Tuesday, June 3, 2008

And again I say to you (or rather, Howard Zinn says)

I mentioned it in the comments to this post and alluded to it vaguely in the comments to this one, so it's time, as we enter a new phase of the presidential campaign, to return to this post from February. Please. Read it.

In case you're lazy, I'm pasting below the excerpt I pasted back then. But really, read the whole thing.

I’m talking about a sense of proportion that gets lost in the election madness. Would I support one candidate against another? Yes, for two minutes—the amount of time it takes to pull the lever down in the voting booth.

But before and after those two minutes, our time, our energy, should be spent in educating, agitating, organizing our fellow citizens in the workplace, in the neighborhood, in the schools. Our objective should be to build, painstakingly, patiently but energetically, a movement that, when it reaches a certain critical mass, would shake whoever is in the White House, in Congress, into changing national policy on matters of war and social justice.

Let’s remember that even when there is a “better” candidate (yes, better Roosevelt than Hoover, better anyone than George Bush), that difference will not mean anything unless the power of the people asserts itself in ways that the occupant of the White House will find it dangerous to ignore. ...

***************************Howard Zinn
***************************The Progressive (March 2008 issue)
***************************[boldface emphases by Acts of Hope]


FranIAm said...

Brava - thanks for bringing this back into our eyesight Jane.

Diane said...

yes yes yes. that's the whole thing behind community organizing...we have become way to deferential to politicians and their "experts". Governing was never meant to be left to "experts" but by, of and for the people.

Thank you!

Fr Chris said...

This is such an awesome quote, Jane -- I hope you don't mind that I stole it for my blog.

These are the kinds of insights that come from Zinn's historiographic model, and I wish American history were taught from that populist perspective in more schools. (It was in my elite magnet school -- from Zinn's book, in fact -- but very few people get the opportunity to attend one.) This is precisely the time we need sages reminding us how flawed the "great men" model of history is -- because we're constantly in danger of believing the next great man or woman is going to save us.

Jane R said...

Chris, I don't mind at all, on the contrary! And it's in the public domain, so steal away. That's what blogs are for. :-)

And you are exactly right about the great man or great woman model.

Which doesn't mean I'm not going to work on the campaign when fall comes along, but I think one has to do it with the proper perspective. And I'm going to think hard about how I apportion my time and energy.

Spread the quote and the link, all y'all. The more people think about this, the better.

Grandmère Mimi said...

What I said on my blog yesterday:

Neither Obama nor Clinton was my first choice, nor my second choice, nor probably even my third choice. But Obama is the nominee. Make no mistake. I do not see him as the Second Coming, someone who will be our savior. We will have to save ourselves, even if we elect a Democrat for president and larger Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. We will need to be vigilant and goad the Democrats to do the right thing, because coming to power has strange effects on people, and they may not follow through in the ways we would like.

I know. It's pathetic to quote oneself.

Jane R said...

Not when it's a quote like this.

Just think of it as ecological intellectual action: reduce, reuse, recycle!