On the show this week, Chris Hedges discusses the historical myths about World War II with Danny Sjursen, Retired US Army Major, author and historian. Knowledge, or what the historian Howard Zinn called the knowledge industry, is a vital form of power. Yes, the ruling elite’s monopoly on force is a direct form of power, but just as important, as Zinn points out, is the ability to shape perceptions about our origins and identity, inculcating beliefs and narratives that legitimate and often glorify the centers of power.
The knowledge industry, which consists of universities, colleges, schools and the mass media, Zinn argues, is not primarily about truth but deception. Truth is dangerous. It implodes the myths and lies used to legitimate the status quo and the ruling elite’s monopoly on violence. Most knowledge, Zinn argues, is not directly bought. Rather, it serves the centers of power by perpetuating the dominant narrative or squandering itself in trivia or esoteric inquiry, which has little relevance to our lives and does almost nothing to illuminate our past or our present. Historians, seeking tenured positions, generous grants and academic prizes, understand that their careers are best advanced if they eschew the larger, transcendental truths in the name of objectivity or neutrality. And thus, the facts, which all ruling elites want hidden, remain in darkness. Most celebrated historians are little more than apologists for power.
Danny Sjursen’s new book is: A True History of the United States: Indigenous Genocide, Racialized Slavery, Hyper-Capitalism, Militarist Imperialism and Other Overlooked Aspects of American Exceptionalism.