Saturday, December 12, 2009

The People Speak ~ Howard Zinn

A TV programme on the History Channel tomorrow evening is going to be a rare treat. "The People Speak" is based on historian Howard Zinn's 1980 book, A People's History of the United States, the story of the USA from a perspective of disenfranchised minorities rather than the more traditional perspective of the powerful elite.

Howard Zinn is an outspoken civil rights and anti-war activist, "people's historian" and political scientist.


Born on 24 August 1922 in Brooklyn, New York, his natal Sun, Mercury and possibly Moon are all in Virgo, ruled by Mercury, the communicator's planet. Saturn, Venus and Jupiter all in Libra, sign of the diplomat. Not every critic looks on Zinn as diplomatic, however. His radical opinions have ruffled a few feathers in the past. Uranus in Pisces lies opposite Mercury in Virgo providing a dynamic pull towards rebellion and against the status quo.

I look forward to seeing "The People Speak". Naturally it will focus on the USA, but similar history could be presented about most countries in the world. I've had reason lately to become more aware of what life was like in England around a couple of centuries ago. While researching my family tree at Ancestry.com I've come across lots of clues, especially relating to folks who lived in rural areas. History books record activities of the great, the good, and the wealthy, but seldom draw our attention to the detail of life's indignities and daily grind for ordinary people. I suppose the folk in question didn't see it quite that way, for they knew no other. They lived their lives having to bow and scrape, physically and psychologically, to the aristocracy, landowners and wealthy classes. Minor crimes and misdemeanors were rewarded at best with a whipping, at worst with deportation on prison ships to Australia or New Zealand. Thousands lived their lives in "workhouses", little more than prisons for the poor, while the wealthy lived in palatial mansions with armies of servants to wait upon them.

Bad as it was in the countryside and in small towns, things were even worse in urban areas where the industrial revolution was in full swing creating demand for child labour and what could be termed as slavery in cotton and woollen mills and factories. Children as young as 5 years old were sent to work in coal mines; small children were forced to climb up inside chimneys to clean them. There was little sanitation or medical care. Life-spans were short.

Today, though the world's wealth is still owned by a tiny proportion of its population, ordinary people have, at last, slowly and painfully over many decades forced themselves out from under.

We have our problems, but we also have an awful lot to be thankful for in the 21st century.

3 comments:

horoscope quotidien said...

C'est de l'information astro instructive à propos de l'horoscope.

Wisewebwoman said...

Howard Zinn is a man I great admire, the show should be very interesting.
XO
WWW

Ron Southern said...

Noted!