Dobb, Maurice Herbert


Dobb, Maurice Herbert
(1900–1976)
   Dobb was a prominent British Marxist and one of the most important contributors to Marxist economic thought. He wrote extensively on a wide range of economic subjects, in particular the history of bourgeois economies, socialist planning, value theory and the rise of capitalism. Showing academic talent from an early age, Dobbs gained a master’s degree in 1922 from Pembroke College, Cambridge, and studied for his doctorate at the London School of Economics, before he began teaching at Cambridge University in 1924. In 1948 he was elected a fellow and lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 1959 the university appointed him reader in economics. He also held visiting positions at the University of London School of Slavonic Studies (1943–1946) and the University of Delhi (1951). He retired from teaching in 1967. From 1922 until his death Dobbs was a member of the British Communist Party (BCP). He was active in the party, particularly in anti-fascist work in the 1930s and contributing to the debates on Soviet Marxism during and following the events in Hungary in 1956. He grew increasingly critical of the Soviet Union and its dogmatism, but remained loyal to Marxism and the BCP. His publications include Capitalist Enterprise and Social Progress (1925), Wages (1928), Political Economy and Capitalism (1937), Studies in the Development of Capitalism (1946), On Economic Theory and Socialism (1955), An Essay on Economic Growth and Planning (1960), Welfare Economics and the Economics of Socialism (1969), Socialist Planning: Some Problems (1970), Theories of Value and Distribution Since Adam Smith (1973), and Random Biographical Notes (1978). The titles give some indication of Dobbs’ areas of interest: classical economics and the development of capitalism, and socialist economic planning. The latter in particular show his commitment to bridging the gap between the theoretical and the practical, between academia and politics. He criticized Soviet attempts at planning and contributed to debates on the relationship and roles of plan and market. He also made a seminal contribution to Marxist theorizing of the transition from feudalism to capitalism.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.