A Classic . . . and Important . . . work!
Most historians in the U.S., as far as I can tell, tend to believe in the “Great Man” theory of history; the belief that history can be largely explained by the impact of great men, or heroes; highly influential individuals who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or political skill used their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact.
Howard Zinn’s classic, A People’s History of the United States, takes the exact opposite view; that history is made by the people, the masses, the average working man and woman who comprise the body politic, and whose lives tell the story of a society’s development. Individuals are seen as products of the society in which they grew and came to prominence, representatives of the people or oppressors of the people, but not apart from the “salt of the Earth”.
If you ever wanted to read this wonderful book, but haven’t gotten around to it, or you’d like to be able to peruse it before taking the plunge (it is a formidable, but entertaining, read) you can find the book in its entirety at History is a Weapon. I believe this particular book is more important than ever, as we become more and more politically active and strive to wrest control over our government, which has been hijacked by vile white nationalists, religionists, and science deniers. I’ve included the link to the book below.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
One of the reasons I’ve decided to write about my experiences with the peace and justice movement in the late sixties and early seventies – specifically about a group of peace activists who dedicated huge amounts of time and energy providing organizational and security expertise – is because I believe there’s a concerted effort to marginalize those activities and their contribution to ending an unjust and predatory war.
Tom Hayden was one of the people I spent those years working with . Here’s a recent post from Tom’s website/blog. He writes, “We must call for inclusion in the memorial dialogue to prevent a false narrative of Vietnam [that] will lead to Vietnams without end.” Here, also, is an excerpt from a response to a request from Vietnam Veterans for Factual History, located in Missouri City, TX. (http://vvfh.org/):
“One reason I believe it’s hard to arrive at a true reckoning is that it would require an admission by too many authorities in the government and media that they lied – or distorted the truth, or were ill-informed themselves – when they sent millions of young Americans into dubious battle.
“But I believe it’s possible at grass-roots level, all across the country, for people like ourselves to engage in honest truth-digging and exchange of perspectives about those most intense years of our lives.”
My intent is to tell the story of a group who fought very hard — and who risked much — to bring an end to that war, from my perspective and through the recounting of my experiences. Knowing my memory has probably faded and, in any event, is incomplete because I wasn’t everywhere, I am contacting those people with whom I worked back then. Tom is one of them. You can read more about it at his Peace and Justice Resource Center. Here’s a link to the post I’m quoting from.