Wednesday 23 November 2011


News came over the weekend that Mark Blaug died. Like most students who'd taken History of Economic Thought, though there are fewer now taking such courses than there ought to be, I met Mark through his text, Economic Theory in Retrospect.

It was a great treat having him visit Canterbury a few years ago; he came as an Erskine visitor and delivered our Condliffe Memorial Lecture. I enjoyed talking with him about Austrian and Public Choice models of socialism. Sue and I had dinner with Mark and Ruth Towse, along with my colleague Andrea Menclova and her husband, Vladimir, at the Korean place that then existed in Gloucester Arcade; Mark was ridiculously fun, enjoying the freedom of sitting (and rolling) on the floor.

John Fountain interviewed him while he was here; the audio's embedded below. Mark covers his childhood in wartime Europe; his mother bribed guards in a Spanish Fascist concentration camp with diamonds sewn into her underwear and they made their way to America.

If nothing else, listen to the segment starting at 23:50 where he talks about his appearance before the McCarthy Committee. As a tutor at Queen's College, he provided the faculty signature to a student petition to save the job of a labour economist who'd been fired for having pled the Fifth before the Committee; Mark was then advised by the College President to resign if he didn't want to be fired. Then called to appear before the Committee and well-ready to tell the Committee to "go fuck itself", he found the Committee uninterested in hearing his testimony. But he got a call that night from the Social Science Research Council who provided him a fellowship to head to England to write his PhD thesis; SSRC was quietly helping out folks who'd been victimized by the Committee.

The bit at 33:00 on the link between sex and research is also great fun, along with more than a few other gems.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for posting this eric. Many who only know him by name will find an "experience" here that will create a personal connection with this giant. He came through a crucible - well several of them actually - and the story of his intellectuals journey could/should/might inspire many others . His seminar on the 2 fundamental theorems of welfare economics is also a beauty to listen to. Man I hope at 80 I have the intellectual breadth and depth of MArk - he is razor sharp as he takes apart the mathematization of economics in the Arrow Debreu model...from an historical perspective. Great stuff for any econ major or grad student. You can catch it at
    . As soon as I rebuild our archive - out Uni is killing the uctv repository we have, and not replacing it with anything - you'll be bale to get it on mp3. cheers John Fountain