13 Responses to Howard Zinn R.I.P.

  1. Francois Tremblay February 3, 2010 at 12:32 am #

    Lew Rockwell likes Zinn? Well damn… I will forever rue the day when I agreed with that bastard about something. 🙂

    • Gary Chartier February 3, 2010 at 12:35 am #

      Note too the favorable comments after my post from Stephan Kinsella.

    • Rad Geek February 3, 2010 at 5:56 am #


      Well, don’t look so surprised. It’s not exactly unusual for Lew Rockwell to say kind things about anti-war revisionist historians, including those on the populist Left. He’ll typically say kind things about almost anyone who he thinks is on the right side of the war issue.

      • Francois Tremblay February 3, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

        Are you using revisionist in the good or bad sense?

        • Rad Geek February 4, 2010 at 12:29 am #


          I don’t do polemical definitions of “revisionist.” I’m using it in a neutral sense: revisionists are historians who critically re-examine common received wisdom and authoritative accounts about history, and criticize or rejecting the “official” or authoritative understanding of the events.

          Whether or not this project is really worthwhile depends on what’s being rejected and what the evidence for the rejecting is. Since I tend to think that official/governmental accounts of history tend to be a pack of distortions, fudging, and self-serving lies, I tend be pretty positive on revisionism, so long as the revisionist in question is herself serious and honest. Zinn’s a good example; I’d also consider somebody like J.R. Hummel or Bob Higgs an example of good honest revisionism. Of course, there are other revisionists out there who are ignorant, stupid or dishonest — take David Irving (please!). But the problem with them isn’t that they’re revisionists. It’s that they’re idiots or charlatans.

        • Brandon February 4, 2010 at 10:00 am #

          Would you dismiss all of Irving’s books, or just Irving personally, or just some of Irving’s books?

  2. Gary Chartier February 3, 2010 at 12:41 am #

    The negative comments I’ve encountered at C4SS and on Facebook have been pretty unsettling. Maybe this just means I have a weak stomach, but I find the hard-headed, vitriolic nature of some of the anti-Zinn comments a bit surprising. I suggested to one “arch-conservative” who insisted that Zinn wasn’t an anarchist that of course he was, and provided a citation to an interview in which Zinn said just that. It’s not good enough, said my correspondent: he could have stuck feathers in his ass without meriting the label “checken.” Pressed on his definition of “anarchist,” my friend refused to play the obviously tricky verbal game in to which I was trying to draw him.

    Certainly the most intense comments on Kevin’s piece at C4SS have been pretty hostile, unfortunately.

    • Anon73 February 3, 2010 at 12:54 am #

      Even if he was a die-hard Marxist that wouldn’t change the great work he’s put into print. Reading his magnum opus APHoTUS transformed the way I looked at US history, and raised many uncomfortable questions for me when I first read it, most of all about the quality and accuracy of the “standard” histories of the Founding Fathers, slavery, the Civil War, the Vietnam War and WWII.

      If you think about it, most of the history we know has a statist perspective – how many voices have been silenced by the long passage of time because their views were not recorded in the preserved historical records? How many Frederick Douglass, de Cleyrine, or Tucker-like figures of other time periods never got to comment on the events of their time? Howard Zinn took a radical perspective – asking not how events were shaped from the perspective of those with power, but how events seemed from the perspective of those without power. To even ask such questions makes him an admirable person in my mind, whether his answers were ultimately right or not.

      • Roderick February 3, 2010 at 1:42 am #

        Tim Sandefur’s comments could be construed as hostile.

        • Francois Tremblay February 3, 2010 at 4:07 am #

          What the fuck.

          Talk about heads buried in sand…

  3. Miko February 3, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    See also Daniel Ellsberg: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_memory_of_howard_20100127/ .

  4. Natailya Petrova February 3, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    I have to admit that the comments of Zinn’s about Maoist China and Castroite Cuba posted are not his finest moments. It’s typical of generic leftists to have blind spots on these issues though. I know from direct experience in conversation.


  1. Attack the System » Blog Archive » Updated News Digest February 7, 2010 - February 4, 2010

    […] Howard Zinn, R.I.P. by Roderick Long […]

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