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Norman Pollack (May 29, 1933 – June 11, 2017) was an American historian. He was an emeritus professor of History at Michigan State University, where he taught for most of his career. After his retirement, Pollack was a prolific essayist whose writing was informed by his scholarship in the fields of populism and social theory, but were often focused on a structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. His books included, The Populist Mind (1967), The Populist Response to Industrial America (1962), The Just Polity: Populism, Law, and Human Welfare (1987), and The Humane Economy: Populism, Capitalism, and Democracy (1990), Capitalism, Hegemony and Violence in the Age of Drones (2018).


Life and workEdit

Early yearsEdit

Norman Pollack was born on May 29, 1933.[1] He grew up in a Jewish family, and identified as Jewish.[2] He earned a PhD from Harvard University in 1961. Pollack was honoured with a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1968.[3]

Teaching, activism, and writingEdit

Pollack had a long history of engaging in civil rights and anti-war activities over the decades, that began when, at 15 years of age, he campaigned for Henry Wallace and his Progressive Party in 1948. Later, he campaigned for Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s, and in the 1960s he supported Martin Luther King.

Pollack was an important intellectual voice during the late 60s, and contributed to the theoretical grounding of the New Left through his writings on American populism.[4] After receiving his doctorate in American Civilization from Harvard University, he taught at Yale[4] and Wayne State University before going to Michigan State where he taught from 1968 until his retirement in 1998.[5]

After his retirement from teaching, Pollack wrote essays on contemporary political matters. He would often frame these issues within the perspective of his own scholarship, which included the history of civil disobedience, socio-political alienation, and the sociology of fascism. Most of these essays, published between 2012–2017, originally appeared in CounterPunch. These later writings also displayed his activist and radical spirit, as he searched out and documented the various characteristics of what he believed was America’s descent into a new form of a neoliberal fascist state.[6]

At the time of his death in 2017, Pollack was preparing a book for publication titled Capitalism, Hegemony and Violence in the Age of Drones,[7][8]and was scheduled for posthumous release.[7]


After a long battle with cancer, Pollack died on June 11, 2017 at his home in Michigan, aged 84.[7] He is survived by his wife Nancy, son Peter, daughter-in-law Sallie, and grandchildren Maxwell, Laura and Zachary. [8]

Political and other viewsEdit

Pollack had spoken of his pride in his Jewish heritage, which materialized, in part, by "recognizing that Jewish people were in the forefront of radicalism and the arts."[2] He was, nevertheless, critical of the society of present-day Israel, the occupation of Palestine, and what he termed the "Nazification" of the country.[9] With regards to Zionism, the historian argued that although "[it] has proven to be a colonialist-imperialist ideology, that was not always the case".[9]

Pollack believed his own country of the United States was fascist: "Fascism is not a dirty word, it is 21st century America. Since we live it, we should own it."[10] He was critical of the Bush administration's program of extraordinary rendition, and said that it had "turned much of the world against America, and has created the basis for the rise of militant groups and the desire for retribution."[11]

Selected bibliographyEdit

  • Capitalism, Hegemony and Violence in the Age of Drones. Palgrave Macmillan. 2018. ISBN 9783319648873.
  • The Humane Economy: Populism, Capitalism, and Democracy. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. 1990.
  • The Just Polity: Populism, Law, and Human Welfare. Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press. 1987.
  • The Populist Response to Industrial America: Midwestern Populist Thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 1962.
Journal articles

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Library of Congress Authorities". LCNAF Cataloging in Publication data - LC Control Number: n 86079410. LOC. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Sharabani, Souad (21 November 2014). "Unconditional Support for Israel?". CounterPunch. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Norman Pollack: 1968 Fellow, U.S. History". Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b "New Left historian Norman Pollack has died".
  5. ^ "Deaths - MSUToday - Michigan State University". via Web Archive. June 12, 2017. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. ^ Abdelmoumen, Mohsen. "Norman Pollack: "If one had to choose between Clinton and Trump, Americans would best be advise to move to Canada"". Whatsupic. Abdelmoumen Mohsen. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Frank, Joshua (June 16, 2017). "Farewell Norman Pollack, 1933-2017".
  8. ^ a b "Norman Pollack's Obituary on Lansing State Journal". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  9. ^ a b Pollack, Norman (28 November 2014). "Nazification of Israel". Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  10. ^ Pollack, Norman (20 June 2014). "Reflections on Fascism". CounterPunch. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  11. ^ Ziabari, Kourosh (27 December 2014). "Prof. Norman Pollack: CIA's Torture Program Has Turned Much of the World Against America". Retrieved 19 July 2015.

External linksEdit