Howard Zinn on History
Excerpts from an Interview
[I]f you can control history, what people know about history, if you can decide what's in people's history and what's left out, you can order their thinking. You can order their values. You can in effect organize their brains by controlling their knowledge. The people who can do that, who can control the past, are the people who control the present. The people who would dominate the media, who publish the textbooks, who decide in our culture what are the dominant ideas, what gets told and what doesn't.
There's a history which is done by rich white men. Not that historians are rich. But the people who publish the textbooks are, the people who control the media, the people who decide what historians to invite on the networks at special moments when they want to call on a historian. The people who dominate the big media networks, they're rich. Not only are the controls of our information rich and white and male, but they then ask that history concentrate on those who are rich and white and male. That is why the point of view of black people has not been a very important one in the telling of our history. The point of view of women certainly has not been. The point of view of working people is something that has not been given its due in the histories that we have mostly been given in our culture.
[A]ll history is a selection out of an infinite number of facts. As soon as you begin to select, you select according to what you think is important. Therefore it is already not objective. It's already biased in the direction of whatever you, as the selector of this information, think people should know. So it's really not possible. Of course, some people claim to be objective. The worst thing is to claim to be objective. Of course you can't be. Historians should say what their values are, what they care about, what their background is, and let you know what is important to them so that young people and everybody who reads history are warned in advance that they should never count on any one source, but should go to many sources. So it's not possible to be objective, and it's not desirable if it were possible. We should have history that does reflect points of view and values, in other words, history that is not objective. We should have history that enhances human values, humane values, values of brotherhood, sisterhood, peace, justice and equality.
Link to Complete Interview