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Gar Alperovitz (born May 5, 1936) is an American political economist and historian. He was the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, College Park Department of Government and Politics from 1999 to 2015. Alperovitz was a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge; a founding Fellow of the Harvard Institute of Politics; a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies; and a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution. He also served as a Legislative Director in the US House of Representatives and the US Senate and as a Special Assistant in the US Department of State. Alperovitz was a member of the board of directors for the New Economics Institute[1][2] and is a founding principal of the Democracy Collaborative.

Gar Alperovitz
Gar Alperovitz.jpg
Photograph of political economist and historian Gar Alperovitz
Born (1936-05-05) May 5, 1936 (age 82)
Alma mater B.A. University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.A. University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D. University of Cambridge
Occupation Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, College Park
Notable work 2008 Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance
2003 "Making a Place for Community: Local Democracy in a Global Era" (with Thad Williamson and David Imbroscio)
1984 Rebuilding America(with Staughton Lynd)



Alperovitz's articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The Nation, and The Atlantic among other publications. Alperovitz has been profiled by The New York Times, the Associated Press, People, UPI, and Mother Jones, and has been a guest on numerous network TV and cable news programs, including Meet the Press, Larry King Live, The Charlie Rose Show, Crossfire, and The O'Reilly Factor.

Alperovitz is the author of critically acclaimed books on the atomic bomb and atomic diplomacy and was named "Distinguished Finalist" for the Lionel Gelber Prize for The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth, (Knopf, 1995). His research interests include:[3]

  • community-based political-economic development, and in particular new institutions of community wealth ownership;
  • political-economic theory, including system-wide political-economic design particularly as related to normative issues of equality, democracy, liberty, community and ecological sustainability;
  • local, state and national policy approaches to community stability in the era of globalization;
  • the history and future of nuclear weapons; arms control and disarmament strategies, including work on the conditions of peace and related long-term political-economic structural change.

Alperovitz's articles include "Worker-Owners of America, Unite!" (published in The New York Times), "Ten Ways To Democratize Our Broken Economy" (published by Truthout and Bill Moyers), and "Inequality's Dead End—and the possibility of a new long-term direction" (published by Nonprofit Quarterly).

Vietnam era activismEdit

Role in the Pentagon PapersEdit

In June 1971, while a professor at Harvard, Alperovitz met Daniel Ellsberg at a Cambridge dinner party.[4] The two men bonded over their opposition to the Vietnam War. Ellsberg was a disaffected former RAND Corporation analyst working as a senior research fellow at MIT, who in 1969 had secretly made several sets of photocopies of a classified United States Department of Defense report about the Vietnam War. These top-secret leaked documents, which later became known as the Pentagon Papers, revealed that early on in the conflict the US government was aware the war could not be won, and further showed that the Johnson Administration "systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress" about the conduct of the war.[5] It is widely believed that the release of these documents and the subsequent fallout helped to speed not only the downfall of the Nixon Administration but the end of the Vietnam War.

In the days following their initial conversation, Alperovitz agreed to join a group of co-conspirators helping Ellsberg distribute the Pentagon Papers to the press.[6] Ellsberg had initially given copies of the documents to Neil Sheehan, a writer at The New York Times, who published a front-page story breaking the news of their existence to the American public. A Nixon Administration injunction subsequently barred the Times from printing any more stories about the details of these reports. This was the first time in the history of the United States that a presidential administration had attempted to censor the Fourth Estate. Shortly after these developments, Alperovitz joined The Lavender Hill Mob, a group of dissents named after a 1951 film about a group of amateur bank robbers. They were dedicated to seeing these documents leaked to other newspapers, such as the Washington Post.[7] Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee's decision to print the rest of the Pentagon Papers eventually led to a First Amendment crisis finally decided by a Supreme Court ruling reaffirming the freedom of the press.[8] Ellsberg has described Alperovitz as “critical to the way this thing worked out,” by organizing the broader distribution of the papers. It was Alperovitz who came up with the elaborate techniques for slipping the documents to reporters while evading authorities. “Gar took care of all the cloak-and-dagger stuff,” Ellsberg has said.[9]

America Beyond CapitalismEdit


This book is subtitled "Reclaiming our wealth, our liberty, and our democracy." A recurring theme throughout the book is that for democracy to work on a large scale, people need to gain experience with it on a small scale. He recommends cooperatives in part because they give people experience with democracy on a relatively small scale. That, in turn, provides experience and a depth of understanding of how to work with others, which can be translated into more effective political action at larger levels, like state and national politics.


'[T]he seemingly radical idea of the workers and community owning and running a giant steel mill was hardly radical at all at the grass-roots level. Indeed, the vast majority of the community, the local congressional delegation, both senators, and the conservative governor of Ohio, James Rhodes, supported it.' (p. v)

'Way back when–in my early days in Wisconsin–Senator Joseph McCarthy of our state dominated politics, both nationally and locally. “They shot anything that moved politically,” people used to say. Fear dominated every suggestion that progressive ideas might be put forward. Anyone who thought otherwise was obviously foolish. But of course, what came next was the 1960s.'(p. vii)


  • Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965). Other editions: German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, British
  • Cold War Essays, with an Introduction by Christopher Lasch (New York: Doubleday, 1970)
  • Strategy and Program, with S. Lynd (Boston: Beacon Press, 1973)
  • Rebuilding America, with J. Faux (New York: Pantheon, 1984)
  • American Economic Policy, ed. with R. Skurski (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984)
  • The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995). Other editions: German, Japanese, Korean, British
  • The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb (New York: Vintage Books, 1996). British edition (Harper Collins).
  • Making a Place for Community, with D. Imbroscio and T. Williamson (New York: Routledge, 2002)
  • America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy (John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0471667307, October 2004)
  • Building Wealth: The New Asset-Based Approach to Solving Social and Economic Problems (Washington, D.C.: The Aspen Institute, April 2005) (Democracy Collaborative Report, under the direction of Gar Alperovitz)
  • Unjust Deserts: How The Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take It Back, with Lew Daly (New York: New Press, 2008)
  • What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution (Chelsea Green, 2013)


  1. ^ "Directors". New Economics Institute. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28. Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  2. ^ "Staff". Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  3. ^ See his university webpage at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-06-20. Retrieved 2006-07-11. 
  4. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (2018-01-29). "The Untold Story of the Pentagon Papers Co-Conspirators". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2018-01-30. 
  5. ^ Jr, R. W. Apple (1996-06-23). "25 Years Later;Lessons From the Pentagon Papers". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-30. 
  6. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (2018-01-29). "The Untold Story of the Pentagon Papers Co-Conspirators". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2018-01-30. 
  7. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (2018-01-29). "The Untold Story of the Pentagon Papers Co-Conspirators". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2018-01-30. 
  8. ^ "New York Times Co. v. United States". Wikipedia. 2018-01-26. 
  9. ^ Lichtblau, Eric (2018-01-29). "The Untold Story of the Pentagon Papers Co-Conspirators". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2018-01-30. 

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