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Michael John Parenti
Parenti in 2012
Born (1933-09-30) September 30, 1933 (age 90)
Notable work
  • Democracy for the Few
  • To Kill a Nation
  • Superpatriotism
  • Blackshirts and Reds
SpouseSusan Parenti
ChildrenChristian Parenti
ThesisEthnic and Political Attitudes: A Depth Study of Italian Americans (1962)
Doctoral advisorRobert E. Lane
Main interests
Socialism · Imperialism · Political economy · Ideology

Michael John Parenti (born September 30, 1933) is an American political scientist, academic historian and cultural critic who writes on scholarly and popular subjects. He has taught at universities as well as run for political office.[1] Parenti is well known for his Marxist writings and lectures,[2][3] and is an intellectual of the American Left.[4][5]

Education and personal life

Michael Parenti was raised by an Italian-American working-class family in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City.[6] After graduating from high school, Parenti worked for several years. Upon returning to school, he received a BA from the City College of New York, an MA from Brown University and a PhD in political science from Yale University.[7] Parenti is the father of Christian Parenti, an academic, author and journalist.[8][9]


For many years Parenti taught political and social science at various institutions of higher learning. His most prominent academic position was at the University of Vermont where he taught from 1970 to 1972. During his time there he was one of the most published and well known scholars on campus, in part due to his active role in on and off campus activities against the Vietnam War. At the end of his two year contract the faculty voted to extend his position, but their decision was directly overturned by the University's Board of Trustees. The trustees alleged that Parenti had violated the University's professional conduct policy, citing as evidence his "anti-business" attitudes and not saying the pledge of allegiance when he was invited to speak at the Burlington Rotary Club.[10]

Eventually he devoted himself full-time to writing, public speaking, and political activism.[11] He is the author of 20 books and over 300 articles.[7] His works have been translated into at least 18 languages.[12] Parenti lectures frequently throughout the United States and abroad.

Parenti's writings cover a wide range of subjects: U.S. politics, culture, ideology, political economy, imperialism, fascism, communism, democratic socialism, free-market orthodoxies, conservative judicial activism, religion, ancient history, modern history, historiography, repression in academia, news and entertainment media, technology, environmentalism, sexism, racism, Venezuela, the wars in Iraq and Yugoslavia, ethnicity, and his own early life.[13][14][15]

His book Democracy for the Few[16] is a critical analysis of U.S. society, economy, and political institutions.[17] His book Blackshirts and Reds defended the Soviet Union and communist states of the 20th century from criticism, arguing that they were morally superior compared to capitalist states, that the problems of the Soviet Union were caused by the Russian Civil War and capitalist interference, and that "Left anti-Communist" and "pure socialist" critics failed to offer any alternatives to the Soviet Union's "siege socialism".[18] In recent years, he has addressed such subjects as "Empires: Past and Present", "US Interventionism: the Case of Iraq", "Race, Gender, and Class Power", "Ideology and History", "The Overthrow of Communism", and "Terrorism and Globalization".[12]

In 1974, Parenti ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in Vermont as the candidate of the democratic socialist Liberty Union Party; he came in third place, with 7.1% of the vote.[19][20] Parenti was once a friend of Bernie Sanders, but he later split with Sanders over Sanders's support for the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.[21][22]

In the 1980s, he was a visiting fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C.[23] In 2003, the Caucus for a New Political Science gave him a Career Achievement Award.[7] In 2007, he received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from U.S. Representative Barbara Lee.[7]

He served for 12 years as a judge for Project Censored.[24] He also is on the advisory boards of Independent Progressive Politics Network and Education Without Borders as well as the advisory editorial boards of New Political Science and Nature, Society and Thought.[25] [26]

Appearances in media

Apart from several recordings of some of his public speeches, Parenti has also appeared in the 1992 documentary The Panama Deception, the 2004 Liberty Bound[27] and 2013 Fall and Winter documentaries[28] as an author and social commentator.

