Bettelheim, Charles 1913-2006

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Bettelheim, Charles 1913-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born November 20, 1913, in Paris, France; died July 20, 2006. Economist, educator, and author. A Marxist economist and expert on developing economies, Bettelheim had a profound influence on the economic policies of third-world nations, even as he remained an academic in Paris. A graduate of the University of Paris, where he earned a doctorate in 1939, he taught briefly at the University of Caen before Germany invaded France. Originally a member of the French Communist Party, he became disenchanted with communism after witnessing government trials in Moscow under Joseph Stalin; the party suspended him in 1937. After the war, he was director of the Center for Social and International Studies in France's Ministry of Labor for four years. In 1948, he joined the faculty at l'École des Hautes Études, where he would serve as director of studies and remain throughout his academic career. Because of his Marxist values and knowledge of economic development, Bettelheim won the ears of such leaders as China's Chou Enlai, Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh, Cuba's Che Guevara, and India's Jawaharlal Nehru. He served as an economics advisor to these and other nations, and was therefore a key influence in their development throughout the 1950s and 1960s. However, Bettelheim was not a stringent partisan, and his objective research led him to criticize the Soviet system, which he felt was not a pure communist system but rather government-controlled capitalism. In addition, his writings argued that Nazi Germany's economic ideals were deeply flawed and would have doomed the country to financial failure even if Germany had won the war. Publishing dozens of works in his lifetime, Bettelheim had several books released in English translation, including India Independent (1968), Cultural Revolution and Industrial Organization in China: Changes in Management and the Division of Labor (1974), and The Transition to Socialist Economy (1975).



Times (London, England), August 21, 2006, p. 43.