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Beall Archives: Perlo Biography

Victor Perlo Biography

Victor Perlo, 1912-1999, was a preeminent Marxist economist and a steadfast advocate of socialism.  He was a member of the Communist Party, USA and the chair-emeritus of the Party’s Economic Commission.  Mr. Perlo was born on May 15, 1912 in East Elmhurst, New York.  He was the son of Russian-Americans who had both emigrated from Omsk in Siberia.  Mr. Perlo attended Columbia University in 1933 where he received his Baccalaureate and Masters in mathematics and statistics.

It was through the depths and horrors of the Great Depression that Mr. Perlo joined in the fight to win relief for the millions of unemployed.  He joined the Roosevelt Administration, serving in various New Deal government agencies from 1939 to 1947.  He was a member of the group of economists known as “Harry Hopkins” bright young men.  Mr. Perlo, among other economists within the group, worked for the enactment and implementation of the WPA jobs program headed by Mr. Hopkins, and was instrumental in the enactment and implementation of unemployment compensation, the Wagner National Labor Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and Social Security.

During World War II, serving as a department head of both the War Production Board and the Price Administration, Mr. Perlo used his intellect to defeat Hitler Fascism.  Mr. Perlo was also a prestigious think tank with the Brookings Institute in Washington.

After World War II, Mr. Perlo fell victim to the anti-Communist, anti-labor movement within the Untied States.  From 1947 to his death in 1999, Mr. Perlo worked as an economic consultant and a writer.

Some of Mr. Perlo’s other interests include tennis, mountain climbing and chess.  He was also a talented pianist.

 Behind Mr. Perlo’s scholarship was a passionate love for the working class and the oppressed people.  He had an equally passionate hatred for those who exploited these groups of people.  He believed that the exploiters of the working class and the oppressed people were the decisive forces behind global aggression of United States Imperialism, anti-labor practices and politics, and intensified racism.

Mr. Perlo was a prodigious writer.  He authored 13 books, which have been translated to many different languages and sold all over the world.  Some of Mr. Perlo’s most prominent works include American Imperialism (1951), Empire of High Finance (1957), Economics of Racism I and II (1973 and 1996), and Superprofits and Crises (1988). Economics of Racism proved that the monopoly of banks and corporations squeeze enormous amounts of super profits from a system of racist job discrimination.  Following the publication of Economics of Racism, Mr. Perlo received the Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America for his exceptional work on intolerance in North America.  He believed in decent wages for the working class, affirmative action programs to achieve equality on the job, affordable housing, quality public education and a universal health care plan.

In addition to writing books, he wrote numerous articles in economic and political journals, and many pamphlets as well.  His column “People Before Profits” in the World was one of the most widely read.  Ellen Perlo, Mr. Perlo’s wife and closet friend, helped him in editing his columns and books and designing the graphs and charts to accompany his writing.  They also co-authored a book Dynamic Stability: The Soviet Economy Today.

Mr. Perlo was most widely known for his analysis of the political economy of United States capitalism, comparative economic systems, and the economics of racism in the United States.  He also contributed to the concept of the profits and control to Marxist economic theory.

Among his many accomplishments here in the United States, Mr. Perlo was a revered intellect within the international community and attended many international conferences.