Ernest Mandel, a Marxist
economist at the center of a debate on free speech and academic
freedom during the Nixon administration, died on Thursday at his
home in Brussels. He was 72.
Dr. Mandel died of a heart
attack, said his wife, Anne.
Dr. Mandel won an international
reputation in the 1960’s and 70’s for his writings, most
notably a 1972 book, “Late Capitalism,” in which he argued
that class struggle was affected by long economic waves of 20 to
40 years, rather than by shorter economic cycles.
But he gained a measure of
prominence in the United States not so much for his
unconventional economic views but because Attorney General John
N. Mitchell denied him a visa in 1969, against the advice of
Secretary of State William P. Rogers.
The Attorney General acted
under a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952,
popularly known as the McCarran Act, that barred visas to those
who “advocate the economic, international and governmental
doctrines of world Communism” and “who write or publish any
written or printed matter advocating or teaching the economic
international and governmental doctrines of world Communism.
Dr. Mandel at the time was
editor of the weekly leftist journal La Gauche. He had been
granted visas in 1962 and 1968, and had violated the conditions
of his second visit, apparently unwittingly, by addressing a
group that was asked for contributions for the legal defense of
When Mitchell denied him a visa
in 1969, Dr. Mandel was defended by several American scholars,
who noted that he had spoken out against the Soviet invasion of
Czechoslovakia in 1968, and that he was not a member of the
Communist Party. The visa issue was widely debated in
American newspapers, to the apparent surprise of Dr. Mandel.
“It shows that public opinion
in the United States is very much alive to the dangers that
threaten our basic freedom,” he said.
In March 1971, a Federal Court
in New York voted to void Mitchell’s decision, declaring that
the United States could not bar a visitor who preached
“anarchistic” doctrines. But on June 29, 1972, the
Supreme Court ruled, 6 to 3, that Mitchell had acted within his
discretion in denying
Ernest Mandel was born in
Frankfurt. His family moved to Antwerp, Belgium, when he
was a child. During World War II, he was a member of the
Belgian Resistance. He was arrested three times and
eventually sent to a work camp.
Since 1940 Dr. Mandel had been
a member of the Socialist Fourth International, which was
founded by Trotsky in the 1930’s to promote world revolution.
After World War II, Dr. Mandel led the Fourth International’s
His revolutionary ideas brought
Dr. Mandel into frequent conflict with the authorities, and he
was banned at various times from entering France, Germany,
Switzerland and Australia.
Dr. Mandel’s last major work,
“Power and Money,” was published in 1983.
He is survived by his wife.