The address at Arthur's funeral, Wednesday 19th October 2005
We're here today to mourn, but also to honour a man whom you will
have known as either loving husband, father, grand father, uncle,
father-in-law, or perhaps as a good friend, colleague, mentor, editor,
visionary, evangelist, or simply as 'an intellectual giant of our
time' - which was a description a well known academic gave him last
As many of you will know, Arthur was born in 1916 in humble circumstances
in the east end of London, to Masha & Philip Margolis who had
left the Ukraine in the early 1900s for the promise of a better
life elsewhere. In 1918 they both sadly died within a week of each
other in the Spanish flu pandemic, leaving a family of five young
children: Jack, Cecil, Bess, Sidney & young Arthur.
The boys went to the Jewish orphanage at Norwood, and Bess went
to relatives, and the little two year old Arthur was adopted by
a childless, but loving cobbler and his wife. When Arthur was ten,
her husband died, but Mrs Marks continued to dote on him until she
died in 1960.
Of course Arthur (or Artur as his adopted Russian mother used to
call him) was very bright and worked hard and progressed through
his schooling and state scholarship to the London School of Economics
where he graduated with a First in 1937. Following a period as research
assistant for Professor Arnold Plant, Arthur served in the British
Army in North Africa and Italy, where amongst other activities he
organised educational trips to the opera in Rome for his fellow
officers and men after the fall of Italy.
Following the war Arthur wrote many articles embracing classical
liberal economic thinking with the continuing support of Professor
Arnold Plant, and became chairman of the Liberal party committee
on the ageing. In 1946 he met the love of his life, Marjorie, whom
he married in 1948. Marjorie had a four year old adopted son, Michael,
to whom Arthur became a good Father. Two further sons were born
to the couple in 1951 and 1953: Peter and Anthony.
In 1949 Arthur became an economic advisor to the brewing industry
under Lord Tedder, and thence to the fledgling Institiute of Economic
Affairs (IEA) in 1957 where he was to have such an impact in the
UK, and worldwide, on the conventional collectivist economic thinking
of the time over the following forty years and more.
But Arthur was much more than just a 'brilliant economist'. The
combination of his humble background and his humanist instincts
informed and shaped his thinking to the core. For all his genius
he was also a profoundly wise, kind and modest man who was determined
'ordinary people' should be empowered and liberated through
the choice free markets deliver, and the personal dignity they confer
on individuals as customers, not mere recipients of a crude state
supply machine marked "take it, or leave it" !
Arthur's innate kindness manifested itself in so many ways. He touched
many people's lives as many of you here today will testify. As Editorial
Director of the IEA, he took infinite care to ensure that his authors'
- both famous and unknown - honed, and re-honed their writing so
the message was clear and sharp, and easily understood by even lay
readers. He was determined to see that his thinking - shared and
expressed through his authors and his own writings - reached as
wide an audience as possible.
Many confirm that Arthur also mentored and helped them recognise
they had more in them than they themselves realised. They also remember
his "resolute moral and intellectual integrity", his "wisdom",
his "generous spirit", and "his sheer common sense".
We remember Arthur also had a good sense of humour, often manifested
through that 'twinkle in his eye' - even sometimes that mischievous
twinkle in his eye !
At a lunch meeting at the IEA Mrs Thatcher proclaimed in a tense
moment that she couldn't possibly implement every IEA policy urged
on her. Anxious to diffuse the atmosphere, Ralph Harris proposed
a toast to Mrs Thatcher: Arthur was heard to say "I'll sip
to that" ! He felt she still had much to do !
His close family also remember his humour with his often repeated
quip to waiters that "he'd just enjoyed the best lunch he'd
had today". His family also remember Arthur for the warm, wise,
and loving father he was. Despite the many writing and editing pressures
on him in the sixties, family holidays to Clanacombe Farm in Devon
were a must, although his casual dress sense was a bit hit and miss
! The family still has a cine film of Arthur, helping Peter and
Anthony build a sand castle by the water's edge, wearing dark flannels
and a shirt and tie !
At weekends Arthur was often to be found playing cricket at the
family house in Petts Wood despite his fixed arm, stemming from
a war illness, which produced a very strange bowling action - but
which still managed to get his sons out !
Throughout, Arthur was devoted to his Marjorie: his staunch and
determined protector at all times. She remembers during the early
years of their marriage, persuading him that his gift for writing
far out weighed the drawback of his occasional stammer.
An eminent economist has written that through his work "Arthur
made an immense contribution to human enlightenment". From
the feedback I have from his friends, colleagues, and family, I
suggest: - he made you feel a better person just for having met him.