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Thanks to Jim for forwarding his appreciation of Doug Dowd. "Blues for America" is indeed a worthy read.


Douglas Fitzgerald Dowd came to my attention originally through the reminiscences of Andrew Skinner, then the Adam Smith Professor of Political Economy at the University of Glasgow but many years earlier an exchange student at Cornell University. While there he encountered institutionalist economics via Doug and Morris Copeland. Having done some archival digging I came upon Doug's excellent presentation of Veblen's ideas, "Thorstein Veblen", originally published by Washington Square Press in 1966. Irving Louis Horowitz at Transaction Publishers graciously agreed to publish a new edition of the book and through that enterprise I was able to get to know Doug personally. He very kindly hosted us for 2 weeks in the spring of 1999 at his home in San Francisco, and during our visit we accompanied him to one of his public classes in Petaluma - well attended, and fully participatory.


Doug was able to combine the skills of the historian with adherence to theoretical rigour, without allowing either to distort the other. He was acutely aware of the methodological choices he made, and also rejected. His magnum opus, "The Twisted Dream" (published in 1974, later republished as "US Capitalist Development Since 1776: Of, By, and For Which People?" in 1993), combined those talents to telling effect. There was no question which side he was on, but his identification especially with Veblen allowed him the sort of detachment and objectivity (and keen sense of irony) that enabled him to highlight the shortcomings of the dogmatic, as when he published in 1982 his controversial Monthly Review article, "Marxism for the few, or, let 'em eat theory", which was a robust critique of the sectarianism that had overtaken URPE, an organisation he had helped to found in 1968. Fortunately years later he was able to re-establish collaborative contact by presenting the URPE lecture named in honour of David M. Gordon, in 2002. As a student at UC Berkeley, Doug had had a difficult relationship with David's father Robert Aaron Gordon, whereas he shared much in common with David, whom he came to admire as a pioneering radical economist, taken from us too soon.


Doug and I continued to be involved in various publishing ventures, and our last collaboration was an interview conducted for the URPE website in 2011. He was a prolific writer and teacher, and if anything his output became even more urgent as he grew older. His humour remained firmly intact, and he employed it to disguise well the frustrations and pains of age. Doug enjoyed a wonderful partnership of many years with Anna, whose Italian roots led them to relocate permanently to Bologna soon after the turn of the century. It was there that for some years, well over the age of 80, he taught as a visiting professor at the branch of Johns Hopkins University. Like his student contemporary at UC Berkeley, Chalmers Johnson (whom he never met but whom he greatly appreciated), he remained as active an activist for as long as his health allowed.


The world is poorer without him, richer for having had him.


Michael Keaney

________________________________
From: AFEEMAIL Discussion List <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of James Cypher <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: 19 September 2017 22:22:03
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Doug Dowd, 1919-2017

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
public appearances.

    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!

  Ciao,

James M. Cypher