Re: [OPE-L] The death of John Harrison

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Wed Dec 26 2007 - 13:56:57 EST

I have been searching for obituaries on
Andrew Glyn and,
ironically, found an obit
written by Bob Sutcliffe and Andrew on
Harrison. Harrison's death was noted
on OPE-L a year
ago this month:

In solidarity, Jerry

To see this
story with its related links on the Guardian Unlimited site, go to

John Harrison
Andrew Glyn and
Bob Sutcliffe
Friday January 26 2007
The Guardian

The economist John Harrison, who has died suddenly aged 57, was an
inspiring teacher with a rare gift for communication. In the mid-1970s, he
started talks on socialist and Marxist economics for non-economists,
initially at the Greyhound pub, Oxford. The talks developed into lectures,
with London venues including the Architectural Association and Workers'
Educational Association classes. Out of these lectures came a wonderfully
understandable book, Marxist Economics for Socialists: a Critique of
Reformism (1978).

Born in Liverpool, John was educated at
Birkenhead school. He read philosophy, politics and economics at Oriel
College, Oxford, where he was an outstanding student of economic
development. After an MA in economics at the School of Oriental and
African Studies, London, he returned to Oxford, where his research
resulted in the co-authored The British Economic Disaster (1980), and
Capitalism Since World War II (1984). In the 1980s, John edited the Pluto
Press series of books, Arguments for Socialism. He also served on the
editorial board of Capital and Class, the journal of the Conference of
Socialist Economists; his pionering article analysing the role of
housework in capitalist economies sparked an important debate.

>From 1978 to 1992, his quirky lecturing technique developed at
Thames Polytechnic (now Greenwich University). Students of Thatcherism,
for instance, faced a lecturer wearing a Spitting Image mask of the former
Tory leader. He was popular with students, who appreciated his easygoing,
egalitarian style, and the fact that he was comfortable saying "I
don't know." But in debates with peers, he could be tenacious and
competitive, though there were no hard feelings afterwards, and over a
drink John would revert to his witty, amiable self.

In the
mid-1970s, John was fleetingly involved in two far-left groups, but his
temperament was illsuited to such activity. He remained an active
supporter of the labour movement, and made an important contribution to
the Greater London Council's discussion of economic policy in the early

He spent time off at stand-up comedy, alternative
theatre and jazz gigs, and travelled widely, to Cuba, Nicaragua, Algeria,
the Soviet Union, the US and Estonia, firing off surreal postcards to
friends. He possessed extremely contemporary views on society, personal
relations and style, but his modernism did not extend to computers or
cars, and he rode a bike only after extreme cajoling.

Then his
health deteriorated, and he retired to Faversham, Kent. Friends who
visited noted that he kept a strong sense of the absurd and still wore his
trademark hats, but that detective novels were displacing the economics
and politics collections. He is survived by his parents, Rylva and

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