Howard Zinn on '08 elections
In the final segment of our interview with Howard Zinn we explore the idea of the United States as a source of freedom and democracy in the world. Prof. Zinn outlines the long history in the US of linking military pursuits with the cause of freedom and democracy, a marriage which Prof. Zinn believes is still used due to inappropriate historical education. Prof. Zinn believes that it is time to drop war altogether as a practice and begin the hard but fruitful transition to an economy based on domestic improvement rather than military dominance. He finishes by adding that education is most effective when coinciding with a changing reality and that the combination of the financial crisis and the military crisis are creating such a scenario.
In part four of our interview with Howard Zinn, Prof. Zinn provides his opinion on the major decision that the incoming US president will have to make; the decision between maintaining the US policy of intervention abroad and providing jobs and health care to the American people. Prof. Zinn believes that the US has been in perpetual expansion since its foundation, expansion driven by economic motives. This theme has continued through both Republican and Democratic administrations and therefore Prof. Zinn is not surprised that Obama’s campaign has not deviated from this policy, pointing out that he has called for escalation in Afghanistan and an increase in the size of the armed forces. But, Prof. Zinn contends, if Obama is serious about delivering health care and jobs for all, he will have to chart a new path in American foreign policy.
In part three of our discussion with author and historian Howard Zinn, Prof. Zinn lays out his analysis of taxes as a class phenomenon. He points to the current discussion of politicians as either pro-tax or anti-tax instead of discussing who will be taxed as an example of the misunderstanding of taxation being promoted. Prof. Zinn submits that the United States has always had a class war, and as such it is ridiculous to accuse people of inciting class war through talk of taxation. He then outlines his proposal that higher taxes for the rich and cutting taxes for the poor will be necessary for addressing the roots of the economic crisis.
In part two of our interview with Howard Zinn, Prof. Zinn responds to the $700 billion bailout bill, the economic crisis, and provides his vision for an appropriate response. He describes his disappointment that both Obama and McCain joined to support the bailout, a move which Zinn believes fits into a long history of big government at the service of wealthy elites. Zinn argues that the roots of the crisis are the same as in 1930, a growing gap between the wealth at the top and the insecurity at the bottom. Zinn argues that in place of a bailout of the financial sector, what is needed is a 21st century New Deal, with government investment providing jobs and health care. He also argues that big government has always been a feature of the American system, and that the question is therefore not one of size, but of how the government and its power is to be used.
Howard Zinn says vote against McCain, vote for Obama. Even though Obama does not represent any fundamental change, he creates an opening for a possibility of change. Obama will not fulfill that potential for change, unless he is enveloped by a social movement, which is angry enough, powerful enough, insistent enough, that he fills his abstract phrases about change with some content. We need direct action, because only that kind of indignation is going to have some effect on the people in Washington.