Democracy's Think Tank

Democracy's Think Tank

The Institute for Policy Studies and Progressive Foreign Policy

by Brian S. Mueller

  • Hardcover
  • 9780812253122
  • Published: July 2021



In Democracy's Think Tank, Brian S. Mueller places the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) at the center of a network of activists involved in making the world safe for diversity. Unlike defense intellectuals at the RAND Corporation and other think tanks responsible for formulating military strategy, the "peace intellectuals" at IPS developed blueprints for an alternative to the U.S.-led world order.

As the Iron Curtain fell across Eastern Europe, a triumphalist Cold War narrative emerged proclaiming victory for freedom, democracy, and free enterprise over totalitarianism. Yet for the peace intellectuals at IPS, the occasion did not merit celebration. Since its doors opened in 1963, IPS refused to embrace American exceptionalism and waged a battle against the Cold War and its liberal anti-communist supporters. As IPS founders Marcus Raskin and Richard Barnet saw it, in the process of fighting communism and preserving the liberal capitalist order, Cold War liberals had forsaken democracy.

Democracy's Think Tank tells the story of IPS's crusade to resurrect democracy at home and abroad. Borrowing from populist, progressive, and New Left traditions, IPS challenged elite expertise and sought to restore power to "the people." To this end, IPS, in the words of journalist I. F. Stone, served as the "institute for the rest of us." Mueller tells the story of IPS's involvement in a broad range of grassroots campaigns aimed at ending the Cold War and increasing participatory democracy in the United States and across the globe. Contemporary observers seeking an alternative to American empire in the twenty-first century will find Democracy's Think Tank offers several possible paths toward a more democratic order.