The legendary author and activist Howard Zinn passed away this evening at the age of 87. In one of his final interviews,
Professor Zinn discussed how he would like to be remembered:
for "introducing a different way of thinking about the world," and as
"somebody who gave people a feeling of hope and power that they didn’t
The entire interview can be viewed here, and his remarks are quoted in full below:
What do you want to be remembered for?:
What is your personal philosophy?:
Question: What do you want to be remembered for?
Howard Zinn: I
guess if I want to be remembered for anything, it’s for introducing a
different way of thinking about the world, about war, about human
rights, about equality, for getting more and more people to think that
for getting more people to realize that the power which rests so far in
the hands of people with wealth and guns, that the power ultimately
rests in people themselves and that they can use it. At certain points
in history, they have used it. Black people in the South used it.
People in the women’s movement used it. People in the anti-war movement
used it. People in other countries who have overthrown tyrannies have
I want to be remembered as somebody who gave people a feeling of hope and power that they didn’t have before.
Question: What is your philosophy?
I believe, I suppose, in what could be called democratic socialism. I
believe that we need a society where the motive for the economic system
is not corporate profit, but the motive is the welfare of people,
health care, jobs, child care, and so on. But that is dominant. Where
there is a greater equalization of wealth and a society which is
peaceful, which devotes its resources to helping people in the country
believe in a world where war is no longer the recourse for the settling
of grievances and problems. I believe in the wiping out of national
don’t believe in visas and passports and immigration quotas. I think we
need to move toward a global society. They use the word
“globalization,” but they use it in a very narrow sense to mean the
freedom of corporations to move across boundaries. But what we need is
a freedom of people and things to move across boundaries.
I talk about socialism without jails, I mean greater societal
intervention into the economy, but without deprivation of civil
liberties. Dalton Trumbo, the Hollywood writer, put it very simply. He
said, “Socialism without jails.”