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Tony Benn, Longtime Politician and Anti-War Activist, Dies at 88

'You’ve got to judge a country by whether its needs are met and not just by whether some people make a profit.'

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Longtime critic of war and capitalism, British socialist, politician, and activist Tony Benn died peacefully Friday morning at the age of 88 after a long battle with illness, his family said.

Benn, whose 50-year career in parliament as a member of Britain’s Labour Party broke all records for longevity, was later revered for his campaign against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, amongst his expansive career fighting for peace and justice in the UK and around the world.

Speaking to Democracy Now! in a 2009 interview, Benn stated, "You’ve got to judge a country by whether its needs are met and not just by whether some people make a profit."

He continued, "I’ve never met Mr. Dow Jones, and I’m sure he works very, very hard with his averages — we get them every hour — but I don’t think the happiness of a nation is decided by the share values in Wall Street."

"Ask the powerful five questions," Benn once famously posed:

What power have you got?
Where did you get it from?
In whose interests do you exercise it?
To whom are you accountable?
How can we get rid of you?

Only democracy gives us that right. That is why no-one with power likes democracy and that is why every generation must struggle to win it and keep it; including you and me, here and now.

Watch a portion of the 2009 interview with Democracy Now!:


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