Kevin Danaher



  • Co-founder of Global Exchange
  • Husband of Medea Benjamin
  • Socialist
  • Believes that high-level U.S. government officials may have deliberately allowed the 9/11 attacks to occur

Born in 1950 in New Jersey, Kevin Danaher earned a Ph.D. in sociology at UC Santa Cruz in 1982, and was an adjunct professor at American University in Washington, DC from 1979-83. In 1984 he moved to the Bay Area to work as a senior analyst with Food First. That same year, he married the activist Medea Benjamin. Also in the eighties, Danaher served as an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

In 1988 Danaher and Ms. Benjamin co-founded Global Exchange, through which they sponsored an ongoing series of “reality tours” designed to give Americans a first-hand view of the harm that “U.S. foreign policy was doing” to populations overseas. The most popular destination for these tours was Fidel Castro‘s Cuba, which Danaher praised as “a country with strong family values, a commitment to schools, little drug abuse, and very little street crime.”

Danaher and Benjamin were key organizers of the violent 1999 Seattle protests (which devolved into riots) against globalization and the World Trade Organization. When Danaher was later asked whether violence could ever be justified as a form of political expression, he replied that “in the larger context,” it was indeed an appropriate response to the “structural violence” that the “capitalist system” was inflicting on people around the world—in the form of “hunger and hunger-related diseases.” He accused capitalism of carrying out a form of “genocide” that was “on a scale with slavery, colonialism and the Holocaust.”

In a January 20, 2001 article that appeared in the Socialist Worker, Danaher condemned “the top-down globalization promoted by the big corporations” and their “constant drive to maximize profits.” In an interview with Socialist Review two months later, he suggested that capitalism’s excesses and its disregard for human well-being would inevitably sow the seeds of its own destruction: “It’s almost like when Marx talks about capitalism having a strangely progressive effect in bringing workers off the land together into the factories, and that sets the objective basis for trade union consciousness.” On a later occasion, Danaher portrayed “the mindset of the traditional property developer”—who, as a capitalist, seeks to “grow, grow, grow” without any concern for how the natural environment may be impacted by such growth—as “the ideology of the cancer cell.”

According to Danaher, capitalism encourages people to “pursue an unsustainable pattern of resource consumption” and ultimately results in “grotesque levels” of “social inequality.” To address these issues, Danaher urges fellow socialists “within the progressive movement” to “get involved” in “corporate accountability campaigns” designed to promote “a systemic critique that seeks to end corporate rule, rather than simply make corporations less destructive.” “Our task,” he says, is “to prevent the biosphere and millions of people from being destroyed by the built-in rapaciousness of global capitalism.”

In the aftermath of 9/11, Danaher exhorted Americans not to view the Islamic terrorist attacks “as an act of war,” lest they succumb to the type of “nationalist sentiment” that “separates us from the people of other nations.” Rather, he urged the United States to work for the establishment of an international criminal court to deal with such cases as legal rather than military matters. And he suggested that to effectively abolish international terrorism, America would have to do more to alleviate global poverty—so as to win the hearts and minds of the world’s people. “You don’t fight fire with fire,” Danaher explained, “you fight it with water. And you don’t fight hate with hate, you fight it with love.”

In October 2004, Danaher signed a “911 Truth Statement” calling for an “immediate inquiry into evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur.” Fellow signatories included Ed Asner, Medea Benjamin, Richard Falk, Randall Hayes, Michael Lerner, Cynthia McKinney, Mark Crispin Miller, Ralph Nader, and Howard Zinn.

Urging communities nationwide to create “sustainable local economies,” Danaher is a founder and executive producer of numerous so-called “Green Festivals,” two-day events that, according to Global Exchange, “brin[g] together hundreds of green economy companies, social justice and environmental organizations, speakers,… and tens of thousands of attendees hungry for a transition to the green economy.” In November 2008 Danaher spoke at a Green Festival in San Francisco, promoting renewable energy and a diminished reliance on oil and coal. He shared the stage with, among others, the revolutionary communist Van Jones.

Over the years, Danaher has spoken on energy- and environment-related topics at hundreds of universities, and for many community organizations, throughout the United States. Most notably, he has emphasized the “need to push capital into” green-energy investments to help America move away from “a single-bottom-line economy that is all about money,” and toward “a triple-bottom-line economy that balances social equity, environmental restoration, and financial sustainability.”

Danaher has occasionally blogged for the website Alternet.

For additional information on Kevin Danaher, click here.

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