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Benjamin R. Barber
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Benjamin R. Barber is a democratic theorist. His book If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities will be published by Yale in October 2013. He is the author of Jihad vs. McWorld, Strong Democracy, and Consumed. He is a Senior Research Scholar at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Entries by Benjamin R. Barber

Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities

(44) Comments | Posted November 1, 2013 | 2:36 PM

The Washington tantrum that threatened the global economy over the last several weeks is no isolated instance of some peculiarly American dysfunction. Despite its bombs and bravado, its long history of sovereign independence, as well as its boast of being democracy's conservator for the last 400 years, the nation state...

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A Stormy Summer for Democracy: The Arab Spring at Risk

(3) Comments | Posted July 8, 2013 | 6:47 PM

The Arab Spring, astonishing and admirable, has been dogged from the start by often unrealistic expectations, a growing and deep confusion about the conditions that enable democracy, and a persistent lack of patience not only by participants but by busybody onlookers trying to jumpstart other people's freedom march. The spirit...

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Want Gun Control? Fix Democracy!

(67) Comments | Posted April 18, 2013 | 5:58 PM

Listening to President Obama's angry diatribe against the gun lobby Wednesday night, you'd think the Senate majority failed to pass his modest legislation.The president railed against those who trumped the 90 percent of Americans who favored gun control, and he assailed individual senators for not meeting "the test." But the...

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The Next Speech President Obama Needs to Make in the Wake of the Newtown Massacre

(18) Comments | Posted December 16, 2012 | 12:27 PM

On Friday, December 14th, President Obama addressed the nation in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. as a parent. Here is the speech I believe he needs to give to Americans now as president:

"My Fellow Citizens: I speak to you today...

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Horses and Bayonets

(30) Comments | Posted October 23, 2012 | 12:21 PM

It was the 21st versus the 20th century in last night's foreign policy debate. Never was the contrast between a party wedded to the past and a party anticipating the future more evident. Governor Romney's obsession with Cold War hostility to Russia and with the declining number of naval ships...

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What President Obama Coulda/Shoulda Said

(2) Comments | Posted October 8, 2012 | 10:46 AM

The verdict was in before the debate was over: the president lost -- he was distracted, weak, disinterested, irritated and looking like he wished he was somewhere else. Maybe the facts were on his side, maybe his opponent was shamelessly dissembling, but so what? That's politics, folks!
Governor Romney...

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The Arab Spring: Confounded Again... And Again

(23) Comments | Posted September 14, 2012 | 10:58 AM

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who at the time of Gadaffi's violent death said "now comes the hard part" acknowledged after the heinous assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three brave colleagues in Benghazi that she was "confounded." "How could this happen?" she asked, and in a country whose revolution...

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Yes, We Built This -- We the People of the United States

(31) Comments | Posted August 31, 2012 | 5:20 PM

President Obama certainly stuck his foot in it back in Roanoke, Virginia on July 13. Trying to explain that public infrastructure plays a role in successful businesses, he told the crowd: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that." No surprise, then, when six weeks later the...

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Mandatory Trickle-Down: Tax Breaks for the Rich in the Form of Job Vouchers for the Poor

(126) Comments | Posted August 21, 2012 | 10:41 AM

In choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Governor Romney has fully embraced the conservative conceit that tax breaks for the rich really will produce jobs for the poor and middle class. Government, these new libertarian conservatives aver, doesn't and can't produce jobs, only the private sector can. To do...

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Chief Justice Roberts and the Separation of Powers

(9) Comments | Posted June 29, 2012 | 1:21 PM

In our surprise at learning "conservative" Chief Justice Roberts had joined the "liberal" wing of the court to uphold the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, we allow today's ideological schism in politics to eclipse what is really at stake in the historic 5-4 decision: the separation of powers through...

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The Beastie Boys and Interdependence: Adam Yauch's Civic Courage

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2012 | 10:53 AM

The untimely death of Adam Yauch, "MCA" of the Beastie Boys, reminds us again of how naturally it comes to artists and musicians to think and act interdependently, even as our political and media leaders think and act with stunning parochialism.

Not long after 9/11, with President Bush...

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May Day Media Mayhem

(12) Comments | Posted May 3, 2012 | 3:23 PM

Media hypocrisy about the Occupy Wall Street movement is old news. But the New York Times hit the "refresh" button once again with its coverage of the May Day demonstrations in New York and around the country on May 2. And it is supposedly the last serious newspaper with a...

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An Open Letter to the Supreme Court

(27) Comments | Posted April 10, 2012 | 2:21 PM

Believing in the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, I have generally resisted the partisan claims from Left and Right that you, our life-term justices on the Supreme Court, dispense justice with a heavy ideological hand, in accord with partisan political biases.
I recognize that...

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"Occupy Rousseau" and Challenge Inequality in America

(4) Comments | Posted March 8, 2012 | 10:40 PM

300 years ago, a watchmaker in Geneva, Switzerland, fathered a son who became the first powerful voice against inequality in an urbanizing Europe in which the costs of capitalism and private property were already clear. Jean-Jacques Rousseau proclaimed in his Social Contract that men, though born free, were everywhere in...

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Selling the USA to the Highest Bidder and Paying Off the National Debt

(5) Comments | Posted February 6, 2012 | 10:04 AM

Last week, Steven Pearlstein offered a Swiftian proposal in The Washington Post to legalize buying votes and thus make the bribing of voters -- already the norm in practice -- a legal norm as well. Clear away all the hypocritical rhetoric about democracy and get on with selling...

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Turning Off the Lights: Democracy in the Dark

(7) Comments | Posted January 10, 2012 | 11:51 AM

The front-runners in the Iowa caucuses and now in the New Hampshire primary, seem to detest one another, but they agree on one thing: that the Democrats want unlimited government pushing unearned "entitlements" and Obama style "socialism," while Republicans seek an "opportunity society" which means, well, no government at all....

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Occupy Wall Street -- "We Are What Democracy Looks Like!"

(62) Comments | Posted November 7, 2011 | 10:11 AM

Given how extraordinarily successful it has been both in its own terms and in its capacity to grab the attention of the media, Occupy Wall Street has been conveniently misunderstood by its supporters and detractors alike. Recently, Mayor Bloomberg patronized it haughtily, saying "It's fun and it's cathartic...

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Sic Semper Tyrannis (But Now Comes the Hard Part)

(6) Comments | Posted October 21, 2011 | 2:40 PM

His death was violent and ugly, but what the people he ruled over for 42 years with a violent hand wished for. And what he wanted. Muammar Gaddafi died in his home town holding a silver pistol, killed by some combination of a NATO strike that intercepted his caravan and...

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As President Lech Walesa Said to President Lula Da Silva

(1) Comments | Posted October 3, 2011 | 4:18 PM

Observing our small bore politicians bickering while America risks fiscal and moral collapse from the vantage point of a ceremony in Gdansk, Poland -- in which two political heroes are being honored -- is a bracing if dispiriting experience. Bracing because to watch Founder of Solidarity (Solidarność) and former Polish...

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Interdependence Day 2011 on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

(5) Comments | Posted September 12, 2011 | 9:44 AM

Today is Interdependence Day: the day after September 11, when, ten years ago, brutal terrorists attacked the United States of America as they have attacked so many other people around the world before and since.

This year, fittingly, we are celebrating Interdependence Day in New York City at...

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