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News :: Media
BAAM Extra edition: The Ideas of Howard Zinn
12 Mar 2010
Produced in collaboration with the Sacco and Vanzetti Commemoration Society especially for tonight's ""Celebration: The Radical Ideas of Howard Zinn"
Friday, March 12, 2010 -- 7PM
Community Church of Boston -- 565 Boylston St., Boston

Anyway, no plain text this time, here's the PDF!
Remembering Howard Zinn, the anarchist.

Since the death of Howard Zinn, many have paid tribute to this great thinker. Howard Zinn as a historian was a teacher of the world that was, and as a radical, a teacher of the world that could be. Newspapers have printed stories full of his deeds: the campaigns he fought on, the working people’s history he brought to light, the plays he wrote, the books he published, and the students he taught. Little, however, has been said about Howard’s ideas themselves.
Howard Zinn has been celebrated throughout the mainstream media he so scathingly criticized. But thus far, the mainstream media, and even much of the independent, leftist and progressive media, have barely touched on his anarchist ideas. In part this is understandable. One of Zinn’s best traits was his ability to relate to almost everyone, and that he’s been embraced by so many may be one reason why his specific political beliefs have been downplayed. He always gave his energy and natural gifts to the most just causes, and his words resonated with so many people searching for a real change to the old order of things. Another reason his revolutionary beliefs have been downplayed may be that anarchism is largely misunderstood and taboo in the Western world. As Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov wrote for the Havana Times, “(Zinn’s) biography in Wikipedia includes the ‘uncomfortable’ symbol of the A inside the O: a reference to the axiom ‘Anarchy is Order’ and the emblem of the anarchist movement of which he was an adherent. Uncomfortable? – yes. Only a few thinkers today dare to proclaim themselves anarchists. Howard Zinn was one of them.” Indeed, anarchism is probably the most misunderstood political ideology in the United States. Howard wrote in the opening words of Chapter 7 (entitled “Anarchism”) of his book, The Zinn Reader, “That I could get a Ph.D from a major American university without knowing anything about anarchism, surely one of the most important political philosophies of modern times, is a commentary on the narrowness of American education.”
Asked in an interview if he was unconfortable with the term anarchism, he said “I’m not uncomfortable...I feel they need clarification. After all, the term anarchist to so many people means somebody who throws bombs...Anarchism to me means a society in which you have a democratic organization of society--decision making, the economy--and in which the authority of the capitalist is no longer there... I see anarchism as meaning both political and economic democracy, in the best sense of the term.”
Lastly, for some, Zinn’s ideas about a better world have been watered down to make his work fit into their world view, to use his name to further their cause or party. For us, hoever, the extent of Zinn’s radicalism is a testament to his brilliance, and that through the course of his long and very active life, he never gave up daring to believe that the world could be drastically better.
An integral part of the life and legacy of Howard Zinn are the contributions he made to revolutionary thought. Instead of telling you what we think Howard Zinn believed, we’ve brought together a few works in which he described his beliefs with his own words.
So many have already, in these few weeks since his passing, strung together words remembering Howard Zinn the professor, the activist, the WWII air force pilot, the playwright, the speaker, the historian, and the husband, and some even the dock worker from Brooklyn. This issue is dedicated to remembering Howard Zinn, the anarchist.•
See also:

This work is in the public domain.
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