Stanley Moore, who taught at the UCSD Philosophy Department from 1965 until his retirement in 1974, died on December 5, 1997 in Santa Barbara at the age of 83. Stanley was a distinguished social and political philosopher, whose specialty was the work of Karl Marx. He was the author of numerous papers and four books--The Critique of Capitalist Democracy (1957), Three Tactics (1963), Marx and the Choice Between Socialism and Communism (1980), and Marx Versus Markets (1993).
The first of these works is more expository than critical. The latter three relentlessly explore a deceptively simple question: Why does Karl Marx call for the elimination not only of the inequalities he associated with capitalist private ownership but also the institution of market exchange? In other words, why does Marx envisage the ideal of humane and decent social order in the form of communist society? The issue goes to the core of Marx's intellectual legacy. Stanley Moore's writings analyze the issue with scrupulous scholarly care in the interpretation of Marx's text, a generous sympathy with the values of solidarity and emancipation he discerned in these texts, and a rigorous intelligence directed to the exposure of Marx's mistakes and evasions that have a bearing on his historical prophecies and revolutionary urgings. Moore's conclusion is that Marx has no good arguments that should persuade us to follow him beyond the condemnation of exploitation to the rejection of markets and exchange. For many years after his formal retirement, Moore continued his sensible and nuanced reflections as to how to extract the rational kernel of Marx's radicalism from the romantic and utopian shell in which it seemed to be encased. In his last writings he proposed a pairing of Rousseau's emphasis on economic transformation. All of Stanley Moore's writings felicitously combine the qualities of a rigorous scholar and staunch social critic.
During the nine years of his stay at UC San Diego Stanley was an invaluable colleague and a sane, steadying influence in the affairs of the Department of Philosophy. He was a man of excellent judgment, realistic, unsentimental, and concerned above all for academic and humanistic values. He was also that rare thing--a gentleman in the best sense of that much abused term--and as such he contributed to the broader education of his students as he did to their progress in philosophical studies. He was a very effective teacher at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels, blessed with an extraordinary memory for the literal wording of texts; and the directness and clarity of both his thought and his manner were great assets to him as a teacher. He was also a most congenial companion with a fine sense of humor and a strong allergy to cant of all varieties. Altogether, he combined the qualities of a scholar and a humane commentator on the life of his time in a wholly admirable way.
Stanley was a person of principle--fearless, and fair-minded. He became nationally famous in the profession because of his courageous stand against the encroachments of McCarthyism on academic freedom. In 1954 he lost his tenure position as Professor of Philosophy at Reed College when he refused to answer questions about his political affiliations before the House Un-American Activities Committee. In characteristically witty fashion Stanley remarked at the end of the hearings, "When this investigation started, I predicted that I would win the argument and lose the job. My prediction . . . has now been confirmed."
Stanley was right. He won the argument. In 1996, the Oregon Historical Quarterly published an 80-page article by Michael Munk entitled "Oregon Tests Academic Freedom in (Cold) Wartime: The Reed College Trustees versus Stanley Moore," that meticulously described the events that resulted in Moore's dismissal. In this essay, Munk reproduces a statement of "regret" by the Board of Trustees and the Reed administration, that was published in 1981. This statement formally revised the judgment of the 1954 trustees. In 1993, the president of Reed invited Stanley to visit the College, and in 1995 the last surviving member of the Board that fired Stanley expressed his regret and apologized to him.
Source: University of California: In Memoriam, 1998 David Krogh, Editor. A publication of the Academic Senate, University of California, Available at:
As Munk reports, Moore waited 24 years to surprise both sides by telling the Oregonian in 1978 that he had been a member of the Communist party when he came to Reed but that he had left it before the HUAC hearings began. While still describing himself as a Marxist (albeit a "more critical one") he said he quit the party 18 months before the HUAC hearings because, "I couldn't stomach the American organization's kowtowing to Moscow on the so-called 'doctor's plot,' which had been announced in January 1953 and was declared a 'fabrication' shortly after Stalin's death just two months later."
Thus, had Moore been willing to accept the authority of his interrogators, he could have passed the trustees' political test. That is, he could have told them, truthfully, that he was not now a Communist. But as he stated at the time, he had decided not to do so in order to help Reed defend its historical attachment to academic freedom "against the fickle tides" of public opinion. As Michael Munk writes at the end of his essay, "Those who chose to play the historical moment of McCarthyism, and therefore dishonored Reed's proud distinction, still have Moore's challenging question echoing against their reputations: "If the careful deliberate judgment of the academic community is reversed in order to placate influential demagogues, who--more than forty years later--stands condemned?"
Having been fired under these conditions, Stanley was unable to find a permanent teaching post for another decade, even though he was widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable philosophical historians in America. He did teach during the period of 1955-1965 on a part-time basis at Barnard College. During this hiatus most of his time was spent researching and writing. In 1964, the new UCSD philosophy department, chaired by Richard Popkin and whose other members were Jason Saunders and Avrum Stroll, proposed a symposium on the topic "Marx Today." With financial support from Chancellor Herbert York and Dean Keith Brueckner, the department arranged for a three-day conference that was held in Sumner Auditorium. The main speakers were Stanley Moore, Herbert Marcuse, Lewis Feuer, and the moderator was Joseph Tussman of UC Berkeley. This conference caused a sensation on campus. It had virtually one hundred percent attendance from the scientific community. Its stars were Moore and Marcuse, and with the enthusiastic support of York and Brueckner, and such faculty members as S. J. Singer and James Arnold, we managed to hire both of them. It began an auspicious period that gave international visibility to the department. Those of us fortunate enough to have known Stanley will sorely miss him.