by August of this year.
At another point, though, he went further, saying that "all our troops"
would be "coming home." The truth, though, is that they won't be. In fact,
though, as many as 50,000 US troops will remain in Iraq after this August.
Whether they will be "in combat" or not is really not up to them. If they
are attacked, of course they will be in combat. They may well be sent into
battle too, though who knows if we'll hear about it. There are unlikely to
be too many members of the press with them, as the focus shifts to
Afghanistan. But 50,000 is a lot of troops - much more than the US has in
South Korea, for instance. It's hardly an end to the war in Iraq.

Third, the president slipped by the new big war, Afghanistan, in an
astonishingly abrupt single paragraph. Think about it. He has ordered an
escalation of that conflict, where the US already has committed 70,000
troops, with another 30,000 on the way, not counting perhaps 50-60,000
more private mercenaries, and has called for a new aggressive strategy of
capturing and holding territory - a strategy that is bound to increase
both US and innocent Afghani casualties - and he only said a couple of
sentences about it.

And those sentences were full of lies. Obama said the US is "training
Afghan security forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011,
and our troops can begin to come home," but he knows his own advisors are
telling him that those Afghan military forces are incapable of being
expanded to do that job. The whole country is basically illiterate and not
capable of being trained to handle much of the equipment, the military and
police are hopelessly corrupt, and the tribal system makes a unified
national army a pipe-dream. He said the US will "reward good governance,"
but in fact has allied itself with a corrupt narco-regime led by Hamid
Karzai, whose own brother is a leading drug kingpin.

There were more lies and misleading statements through the speech, for
example his lie that his administration has "prohibited torture," but
these three alone make it amply clear that the president was not doing his
constitutional duty of giving Congress an accurate report on the "state of
the union."

--------13 of 16--------

Beating the Corporations
Taxing the Rich Wins in Oregon
January 28, 2010


Thousands of Oregon workers fought valiantly over the past weeks to ensure
that corporations and the rich will see their taxes raised, so that social
services, health care, and education could be saved. Massive phone banking
operations, door-to-door canvassing, and rallies were used by union and
community members to educate the public about a progressive tax measure
used to offset the state's dire budget situation.

The campaign was indisputably class war, and the corporations came out
firing - virtually every newspaper in Oregon shed their alleged
"objectivity" and exposed their subservience to the corporations. Oregon's
largest newspaper, The Oregonian, displayed giant front page ads - daily -
in order to defeat the measures (part of the ad showcased an article by
Phil Knight - founder of Oregon company Nike - who spoke of corporate
apocalypse if the tax measures passed). This, along with the countless
false advertisements on TV and radio, shows the high level of
understanding that workers in Oregon displayed in voting to pass the
measures by a landslide.

The new taxes are hardly radical; if anything they are insufficient
compared to Oregon's budget problems. Oregon's corporate minimum tax was
raised from $10 a year - no typo here - to $150. Corporations with profits
over $250,000 a year will pay an additional 1.3 percent on profits over
that amount.

Wealthy individuals - those making over $125,000 or couples making
$250,000 will pay an additional 1.8 percent above those numbers. Most
Oregonians - 97.5 percent - will see no tax increase. These minuscule tax
increases caused Oregon's corporate elite to feverishly organize to defeat
the bill. Their stranglehold over the media was no match for
well-organized working-class Oregonians.

Originally, the tax increase was passed by Oregon's legislature, where the
Democrats enjoy a supermajority. The Democrats were under immense pressure
from Oregon's unions, who, commendably, advanced the "tax the rich"
measure to the point where the Democrats had to act. Though the tax
increases were small, they were nevertheless progressive, saving Oregon's
budget $733 million in cuts.

The corporations mobilized, and paid signature gatherers to collect enough
signatures to put the tax increase to a voter referendum.

The ensuing campaign caught the attention of the nation, where precedent
is now set in favor of all working people. Corporations and unions from
out of state contributed funds to help sway Oregon's campaign, knowing
that their fates were linked. Now, Oregon will hopefully serve as an
example to other states experiencing budget crises and consequent cuts to
education and social services.

Oregon's vote coincides with President Obama's national budget, where
social services are being "frozen" - in reality reduced. Thus, Oregon
gives inspiration for solutions to state and federal budget crises, where
in both cases the working class has been carrying the brunt of the
recession's effects.

Union and community groups everywhere must follow Oregon's example. Tax
the rich and the corporations! No to cuts in education, health care, and
social services!

