Elgar original reference
Edited by Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer
ARCOURT (born 1931) To understand how I came to my ‘dissenting’ views I need to be autobiographical. I like to say that I am an Australian patriot and a Cambridge economist. I was born in Melbourne in 1931 into a middle-class assimilationist, agnostic Jewish household with right-wing political views. Melbourne then was a stuffy, snobby place, marked by sectarian battles between Catholics and Protestants, who were nevertheless united in their unthinking anti-Semitism towards a large Jewish community. Political and especially religious problems were, from very early on, stark and frightening experiences for me. So, when I went to the University of Melbourne in 1950, itself a veritable paradise of enlightenment and tolerance after my schooldays, it was no accident that I became absorbed in the search for a political philosophy and a religious creed, as well as in economics (which I loved). I found a political philosophy more quickly than a religious creed. I abandoned the right-wing views of my parents six months or so into my ﬁrst year and became a democratic socialist, convinced by the lectures on economic geography that private enterprise competitive institutions were neither the most rational nor efﬁcient means to develop society’s basic resources, especially when the needs of future generations had to be taken into account. It was a much longer journey to religious belief, puzzled as I was by the divergence between the beliefs and professed moral values of Christians (in particular) on the one hand, and their actions on the other....
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