Dobb Maurice

Maurice Herbert Dobb

Born in London on September 3rd 1900, Dobb is best remembered as a Marxist economist. He was admitted to Pembroke College in 1919 as an exhibitioner to study history. However, after his first year in Cambridge, he changed the subject of his studies to economics and gained firsts in both parts of the tripos in 1921 and 1922. After two years at the London School of Economics in a research post and producing his PhD he returned to Cambridge to take up a post as University lecturer in 1924, also teaching at his old college. 

The controversy surrounding his divorce from his first wife Phyllis, whom he had married in 1923, and his devotion to Marxian economics contributed to his `losing his dining rights and his students’, as the archive note to his papers puts it! Essentially, despite his academic prowess, every effort was made to prevent what were then seen as normal courtesies for Cambridge dons. As one, some have speculated as to his role or otherwise  in the recruitment to the KGB of Kim Philby and others. Certainly, he was an open advocated of Communism amongst Cambridge undergraduates.

He was was eventually made a Fellow of Trinity College from 1948 and Reader in 1959, holding this post until his death. Dobb was widely published and interest in his work from eastern Europe, Italy and Japan meant that his works were often translated into a number of languages. Political Economy and Capitalism (1937) and Studies in the Development of Capitalism (1946) are, perhaps, his best known works. After their completion, he collaborated for many years with Piero Sraffa on the latter’s comprehensive edition of the works of David Ricardo.

Dobb’s diaries are still in the hands of Brian Pollitt, who is his literary executor and who has passed the bulk of his papers – some 40 boxes – to Trinity College Library.

His many publications include:

· `Capitalist Enterprise and Social Progress’ (1925)
· `Russian Economic Development since the Revolution’ (1928)
· `Wages’ (1928)
· `Economic Theory and the Problems of a Socialist Economy’  (1933)
· `Political Economy and Capitalism: Some essays in economic tradition’ (1937)
· `Marx as an Economist’ (1943)
· `Studies in the Development of Capitalism, (1946)
· `Soviet Economic Development Since 1917  (1948)
· `Some Aspects of Economic Development’ (1951)
· `On Economic Theory and Socialism’ (1955)
· `An Essay on Economic Growth and Planning’ (1960)
· `Papers on Capitalism, Development and Planning’ (1967)
· `Welfare Economics and the Economics of Socialism’  (1969)
· `The Sraffa System and Critique of the Neoclassical Theory of Distribution’ (1970)
· `Socialist Planning: Some problems’ (1970)
· `Theories of Value and Distribution Since Adam Smith’ (1973)
· `Some Historical Reflections on Planning and the Market’ (1974) in Abramsky, editor, `Essays in Honour of E.H.Carr’




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