45 Motivational Howard Zinn Quotes For Success In Life

Howard Zinn was an American historian, playwright, and socialist thinker. He was chair of the history and social sciences department at Spelman College, and a political science professor at Boston University. Zinn wrote over 20 books, including his best-selling and influential A People’s History of the United States. This  Howard Zinn quotes on war, patriotism will motivate you.

Best Howard Zinn Quotes

  1. “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.” ~ Howard Zinn
  2. “They have the guns, we have the poets. Therefore, we will win.” ~ Howard Zinn

  3. “To be hopeful in bad times is based on the fact that human history is not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand Utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” ~ Howard Zinn
  4. “We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” ~ Howard Zinn
  5. “But remember, this power of the people on top depends on the obedience of the people below. When people stop obeying, they have no power.” ~ Howard Zinn
  6. “If patriotism were defined, not as blind obedience to government, not as submissive worship to flags and anthems, but rather as love of one’s country, one’s fellow citizens (all over the world), as loyalty to the principles of justice and democracy, then patriotism would require us to disobey our government, when it violated those principles.” ~ Howard Zinn
  7. “But I suppose the most revolutionary act one can engage in is… to tell the truth.” ~ Howard Zinn

  8. “Historically, the most terrible things – war, genocide, and slavery – have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience.” ~ Howard Zinn
  9. “I am convinced that imprisonment is a way of pretending to solve the problem of crime. It does nothing for the victims of crime, but perpetuates the idea of retribution, thus maintaining the endless cycle of violence in our culture. It is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions–poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, greed–which are at the root of most punished crime. The crimes of the rich and powerful go mostly unpunished.” ~ Howard Zinn
  10. “While some multimillionaires started in poverty, most did not. A study of the origins of 303 textile, railroad and steel executives of the 1870s showed that 90 percent came from middle- or upper-class families. The Horatio Alger stories of “rags to riches” were true for a few men, but mostly a myth, and a useful myth for control.” ~ Howard Zinn Quotes
  11. “When I say history is a matter of life and death, I mean this: If you really don’t know history, you are a victim of whatever the authorities tell you. You have no way of checking up on them. You have no way of deciding whether there is any truth in what they are saying.” ~ Howard Zinn
  12. “It’s a strange thing, we think that law brings order. Law doesn’t. How do we know that law does not bring order? Look around us. We live under the rule of law. Notice how much order we have?” ~ Howard Zinn

  13. “If we have learned anything in the past ten years, it is that these lovely things about America were never lovely. We have been expansionist and aggressive and mean to other people from the beginning. And we’ve been aggressive and mean to people in this country, and we’ve allocated the wealth of this country in a very unjust way. We’ve never had justice in our courts for the poor people, for black people, for radicals. Now how can we boast that America is a very special place? It’s not that special. It really isn’t.” ~ Howard Zinn
  14. “If you join a fight for social justice you may win or lose, but just by being part of the struggle, you win, and your life will be better for it.” ~ Howard Zinn
  15. “Education can, and should be, dangerous.” ~ Howard Zinn
  16. “Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” ~ Howard Zinn

  17. “If there is going to be change, real change, it will have to work its way from the bottom up, from the people themselves. That’s how change happens.” ~ Howard Zinn
  18. “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.” ~ Howard Zinn
  19. “When some people ask me about voting, they would say will you support this candidate or that candidate? I say: “I will support this candidate for one minute that I am in the voting booth. At that moment I will support A versus B, but before I am going to the voting booth, and after I leave the voting booth, I am going to concentrate on organizing people and not organizing electoral campaign.”” ~ Howard Zinn
  20. “There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” ~ Howard Zinn

  21. “When the United States fought in Vietnam, it was organized modern technology versus organized human beings, and the human beings won.” ~ Howard Zinn Quotes
  22. “History is important. If you don’t know history it is as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it.” ~ Howard Zinn
  23. “The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.” ~ Howard Zinn
  24. “Behind the deceptive words designed to entice people into supporting violence — words like democracy, freedom, self-defense, national security — there is the reality of enormous wealth in the hands of a few, while billions of people in the world are hungry, sick, homeless.” ~ Howard Zinn
  25. “Americans have been taught that their nation is civilized and humane. But, too often, U.S. actions have been uncivilized and inhumane.” ~ Howard Zinn
  26. “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.” ~ Howard Zinn

