Thursday, January 28, 2010

Zinn's words in 1980 ring true in 2010

Yesterday, Howard Zinn passed away. But like with all great writers, his life lives on with his words. Zinn wrote many great books and articles, but in the last chapter of A People's HIstory of the United States, he masterfully summarizes the problems in our country in 1980 that still ring true today.

Democrats all over the country have felt the pain of this month's losses. Many of the reasons for our defeat are due to what Nixon called, the "silent majority,"-the white working class population that feels alienated, and ultimately, has helped move our country to the right in the past forty years.

In one of many paragraphs that predicts our current problems, Zinn writes,

" In the mid-seventies, another study (Donald Warren, The Radical Center) found that alienation has spread upward into families above the poverty line. These are white workers, neither rich or poor, but angry over economic insecurity, unhappy with their work, worried about their neighborhoods, hostile to their government-combining elements of racism with elements of class consciousness, contempt for the lower classes along with distrust for the elite, and thus open to solutions from any direction, right or left."

After re-reading Zinn's last chapter in A People's History of the US, I am in awe of his ability to summarize the problems in 1980 and predict the ones in 2010. He knows that once all the oppressed groups can align themselves, a new people's movement that acts on the behalf of the majority, without race or class acting as a hindrance, is attainable. He writes,

"In the past, aggrieved groups had been set against one another, preventing that unity which was necessary to combat the power of the elite. Was there a new possibility, now, for such unity?"

Let's honor Zinn and Obama's words in the State of the Union, and find new ways to form coalitions that put a stop to an establishment that does not benefit the majority of American citizens.

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