Victor Perlo, 87, Marxist Economist - NY Times Obitary
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Fri Dec 10 06:20:33 MST 1999
December 10, 1999
Victor Perlo, 87, Marxist Economist
By JOSEPH B. TREASTER
Victor Perlo, a Marxist economist whose career was damaged
by accusations during the Red scare of the
late 1940s and early 1950s
that he spied for the Soviet Union in Washington during
World War II,
died Dec. 1 at his home in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. He was
Perlo had difficulty finding work after his loyalty was
in 1947 and then in hearings before the House Un-American
Activities Committee in 1948 and the Senate
Committee on Internal Security
But he later developed a business as an economic consultant
university lecturer and wrote 13 books. He was known for his
of the political economy of U.S. capitalism, comparative
economic systems and what he called the economics of
racism in the United States.
In one job after the initial accusations, Perlo worked on the
of Henry Wallace, the Progressive Party's presidential
candidate in 1948.
From the 1960s until his death, Perlo, who had a master's
degree in mathematics from Columbia
University, served as the chief economist
of the Communist Part in the United States. He was also a
of the party.
Perlo, who worked as an economist in government agencies during
the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, denied at
hearings that he had spied for the Soviet Union. But like many
who were questioned then by congressional
committees, he invoked the Fifth Amendment and
refused to provide some answers.
During one hearing in which he sparred with Senator William
R-Ind., who led the Internal Security Committee, Perlo said he
want to discuss his reasons for invoking his constitutional
But his wife Ellen said last week that her husband had not
begin a line of response that might lead to his being required
At the time of the hearings, Perlo said in a statement that
of my name through the mud is part of a big Roman circus."
Perlo discovered he had a security problem in 1947 when he was
denied a passport he needed to become treasurer of the
Committee on Refugees in Europe. He had resigned a post at the
Treasury Department and suddenly found himself
unemployed. The next year,
he was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee
the basis of a 1945 memorandum from a federal agency in which a
woman who said she had been a courier between Communist
espionage groups named Perlo as the head of one of the groups.
Perlo published his first book, "American Imperialism," in
his most recent, "Economics of Racism II" (International
came three years ago. He taught at the New School and at the
of New Rochelle and lectured at Harvard and other universities.
Besides his wife, Perlo is survived by a daughter, Kathy, of
Scotland; two sons, Stanley of Ithaca, N.Y., and Arthur of New
Conn.; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
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