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.