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for
Workers Action. He can be reached at shamuscook [at]

--------14 of 16--------

From: Susu Jeffrey <susujeffrey [at]>
Subject: Depleted Uranium Resolution for MN Political Caucuses on Tuesday,
     Feb. 2

Depleted Uranium Resolution for MN Political Caucuses Tuesday, February 2,

This depleted uranium resolution was developed by AlliantACTION, the peace
group that has vigiled in front of the corporate headquarters of Alliant
Techsystems (Honeywell spinoff) each Wednesday since 1996. Alliant
Techsystems, Minnesota's largest weapons manufacturer, has supplied over
19-million depleted uranium munitions to the Department of Defense.
The resolution is aimed at Congress members who vote on the federal budget,
more than half of which goes for military spending.

Whereas depleted uranium bullets and shells persist in the environment
beyond the duration of a battle, and

Whereas uranium-core munitions, considered today's Agent Orange,
indiscriminately expose civilians and combatants to toxic dust that can
become lodged in the body irradiating surrounding tissue and can cause
genetic defects and cancers, and

Whereas US military personnel and contract employees in Iraq and Afghanistan
are exposed to depleted uranium dust,

Therefore be it resolved that the U.S. Congress ceases funding for depleted
uranium munitions and curtails sales of uranium-core bullets and shells

--------15 of 16--------

Howard Zinn: The People's Historian
Paul Street
January, 29 2010

The news of Howard Zinn's death hit me like a ton of bricks.  I did not
expect to cry and then about 10 minutes after getting the hit
me - three times. The last time I looked down and saw that I was standing
in my den about one foot away from one of my old "instructors' copies" of
Zinn's masterpiece, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present.

            "I Don't Take Him Very Seriously"

This morning tears gave way to a bit of disgust, thanks to the New York
Times and the Associated Press (AP). Even in death the great critics of
the rich and powerful have to be put in their place.  The Times pulled its
initial obituary of Zinn off the Associated Press (AP) wire.

"Even liberal historians were uneasy with Professor Zinn," the AP
reported, quoting the former Kennedy administration court historian Arthur
M. Schlesinger Jr. "I know he regards me as a dangerous reactionary,"
Schlesinger once said, according to the AP." And I don't take him very
seriously. He's a polemicist, not a historian."

It was quite an insult to include that condescending dismissal from an
academic power-elite aristocrat like Schlesinger.  Yes, Arthur M.
Schlesinger, who wrote the following in his history A Thousand Days: "1962
had not been a bad year...aggression [was] checked in Vietnam."  Nineteen
sixty-two was, as Zinn's friend and ally Noam Chomsky noted in 1984, "the
year in which the U.S. undertook direct aggression against South
Vietnam....Orwell would have been impressed" by Schlesinger's comment,
Chomsky added.   Arthur M. Schlesinger, who, in an early memo to his idol
the arch-militarist president John Fitzgerald Kennedy said that the
problem with Cuba was "the spread [throughout Latin America] of the Castro
idea of taking things into your own hands and demanding the opportunity
for a decent living, all of this stimulated by the Soviet Union, which is
presenting itself as a model for modernization in one generation."  (The
Cuban peoples' revolution threatened to inspire fellow Latin Americans to
follow the dreaded "Soviet" example by modernizing on their own behalf,
without structuring their societies in ways calculated to complement the
industrial economies of the leading Western states - what horrors!)

Howard Zinn was an American giant. He made vapid servants of power like
Schlesinger and the New York Times' managers look like moral and
intellectual ants by comparison

              "Exactly the Same Limited Vision"

"Even" liberal historians were "uneasy" - goodness! Try "especially"
liberal historians!  Zinn brilliantly skewered Schlesinger and others
liberal historians' narrow world view and their claims to enlightened
progressiveness.  The liberals claimed thought they discovered deep
democratic and progressive content in the actions and values of such
blood-soaked ruling class operatives as Andrew Jackson, Theodore
Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John
Kennedy. Zinn saw through the liberal illusion and showed how all of them
(along with their Republican counterparts) were morally crippled by
"exactly the same limited vision [Richard] Hofstader talked about [in his
1949 book The American Political Tradition] - a capitalist encouragement
of enormous fortunes alongside desperate poverty, a nationalistic
acceptance of war and preparation for war.  Government power swung from
Republicans to Democrats and back again," Zinn wrote, "but neither party
showed itself capable of going beyond that vision." And Zinn updated the
story to include Lyndon Baines Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton.
We can be sure he would have applied to Barack Obama as well in a future
edition of A People's History.