Parenti was interviewed in Boris Malagurski's documentary film The Weight of Chains 2 (2014) about the former Yugoslavia.[29] He was also interviewed for two episodes of the Showtime series Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, speaking briefly about the Dalai Lama (Episode 305 – Holier Than Thou)[30] and patriotism (Episode 508 – Mount Rushmore).[citation needed]

New York City-based punk rock band Choking Victim use a number of samples from Michael Parenti's lectures in their album No Gods, No Managers.[31]

See also



  1. ^ "How Bernie Sanders, an Open Socialist, Won Burlington's Mayoral Election". Retrieved January 8, 2022.
  2. ^ Parenti, Michael (January 1, 1998). "The Increasing Relevance of Marxism". Socialism and Democracy. 12 (1): 115–121. doi:10.1080/08854309808428215. ISSN 0885-4300.
  3. ^ Boggs, Carl (June 1, 2012). "Reflections on Politics and Academia: An Interview with Michael Parenti". New Political Science. 34 (2): 228–236. doi:10.1080/07393148.2012.676401. ISSN 0739-3148. S2CID 147258248.
  4. ^ Lattin, Don (April 5, 2010). "Review: 'God and His Demons,' by Michael Parenti". SFGATE. Retrieved January 8, 2022.
  5. ^ Carr, Paul R. (2011). Does Your Vote Count?: Critical Pedagogy and Democracy. Peter Lang. p. 274. ISBN 978-1-4331-0813-6.
  6. ^ Parenti, Michael (August 2007). "La Famiglia: An Ethno-Class Experience". Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader. City Lights Books. pp. 403. ISBN 978-0-87286-482-5.
  7. ^ a b c d "Michael Parenti – The Humanities Institute – The Humanities Institute". Scripps CollegeScripps College. April 17, 2018. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  8. ^ Bergman, Tabe (January 1, 2019). ""Old-New" Directions in Political Communication: Taking Michael Parenti's Media Criticism as a Guide". Frontiers in Communication. 4. doi:10.3389/fcomm.2019.00023. ISSN 2297-900X.
  9. ^ "Christian Parenti". John Jay College of Criminal Justice. January 31, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2019.
  10. ^ Michael Parenti - Power in the Universities (1986), retrieved October 2, 2023
  11. ^ Parenti, Michael (1996). "Struggles in Academe: A Personal Account". Dirty Truths. ISBN 0-87286-317-4.
  12. ^ a b "Biography of Michael Parenti". Michael Parenti. Archived from the original on October 27, 2007. Retrieved December 25, 2007.
  13. ^ "Articles and Other Published Selections". Michael Parenti. Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved December 25, 2007.
  14. ^ Parenti, Michael (August 2007). Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader. City Lights Books. pp. 403. ISBN 978-0-87286-482-5.
  15. ^ "Books by Michael Parenti". Michael Parenti. Retrieved December 25, 2007.
  16. ^ Parenti, Michael (February 2007). Democracy for the Few (Eight ed.). Wadsworth Publishing Company. p. 322. ISBN 978-0-495-00744-9.
  17. ^ CENGAGE Learning. "WADSWORTH CENGAGE Learning political science". Archived from the original on August 30, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2008.
  18. ^ "Worker's ice pick". The Anarchist Library. Retrieved July 3, 2023.
  19. ^ "Elections Results Archive". VT Elections Database.
  20. ^ Sanders, Bernie (1997). "You Have to Begin Somewhere". Outsider in the House.
  21. ^ Zeitlin, Matthew (June 13, 2019). "Bernie's Red Vermont". The New Republic. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
  22. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Michael Parenti on Bernie Sanders". YouTube.
  23. ^ Parenti, Michael (September 2, 2013). "The State of the Discipline: One Interpretation of Everyone's Favorite Controversy – PS: Political Science & Politics". PS: Political Science & Politics. 16 (2): 189–196. doi:10.1017/S1049096500015043. ISSN 1537-5935. S2CID 155444644. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  24. ^ "Michael Parenti". Project Censored. May 24, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  25. ^ Parenti, Michael. "The Michael Parenti Political Archive". Retrieved January 2, 2008.
  26. ^ "Political Scientist Michael Parenti To Speak At Muhlenberg". Muhlenberg College. Muhlenberg College. Retrieved August 8, 2023.
  27. ^ "Liberty Bound (2004)". BFI. Archived from the original on January 13, 2022. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  28. ^ "Fall and Winter on iTunes". iTunes. December 1, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  29. ^ "The Stars of the Film – The Weight of Chains 2010 – - Boris Malagurski films". The Weight of Chains. September 18, 2019. Retrieved January 13, 2022.
  30. ^ "Michael Parenti on Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2005)".
  31. ^ Manner, Lauri (June 14, 2001). "Choking Victim – No Gods / No Managers". Retrieved January 13, 2022.