Howard Zinn

The dominance of ideas

"The dominance of these ideas is not the product of a conspiratorial group that has devilishly plotted to implant on society a particular point of view. Nor is it an accident, an innocent result of people thinking freely. There is a process of natural (or, rather unnatural) selection, in which certain orthodox ideas are encouraged, financed, and pushed foward by the most powerful mechanisms of our culture. These ideas are preferred because they are safe; they don't threaten established wealth or power.

    For instance:

     "Be realistic; this is the way things are; there's no point thinking about how things should be.

    "People who teach or write or report the news should be objective; they should not try to advance their own opinions.

    "There are unjust wars, but also just wars.

    "If you disobey the law, even for a good cause, you should accept your punishment.

    "If you work hard enough, you'll make a good living. If your are poor, you only have yourself to blame.

    "Freedom of speech is desirable, but not when it threatens national security.

    "Racial equality is desirable, but we've gone far enough in that direction."

    "Our Constitution is our greatest guarantee of liberty and justice.

    "The United States must intervene from time to time in various parts of the world with military power to stop communism and promote democracy.

    "If you want to get things changed, the only way is through proper channels.

    "We need nuclear weapons to prevent war.

    "There is much injustice in the world but there is nothing that ordinary people, without wealth or power, can do about it."

-- Howard Zinn, Declarations of Independence
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