              "Before and After Those Two Minutes"

I did not spend last night listening to the vapid, power-serving, and
centrist oratory of corprate war president Barack Obama's "State of the
Union Address."  I reflected instead on the radical lessons and vision of
Zinn, who noted the following as (what he called) "the election madness"
that captivated so many progressives during the last great "quadrennial
electoral extravaganza" (Chomsky's excellent phrase):

"The election frenzy seizes the country every four years because we have
all been brought up to believe that voting is crucial in determining our
destiny, that the most important act a citizen can engage in is to go to
the polls and choose one of the two mediocrities who have already been
chosen for us."

"...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

"But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be
spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the
workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools....."

 "Let's remember that even when there is a 'better' candidate...that
difference will not mean anything unless the power of the people asserts
itself in ways that the occupant of the White House will find it dangerous
to ignore.....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."

"They offer no radical change from the status quo. They do not propose
what the present desperation of people cries out for: a government
guarantee of jobs to everyone who needs one, a minimum income for every
household, housing relief to everyone who faces eviction or foreclosure.
They do not suggest the deep cuts in the military budget or the radical
changes in the tax system that would free billions, even trillions, for
social programs to transform the way we live."

"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" (Howard Zinn, "Election Madness," The Progressive, March

Who can deny the wisdom of this classic Zinn passage as we move into the
second year of the militantly corporate and imperial, Wall Street-captive
Obama administration?

           Ruling Class Criminals and Popular Struggle

Zinn's widely beloved People's History (which I used to assign in college
level American History surveys) was among other things a masterful
chronicle of American bipartisan ruling class criminality. From the brutal
ethnic cleansing of native Americans and the rise of indentured servitude
and mass black chattel slavery through the building of an industrial
capitalist edifice for the exploitation of millions of immigrant and
native workers to the terrible, mass-murderous transgressions of the U.S.
military empire in the Philippines, Haiti, Mexico, Japan, Indochina,
Serbia and Iraq and more, Zinn forthrightly detailed the sins and
corruption of power.

But Zinn (who was said to have offered undergraduate students course
credit for seeking to engage the historical process, for acting to change
history) was hardly content just to chronicle the monumental offenses of
elites.  His justly fabled volume was loaded with inspiring stories of
lower and working class resistance and radical-democratic struggle from
the bottom up. From indentured servants and slaves who joined in Bacon's
Rebellion in colonial Virginia through the slaves who rose against the
chattel system before and during the Civil War through the great labor
union and socialist struggles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries
and later popular campaigns (including the 1930s industrial workers
movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist and antiwar movements
and more) to the present, Zinn's  People's History was no tragic tale of
simple top-down victimization.  It told a story of rugged, often bloody
conflict in which ordinary people repeatedly engaged their masters and
shaped history from below.

Zinn had little interest in the quasi-anthropological field of so-called
"social history" that focused in fake-egalitarian ways on the minute
life-ways, "ethno-cultures" and local communities of working and lower
class people, seen in deceptive isolation from their struggle with the
rich and powerful. Zinn has no time for such academic drivel.  From a
working-class background himself, he was concerned with the recurrent
pattern of conflict pitting the ruling class and its many servants against
the broad mass of "ordinary" working people and their allies among
defectors from the middle and upper class.

Zinn's "people's history" did not leave out the ruling class. It treated
the working and lower classes as agents and actors, not subjects for
clinical "new social history" dissection or "post-modern" derision.

      "The Students Are Not Permitted to Cite Zinn's Works"

Last night on my Facebook page a young progressive activist I know made
the following post: "Obama and the Democrats should ask themselves: W[hat]
W[ould] H[oward] Z[inn] D[o]?" It was a friendly statement I sort of liked
(even if it had nothing whatsoever to do with what the top Democrats are
actually all about). A snotty commenter I'll call Jack wrote, "You mean
write a book leftists will like, right?"

I dashed off a quick response: "Jack, that book (People's History of U.S.)
was admired and loved by many who were not leftists. I know, I assigned it
for many years in mass U.S history surveys and it was extremely popular
with people from all sorts of perspectives...still is, I'm told."

This prompted the young progressive activist (the original poster) to add
the following: "People's History changed academic history and historical
scholarship, it was a major contribution to the field regardless of
political ideology..."

The activist was wrong. Zinn's People's History was and is a great and
transcendent volume in many ways but it wasn't about that at all and it
didn't do what the activist said. It was a beloved and inspiring book for
the people and was often assigned by a minority of left/New Left
professors in the U.S. history surveys (also by a lot of high school
history teachers - more remarkable in my opinion). But no, it did not
really "change academic history and historical scholarship."

I know. I was a neo-New Left U.S. historian-to-be before finally fleeing
academia with the words of a drunken liberal department chair ringing in
my ears: "we don't need any more Howard Zinns."

