Benjamin Barber

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Benjamin Barber
Benjamin R Barber in 2010 (cropped).jpg
Barber in 2010
Born (1939-08-02)August 2, 1939
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died April 24, 2017(2017-04-24) (aged 77)
New York City, New York, U.S.
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 as well as the classic of democratic theory, 1984's Strong Democracy (revised in 2004). He became a top-level international consultant on participatory democracy as well as an adviser to Bill Clinton, Howard Dean, and Muammar Gaddafi.

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, after a four-month battle with cancer.[2][3][4]


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.[5] From 2007[6]–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. In February 2016, he joined the Fordham University Urban Consortium as its first Distinguished Senior Fellow[7] and announced the inaugural convening of the Global Parliament of Mayors.[8]

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.[9][10][11]


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,[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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, and fraud.[15][16]



  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. ^ "Dr Benjamin Barber – August 2 1939 – April 24 2017". Global Parliament of Mayors. April 25, 2017. Retrieved April 25, 2017. 
  4. ^ Grimes, William (April 25, 2017). "Benjamin R. Barber, Author of 'Jihad vs. McWorld,' Dies at 77". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Biography". 
  6. ^ "Statement: Benjamin Barber, a Distinguished Senior Fellow" (Press release). Demos. March 14, 2007. 
  7. ^ Urban Consortium Fellows
  8. ^ "Announcing the Inaugural Convening of the Global Parliament of Mayors"
  9. ^ "Professors Paid by Qaddafi: Providing 'Positive Public Relations'"
  10. ^ Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, "Gadhafi paid millions to U.S. firms to polish his global image", CNN, April 6, 2011
  11. ^ "Benjamin Barber Responds"
  12. ^ "Benjamin R. Barber | European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights". Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  13. ^ "Benjamin Barber, Fellow at Fordham Urban Consortium, Passes Away". Fordham Newsroom. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  14. ^ Undercover Video Claims Democratic Donor Criticized Black GOP Voters; ABC News – The Denver Channel 7 News; Stephanie Liebergen; November 2, 2016
  15. ^ Friedersdorf, Conor. "What the NYT Magazine Doesn't Say About James O'Keefe", The Atlantic, July 29, 2011.
  16. ^ 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]