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Friday, February 08, 2008

Zinn's People's History to Become Feature

[via The Hollywood Reporter]
Historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States is being adapted into a feature documentary.

Called "The People Speak," the documentary will feature dramatic readings and live musical performances from the likes of Josh Brolin, Viggo Mortensen, David Strathairn, Marisa Tomei, Jasmine Guy, John Legend, Q'Orianka Kilcher, Michael Ealy and Kerry Washington.

Four performances in Boston at Emerson's Cutler Majestic Theater have already been shot and a planned spring shoot will have Matt Damon, Sean Penn, Eddie Vedder and Steve Earle, among others….

The book, first published in 1980, presents American history through a bottoms up approach, focusing on voices seldom heard in history books such as defiant Indians, mutinous soldiers, striking workers, and rebellious women.

I love that, "bottoms up approach."

Anyway, this is excellent news. It's a great book, an excellent teaching resource, and a welcome documentary subject.

6 comments:

Martin said...

It seemed like a contradiction to me whenever you would talk about grassroots, p2p, bottom-up social formations, but at the same time promoted government, which seemed very top-down. Then I got it: democracy is bottom-up government.

Dale Carrico said...

Then I got it: democracy is bottom-up government.

Quite so. That's why I always say I'm a democrat rather than an anarchist: I want to democratize the state rather than to smash it.

Of course, a democratized state might look rather a lot like the council democracy advocated by some sensible social anarchists on the left (Chomsky, Bookchin, Arendt). It's a tomayto tomahto kinda sorta thing.

Of course, a democratized society would look nothing at all like the corporate-militarist tyranny advocated by market libertarian "anarcho-capitalists" who have decided to treat "market outcomes" -- however duressed by precarity and unfairness in fact -- as noncoercive by fiat and so pretend to abhor coercion while clamoring for an incomparable extension of coercion in the world. It's a lying liars fool me once won't get fooled again kinda sorta thing.

Anonymous said...

market libertarian "anarcho-capitalists" who have decided to treat "market outcomes" -- however duressed by precarity and unfairness in fact -- as noncoercive by fiat and so pretend to abhor coercion while clamoring for an incomparable extension of coercion in the world. It's a lying liars fool me once won't get fooled again kinda sorta thing.

That's certainly true but is it... I don't know, fair? Not all backers of market libertarianism are millionaires, (or even millionaire wannabes) after all. When we talk like that aren't we implying that "any business is like Enron" (when J. Random Libertarian thinks of local grocer fighting losing battle with Wal-Mart) How it's different from their "Any government is like Nazis" (when we think about, say, FDR)? True, whatever there is good in libertarianism is totally subverted by that "markets are inherently non-coercive if left alone" dogma, but... Could that potential be un-subverted, I wonder...

Dale Carrico said...

That's certainly true but is it... I don't know, fair? Not all backers of market libertarianism are millionaires

Cry me a river. If one libertarian in a hundred disagrees with or hasn't thought through the actual tyrannical consequences of their free market fundamentalist rhetoric, then they can cry about the "unfairness" of my "overgeneralization" on the shoulders of all the cheerful corporate-militarists whose water they've decided to carry.

When we talk like that aren't we implying that "any business is like Enron" (when J. Random Libertarian thinks of local grocer fighting losing battle with Wal-Mart) How it's different from their "Any government is like Nazis" (when we think about, say, FDR)?

Ah, yes, we all know how the heavy burden of the fight against Wal-Mart is pursued in the main by solitary brave right-wing free-marketeers... NOT! Be that as it may, being anti-corporatist isn't the same thing as being anti-enterprise, and being anti-big-business is not the same thing as being anti-business. With every passing year fewer people are falling for these facile right-wing apologiae and mis-identifications in the service of the politics of incumbent interest.

Look, I'm an advocate for universal healthcare, basic income guarantees, strong environmental, labor and human rights laws, progressive taxation (including progressive taxation of investment income and property), cutting the defense budget with compensatory expansion of the health, safety, education, and welfare budgets, net neutrality, public financing of elections, and so on. Completely legible, fairly mainstream, progressive dem-left priorities.

Big Business wouldn't be pleased with me or with the world I want to build, but the majority of small business people and everyday people in general would scarcely be harmed by my politics, indeed, more of them would thrive than do under the status quo.

I do not advocate the abolition of private property, and I believe that emerging p2p formations render largely moot the old school issue of the nationalization of the means of production more generally.

Given all this, it isn't even completely clear that I count as a socialist in the traditional construal of that term (my advocacy of BIG probably makes me a democratic socialist though on most sensible construals of the term, frankly).

True, whatever there is good in libertarianism is totally subverted by that "markets are inherently non-coercive if left alone" dogma, but... Could that potential be un-subverted, I wonder...

Well, um, sure, you could do that.

Here's another option.

Leave the Randroids and fanboys and white racist patriarchal assholes of the market libertopian wingnutosphere to themselves, and just devote your energies to mainstream democratic left politics that could use more technoscientifically literate folks to defend equity, diversity, and consent in an era of radical technodevelopmental social struggle. Stop casting pearls before swine, and take up the great work of social justice and real progress.

De Thezier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
De Thezier said...

After having first heard of this book over 10 years ago, I finally decided to read it yesterday.

The first few pages have already disturbed me...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_People%27s_History_of_the_United_States