I say this with no sense of disrespect. Howard Zinn did not give a damn
about most academic history/historians [1] and the professional historians
were fairly disdainful in return on the whole. There's very little primary
source research and no real methodological innovation in A People's
History. I'm not sure how much time Zinn spent in archives after his early
days in academia. He synthesized secondary sources in a way that made
history come alive for general readers and for many undergraduates. It was
the story he told and the beauty of his words and his compellingly lyrical
analysis from a very Left perspective that set his work apart, along with
the sweep and reach.

But the profession of history was not really changed much if at all by
Zinn and one of the reasons I (who once spent a lot of time in archives)
got out is that academic history lost interest in telling bigger and
broader synthetic stories -- that and their pathetic reluctance to make
relevant progressive and contemporary political connections between past,
present, and future

Speaking of academia's response to Zinn, here is another tidbit from my
Facebook Page, courtesy of a very progressive schoolteacher named Terry D.
in New Jersey:

"Just yesterday I was speaking with colleague/friend about Howard Zinn.
This colleague is a young middle-school history teacher currently enrolled
in a master's program in history."

"Before entering the master's program, he was a big fan of the work of
both Zinn and Chomsky. In fact, it was he who loaned me his copy of Zinn's
'People's History just a few years ago. "

"In his history master's program the students are not permitted to cite
Zinn's work for their papers. They are taught that Zinn is a 'generalist'
and not credible. He told me that Zinn's work is not viewed as 'pure' but
with an angle --- that his work is slanted because he has written about
selective aspects of history. He said it lacks balance."

"He said the same thing about Chomsky."

"This program is teaching him that for someone to be considered a valid
and credible 'historian' one has to show all sides of an issue or segment
of history (balanced) and sources must be well-cited. He said Zinn's work
does not meet this criteria."

"This young man was pro-Zinn/ pro-Chomsky before the program....and now he
is moving away from their work."

"I think it is the university's way to keep the ideas of Zinn and Chomsky
OUT of the curriculum and to change thinking/minds."

"Look what it did to him."

What a pathetic little story from the front lines of the corporatization
of higher education, where many of my former fellow leftists from graduate
schools are marooned until retirement, never to be heard from again in any
relevant political way!

I'm quite sure that Terri D's tale is true-to-life. God save us from the
tenured professors. At least 90 percent of them just spend their lives
obeying the rich and powerful and modeling supine surrender. They don't do
their jobs and so the late Howard Zinn and Noam (Chomsky) and a few others
have had to do it for them. Academia needs a lot more Howard Zinns.

                 "Ye Are Many; They Are Few!"

As the fake-progressive, not-so "liberal" Obama's latest shining yet
strangely mediocre speechifying blared across the nation's Telescreens
last night, I was led to reflect on the wisdom of Howard Zinn's elementary
but powerful observation that a "better" politician in the White House
"will not mean anything unless the power of the people asserts itself in
ways that the occupant of the White House will find it dangerous to
ignore." So true! No honest and informed progressive can deny the wisdom
of that remark as we move into the second year of the Obama administration
- an epitome of Zinn's dark judgment on the "limited vision" of U.S.
political culture past and present. It's up to us to write and act out the
other great theme in A People's History - popular resistance on a large
scale, informed by the wisdom of Shelley, who Zinn quoted at the end of
the Afterword to the 2003 edition of A People's History:

Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquished number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many; they are few!

Paul Street
Iowa City, IA
Thursday, January 28, 2010
paulstreet99 [at]


1. Here is an entertaining anecdote from ex-academic historian Staughton
Lynd: "Howard Zinn's trajectory was similar. Although he made his living
as an academic, he seemed entirely indifferent to academia.  I recall that
when he first recruited me to join him at Spellman College, I, fresh out
of graduate school, asked Howard what papers he was working on to present
at which conferences of historians.  He looked at me as if I were speaking
a foreign language.  He was one of two adult advisers to the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and his head was into recording their
experience and participating in their actions and strategy."  Staughton
Lynd and Andrej Grubacic, Wobblies and Zapatista: Conversations on
Marxism, Anarchism, and Radical History (Oakland, CA: PM Press 2008),

[Arthur M Schlesinger Jr is a polemicist not a historian. -ed]

--------16 of 16--------

 And God said, I've got
 Alzheimers! No I don't! Yes
 I do! Huh? Glorp! Zplxgg?


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
                     over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02
              please send all messages in plain text no attachments

                          vote third party
                           for president
                           for congress
                          now and forever

                           Socialism YES
                           Capitalism NO

 To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg
 --------8 of x--------
 do a find on

 Research almost any topic raised here at:
  Dissident Voice
  Common Dreams
 Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones

  • (no other messages in thread)

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.