Reform or Revolution
This amazing “must have” set features radical historian Howard Zinn and William F. Buckley, one of the icons of the Right, in a debate on Vietnam, the morality of war, economic inequality, crime and punishment, and a vast range of other issues. It is a rare opportunity to hear two such eloquent and articulate voices facing off. The tapes, recovered from Zinn’s attic, and re-mastered are not pristine. Here and there there is some dropout but the content is so compelling that you’ll hardly notice. At the end of the debate which was held at Tufts University, there is a recording of Zinn speaking at a big anti-war demonstration on the Boston Common on May 5, 1971. This has to be one of the great political speeches of all time. It was featured in You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train, the award-winning documentary film about Zinn.
Recorded at Tufts University.
Howard Zinn, professor emeritus at Boston University, was perhaps this country’s premier radical historian. He was born in Brooklyn in 1922. His parents, poor immigrants, were constantly moving to stay, as he once told me, “one step ahead of the landlord.” After high school, he went to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. During World War II, he saw combat duty as an air force bombardier. After the war, he went to Columbia University on the GI Bill. He taught at Spelman, the all-black women’s college in Atlanta. He was an active figure in the civil rights movement and served on the board of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was fired by Spelman for his activism. He was among the first to oppose U.S. aggression in Indochina. His book Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal was an instant classic. A principled opponent of imperialism and militarism, he was an advocate of non-violent civil disobedience. He spoke and marched against the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. His masterpiece, A People’s History of the United States, continues to sell in huge numbers. Among his many other books are You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, Failure to Quit: Reflections of an Optimistic Historian and Original Zinn with David Barsamian. Shortly before his death he completed his last great project, the documentary The People Speak. Always ready to lend a hand, he believed in and practiced solidarity. Witty, erudite, generous and loved by many the world over, Howard Zinn, friend and teacher, passed away on January 27, 2010. He would say, Don’t mourn. Get active. The struggle for peace and justice continues.
William F. Buckley was a long time editor for The National Review. He was an influential conservative voice. For many years he was the host of Firing Line on PBS. He died in 2008.