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4: Tyranny is Tyranny 
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Post 4: Tyranny is Tyranny
Howard Zinn would see recent Fourth of July celebrations as perpetuating a myth that, just as we all commemorate together the declaration of separation from England, we joined the ensuing struggle in 1776 as a united people. We learned in history class about the loyalists to England, those recalcitrants who failed to rally to the cause of liberty. I remember assuming, even if teachers didn't say it, that cowardice was the reason for their being "turncoats," even though the label isn't accurate. They were just a handful of bad apples anyway (no, Wikipedia says there were as many as 400,000, or 15-20 percent of the population). Zinn says that the reason for loyalism has more to do with the bitter experience of colonists with the wealthy elite who controlled the economy and society and were seen by many, claims Zinn, as more oppressive than the mother country. The discontent, riots, and protests that Zinn tells of were as much against local establishments as they were against England. Zinn then describes machinations of colonial leaders to direct popular rage to their preferred target, the British. That was the way for the elite to capture the wealth being lost to England. But this was a tricky dance, because power should not be given to "the mob;" democracy should not be allowed to rear its ugly head. Accordingly, leaders stressed their interest in enlisting the "middling classes" of mechanics, tradesmen, and small merchants.

The question here might not be whether Zinn is right or wrong in charging that it was not in the real interests of the middle classes to go in with the wealthy, and was not in fact a free choice but one brought about through manipulation. The question might be whether such a charge can be evaluated in any summary fashion, given the complexity of the data. My opinion is that it can't be and that history isn't put to its best use in trying. But Zinn has made me consider the interesting aspect of this bifurcation of resentment that I'm sure did exist, variously against the Crown on the one hand and the representatives of the Crown who would have been seen as abusing their authority, on the other. And the loyalists or Tories may come out better than I ever had imagined possible.



Sat Jul 15, 2017 6:43 am
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Post Re: 4: Tyranny is Tyranny
After reading this chapter, I looked up Zinn. Not surprisingly, he refers (referred?) to himself as "something of an anarchist, something of a socialist. Maybe a democratic socialist." It is obvious he takes the Marxist view of history, that it is an unending class struggle between the 'haves' and the 'have nots.' I will admit there is some validity to his position, a bit too simplistic to me. The wealthy colonists may have been primarily interested in maintaining their position (at the top of the food chain), but they were also risking life and limb for their position. Had the revolution failed, Washington, Adams (John and Samuel), Hancock, and all the rest would have been imprisoned, or more likely, hanged.


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Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:25 pm
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Post Re: 4: Tyranny is Tyranny
Cattleman wrote:
Zinn referred to himself as "something of an anarchist, something of a socialist. Maybe a democratic socialist." It is obvious he takes the Marxist view of history, that it is an unending class struggle between the 'haves' and the 'have nots.'
It is interesting, with such an approach, to consider the chain of reasoning. Does Zinn start from righteous indignation at the inequality and injustice and oppression of the world, and develop his theory of socialism as a response to these problems? Or does he start from the principle of the ideal socialist society, where government enforces equality of outcomes, and then use these examples of outrage from history to justify his principle?
Cattleman wrote:
I will admit there is some validity to his position, a bit too simplistic to me.
I agree that socialist politics is simplistic, given its syndrome of failing to deliver on its promises. If you look around the world to see which societies have succeeded in reducing poverty, the common factor is the creation of wealth through free enterprise. Even the Scandinavian social democrats have relied on having a strong capitalist wealth creating sector to generate the resources for redistribution.
Cattleman wrote:
The wealthy colonists may have been primarily interested in maintaining their position (at the top of the food chain), but they were also risking life and limb for their position.
It is often the case that the wealthy are actually more talented and capable than the poor, with greater courage and willingness to take risks, and these traits have much to do with their success. Zinn seems to reject that possibility out of hand, due to his socialist values which assume Jack is as good as his master. In principle, it is entirely just that the best citizens should rule, but the problem is that we do not know who the best are. Even the most ethical person requires democratic constraints in order to prevent them from abusing their power.
Cattleman wrote:
Had the revolution failed, Washington, Adams (John and Samuel), Hancock, and all the rest would have been imprisoned, or more likely, hanged.
I think that there was little prospect of long term British control of the USA. Even if things had gone better for the crown it would only have delayed independence. That is partly because there were already a lot of Germans in America who would never submit to rule from London.


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