保羅·斯威齊

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保羅·斯威齊(Paul Marlor Sweezy)

保羅·斯威齊(Paul Marlor Sweezy,1910.4.10—2004.2.27):20世紀美國最為著名的馬克思主義經濟學家

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保羅·斯威齊生平簡介

  保羅·斯威齊(Paul Marlor Sweezy,1910.4.10—2004.2.27),不幸於2004年2月27日因心臟病去世,享年93歲。斯威齊是20世紀美國最為著名的馬克思主義經濟學家,在繼承和發展馬克思主義經濟理論方面頗有成就。

  斯威齊於1910年4月10生於紐約,在兄弟三人中他排行第三,父親是紐約國民銀行副總裁,後來他繼承了父親一大筆遺產。他1931年從哈佛大學獲得學士學位,1937年又從哈佛大學獲博士學位。1932年至1933年他曾在英國倫敦經濟政治學院進修,這期間他成為一個馬克思主義者,因為他認識到:西方的主流派經濟學無助於理解20世紀的重大事變和社會發展趨勢。然而,能夠解釋這些問題的馬克思主義,在英、美又受到忽視和淺薄對待,這方面的英文出版物也極少。這種現狀激起了斯威齊要建立“嚴肅的和真正的北美牌馬克思主義”的願望。1942年出版的《資本主義發展論》(Theory of Capitalist Development)正是由這個願望所結出的第一個碩果,這本書奠定了他作為一個馬克思主義經濟學家的地位,也結束了他在哈佛大學的多年教學生涯。二戰期間,他在戰略服務局服役4年,二戰後,回到哈佛大學任教,後因未能謀得終身教職,而於1946年離開哈佛大學,除了在一些大學或研究機構擔任客座教授外,專心於創立嚴肅的、真正的北美牌馬克思主義的事業,這主要體現在他於1949年創辦左翼雜誌《每月評論》(Monthly Review),並任該刊主編直至辭世。

  幾十年來,在《每月評論》雜誌社,他同幾位志同道合者共事,發表了大量揭露和批判現代資本主義的文章和專著,其中最為著名的有《作為歷史的現在》(1953)、《壟斷資本》(與保羅·巴蘭合著,1966年)、《繁榮的終結》(與哈里·麥格道夫合著,1981年)、《革命後社會》(1982年)、《馬克思主義四講》(1982年)。這些論著有著極為廣泛的影響,故此,日本現代經濟研究會曾把他列為自魁奈以來30位大經濟學家之一。

斯威齊對馬克思主義政治經濟學的理論貢獻

  1、斯威齊進入馬克思主義經濟學之後的第一個貢獻就是他的成名作。

  1942年出版的《資本主義發展論——馬克思主義政治經濟學原理》。在這本書中,斯威齊對馬克思經濟學,特別是《資本論》,進行了特別有說服力的創新性解釋。他幾乎考察了所有的基本問題,從勞動價值論,一直到利潤率下降。但,這並不是說他的這本著作只是一部引證性的著作——收集和排列引語。他將馬克思的思想進行了公允的也是清晰的表述,同時也提出了他自己的思想。

  通過《資本主義發展論》,斯威齊奠定了其一生從事馬克思主義政治經濟學研究的立論基礎和研究方法,並顯示了很高的獨創性。

  從方法論上講,斯威齊明確表示要繼承馬克思的科學抽象法和看待社會問題的歷史(變革)眼光。因此,既遵循《資本論》第1捲所實踐的由具體到抽象的步驟,以把握資本主義的本質——剩餘價值的生產和資本家的積累衝動,又學習《資本論》第2、3捲所更多運用的由抽象再上升到具體的方法,在分析中納入先前有意識舍象的某些因素,以解釋現實中存在的事物。斯威齊認為,通過這種方法,可以發展馬克思主義,對馬克思來不及分析或語焉不詳的問題做出自己的答案。

  關於立論基礎,斯威齊一方面確實以馬克思主義的基本觀點為圭臬,如勞動價值論、剩餘價值學說、利潤率下降趨勢、積累與勞動後備軍理論、國家學說、資本積聚與集中學說以及資本主義過渡性學說等等。但同時,他也很註意歷史上在馬克思主義者內外部的論爭以及當代西方學者對壟斷資本主義運行的種種觀察。其書中有相當多的篇幅用於介紹、鑒別和評論各種相關的和相悖的學說,並有所揚棄和綜合,其中特別受人註意的人:肯定和補充博爾特凱維奇在價值轉化為生產價格問題上對馬克思的修正(經此介紹和補充之後,這一問題後來引起了長達20年的論戰),介紹第二國際理論家在“實現危機”和“崩潰”問題上的爭論、重申羅莎·盧森堡對修正主義的階級調和論和“議會道路”論的批判以及吸收希法亭關於帝國主義意識形態的觀點。

