Victor Perlo, 87, Marxist Economist - NY Times Obitary

James Farmelant farmelantj at
Fri Dec 10 06:20:33 MST 1999

December 10, 1999

          Victor Perlo, 87, Marxist Economist


              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
first challenged
             in 1947 and then in hearings before the House Un-American
Activities                          Committee in 1948 and  the Senate
Committee on Internal Security
             in 1953.

           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
board member
           of the party.

          Perlo, who worked as an economist in government agencies during
the                     Roosevelt  and Truman administrations, denied at
the Washington
          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
did not
          want to discuss his reasons for invoking his constitutional
          But his wife Ellen said last week that her husband had not
wanted to
          begin a line of response that might lead to his  being required
to testify
          against others.

          At the time of the hearings, Perlo said in a statement that
"the dragging
          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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