Rick writes about exploitation, oppression and resistance and is an activist.
He was radicalised during the tail end of the mass student movement. In the mid 1970s, Rick completed an economics degree, with majors in politics and economics at the University of Sydney. Then, while a Commonwealth public servant, he became involved in socialist, union and social movement politics, before doing an honours year in politics at Macquarie University. He returned to the public service in Canberra in 1979 for several yeas, initially as a member of the elite Administrative Trainee Scheme. After completing a PhD on the economic ideas of the Australian labour movement, back at the University of Sydney, Rick resumed work as a public service economist in Canberra. His first appointment at the ANU was in 1987.
Rick’s publications have dealt with labour movement economic thought and class in Australia, German, Austrian and Australian politics and political economy, Marxist theory—particularly the work of Henryk Grossman—and the nature of the Australian Labor Party. These research interests are reflected in the courses he teaches. His published work demonstrates a powerful combination of political commitment and scholarship.
In 2003, at the height of the campaign against the invasion of Iraq, Rick was the convenor of the umbrella anti-war organisation in Canberra. His 2007 Henryk Grossman and the Recovery of Marxism won the international Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Prize ‘for a book which exemplifies the best and most innovative new writing in or about the Marxist tradition’. He is still involved in activist politics.
2007 Deutscher Prize, for Henryk Grossman and the Recovery of Marxism, 'the best and most innovative new writing in or about the Marxist tradition’
2003 ACT Trades and Labour Council May Day Award for ‘advancing… conditions of ACT workers'