Award-winning Investigative Journalist Robert Parry (1949-2018)

Award-winning investigative journalist and founder/editor of, Robert Parry has passed away. His ground-breaking work uncovering Reagan-era dirty wars in Central America and many other illegal and immoral policies conducted by successive administrations and U.S. intelligence agencies, stands as an inspiration to all in journalists working in the public interest.

Robert had been a regular guest on our Between The Lines and Counterpoint radio shows -- and many other progressive outlets across the U.S. over four decades.

His penetrating analysis of U.S. foreign policy and international conflicts will be sorely missed, and not easily replaced. His son Nat Parry writes a tribute to his father: Robert Parry’s Legacy and the Future of Consortiumnews.

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"How Do We Build A Mass Movement to Reverse Runaway Inequality?" with Les Leopold, author of "Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice,"May 22, 2016, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, 860 11th Ave. (Between 58th and 59th), New York City. Between The Lines' Scott Harris and Richard Hill moderated this workshop. Listen to the audio/slideshows and more from this workshop.

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Rising Economic Inequality Provokes Search for Practical, Democratic Alternatives

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Posted Jan. 4, 2012

Interview with Gar Alperovitz, Lionel R. Bauman professor of political economy at the University of Maryland, conducted by Scott Harris


As Republican Party presidential candidates campaigned across Iowa – the state holding the first meaningful contest for the GOP nomination, Occupy Wall Street activists in the state organized actions to focus public attention on one of priority concerns, the corrupting influence of big money in U.S. politics. Direct action disruptions at candidate speeches and protests at headquarters, including Democratic party offices, resulted in more than 60 arrests. The message these activists were sending was that both the Republican and Democratic parties largely represent the interests of major corporations and the top one percent wealthiest Americans.

As the new year begins, many observers are pondering the future of the Occupy Wall Street movement after police evicted thousands of activists from encampments in dozens of cities nationwide. Since the emergence of Occupy activism in New York City on Sept. 17, one question frequently asked of the movement is, "Where is your agenda and what are your specific demands?"

While the decentralized movement that operates by modified consensus is working through these important questions, Gar Alperovitz, author of a newly revised edition of his 2005 book, "America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty and Our Democracy," offers some well thought-out answers. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Alperovitz, the Lionel R. Bauman professor of political economy at the University of Maryland, who examines the problem of rising economic inequality in the U.S. and the practical, democratic solutions, many of which have already been put into practice in communities nationwide.

GAR ALPEROVITZ: Systems are defined by who really has the property interests. In the feudal eras it was the lords, manors, and aristocracy who held the landed property and that gave them the power. In traditional capitalism, that’s small individual entrepreneurial capitalism. There was a free market and small businessmen and farmers had the capital and that was competitive capitalism.

Well, that’s long since passed. Less than two percent of the society are farmers and less than seven or eight percent are entrepreneurs. The big money is in corporate capitalism and that’s a different animal all together. It’s more like feudalism than it is like competitive capitalism.

By the way, the people who knew that most are the theorists of free market capitalism, the great traditional Chicago school of economics believed in free market capitalism, not corporate-dominated capitalism, which is a very anti-democratic form. Under the state socialist system, it was the state that had the property and had the political power. Well, if you begin with that premise, obviously a democratic society really has to decentralize and democratize, in ways that are really democratic, the ownership of capital.

"My book, America Beyond Capitalism," is a lot about the many, many examples that are building up in American society that we, in fact, are doing that and haven’t quite realized it or talked about it or actually projected the implications. Let me just give you a few examples: the press doesn’t cover much of this, but it doesn’t take much digging to find out that there are a 130 million Americans who are members of co-ops or credit unions, which are another form of co-op. That’s 40 percent of the society involved in ownership or some sort of institution involved with ownership of wealth that is "one person, one vote" and that’s very different from the giant corporations. There are something like 13 million Americans that are involved in worker-owned companies, another form of democratic ownership or democratized ownership. There are something like 4,000 or 5,000 neighborhood corporations that exist that are designed to own property to benefit neighborhoods and communities. There are many, many examples like this. I could go on.

There are 2,000 municipal-owned utilities. That’s a city, democratic kind of constitutional structure that owns wealth in a very decentralized way. By the way, 25 percent of American electricity is produced by municipal utilities (publicly owned) and co-ops taken together. A society obviously isn’t going to be run only by co-ops and neighborhood corporations, but many of the principles that became the basis of national programs in the New Deal and in the Progressive Era, they were built up slowly, step by step, by the developments you see on the ground in which principles and ideals were established and when the moment came, they moved into larger economic enterprise and larger policies when the New Deal came in. Drawing on this experience, Justice Brandeis talked about this sort of thing as the states being the laboratories of democracy where the new ideas began to develop in smaller form that would later take on larger form.

BETWEEN THE LINES: The Occupy Wall Street movement certainly has pointed out growing income inequality and discussing and debating and dialoguing about possible solutions, many of which I’m sure would be right along the lines of things you’ve been dedicating your career to and in exploring in this book, "America Beyond Capitalism," and prior to, but what would be your advice to the Occupy Wall Street movement as they discuss alternatives, but many even more critically are trying to think of effective ways to reign in corporate power that really blocks the implementation of progressive change that you and many other people envision?

GAR ALPEROVITZ: Well, I think two things: one, you have to challenge corporate power wherever it inhibits real politics and real action. That’s at the state level, very often at the national level, and I think there’s, oddly enough, the Tea Party and the Occupation movement and the liberals and conservatives. Many are beginning to get fed up with Wall Street bankers on both sides and so there’s going to be a reining in, or, I think, ultimately a takeover of some of these banks because you really can’t regulate them. They’re just too big and powerful and if you break them up, they get back together again. That’s one direction, but I would really encourage people to get involved in their own local community and look around. Read my book "America Beyond Capitalism" or just check out community-wealth website where they survey different things. Roll up your sleeves and see if you can begin to develop some of these things that are being done in other communities to change the patterns of ownership and democratize co-ops and worker-owned companies and land trusts and neighborhood corporations. There’s a lot that can be done. The third thing is study. That is so say, learn about this stuff and learn what are the implications and start doing what the founding fathers did; start thinking about the theory or where we’re going and what makes sense. Those three things together I think give people enough power challenging, building, but also rethinking things and not getting caught in the silly ideas that are really slogans, rather than thought-through developmental ideas of what to do.

Visit For more resources on practical alternatives to America’s political and economic status quo, see our Occupy Wall Street resource page at

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