The history of the United States is far from idyllic. Yet today, US history is viewed positively by those of a variety of political and philosophical persuasions. More surprisingly, this position taken up by many on the Amerikan left. How is this accomplished, and why? What underlies a ‘left-wing patriotic’ view of history, and what are the effects and larger ramifications of such a view? Conversely, what is a radical interpretation of history and what does it entail? What do these differe historical analyses tell us about the past, and why is the latter so important for future revolutionary struggles?
“A People’s History of the United States,” by Howard Zinn, is acclaimed within and without Amerikan academia and ‘left-wing’ circles as a hallmark of narrative history. It is required reading in many university History Departments and widely recommended by ‘progressives’ and ‘radicals’ of various shades and stripes. Beyond these accolades however, lies a narrative “of the American people,” not one of those perennially trampled beneath their weight. A “People’s History,” far from being subversive, is a hallmark of typical Amerikan, First World and White chauvinism in ‘leftist’ dressing. Zinn’s work serves much of the First World fake ‘left’ well precisely by obscuring the role of conquest, national oppression and imperialism in the development of the US.
One preeminent example is Zinn’s mountainous four paragraphs of “A People’s History of the United States” dedicated to the internment of Japan-descended people living on the western coast of the US during World War II:
“In one of its policies, the United States came close to direct duplication of Fascism. This was in its treatment of the Japan-Americans living on the West Coast. After the Pearl Harbor attacks, anti-Japanese hysteria spread in the government. One congressman said: ‘I’m for catching every Japanese in America, Alaska and Hawaii now and putting them in concentration camps…Damn them! Let’s get rid of them!’ Continue reading