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Friday, January 13, 2006

An Interview With Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn is professor emeritus at Boston University. He is a noted historian, activist and political analyst. Among numerous other books, plays and commentaries he is the author of A People's History of the United States. For more information visit: howardzinn.org , Wikipedia

After seeing a performance of Mr. Zinn's play Marx in Soho, Stefan, of Cultureblog, was able to ask him a few questions.


CB: For the past fifty years, you have witnessed and analyzed many significant shifts in the character of the United States. What have been the biggest changes in America's political and popular culture over the past half-century and how have they affected the rest of the world?

HZ: I think the most important changes have been the new conciousness of the race question, the new conciousness of the issue of sexual equality and a critical division in the thinking of Americans about the nation's place in the world.

CB: I once heard Molly Ivins speak and she made the remark that "To say you're not interested in politics is to say: 'I'm not interested in my own life'." And yet, outside of certain activist groups, this apathy is palpable both in voting statistics and in daily conversation. Am I just hanging out with the wrong people or is political malaise among Americans a growing reality? And if so, what might be the cause?

HZ: What is called "apathy" is, I believe, a feeling of helplessness on the part of the ordinary citizen, a feeling of impotence in the face of enormous power. It's not that people are apathetic; they do care about what is going on, but don't know what to do about it, so they do nothing, and appear to be indifferent.

CB: On a similar note, it seems as though 'hard news' has all but disappeared from our media. With the rise of what some are calling 'infotainment' our understanding of world affairs is becoming about as clear as a Dadaist mosaic. The lines between reality television and televison of reality are blurring as we continue to wage a war between commercial breaks. How does this manner of distortion affect the ability of our democracy to function and what can be done about it?

HZ: Democracy depends on citizens being informed, and since our media, especially television (which is the most important source of news for most Americans)reports mostly what the people in power do, and repeats what the people in power say, the public is badly informed, and it means we cannot really say we have a functioning democracy.

7 Comments:

At 6:23 PM, Blogger DJEB said...

Thanks for that.

 
At 7:19 PM, Blogger _H_ said...

Great Exclusive and some well thought out questions

nice

 
At 8:30 PM, Blogger stefan said...

Thanks! Now I just need more site traffic :P

 
At 8:46 PM, Blogger _H_ said...

I plan to sort my links out in a week or so and your site is already planned to be on it

bare in mind though I am hardly daily Kos :-)

if you think I can help in anyway give me a shout (email in profile)

It would be a pleasure to help

 
At 9:08 PM, Blogger stefan said...

I appreciate that. I'll email ya.

 
At 4:06 PM, Blogger Sports Bettor said...

good interview.

 
At 2:35 PM, Blogger Dead Poet said...

Awsome. Thank you geatly.

 

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