To Willing Conflators Of Howard Zinn And Jeremy Todd (seventy ninth letter)

Your nation, residence and workplace are not communities.


They never have been.  Each is presented as the history of a family, concealing fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and proletariat, dominators and dominated in race and sex.

In such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, the homeless and speculators, the incarcerated and gatekeepers, minions and managers, it is the job of thinking people, those willing to forgo any pursuit of privilege, to never be found on the side of the executioners.
I cannot (as much as I’d like to) overlook the cruelties that victims inflict on one another in the rotting, rat-infested alleys and gleaming corporate showrooms of the system. I don’t want to romanticize them. But I do remember (in rough paraphrase) a statement I once read:


“The cry of the poor is not always just, but if you don’t listen to it, you will never know what justice is.”

In the long run, the oppressor is also a victim. In the short run (and so far, human history has consisted only of short runs), the victims, themselves desperate and tainted with the culture that oppresses them, turn on other victims.
This culture is not your friend.
I want to stand with you and remake the world around us. Collective well-being awaits our solidarity.  To defer or ignore this is to comply with oppression.
Whose side are you on?