history

You Can't Be 'Neutral' on a Moving Train

Sometimes I think of the enormity of darkness which our world contains, and find the tragedies involved simply too crushing. How small we are! How seemingly powerless! So many people spend their time preparing for 'the revolution', even agitating for it... and without some historical perspective they have no firm grasp of what it is they are actually agitating for. They seem to feel the urgent need to move, but don't know where to go or how to proceed. And I find myself in need of hopeful words -- words that succinctly explain how the revolution is NOW. Not something that we have to wait for, or organize for, or agitate for... it's something that can begin in the ways which we live our lives; the foods we choose to eat, the ways we bring our children into this world and raise them to adulthood, and the stories that we tell about our histories and our day-to-day existence.

I found such a succinct explanation, today, in the conclusion to Howard Zinn’s 1994 book You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. Actually, the words were a truncated version of what follows and (believe it or not) they came from the mouth of Matt Damon, in his narration of a documentary about the life of Howard Zinn with the same title as Zinn's book. If you feel you’re invested in bringing good to your world, by whatever means, perhaps you’ll find these words encouraging. (continued...)

The Unholy Trinity: Death Squads, Disappearances, and Torture

In this excellent article by Greg Grandin, the history of U.S. involvement in decades of 'dirty wars', brutal dictatorships, and false democracies across Latin America is briefly explored in an effort to show that the current atrocities occurring in the global war against terrorism are really nothing new. They may have been refined a bit, to be more palatable for public consumption, but essentially nothing has changed. Just like the cold war and the drug war, the war on terrorism is nothing more than a contrived pretense for the wealthy elite classes of the world to wage unrestrained warfare against self-willed people and planet which stand in the way of their amoral quest for profit.  (continued...)

The Past Didn't Go Anywhere


        "The past is never dead. It's not even past." -- William Faulkner

This week the world learned that the Cold War didn't really 'end', per se, and that the Neolithic revolution isn't quite complete. (continued...)

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race -- by Jared Diamond

To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our earth isn’t the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren’t specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress. In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. (continued...)

Quotable Sources: The Goose and the Commons

The law doth punish man or woman
That steals the goose from off the common,
But lets the greater felon loose
That steals the common from the goose.

— Apocryphal (appearing among the people even before the 17th Century... by the 1600s enclosure was being publicly criticized by the government & clergy)

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