  斯威齊對於馬克思用利潤率下降來解釋經濟危機的看法持批評態度,併進行了有力的論證。但他不僅只是批評,他還發展了馬克思著作中關於消費不足論的思想線索,雖然他認為馬克思這種消費不足論的思想在《資本論》中並未得到像利潤率下降理論那樣充分的論證。斯威齊在充分挖掘馬克思著作中消費不足論思想的基礎上,結合凱恩斯的有效需求理論,提出了一個以資本積累為動因的消費不足危機理論,意謂永不滿足的剩餘價值貪欲,驅使資本家階級不斷地提高積累率和資本有機構成。於是,在消費方面就呈現為:一方面資本家階級的消費增長落後於全部剩餘價值的增長,同時新增積累中工資支付的部分在減退;另一方面,消費品的產量卻至少是同生產資料投入量同比例增長,結果就有消費量增長落後於消費品產量增長的趨勢,遲早便有物價下跌和產量削減的經濟危機,或是生產能力長期得不到充分利用的停滯;即使存在著抵消消費不足的因素,也未能從根本上將這趨勢扭轉。這個危機和停滯理論,既不同於對資本主義基本矛盾諱莫如深的資產階級的(凱恩斯)的有效需求論或小資產階級的(如西斯蒙第)消費不足論,也不同於(多布和普利賽爾等所誤解的)單純的利潤率下降危機論,更不同於把生產同消費截然分開的杜岡-巴拉諾夫斯基的比例失調論。然而,與資本積累相聯繫的消費不足,又包容了利潤率下降的因素,也體現了一種比例失調,所以,在斯威齊看來,這個危機理論既可以把散見於《資本論》各捲看似不同的馬克思的各種言論統一起來,又可以避免馬克思主義者們各執經典一詞而產生的混亂。

  通過對資本積累過程的矛盾分析,斯威齊對壟斷資本主義經濟的運行做出了創造性的和細緻的描述。他指出,積累是壟斷的正常伴侶,因為積累擴大了生產單位的規模,而規模經濟效益正是促使競爭走向集中和壟斷的基本動因;反過來,壟斷把剩餘價值從較小塊的資本轉向較大塊的資本,這就提高了積累在一定量剩餘價值中的比重。對價格高於均衡值、產量低於均衡值的壟斷資本來說,高額利潤本已有了保證,現在壟斷提高了積累率,有招致利潤率下降的可能,壟斷組織更不願意在自己的禁臠內使用其積累,而寧可將新資本投於行業之外或國外的競爭性領域,並且更註意採用節約勞動力的新技術,這就加劇了競爭性領域中利潤率下降和消費不足的趨勢,即增添了危機和蕭條的誘因。可以看出,斯威齊對於壟斷資本主義經濟的運行,有著比馬克思和列寧更具體的分析。由此,斯威齊又為列寧在1916年提出的著名命題“帝國主義是資本主義的壟斷階段”註入了新的內容。比如,他指出:保護貿易的政策,有時不是自衛,而是進攻,即便利本國壟斷資本對外國傾銷;資本輸出誠然是在國內投資機會不多且民眾貧困的條件下進行,但國內投資機會減少和民眾貧困又恰恰是由壟斷資本對外投資決策(追求較高邊際利潤率和減輕國內勞動力市場壓力)所造成;帝國主義固有其經濟、政治根源,也有壟斷資本所歪曲和煽動的民族主義意識在作祟。他對於帝國主義的一個特殊形式法西斯主義的剖析,無疑是馬克思主義經典作家前所未有的;對帝國主義極限的界定,亦頗有新意。

  可以說,斯威齊的《資本主義發展論》,雖然是以“馬克思主義政治經濟學原理”為副題,卻不僅是一本在英語國家中普及馬克思主義政治經濟學的教材,也是用馬克思的方法與基本原理解釋當代資本主義運行的專著。有人甚至認為,即使在今天,這本書對於那些想要認真瞭解馬克思主義思想的學生來說仍然是最好的入門書。

  2、斯威齊在馬克思主義經濟學領域最為重要的貢獻體現在他與保羅·巴蘭合著的《壟斷資本》(Monopoly Capital)。

  《壟斷資本》被認為是戰後西方最重要的馬克思主義經濟學著作之一,它代表著當代西方馬克思主義經濟學者中一個學派——壟斷資本學派—— 的形成。此書所闡述的理論,尤其是其中所闡述的壟斷資本主義“停滯理論”,對西方學術界特別是激進經濟學派產生了更為重大的影響。

