Ron Radosh, himself a former Lefty and very familiar with the history of Communist and other radical movements in the US, has posted a very good examination of Zinn’s history as a Leftist in light of what was revealed in the recently released FBI dossiers. Here’s one quote that shows I was wrong to call him a tool of Stalin; Zinn was actually to the Left of Uncle Joe and the CPUSA:
By this time, it is clear that Howard Zinn had long departed from CP ranks. If anything, he was far to the left of the official American CP. During the war in Vietnam, they backed the moderate group known as “Negotiations Now,” which sought a negotiated settlement of the war, and had the support of people like Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Irving Howe. Zinn became the architect of advocacy of unilateral withdrawal from Vietnam and a North Vietnamese victory. In 1978 he and others went to North Vietnam in a solidarity trip, and to arrange the release of a tiny minority of American POW’s, a propaganda coup for the North Vietnamese government.
Internally, Zinn gave his support to the black radicals in SNCC, as well as the militant new group, the Black Panther Party. He called all blacks in American prisons “political prisoners,” and said that the United States “has been a police state for a long time.” He also gave his backing to myriad far left groups, including the Maoist Progressive Labor Party, the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, and the Third World revolutionary nations of Cuba and North Vietnam. One did not need FBI reports to learn what he stood for. In a 1965 article found in the files, Zinn praised the New Left for having “no illusions about Reds,” and for seeing “Stalinism unmasked.” His position was one of “moral equivalence,” in which he equated the totalitarian East with the democratic West as evil centers of power, the United States being the most culpable.
And the textbook this clown wrote is now considered a standard in many high school and college classes. Nice.