Benjamin Barber

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This article is about the American political theorist. For the Australian actor, see Ben Barber.
Benjamin Barber
Benjamin R Barber in 2010.jpg
Barber in 2010
Born (1939-08-02)August 2, 1939
New York City, New York, USA
Died April 24, 2017(2017-04-24) (age 77)
Occupation Academic
Nationality American
Genre Political theory

Benjamin R. Barber (August 2, 1939 - April 24, 2017) was an American political theorist and author, perhaps best known for his 1995 bestseller, Jihad vs. McWorld, and for 2013's If Mayors Ruled the World.

Personal life[edit]

Barber was born in New York City in 1939. He was educated at Grinnell College (B.A., 1960) and Harvard University (M.A., 1963; Ph.D., 1966), after earning certificates at Albert Schweitzer College (1959) and the London School of Economics (1957).

Barber's father, Philip W. Barber, directed the New York City unit of the Federal Theatre Project, which produced plays including Macbeth and the Living Newspaper. His mother, Doris Frankel, was a playwright and wrote for television.[1] Barber was also active as a playwright, lyricist (libretto for George Quincy's opera Home and the River) and film-maker (The Struggle for Democracy, with Patrick Watson, and Music Inn, with Ben Barenholtz).

Barber died on April 24, 2017.[2]


Barber was a Senior Research Scholar at The Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society of The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, the President and Founder of the Interdependence Movement, and Walt Whitman Professor of Political Science Emeritus, Rutgers University.[3] From 2007[4]–2012, he was a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos.

As a political theorist, Barber argued for a renewed focus on civil society and engaged citizenship as tools for building effective democracy, particularly in the post-Cold War world. His work examined the failure of nation-states to address global problems, and argued that cities and intercity associations are more effectively addressing shared concerns. Barber was a Senior Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy in 2005-2017.

Barber was an outside adviser to President Bill Clinton and a foreign policy adviser to Howard Dean's 2004 Presidential campaign. He advised political parties and political leaders in the U.K., Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Italy on civic education and participatory institutions.

Barber met with and worked alongside civil society and government leaders in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, China, and Moammar Gadhafi's Libya.[5][6][7]


Barber's honors included a knighthood from the French Government (Palmes Academiques/Chevalier) (2001), the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin (2001) and the John Dewey Award (2003). He was also awarded Guggenheim, Fulbright, and Social Science Research Fellowships, honorary doctorates from Grinnell College, Monmouth University and Connecticut College, and held the chair of American Civilization at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris.

2016 elections[edit]

In November 2016, Barber was falsely cited as a "major Hillary donor" and recorded expressing his opinion that black voters who vote for Republicans are voting against their own interests, in a Project Veritas undercover video produced earlier in the year.[8] Project Veritas which now works with the conservative media outlet "Breitbart News" filmed Barber without his knowledge. Project Veritas has been criticized for misleading audiences, splicing video footage, entrapping people, lying, fraud etc.[9][10]


  • Superman and Common Men: Freedom, Anarchy and the Revolution (1971) ISBN 978-0-14-021430-7
  • The Death of Communal Liberty: A History of Freedom in a Swiss Mountain Canton (1974) ISBN 978-0-691-61808-1
  • Liberating Feminism (1976) ISBN 978-0-8164-9214-5
  • Marriage Voices (1981 novel) ISBN 978-0-671-44808-0
  • Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age (1984) ISBN 978-0-520-05115-7
  • The Conquest of Politics: Liberal Philosophy in Democratic Times (1988) ISBN 978-0-691-07764-2
  • An Aristocracy of Everyone: The Politics Of Education and the Future of America (1992) ISBN 978-0-19-985417-2
  • America Skips School (1993) appeared in Harper's Magazine
  • Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism Are Reshaping the World (1996) ISBN 978-0-345-38304-4
  • A Place for Us: How to Make Society Civil and Democracy Strong (1998) ISBN 978-0-8090-7656-7
  • A Passion for Democracy: American Essays (2000) ISBN 978-0-691-05024-9
  • The Truth of Power: Intellectual Affairs in the Clinton White House (2001) ISBN 978-0-231-14439-1
  • Fear's Empire: War, Terrorism, and Democracy in an Age of Interdependence (2003) ISBN 978-0-393-32578-2
  • Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age (Twentieth Anniversary Revision 2004) ISBN 978-0-520-24233-3
  • Schwächt oder stärkt E-Technologie die Demokratie?, in: Robertson-von Trotha, Caroline Y. (ed.): Kultur und Gerechtigkeit (= Kulturwissenschaft interdisziplinär/Interdisciplinary Studies on Culture and Society, Vol. 2), Baden-Baden (2007)
  • Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole (2007) ISBN 978-0-393-04961-9
  • If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities (October 2013) ISBN 978-0-300-16467-1


  1. ^ Rosenfeld, Heather (November 6, 2001). "Benjamin R. Barber". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-02-14. 
  2. ^ vandenHuevel, Katrina (April 24, 2017). "Saddened to learn of Benjamin Barber's death". The Nation. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Biography". 
  4. ^ "Statement: Benjamin Barber, a Distinguished Senior Fellow" (Press release). Demos. March 14, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Professors Paid by Qaddafi: Providing 'Positive Public Relations'"
  6. ^ Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, "Gadhafi paid millions to U.S. firms to polish his global image", CNN, April 6, 2011
  7. ^ "Benjamin Barber Responds"
  8. ^ Undercover Video Claims Democratic Donor Criticized Black GOP Voters; ABC News - The Denver Channel 7 News; Stephanie Liebergen; November 2, 2016
  9. ^ Friedersdorf, Conor. "What the NYT Magazine Doesn't Say About James O'Keefe", The Atlantic, July 29, 2011.
  10. ^ Elliott, Philip. "Latest Clinton Sting Doesn't Live Up to Its Hype,", October 16, 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Saward, Michael (2012), "A conversation with Benjamin Barber.", in Browning, Gary; Dimova-Cookson, Maria; Prokhovnik, Raia, Dialogues with contemporary political theorists, Houndsmill, Basingstoke, Hampshire New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 24–41, ISBN 9780230303058 

External links[edit]