A series of 12 workshops sponsored by the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE), a national association of university professors and other academics advocating change in the country's economic structure, ended yesterday after a three-day forum in the Science Center.
The conference presented radical viewpoints on political and economic issues, and offered workshops on multinational corporations, faculty unions, contemporary struggles for socialism, problems of capitalism, and other subjects.
400 in Attendance
William H. Lazonick, assistant professor of Economics and a member of URPE, said yesterday that close to 400 people, mostly Boston-area students and professors, participated in the conference.
Confusion struck the forum Friday when the URPE New York office relayed to the conference a White House request for one of the organization's economists to speak at the New Executive Building in Washington today.
James T. Campen '65, New England regional representative to the URPE national committee, said yesterday URPE didn't plan to send anyone in response to the phone call because details concerning the White House request were "basically unclear."
A Mysterious Caller
"The whole thing's very curious," Campen said. He said, "We don't know who the caller was, which speaker they wanted from URPE, who would pay the way for a member to come, or what group the speaker would be talking to."
Kent Klitgard, the employee of the URPE New York office who took the White House message, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
White House press aides said yesterday they knew nothing of the request for a URPE speaker.
Campen said all the URPE had was a phone number and an "open invitation to Washington,"
Lazonick said that "People who study economics at universities don't know how the system really works. Much of what is taught is pure ideology, making it difficult to understand political economics."
Lazonick said URPE has had an "immense influence" at Harvard in past years, though "things have sort of settled down." He said past URPE efforts are largely responsible for the presence of the two Marxist professors in the Economics department.
A Convenient Site
Richard England, member of the program committee for the conference, said yesterday Harvard was chosen as a site for the forum because of its "convenience."
"Harvard is right off the Red Line and is generally in a very centralized location," he said. "We felt we'd be able to draw interest from the Marxists and other politically and economically interested people in the Boston area," he added.
The forum was funded through registration fees.
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