Først: dette er Henry Kissingers rake - og selverklærte - motsetning. Mens Kissinger ser historien ovenfra og ned, gjør Zinn alt han kan for å se verden nedenfra. Slik formulerer Zinn det selv (side 9-10):
"History is the memory of states," wrote Henry Kissinger in his first book, A World Restored in which he proceeded to tell the history of nineteenth-century Europe from the viewpoint of the leaders of Austria and England, ignoring the millions who suffered from those statesmen's policies. From his standpoint, the "peace" that Europe had before the French Revolution was "restored" by the diplomacy of a few national leaders. But for factory workers in England, farmers in France, colored people in Asia and Africa, women and children everywhere except in the upper classes, it was a world of conquest, violence, hunger, exploitation-a world not restored but disintegrated.
My viewpoint, in telling the history of the United States, is different: that we must not accept the memory of states as our own. Nations are not communities and never have been, The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners.Zinn er for øvrig mye rødere enn jeg først trodde.
Én ting til: da jeg tok metodefaget i historie på Blindern måtte vi lese et makkverk av en bok: Lifelines From Our Past. A New World History Revised Edition, av Lefton Stavrianos. Hovedargumentet i denne boka kan oppsummeres omtrent slik: menneskeheten har aldri vært så lykkelig som da vi levde som stammesamfunn av samlere og jegere, og etter jordbruksrevolusjonen har det bare gått nedover. Kapitalismen er noe svineri.
Howard Zinn er ikke langt fra å si det samme (side 16-17):
Behind the English invasion of North America, behind their massacre of Indians, their deception, their brutality, was that special powerful drive born in civilizations based on private property. It was a morally ambiguous drive; the need for space, for land, was a real human need. But in conditions of scarcity, in a barbarous epoch of history ruled by competition, this human need was transformed into the murder of whole peoples. (...)
Was all this bloodshed and deceit-from Columbus to Cortes, Pizarro, the Puritans-a necessity for the human race to progress from savagery to civilization? (...)
That quick disposal might be acceptable ("Unfortunate, yes, but it had to be done") to the middle and upper classes of the conquering and "advanced" countries. But is it acceptable to the poor of Asia, Africa, Latin America, or to the prisoners in Soviet labor camps, or the blacks in urban ghettos, or the Indians on reservations-to the victims of that progress which benefits a privileged minority in the world? Was it acceptable (or just inescapable?) to the miners and railroaders of America, the factory hands, the men and women who died by the hundreds of thousands from accidents or sickness, where they worked or where they lived-casualties of progress? And even the privileged minority-must it not reconsider, with that practicality which even privilege cannot abolish, the value of its privileges, when they become threatened by the anger of the sacrificed, whether in organized rebellion, unorganized riot, or simply those brutal individual acts of desperation labeled crimes by law and the state?Adam Smith har selvfølgelig et ganske annerledes syn på kapitalismen, og på hvordan rike menneskers egeninteresse påvirker resten av samfunnet. Les det lange sitatet i bloggposten om Moral Sentiments, og sammenlikn det med Zinn. For min egen del: jeg ser Zinns poeng - og det er verdt å dvele ved disse maktovergrepene - men i utgangspunktet er jeg nok mer på linje med Smith.
Du kan forresten laste ned hele (ja, hele!) Howard Zinns bok som pdf her.