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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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IPS Blog

Entries tagged "marcus raskin"

Tell Us About Your Dream, Marcus!

February 10, 2012 ·

Marcus Raskin with current IPS Director John Cavanagh. Photo by E. Ethelbert Miller.On Thursday, February 9, 2012, the George Washington University Library held an event to honor IPS co-founder Marcus Raskin, whose collected papers will be archived at the library's Special Collection Research Center. The collection, titled "THE MARCUS RASKIN PAPERS: Social and Scholarly Activism" will include much of Raskin's work here at our Institute. The following remarks were delivered by IPS Boarc Chair E. Ethelbert Miller at the reception:

There is something special about Marcus Raskin. One becomes immediately aware of this when you hear him playing the piano. If I was a Hollywood writer, Raskin would be one of those individuals in that television series Heroes. He would have a unique gift, not the ability to walk through walls or hear other people's thoughts but the gift and the ability to see the larger pattern in life; to understand the true purpose of being and doing.

For many of us, Marcus Raskin is a hero. He is a visionary. A man who looks at the world and realizes one can change it. For me, he has been a father, teacher and friend. I like how this man thinks. I like how he peels a question, how he bites into it. I like how this man chews a thought; a creative taste lingering on his tongue. When Raskin speaks he often sheds light on the levels and degrees of life.

Last year at IPS we started doing "The Raskin Readings." This consisted of IPS fellows reviewing the work written by Raskin and selecting a few pages in order to lead an afternon discussion. It's amazing how much Raskin has written over the years. I imagine his paper will reveal how certain ideas were formed, matured and took flight. There will probably be items in his papers that show how some of his ideas were too young to go steady.

I think it will be important in the future to admire Raskin as a builder and architect. It will be important to study the man as well as the Institute for Policy Studies.

Why do we save things? Why donate papers?

The past always seems sexier after it undresses. We have a tendency to leave papers and documents behind like discarded clothes. Yet didn't we strut in the old wares once? I wonder what Marcus Raskin's papers will tell us about the 1960s, about nuclear disarmament, National Security, Civil Rights, poverty and social inequality. What will his papers tell us about a year like 1968?

I think we save things in order to determine what should be the blueprint for the future.

I think we save things because life is filled with victories and defeats, and sometimes we confuse the two.

I think we save things because it measures the length - the shadow one person can cast.

We donate papers because we understand the importance of sharing and the hope that what one man might have owned can now be shared with others.

Maybe all of Marcus Raskin's work should be filed under the heading - For The Common Good.

I know he once said:

Winter is always coming, the children are always sick, loved ones are always dying before their time.

Yet, somehow we survive and that is why we donate papers. It is a way of reaching the future.

It is the preservation of memory. With memory comes meaning. This is what the blues singer struggles to achieve. A sense of meaning carved out of the tree of life.

In his book BEING AND DOING published in 1973 by Beacon Press, Raskin spoke of the need to develop a philosophy of reconstruction in politics and public policy. The task of such a philosophy was to break the bounds of absurdity and develop new moods of thought.

Hopefully the material given by Raskin to the Gelman Library will help some future student or scholar develop an analysis that will help create new and better structures not only for institutions but for individuals, for lovers and the sons and daughters of lovers.

What Raskin has done today is plant more seeds. Somewhere ahead of us is the new harvest. Because he has been an excellent teacher and mentor, we know the harvest will be good and the people will be fed.

Let not the present American hunger only find us serving and consuming tea. The life of Marcus Raskin is a song of celebration. Just as Raskin's fingers mastered the genius of many composers, so too might future patrons of this library benefit from his generosity and provide us with a new music and a chorus for change.

There is much Raskin to be read.

Let me conclude my brief remarks by simply saying that the staff here at the Gelman Library is exceptional. There is much good news coming out of this place. It's beginning to feel sacred.

Not far from here, Mahalia Jackson listening to Martin Luther King, Jr at the March on Washington, reminded him to tell the people about the dream. "Tell them about the dream Martin. Tell them about the dream" she said.

This evening as we honor Marcus Raskin, I feel the need to say -

Tell us about your dream Marcus. Tell us about your dream.

For more from E. Ethelbert Miller, visit his blog at http://eethelbertmiller1.blogspot.com/

Portrait of Marcus Raskin

August 4, 2010 ·

Four freedomsThere are many wonderful things about working for the Institute for Policy Studies. Take the dress code: Wear clothes. Seven years after escaping the corporate media and landing at this think tank, I can count on one hand the number of times I've purchased pantyhose. If you see a guy wearing a suit, chances are that he's an intern and it's his first day. The family-friendly work ethics can't be beat: If you have children or your sister is ill, you're welcome and expected to maneuver your office obligations around the obligations of being a caring parent and siblings. Best of all, we have the privilege of working with dozens of brilliant and kind people who genuinely want to save the world.

We're especially fortunate that Marcus Raskin, who together with Richard Barnet, founded our organization in 1963, is still part of the gang. Four Freedoms Under Siege, which Raskin co-authored with his longtime friend Robert Spero, is his most recent book. It's brilliant and eternally timely. The title harkens from the four freedoms FDR identified in his 1941 State of the Union address: the freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. One chapter, authored by Spero, profiles Marc.

In just 10 pages, Spero relates how this remarkably gifted pianist raised in a working-class Milwaukee family landed at Juilliard, then opted to turn his lifelong passion for music into a hobby, earning a law degree from the University of Chicago, spending a few years in the Kennedy administration, and then co-founding with Richard Barnet a progressive and boldly independent think tank. The chapter includes a great synopsis of Marc's role in galvanizing opposition to the Vietnam War, and highlights from the Institute's first four and a half decades, such as this remarkable anecdote.

"Ten years before President Ronald Reagan was credited with ending the cold war, Raskin and Barnet met in Moscow with Mikhail Gorbachev's senior advisors and learned, contrary to CIA estimates, that the Soviet Union was an overgrown third world country, its military threat was greatly exaggerated, and communist solidarity was a myth. Raskin passed their insights to the State Department, which paid no heed."

The real "I didn't know that!" part for me was learning that the actor Gene Wilder was one of Marc's junior high school friends. "It wasn't music or art (or girls) that drove Marcus," said the star of Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, who was known as Jerry Silberman back then. "But rather how, if he were ever in a position of power, he wanted to change the world so that people, like the poor families around us, would have decent homes to come home to."

The book, originally released in 2006 in hardcover, is now out as a paperback, which you can purchase online. This chapter is currently posted to our website, but will only be there for about two weeks. I also recommend watching this short video by former IPSer Farrah Hassen, which features Marc's haunting piano playing.