kumrads die because they’re told)
kumrads die before they’re old
(kumrads aren’t afraid to die
and kumrads won’t
believe in life)and death knows whie
(all good kumrads you can tell
by their altruistic smell
moscow pipes good kumrads dance)
s.freud knows whoy
the hope that you may mess your pance
every kumrad is a bit
of quite unmitigated hate
(travelling in a futile groove
god knows why)
and so do i
(because they are afraid to love
* * * * *
Marxist historian Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is being made into a movie, the Hollywood Reporter reports. A 29-minute sneak preview of the film was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7.
Howard Zinn is, of course, the supposedly deep thinker who told Al Jazeera recently that “a movement of rebellion” was developing and that it was “the only hope for the United States.”
The flick reportedly stars Hollywood liberals Matt Damon, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Penn, and Marxist thug Hugo Chavez’s business partner, Danny Glover.
The People Speak, a documentary, is described in the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) as “A look at America’s struggles with war, class, race and women’s rights.” Oh, how scintillating. It should be just like an undergraduate American history course taught by a politically correct professor: America sucks and it needs to be radically changed.
The project is likely to be yet another ideological loss-leader like the dreadful Tim Robbins flick, Cradle Will Rock (1999), which brought in a mere $2.9 million even though it cost $36 million to make.
Chances are, though, that The People Speak won’t receive the critical acclaim that Warren Beatty’s Reds (Academy Award for Best Picture, 1982) received.
That’s because Zinn’s revisionist book was widely panned – on the left.
Leftist historian Eric Foner wrote of Zinn’s focus on “the distinctive experience of blacks, women, Indians, workers and other neglected groups,” but argues that “The portrayal of these anonymous Americans is strangely circumscribed. Blacks, Indians, women and laborers appear either as rebels or as victims. Less dramatic but more typical lives – people struggling to survive with dignity in difficult circumstances – receive little attention.” The book “reflects a deeply pessimistic vision of the American experience” and was missing “an integrated account incorporating Thomas Jefferson and his slaves, Andrew Jackson and the Indians, Woodrow Wilson and the Wobblies.” (The source here is Wikipedia. I don’t like to cite Wikipedia but the review is too old to appear in Nexis.)
Another left-wing history professor, Michael Kammen, was disappointed by the book. Kammen wrote:
I wish that I could pronounce Zinn’s book a great success, but it is not. It is a synthesis of the radical and revisionist historiography of the past decade. . . Not only does the book read like a scissors and paste-pot job, but even less attractive, so much attention to historians, historiography and historical polemic leaves precious little space for the substance of history. . . . We do deserve a people’s history; but not a singleminded, simpleminded history, too often of fools, knaves and Robin Hoods. We need a judicious people’s history because the people are entitled to have their history whole; not just those parts that will anger or embarrass them. . . . If that is asking for the moon, then we will cheerfully settle for balanced history.
(Ditto the above note about Wikipedia.)
Michael Kazin of Dissent magazine also dissed A People’s History. Although the book “may well be the most popular work of history an American leftist has ever written,” it doesn’t deserve acclaim. Kazin wrote:
A People’s History is bad history, albeit gilded with virtuous intentions. Zinn reduces the past to a Manichean fable and makes no serious attempt to address the biggest question a leftist can ask about U.S. history: why have most Americans accepted the legitimacy of the capitalist republic in which they live?
His failure is grounded in a premise better suited to a conspiracy-monger’s Web site than to a work of scholarship. According to Zinn, “99 percent” of Americans share a “commonality” that is profoundly at odds with the interests of their rulers. And knowledge of that awesome fact is “exactly what the governments of the United States, and the wealthy elite allied to them-from the Founding Fathers to now-have tried their best to prevent.”
History for Zinn is thus a painful narrative about ordinary folks who keep struggling to achieve equality, democracy, and a tolerant society, yet somehow are always defeated by a tiny band of rulers whose wiles match their greed. He describes the American Revolution as a clever device to defeat “potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership.” His Civil War was another elaborate confidence game. Soldiers who fought to preserve the Union got duped by “an aura of moral crusade” against slavery that “worked effectively to dim class resentments against the rich and powerful, and turn much of the anger against ‘the enemy.'”
The book is “history as cynicism,” according to Kazine.