  27. “There was something horrifying in the realization that, in this twenty-first century of what we call ‘civilization,’ we have carved up what we claim is one world into 200 artificially created entities we call ‘nations’ and armed to apprehend or kill anyone who crosses a boundary.” ~ Howard Zinn
  28. “One percent of the nation owns a third of the wealth. The rest of the wealth is distributed in such a way as to turn those in the 99 percent against one another: small property owners against the propertyless, black against white, native-born against foreign-born, intellectuals and professionals against the uneducated and the unskilled. These groups have resented one another and warred against one another with such vehemence and violence as to obscure their common position as sharers of leftovers in a very wealthy country.” ~ Howard Zinn
  29. “Nations are not communities and never have been. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals the fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such as 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.” ~ Howard Zinn
  30. “Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication. To peace, to defiance of governments.” ~ Howard Zinn
  31. “Capitalism has always been a failure for the lower classes. It is now beginning to fail for the middle classes.” ~ Howard Zinn
  32. “The problem in this world is not civil disobedience…th e problem in this world is civil obedience.” ~ Howard Zinn

  33. “What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but “who is sitting in” – and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.” ~ Howard Zinn
  34. “When the Democrats are attacked for [inciting class warfare] they shrink back. They don’t say what obviously should be said, “Yes, there is class warfare. There has always been class warfare in this country.” The reason the Democrats shrink back is because the Democrats and the Republicans are on the same side of the class war. They have slightly different takes. The Democrats are part of the upper class that is more willing to make concessions to the lower class in order to maintain their power.” ~ Howard Zinn
  35. “Terrorism has replaced Communism as the rationale for the militarization of the country [America], for military adventures abroad, and for the suppression of civil liberties at home. It serves the same purpose, serving to create hysteria.” ~ Howard Zinn Quotes
  36. “The cry of the poor is is not always just, but if you don’t listen to it, you will never know what justice is.” ~ Howard Zinn

  37. “When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not fall in meekly behind them. We who protest…are not politicians. We are citizens. Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully timorous Congress.” ~ Howard Zinn
  38. “We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.” ~ Howard Zinn
  39. “The Constitution. . . illustrates the complexity of the American system: that it serves the interests of a wealthy elite, but also does enough for small property owners, for middle-income mechanics and farmers, to build a broad base of support. The slightly prosperous people who make up this base of support are buffers against the blacks, the Indians, the very poor whites. They enable the elite to keep control with a minimum of coercion, a maximum of law–all made palatable by the fanfare of patriotism and unity.” ~ Howard Zinn
  40. “Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.” ~ Howard Zinn

  41. “Because of the control of the media by corporate wealth, the discovery of truth depends on alternative media, such as small radio stations, networks, programs. Also, alternative newspapers, which exist all over the country. Also, cable TV programs, which are not dependent on commercial advertising. Also, the internet, which can reach millions of people by-passing conventional media.” ~ Howard Zinn
  42. “In the United States today, the Declaration of Independence hangs on schoolroom walls, but foreign policy follows Machiavelli.” ~ Howard Zinn
  43. “War is by definition the indiscriminate killing of huge numbers of people for ends that are uncertain. Think about means and ends, and apply it to war. The means are horrible, certainly. The ends, uncertain. That alone should make you hesitate. . . . We are smart in so many ways. Surely, we should be able to understand that in between war and passivity, there are a thousand possibilities.” ~ Howard Zinn
  44. “Indeed, it is impossible to be neutral. In a world already moving in certain directions, where wealth and power are already distributed in certain ways, neutrality means accepting the way things are now. It is a world of clashing interests – war against peace, nationalism against internationalism, equality against greed, and democracy against elitism – and it seems to me both impossible and undesirable to be neutral in those conflicts.” ~ Howard Zinn
  45. “Majorities can be wrong, majorities can overrule rights of minorities. If majorities ruled, we could still have slavery. 80% of the population once enslaved 20% of the population. While run by majority rule that is ok. That is very flawed notion of what democracy is. Democracy has to take into account several things – proportionate requirements of people, not just the needs of the majority, but also the needs of the minority. The majority, especially in societies where the media manipulates public opinion, can be totally wrong and evil. People have to act according to conscience and not by majority vote.” ~ Howard Zinn Quotes

Comment your favorite Howard Zinn Quotes!

Spread the Love

We love to write about our experiences to motivate and inspire the lives of people we touch. We believe when you succeed we succeed with you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *