Benjamin Barber

Benjamin Barber is the Gershon and Carrol Kekst Professor of Civil Society at the University of Maryland and a principal of the Democracy Collaborative, with offices in New York, Washington, and the University of Maryland. He is the author of many books, including Jihad vs. McWorld, Fear's Empire: War, Terrorism, and Democracy and the forthcoming Consumed: The Fate of Citizens under Capitalism Triumpant.

Recent Articles

Dreamers Without Borders

Europe is in shambles: France sleepwalking, Germany in a tailspin, the euro falling, the left in disarray. Now, just weeks after the defeat in France and Holland of the innovative new treaty that was supposed to usher in a new constitutional era for an enlarged Europe of 25 nations, terrorist bombings in London are reinforcing the politics of fear and lending fuel to the contention that individual nations should reclaim control of their borders from a porous European Union. The treaty that seemed a sure thing eight months ago went down hard. Its advocates claimed it was at once more pro-business and more progressive than the old one. With its new declaration of rights and social measures, it supposedly embodied a social-democratic vision for Europe such that most left elites had embraced it, just as the libertarian Economist had often ridiculed it. But at the same time, it promised a free-market Europe that business approved of and conservatives like Jacques Chirac could campaign for...

Neither Consent nor Dissent

A s President Bush rushes headlong into war with Iraq, there are endless reasons for concern; but the one that is most disturbing has been least remarked on. The president can be faulted for waiting so long to consult Congress, the United Nations, America's allies and the Middle Eastern nations likely to be affected (Jordan, Turkey, Iran). And he certainly can be faulted for rashness, impetuosity, arrogance and an impressive indifference to the rule of law -- even if, in the end, he is compelled to play by the UN rules that, ironically, he himself invoked. But accountability is a two-way street, and Americans should be equally concerned with their -- make that our -- dramatic failure to register in politically relevant terms the unease (if polls are to be believed) that we putatively feel about an Iraq invasion. A few passionate Democrats -- Russ Feingold, Dennis Kucinich, Paul Wellstone and John Kerry, and (finally!) Al Gore and Ted Kennedy -- along with a handful of Republicans...

Globalizing Democracy

Can globalism be governed? Or, as a first step, can we start by building a global civil society? Until recently, one could look in vain for a global "we, the people" to be represented. That is now changing. There is another internationalism, a forming crystal around which a global polity can grow. Effective global governance to temper the excesses of the global market does not yet exist; however, international activism by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) has made some surprising gains. People who care about public goods are working to recreate on a global scale the normal civic balance that exists within democratic nations. Consider the following: A young woman named Jody Williams, with celebrity help from a princess (sadly deceased), creates a worldwide civic movement for a ban on land mines that actually enacts a treaty. A Bangladeshi visionary, Mohammed Yunus, develops an idea for microfinancing, which makes mini-...

The Reconstruction of Rights

If there is a single theme upon which Americans agree, it is that ours is a regime rooted in rights. Rights are how we enter our political conversation: the chips with which we bargain, the collateral in the social contract. They are the ground of both rebellion and legitimacy, of our inclinations to anarchism and our proclivities towards community. Without coaching, any American will cry out: "I know my rights!" or "You got no right!" or "What about my rights?" or "Read him his rights!" Corporations mimic individuals in their devotion to rights as barriers against the public regulation of private profit. The Philip Morris Company recently paid the National Archives $600,000 to associate itself with the Bill of Rights, presumably to promote its view of advertising as a First Amendment right essential to selling tobacco in an age of democratic public health advocacy. Rights are how Americans have always advanced their interests, whether as individual or corporate persons. Some might...