“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
(From the People’s History website)
Last week when Hubbie and I were out scrounging for items to put into a little shop we have begun, we ran across a copy of Howard Zinn’s time honored book, “A People’s History of the United States 1942-present”. As everyone knows, Zinn died last month at the age of 87.
He was a member of the “Lost Generation”. Though some are now attributing that term to the young of the current day, affected by our current economic crisis, the term was first used by to Gertrude Stein via her mechanic, and usually referred to those born in the wake of WWI.
Perhaps, only those souls remaining of that period can really understand it, but imagine what it meant growing up then. First, families were traumatized in WWI, with many who made it home broken and bent, then, the loss of financial stability and so much more of the Depression, and then the growing certainty that you were born just in time to die in WWII. So many of the writers of this period echo this kind of angst and pain, from Steinbeck to Hemingway to Wolfe.
From unfolding European events to: suffrage for women, the tent cities, and the lynchings, and the forced labor of African Americans in the aftermath of the Mississippi Flood, to the Dustbowl, hatred of the Japanese Americans on the West Coast, and the effects of Prohibition, mobsters and the FBI, the period lasted only 24 years. Even as international actors strutted their way toward the hurricane that would be WWII, it was yet, most assuredly, a period in which there was plenty of focus on the struggles of the common woman and man.
So much was experienced in a direct and visceral way by the Lost Generation. Perhaps it was a natural thing then that, as a common man himself, Howard Zinn, would develop the historical viewpoint that he did.
I thought Ralph Nader had the best idea for his commemoration. That is, we should remember him by organizing.
In deference to Ralph, however, I think too many of us don’t even know who Howard Zinn was. We must pass this knowledge forward. Knowledge is one of the critical elements of organizing. History that is not taught, is lost. Education lacking the People’s History is not full education. Read or reread, Zinn’s books. Visit the links Ralph provided in his blog: