Remembering America’s Lost Conscience – Howard Zinn 1922 – 2010


America’s conscience died long before Howard Zinn passed away in 2010 ~ but his words and thoughts gnaw away at our collective soul and remind us that no Empire can long withstand the loss of its moral bearings:


by Allen L Roland


How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism? ~ Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn died of a heart attack at the age of 87 on January 27, 2010 but his words still reverberate within the catacombs of our national conscience reminding us that we are capable of greater things than dishonesty and lies, illegal wars and occupations, torture and renditions, targeted drone assassinations and predatory capitalism.

We are obviously made of better stuff and Howard Zinn knew that it all started with the truth  ~ “The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.

Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.” ― Howard Zinn, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress

Zinn sensed America’s longing for a true change in moral values before the 2008 election and correctly saw Obama as a champion of the status quo and not an advocate for true change ~ “I think people are dazzled by Obama’s rhetoric, and that people ought to begin to understand that Obama is going to be a mediocre president — which means, in our time, a dangerous president — unless there is some national movement to push him in a better direction … What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but “who is sitting in” — and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.”

Zinn took no great pride in being a member of the so-called ‘ Greatest generation ‘ ~ “The Greatest Generation? They tell me I am a member of the greatest generation. That’s because I saw combat duty as a bombardier in World War 2 . But I refuse to celebrate “the greatest generation” because in so doing we are celebrating courage and sacrifice in the cause of war. And we are miseducating the young to believe that military heroism is the noblest form of heroism, when it should be remembered only as the tragic accompaniment of horrendous policies driven by power and profit. The current infatuation with World War 2 prepares us ~ innocently on the part of some, deliberately on the part of others ~ for more war, more military adventures, more attempts to emulate the military heroes of the past “

How do we achieve justice without war was Zinn’s constant question and quest ~ as seen in this three minute YouTube video from You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

But Zinn was always an advocate for patriotic dissent even in the face of globalization and an approaching new world order ~ “Today everybody is talking about the fact that we live in one world; because of globalization, we are all part of the same planet. They talk that way, but do they mean it? We should remind them that the words of the Declaration [of Independence] apply not only to people in this country, but also to people all over the world. People everywhere have the same right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When the government becomes destructive of that, then it is patriotic to dissent and to criticize – to do what we always praise and call heroic when we look upon the dissenters and critics in totalitarian countries who dare to speak out.” ― Howard Zinn, Artists in Times of War and Other Essays

Zinn was a strong advocate for the voice of the people and his writings continually reminded us of that deep connection ~ “The democratic principle, enunciated in the words of the Declaration of Independence, declared that government was secondary, that the people who established it were primary. Thus, the future of democracy depended on the people, and their growing consciousness of what was the decent way to relate to their fellow human beings all over the world.” ― Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present

Zinn was also a proud practitioner of civil disobedience versus civil obedience and felt that no great change could occur without it ~ “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem … “Historically, the most terrible things – war, genocide, and slavery – have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience.”

Above all, Howard Zinn was a truth teller and firmly believed that human beings were neither sheep or machines and that the hope of mankind resided in their willingness to exercise their conscience, in the face of perceived injustice, and declare their independence ~ “But human beings are not machines, and however powerful the pressure to conform, they sometimes are so moved by what they see as injustice that they dare to declare their independence. In that historical possibility lies hope.” ― Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving train: A Personal History of our Times

So the hope for a better America lies in resurrecting our lost conscience or in the words of Howard Zinn ~ “I wonder how the foreign policies of the United States would look if we wiped out the national boundaries of the world, at least in our minds, and thought of all children everywhere as our own… There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”


About the Author: Allen L Roland is a Freelance Alternative Press Online columnist. He is also a practicing psychotherapist, author and lecturer who also shares a daily political and social commentary on his web site at He also guest hosts a Truthtalk, a national radio show that airs monthly. He is available for comments, interviews, speaking engagements and private consultations via email at


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  1. While our Constitution has many fancy sounding words, for the most part citizens are virtually powerless with the powers that be even seeking to deny free speech rights with censorship and more. Just think about this: Why do only lawyers called district attorneys have the power to convene grand juries and issue indictments for crimes? Why can’t citizens possess these powers? So far as I know the word lawyer does not even appear in the Constitution at all. Why can’t citizens compel testimony by presidents or vice presidents or four star generals under oath in public? Why can’t citizens compel immediate or almost immediate release of government secrets? In fact why is anything secret in government? Don’t most other countries know virtually everything going on in our government anyway? Doesn’t Israel know long before we know? How can a whole state legislature pass blatantly illegal laws against a citizen or group of citizens seeking to prevent them from exercising their most basic rights to boycott, divest and sanction the criminals in Israel for any reason whatsoever? These laws are clearly unconstitutional by a simple reading of it and existing court cases. Therefore these laws and blatantly illegal and a total abuse of power at the outset and require no further adjudication by the mostly lying lawyer group which controls the judicial branch of our government. In fact do we really have three independent branches of government as falsely claimed in lying civics books? No, because lying lawyers, of which there are about 1.3 million of them, dominate and control all three branches so we have no real checks and balances at all do we? Earl Carey, an engineer and author of the book, “IBM and the Corruption of Justice in America” concluded we must ban all lawyers from holding any jobs in government because of all the damage they have done in gang raping the so called “justice” system and just about everything else. Lawyers have bad and suspect reputations going back centuries in history. They were even banned in the mythical society of Utopia and that was in the year 1516! Carey lists no less than 42 federal judges by name and location who patently and willfully violated the very rules and law they purported to follow! Why worship lying lawyers? Why can’t a citizen be a judge or district attorney? Of course this does mean a citizen can’t be dishonest too, but it is much more likely a lawyer will be isn’t it because that is what they learn in law school, how to lie, cheat and steal from others. This is the only profession taught to do these evil acts in school and as apprentices to other lying lawyers. For a perfect example look at the lying lawyers in the recent sex scandal published in the Miami Post as referenced in several articles right here in VT. Let’s follow Carey’s good advice which he concluded from being his own lawyer pro se, ban all lawyers from any government jobs period.

    • Corrections: Line -8 corrected to read: Of course this does not mean…
      Line -3: Miami Post to read Miami Herald.

    • . “Lawyers and judges operate the judicial system in total isolation from the rest of society. Their guiding principle is the perpetuation of this corrupt system, which enables them to criminally exploit the American people. When the system is threatened, judges and lawyers unfailingly circle the wagons, and destroy the intruder. Matters such as justice, conscience, human rights, honesty, etc. do not enter into consideration. Is this honor among thieves? The Mafia would envy such blind allegiance.” IBM and the Corruptions of Justice in America, 1992, Earl Carey, page 320.

  2. On Wiki we find,
    “A People’s History of the United States is a 1980 non-fiction book by American historian and political scientist Howard Zinn. ”

    Now God forbid we call it a “history book”. What a bunch of manipulators.

    Thanks to his book I better understood why we have the 8 hr work day, Labor Unions and other aspects of US History that are airbrushed to death. Great American unlike McStain.

    • Zinn’s book would be a great one if the last chapter was deleted, since as any VT reader who is not too stupid to live (if I may borrow a Duffism) now knows the official 9/11/2001 story came out of the back end of a bull.

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