65 Howard Zinn Quotes from American Historian & Playwright

Howard Zinn was a famous historian and author best known for “A People’s History of the United States” which presented American history from the perspective of marginalized groups.

Born in 1922 in a Jewish immigrant family in New York Zinn served in World War II before earning history degrees from New York University and Columbia University.

He became a professor at Spelman College supporting student involvement in the Civil Rights movement.

Howard Zinn quotes

At Boston University Zinn opposed the Vietnam War and played a role in publishing the Pentagon Papers.

Zinn’s work including plays has had a significant impact on education and has sold over a million copies. He passed away in 2010 survived by his family.

Below are some of the best quotes by Howard Zinn.

Best Howard Zinn Quotes


Tyranny is tyranny, let it come from whom it may. ~ Howard Zinn.


We must transfer our anger to the brutalities of our time. ~ Howard Zinn.


Since war itself is the most extreme form of terrorism, a war on terrorism is profoundly self-contradictory. ~ Howard Zinn.


Why do we have to be a military superpower? Why can’t we be a humanitarian superpower? ~ Howard Zinn.


Capital punishment could not be justified in any society calling itself civilized. ~ Howard Zinn.

If racism can’t be shown to be natural then it is the result of certain conditions, and we are impelled to eliminate those conditions. ~ Howard Zinn.


The Future is an infinite succession of presents. ~ Howard Zinn.

Sometimes it’s a short step from banning to burning. ~ Howard Zinn.

The principle is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States. ~ Howard Zinn.


You can’t be neutral on a moving train. ~ Howard Zinn.

They didn’t give their lives for their country! Their lives were taken away from them by their government. ~ Howard Zinn.


The resources of a university, of a college, should not be wasted in merely academic pursuits. ~ Howard Zinn.

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.

Famous Howard Zinn Quotes

Any humane and reasonable person must conclude that if the ends, however desirable, are uncertain and the means are horrible and certain, these means must not be employed. ~ Howard Zinn.


The media, like the politicians, do not take note of rebellion until it is too large to be ignored. ~ Howard Zinn.

When a nation issues ultimatums, it leaves no room for compromise and ensures that war will continue. ~ Howard Zinn.

In between war and passivity, there are a thousand possibilities. ~ Howard Zinn.

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.


One certain effect of war is to diminish freedom of expression. ~ Howard Zinn.

We don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an endless succession of presents, and to live now as we think humans should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. ~ Howard Zinn.

Diverse audiences can be just as misled as homogenous audiences. ~ Howard Zinn.

Top Howard Zinn Quotes

Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act. ~ Howard Zinn.


There is not a country in world history in which racism has been more important, for so long a time, as the United States. ~ Howard Zinn.

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.

When the United States fought in Vietnam, it was organized modern technology versus organized human beings, and the human beings won. ~ Howard Zinn.

It was an old lesson learned by governments: that war solves problems of control. ~ Howard Zinn.

Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold. ~ Howard Zinn.

I do take the threat of terrorism seriously. You cannot eliminate that threat or diminish that threat by bombing a country. ~ Howard Zinn.


Education can, and should be, dangerous. ~ Howard Zinn.

I am an anarchist, and according to anarchist principles nation states become obstacles to a true humanistic globalization. ~ Howard Zinn.

No new social class came to power through the door of the American revolution. The men who engineered the revolt were largely members of the colonial ruling class. ~ Howard Zinn.

Popular Howard Zinn Quotes

A jury is always a more orthodox body than any defendant brought before it; for blacks, it is usually a whiter group, for poor people, a more prosperous group. ~ Howard Zinn.

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.


Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. ~ Howard Zinn.

Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it. ~ Howard Zinn.

The atmosphere of war brutalizes everyone involved, begets a fanaticism in which the original moral factor is buried at the bottom of a heap of atrocities committed by all sides. ~ Howard Zinn.

Ruling elites seem to have learned through the generations – consciously or not – that war makes them more secure against internal trouble. ~ Howard Zinn.

Historically, the most terrible things – war, genocide, and slavery – have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience. ~ Howard Zinn.


One certain effect of warfare is to diminish freedom of expression. ~ Howard Zinn.

How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism? ~ Howard Zinn.

When you fight a war against a tyrant who do you kill? You kill the victims of the tyrant. ~ Howard Zinn.

Powerful Howard Zinn Quotes

When we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. ~ Howard Zinn.


War itself is the enemy of the human race. ~ Howard Zinn.

People should go where they are not supposed to go, say what they are not supposed to say, and stay when they are told to leave. ~ Howard Zinn.

It must surely be a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit that even a small number of those men and women in the hell of the prison system survive it and hold on to their humanity. ~ Howard Zinn.

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. ~ Howard Zinn.

Civil disobedience is not something outside the realm of democracy. Democracy requires civil disobedience. Without civil disobedience, democracy does not exist. ~ Howard Zinn.

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.

When People don’t understand that the government doesn’t have their interest in mind, they are more susceptible to go to war. ~ Howard Zinn.

There is an underside to every age about which history does not often speak because history is written from records left by the privileged. ~ Howard Zinn.


Capitalism has always been a failure for the lower classes. It is now beginning to fail for the middle classes. ~ Howard Zinn.

Our ethos is all that we currently hold to be true. It is what we act upon. It governs our manners, our business, and our politics. ~ Howard Zinn.

The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle. If there is no struggle there is no progress. ~ Howard Zinn.

Wise Howard Zinn Quotes

The problem in this world is not civil disobedience…the problem in this world is civil obedience. ~ Howard Zinn.


If the Gods had intended for people to vote, they would have given us candidates. ~ Howard Zinn.

War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times. ~ Howard Zinn.

So long as atrocities remain remote, abstract, they will be tolerated, even by decent people. ~ Howard Zinn.

You call this progress because you have motor cars and telephones and flying machines and a thousand potions to make you smell better? And people sleeping on the streets? ~ Howard Zinn.


The violence of our time is caused by obedience. ~ Howard Zinn.

Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens. ~ Howard Zinn.

So these were the 65 top Howard Zinn quotes and sayings on history, civil disobedience, race, democracy and patriotism.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Honore de Balzac quotes and Hillary Clinton quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar