Monday, February 6, 2012

A People's Read-a-long: Week 4

Welcome to Week 4 of A People's Read-a-long! We're reading a chapter a week, and the pace is perfect. (Missed the first three weeks? Check out my posts for weeks onetwo, and three.)

My thoughts: Chapter 4, entitled "Tyranny Is Tyranny," feels like a watershed chapter. Its focus is on the Declaration of Independence and its wording.The opening line of the chapter sets the stage perfectly: "Around 1776, certain important people in the English colonies made a discovery that would prove enormously useful for the next two hundred years. They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire."

What I found most interesting in this chapter was the discussion of the rights that come from owning property, and, in particular, voting. It's a clear extension of the class system. I found myself thinking of how this country would look if that were true today. I would never have been able to vote in an election. Would it make me want to own property? Perhaps. I find the very nature of property taxes fascinating. As a life-time non-property owner, I find it interesting that in most places property taxes fund schools and libraries. I'm a huge user of public libraries, and aside from fines I've paid, my taxes don't support them. Thinking of our public libraries and public schools, two tools for bridging equality, being funded through property taxes gave me pause. While I don't think owning property is necessarily a measure of class, particularly depending on where you live, it is heartening to think of those who are able to own property provide necessary public services through their property taxes.

Overall, this chapter felt very much like a continuation of the last two. I didn't have many new thoughts regarding it's content. It moved forward in time, but the theme of income inequality was the focus. It seems Zinn is setting the stage for the next big movement in history, as 1776 is a crucial year.

Favorite passage: "And how could people truly have equal rights, with stark differences in wealth?"

Intrigued? There's still time to join us! Buy A People's History of the United States from an independent bookstore, the Book Depository or Amazon (the Kindle version I have seems to no longer be available, thus vindicating my habits of impulse Kindle shopping!) You don't have to post each week. Stop by Fizzy Thoughts and Life...With Books to join the conversation!

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  1. Carrie,
    I finished Ch.1 intending to join along for the whole readalong. Btut I completely forgot until I saw this post. Now I fear I'm too far behind. I'm still going to try... I mean, a chapter a week is pretty feasible.

  2. I just commented over on Jenner's post that I happen to be reading 3 books right now that deal with women being powerless when it comes to politics, owning land, and voting, and each book tackles it from a different angle. It's interesting to read Zinn's thoughts on this, and it's sort of funny to think that all my reading has converged at this point.

  3. I found it ironic that the US always says it's a classless society...but our founding fathers were most definitely upper class, and that whole thing about not being able to vote unless you owned property just seems to perpetuate their idea of who is "worthy" of having power. Zin mentioned a sense of paternalism, and I could really see that in how the country was initially set up.

  4. Sorry I didn't make it here last week … time got away from me. I agree with you that there isn't much "new" content in a way. Zinn is bringing all his themes together and making his points. It is interesting to think about property taxes and what we get from them. I know my husband was thrilled when our son started school as we FINALLY got to use the school system that accounts for a large percentage of our taxes.


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!