Marcus Raskin, the co-founder of the Institute for Policy Studies, passed away shortly before the New Year. He was 83.
Marc touched all of our lives, not least by creating the institution we call home — the first uncompromisingly progressive think tank of its kind. The memories and obituaries trickling in from all over are a tribute to Marc’s legacy in the wider world, too — as a brilliant intellect, a lifelong activist, and a kind, caring human being.
Below are just a few of these recollections.
IPS Staff: “Raskin was an intellectual pillar of the movements for progressive social change for more than a half century.”
Richard Sandomir | New York Times: “Mr. Raskin and Richard J. Barnet started the institute in 1963, fiercely devoted to maintaining its independence by refusing to accept government funding. ‘We also had an extraordinary conceit,’ Mr. Raskin told The New York Times in 1983. ‘We were going to speak truth to power.’”
Matt Schudel | Washington Post: “From civil rights marches to antiwar protests to the Pentagon Papers, Mr. Raskin was a persistent and ubiquitous intellectual provocateur of the left. He and his fellow founder of the Institute for Policy Studies, Richard J. Barnet, were on President Richard M. Nixon’s enemies list in the early 1970s. ‘What we’re playing for,’ Mr. Raskin told The Washington Post in 1986, ‘is the spirit of the time.’”
Katrina Vanden Huevel | Washington Post: “Raskin was the disruptive genius… He embraced the movements — civil rights, antiwar, women’s, environmental, consumer — that made America better.”
John Nichols | The Nation: “Raskin advanced a resurgent and expansive citizenship as a preeminent advocate for peace and for economic and social justice. He argued, on Capitol Hill and university campuses, from union halls to the parks where mass rallies were held, that voters should have a far greater say with regard to foreign and domestic policy. His was a clear-eyed vision that recognized how an ‘endless war’ footing cost Americans physically, economically, and morally, and it helped to shape the understanding of generations of activists, academics, and elected officials from city halls to the White House.”
Norman Birnbaum | The Nation: “Marc’s reading of the book of the world was profoundly Jewish in his sense of paradox, his expectation of a final settlement of moral accounts — and above all in his deep reservoir of empathy and sympathy for ordinary humans confronting a fate that was often unjust.”
Phyllis Bennis | Common Dreams: “Here was a former music prodigy, philosopher, lawyer, and government wonk, jumping into what would eventually be called the New Left before anything had that name. … In the context of the United States of the late 1950s and early ’60s, it’s all the more extraordinary. … Go well, Marc. We’ll keep working in your name — challenging the new threats, stopping the next wars, transforming the new world, finding the new leaders.”
Ralph Nader | Nader.org: “Through his versatile talents and dedications, Marcus Raskin stretched the meaning of ‘Renaissance Man.’ In a narcissistic, trivialized Internet Age, imperiling the future of truth and empiricism, Raskin’s life work is exemplified by one of his many books — Being and Doing. He took the description of ‘a life well lived’ to spectacular heights as a parent, piano prodigy, civic advocate, counselor to public officials, lawyer, philosopher, author, petitioner to all branches of government, convener and builder of a lasting democratic institution suffused with vision, while attending to current urgencies global in scope.”