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About Todd Gitlin

Todd Gitlin is a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University and author of the new e-book Occupy Nation:  The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street, also published in an expanded edition, in paperback, in August, 2012 (HarperCollins).

Articles by Todd Gitlin

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Welcome to the Vortex

It's time to wade into the swamp  or alternative universe  of right-wing media to really understand the twisted "truths" they report. 

Rage, heard and unheard

How did we get here? What’s clear is that, in a 50-50 election, little things mean a lot.

Interrupting Trump’s strut is only a start

Donald Trump says he is running for presidency against the crooked media. What should be the media response?

Todd Gitlin: 'There was always a constructive ambiguity about Obama'

Todd Gitlin discusses Obama's legacy, Donald Trump, and the future of Bernie Sanders’ movement.

Safe spaces, the void between, and the absence of trust

A conversation about some of the factors behind the campus protests in the United States, and what they tell us more generally about our conditions of existence.

PC thought-bots embarrass themselves with PEN boycott

What’s really at stake in awarding a character prize to the French satirical weekly?

BDS and the politics of ‘radical’ gestures

Boycotts and divestment can be useful tools for righting wrongs, but they are apolitical tantrums in cases of right versus right.

How to reverse a slow-motion apocalypse 

A movement isn’t called that for nothing.  It has to move people.  It needs lovers, and friends, and allies.  It has to generate a cascade of feeling - moral feeling.

Marshall Berman, author of 'All that is solid...", is no more

The author of 'All that is solid melts into air' has breathed his last of this planet's oxygen but his spirit lives on. His buddy Todd Gitlin salutes him.

The wonderful American world of informers and agents provocateurs: 
close encounters of the lower-tech kind 

It would be foolish to trust the authorities to keep to honest-to-goodness police work when they so easily take the low road into straight-out, unwarranted espionage and instigation. Tom Engelhardt  invites Todd Gitlin to look into what we do know.

Is the press too big to fail? It's dumb journalism, stupid

Todd Gitlin, whose latest book is Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street, offers a little survey of American print journalism on the way down, without a hint of romance in sight.

Goldman Sachs and hard work

Since trucking deregulation began under President Jimmy Carter, trucking rates are no longer set by the federal government, but by companies like SSA Marine, who can avoid paying benefits if their truckers are not classified as employees

Written for the Late, Lamented Occupied London

An American celebrates the achievement of the Occupy movement in a 'farewell but let's meet again soon' letter sent across the Atlantic to Occupy London.

Bill Maher’s mistaken heterodoxy

There are many, many thousands of thoughtful, intelligent people striving to make the US a more decent country by peaceably assembling and petitioning the authorities for the redress of grievances.

Liberty Park can be anywhere

The Occupy movement has much to gain from its symbolic eviction. But only if it evolves beyond Zuccotti.

How Occupy Wall Street must adapt its strategy after the Zuccotti Park eviction

They've lost their space, but not their momentum

Speechless in the face of massacre

The inability of America's leaders to summon a statement for the Ground Zero ceremony that points the way forward for the nation tells us about another kind of defeat, of the US as a collectivity.

Todd Gitlin on 'A voice in Tahrir Square, March 25, 2011'

I imagine that some amazing eruption of decency stopped the murderers in their tracks, convinced people of wildly different views that they ought to shut up for a moment and listen to The Other, overcame the narrowest of pinched minds, and in particular, convinced the comfortable (who are no more, though also no less, human than anyone else) that vast discrepancies in life-chances are unconscionable.  I do not know how such an eruption might take place.  There are so many counterforces, so many rewards for brutality and indifference, so many reasons to act reflexively, unthinkingly.  But I would like to think that in 2050, people will remember the faces of women like this.  She was arguing with a soldier in Tahrir Square, March 25, 2011.  She was unafraid.  She was in the spirit of openDemocracy.

Todd Gitlin, March 25, 2011

How to be radical? An interview with Todd Gitlin and George Monbiot

What kind of radicalism can help turn protest against injustice into a coherent movement for a progressive global politics? Here, leading voices of different generations – Todd Gitlin (‘Letters to a Young Activist’) and George Monbiot (‘The Age of Consent’) – discuss activism, nationalism, violence, and world government in an interview with Anthony Barnett and Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy.

(This article was first published on 5 September 2003)

Media power: Murdoch, the web and the BBC, as seen from the USA

The openDemocracy debate continues as Todd Gitlin responds to oD's Anthony Barnett and the Guardian's Alan Rusbridger, reporting on the effects of Fox and his fears that the web won't be able to restore a media the public can trust

Journalism's many crises

Circulation, revenue, attention, authority, and deference: a host of troubles force the diminishing of news in the United States.

Regaining the kinetics of 1968

The memorialisation of 1968 too often misses or flattens the inner dynamics of an epic year. That’s what makes a new Italian film so riveting, says Todd Gitlin.

The dust and the butterfly

openDemocracy was conceived in a garage six years ago, and emerged from its chrysalis on 13 May 2001. Todd Gitlin, present at the creation, looks back.

A short wish-list

In the last days of 2005, leading thinkers and scholars from around the world share their fears, hopes and expectations of 2006. As Isabel Hilton asks: What does 2006 have in store? (Part one)

The authority of anti-authority

The left’s assault on authority in the 1960s was appropriated by the right’s counter-revolution. Todd Gitlin explores what can be done when the language of revolt becomes establishment fashion.

After the fall: George W Bush in trouble

Republican divisions and a revival of Democratic energies are striking features of American politics six months after George W Bush’s election victory, reports Todd Gitlin.

Why the Democrats lost: an interview with Todd Gitlin

Todd Gitin’s acute, informed, acerbic “Our election year” weekly column has been an openDemocracy highlight of 2004. He discusses the lessons of a tumultuous political year in American politics with Solana Larsen.

The forces of reason and unreason

No less than the life of the republic itself depends on the election of 2 November 2004, says Todd Gitlin.

Paramedia and Parrot Media

With just over a week to go before the presidential election, the paramedia decibels are soaring and the mobilisation intensifying. Todd Gitlin on the curious convulsions and fabulous flavours of this crucial campaign.

Bush owes no one an explanation

For four years, President Bush has been shielded from the public and protected from contrary opinion. The three crucial TV presidential debates have revealed the true man. Advantage John Kerry.

Snarled up

The Dick Cheney-John Edwards Vice-Presidential debate revealed some strange social-psychological truths, notes Todd Gitlin.

Kerry reports (again) for duty

John Kerry not just clearly won the first televised debate with George W Bush – he opened up a huge strategic difference over the future of United States policy in Iraq, says Todd Gitlin.

Kerry comes out

Democracy eschews the private man. Candidates for political office must publicly display their inner man. American voters must choose between a shy John Kerry and a smooth George Bush.

The mobilization

The spirit of “Don’t mourn, organize” is sweeping across Democratic America, says Todd Gitlin. The political is personal. This election is all turn-on and turn-out.
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