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Marcus Raskin

Marcus Raskin
Born (1934-04-30) April 30, 1934
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Ethnicity Jewish
Occupation social critic, political activist, author, and philosopher
Known for co-founder of the Institute for Policy Studies
Spouse(s) Barbara Bellman (divorced)
Lynn Randels
Children with Bellman:
--Erika Raskin Littlewood
--Jamie Raskin
--Noah Raskin
with Randels:
--Eden Raskin
Parents Anna Goodman Raskin
Ben Raskin

Marcus Raskin (born April 30, 1934) is a prominent American social critic, political activist, author, and philosopher, working for progressive social change in the United States.

He is the co-founder, with George Washington University’s School of Public Policy and Public Administration.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Government service 2
  • The Institute for Policy Studies 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Quotes about Marcus Raskin 5
  • Books 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8

Early life and education

Raskin was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the second son of Russian Jewish immigrants. His father, Ben Raskin, and mother, Anna Goodman Raskin, owned a plumbing store in Milwaukee where his father worked as a master plumbing contractor. At the age of 16, Raskin, a young piano prodigy, left home to study at New York's Juilliard School with Rosina Lhevinne and Lee Thompson. Although he has remained an accomplished pianist throughout his life, he abandoned a career in music to study at the University of Chicago. At the University of Chicago, Raskin studied with Rexford Guy Tugwell, the preeminent economist and member of FDR’s Brain Trust, and Quincy Wright, the famous international law scholar, for whom Raskin served as an assistant during his law school years. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in liberal arts in 1954 and with a Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago Law School in 1957.

Government service

Shortly after marrying his first wife, novelist Barbara Bellman Raskin, Marcus Raskin moved to Washington, DC in 1958 where he became a legislative counsel to a group of liberal congressmen, including David Riesman, historian H. Stuart Hughes, and former finance advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Warburg.

In 1961, Raskin was recommended by Harvard sociologist David Riesman and members of Congress to John F. Kennedy. Raskin served as Bundy’s assistant on national security affairs and disarmament as a member of the Special Staff of the National Security Council. In 1962, Raskin was a member of the U.S. delegation to an 18-nation disarmament conference in Geneva.

However, tensions ran high with Bundy, who supported the escalation of U.S. military engagement in Indochina at that time. These tensions led to Raskin’s reassignment in the Bureau of the Budget, today the Office of Management and Budget, where he continued his service on the Presidential Panel on Education. On the panel, Raskin’s passion for education developed as he wrote pioneering papers on the consequences of technology and the need for truly democratic education and scientific research.[1]

The Institute for Policy Studies

In 1963, Raskin left government service, with Richard Barnet, a State Department official in the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the two pursued their common dream of creating an independent institution, outside of government, to critique official policy.

Much of Raskin’s initial work with IPS focused on opposing the Vietnam War. He co-authored the Vietnam Reader with Bernard Fall in 1965, which was used in dozens of teach-ins across the country. In 1968, he was indicted—along with William Sloane Coffin, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Michael Ferber, and Mitchell Goodman—for conspiracy to aid resistance to the draft. The group became known as the “Boston 5.” In the case, Telford Taylor, prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, served as the defense attorney for Raskin. Not long after his acquittal, Raskin published the book Washington Plans an Aggressive War, with Barnet and Ralph Stavins. These two books would begin Raskin’s critique of the national security state, a term he coined, which he would continue to assess critically in future works.

With the publication of his book Being & Doing in 1971, Raskin became one of the country’s leading thinkers on the theory of “social reconstruction.” Raskin's thinking was largely influenced by the work of American pragmatist John Dewey, French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, and the politics of the New Left. According to Library Journal, Raskin “foresees a peaceful process of non-Marxist reconstruction that will replace authoritarianism and the status quo with politics of the people and a redefined social ethic.”

In 1977, after conducting a first study of budget and its spending priorities, 56 members of Congress, led by Congressional Black Caucus Dean John Conyers, requested that IPS undertake a deeper analysis of the federal budget. Raskin directed the project, which led to the publication of the 1978 book The Federal Budget and Social Reconstruction. In the 1980s, Raskin became a leader in the anti-nuclear movement as the Chair of the Sane-Freeze, now Peace Action, campaign. He also worked with labor leaders to organize the Progressive Alliance, a coalition of 16 labor unions and 100 public interest groups that laid out a progressive alternative political agenda.

