Dear AFEE Colleagues,
I learned of Doug Dowd's death yesterday. He was perhaps best known in
institutionalist circles for his 1958 collection of essays, "Thorstein
Veblen: a critical reappraisal; lectures and essays commemorating the
hundredth anniversary of Veblen's birth", which presented the ideas of
an array of noted scholars including J. Dorfman and W. Hamilton.
Over many decades Dowd communicated Veblen's core ideas to generations
of his students in the US and later in Italy. Dowd was determined to
disseminate his Veblenian perspective to as many individuals as
possible through his tireless and brilliant efforts to utilize any and
all forums available to him, including public sponsored radio,
television (where he debated Milton Friedman and later Condoleezza
Rice), the web, and numerous public classes held at progressive
bookstores around the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dowd studied under Robert Brady at U.C. Berkeley--an intellectual
giant whose dual grasp of Veblen and economic history greatly shaped
Dowd's approach to economics.
Dowd was a "public intellectual" exhibiting a remarkable and
unflagging commitment to progressive social change. His disdain for
conventional economics and economists (who he often said had acquired
a "trained incapacity" to understand economic processes) was
omnipresent both in his many books and articles and in his countless
If you did not have the great honor and pleasure to know Doug Dowd as
an individual I would recommend his masterful biography "Blues for
America". I had the remarkable opportunity to share the microphone
with Dowd for over ten years in a monthly radio program "Shouting Out
with Mama O'Shea" on KPFA, broadcast throughout northern California.
Every time we went on the air I ended up learning as I listened to
Doug who could communicate the essence of economic issues better than
anyone. Doug lived by and almost always worked-into his presentation
the famous quote "If not us, who? If not now, when?" Indeed!
James M. Cypher