Raskin continues as an activist and public scholar, serving as a Distinguished Fellow of the The Nation magazine. He also advises the Congressional Progressive Caucus and conceptualized the network of local elected officials that evolved into the Institute for Policy Studies’ Cities for Peace project, which has coordinated hundreds of city council resolutions against the Iraq War.

Raskin’s most recent scholarship includes serving as the editor of a series of books laying out Paths for the 21st Century. The goal of this project is to generate ideas and proposals, across disciplinary lines and founded upon Raskin's notion of reconstructive knowledge, which catalyze citizen action and help other scholars and activists pursue a progressive basis for a new society.

Personal life

Raskin has been married twice. In 1957, he married author Barbara Bellman from Minneapolis.[2] They had three children: Erika Raskin Littlewood, Jamie Raskin http://articles/Jamie_Raskin Noah Raskin.[2] They divorced in 1980.[2] Barbara went on to write the novel "Hot Flashes" and later married author Anatole Shub.[2] He currently resides in Washington, DC with his wife, Lynn Randels Raskin with whom he has one child Eden Raskin.[3] He also has nine grandchildren. Raskin continues in his passion of classical music, releasing his first piano recording Elegy for the End of the Cold War in 2004.

Quotes about Marcus Raskin

"Raskin is an original thinker, who has been living what he writes through his work with IPS." – J. William Fulbright, 1991

"Marc Raskin remains an original voice for sanity and true democracy in running the nation's security affairs." – Seymour Hersh, 1991

"Marcus Raskin’s analysis of our current condition and prospects for the future is thoughtful and humane, and eminently practical, touching on virtually every aspect of existence in a tour de force of remarkable skill and originality.” – Noam Chomsky, 1986


•(1962) The Limits of Defense, with Arthur Waskow •(1965) The Viet-Nam Reader: Articles and Documents on American Foreign Policy and the Viet-Nam Crisis, edited with Bernard B. Fall •(1965) A Citizen's White Paper on American Policy in Vietnam and Southeast Asia •(1965) After 20 Years: Alternatives to the Cold War in Europe, with by Richard J. Barnet •(1971) Being and Doing: An Inquiry Into the Colonization, Decolonization and Reconstruction of American Society and Its State •(1971) Washington Plans An Aggressive War, with Ralph L. Stavins and Richard J. Barnet •(1971) An American Manifesto, with Richard Barnet •(1974) Notes on the Old System: To Transform American Politics •(1975) The American Political Deadlock: Colloquium on Latin America and the United States: Present and Future of their Economic and Political Relations •(1976) Next Steps for a New Administration •(1978) The Federal Budget and Social Reconstruction: The People and the State •(1979) The Politics of National Security •(1986) The Common Good: Its Politics, Policies, and Philosophy •(1987) New Ways of Knowing: The Sciences, Society, and Reconstructive Knowledge, with Herbert J. Bernstein •(1988) Winning America: Ideas and Leadership for the 1990s, with Chester Hartman •(1991) Essays of a Citizen: From National Security State to Democracy •(1992) Abolishing the War System: The Disarmament and International Law Project of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy •(1995) Visions and Revisions: Reflections on Culture and Democracy at the End of the Century •(1997) Presidential Disrespect: From Thomas Paine to Rush Limbaugh – How and Why We Insult, Scorn and Ridicule Our Chief Executives, with Sushila Nayak •(2003) Liberalism: The Genius of American Ideals •(2005) In Democracy's Shadow: The Secret World of National Security, with Carl LeVan •(2007) The Four Freedoms Under Siege: The Clear and Present Danger from Our National Security State, with Robert Spero

See also


  1. ^ Raskin, Marcus and Robert Spero. “Ahead of History: Marcus Raskin and the Institute for Policy Studies.” The Four Freedoms Under Siege: The Clear and Present Danger of Our National Security State. Praeger Books: Westport, CT (2007). p. 277.
  2. ^ a b c d Los Angeles Times: "Barbara Raskin; Novelist Wrote About Female Friendships" July 25, 1999
  3. ^ The Four Freedoms under Siege: The Clear and Present Danger from Our National Security State by Marcus Raskin and Robert Spero November 30, 2006 | p.275
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