  巴蘭和斯威齊認為他們的理論是卡萊茨基Kalecki)和斯坦德爾(Josef Steindl)的思想的繼續發展。他們在著作中明確提出:把微觀理論和巨集觀理論重新結合起來的先導者是卡萊茨基,“他不僅‘獨立地發現了(凱恩期的)《通論》’,而且還是第一個把他所稱的‘壟斷程度’包括在他的綜合的經濟模型之中。在同一方向繼續走出一大步的(這在很大程度上是受了卡萊茨基的影響),是約瑟夫·斯坦德爾在《美國資本主義的成熟與停滯》(1952年)。任何熟悉卡萊茨基和斯坦德爾著作的人都很容易看出,本書作者利益於它們是非常之大的。如果我們沒有更頻繁地引用他們的話,或沒有更直接地利用他們的理論表達,其原因是,為了我們的目的,我們已經找到了一種更方便和更合用的不同的處理方式和表達方式。”

  巴蘭和斯威齊力圖在一個巨型公司和大政府的時代中抓住馬克思主義的精神,它主要關註美國——正如馬克思在他的時代中關註於英國——將其作為最重要和最先進的資本主義經濟。它也以30年代的大蕭條與40年代由戰爭引致的經濟複蘇作為背景。在理論上的處理方式和表達方式,要比斯坦德爾簡明得多。在他們的理論中,中心範疇是經濟剩餘(即剩餘),整個理論“是環繞著一個中心論題來組織並獲得本質上的統一的:在壟斷資本主義條件下剩餘的產生和吸收”。所謂經濟剩餘,它的“最簡短的定義,就是一個社會所生產的產品與生產它的成本之間的差額”。斯威齊和巴蘭認為,壟斷資本主義條件下存在著“剩餘增長”的趨勢,而不是“利潤率下降”趨勢。剩餘趨於增長是因為巨型公司具有壟斷定價權力,所以他們可以從美國經濟中的非壟斷部門和欠發達國家剝削剩餘。對於這個系統的內部邏輯的基礎性問題就是所謂的“剩餘吸收”問題,即誰將購買這些壟斷巨型公司生產出來的物品?

  由剩餘增長和剩餘吸收難題,他們進一步推論,壟斷資本主義是一個自相矛盾的制度。“它總是形成越來越多的剩餘,可是它不能提供為吸收日益增長的剩餘所需要的因而是為使這個制度和諧運轉所需要的消費和投資出路”,所以壟斷資本主義必然存在著停滯的趨勢。他們強調,如果不存在對停滯趨勢的抵消力量,壟斷資本主義制度早就應當自行崩潰了。他們指出了三種一般的抵消力量:企業的銷售努力、政府的民用支出和政府的軍事支出。他們將大政府和帝國主義拉進其壟斷資本主義模型的作用之中。尤其認為軍事支出對於購買剩餘產品是必要的;這樣我們需要冷戰和帝國主義,以阻止經濟再次滑入蕭條。這裡又一次可以看到斯威齊與凱恩斯主義的聯繫,以及與當時走出大蕭條的歷史經驗的聯繫:將我們帶出大蕭條的就是為戰爭而支付的巨大的赤字支出。這也是軍事凱恩斯主義使之清晰的一種觀點。

  3、斯威齊一生最為重要的事業就是他創建《每月評論》(Monthly Review)雜誌,並擔任編輯(co-editor)達50年之久,應當說這是他對於馬克思主義所做出的最大貢獻。

  《每月評論》作為一個理論陣地,它維持並團結著一個嚴肅認真的馬克思主義左派,這些人始終關心談論的是實際的世界,而不致淪落到或者是偶像崇拜的馬克思主義教條的重覆或者只是關註學術界瑣細的地步。在維持政治經濟學對於馬克思主義的中心位置方面它也起了關鍵性的作用。每月評論甚至形成了所謂“每月評論學派”。這一學派在20世紀70、80年代持續地對於帝國主義和欠發達予以關註。這也與眾所周知的“依附學派”相關。只不過每月評論學派給依附學派的主張中加入了更多馬克思主義精神。

  半個多世紀以來,《每月評論》存在著,發展著,度過了黑暗的麥卡錫時期(McCarthy period),60年代時它曾是左派的標誌。這之後,仍然繼續關註著我們這個時代,註意從馬克思主義角度研究新現象、新問題。其中更為主要的仍然是斯威齊本人的貢獻,他在20世紀的後半期,主要與麥格道夫合作,記錄下正在出現和發展中的資本主義的新形態,即在資本主義運行中變得日益重要的金融的作用,這被稱為“金融化”。應當說他們二人是左派中最先註意到這種現象並給予理論關註的人。他們以其一貫典型的嚴謹態度,從馬克思主義基礎理論出發,考察“金融化”的更為廣泛的內涵,展示了馬克思主義與時俱進的理論品格。所以,有人從《每月評論》的社會影響以及估量斯威齊一生對左派的貢獻角度,將《每月評論》列為斯威齊一生中的第一貢獻,是恰當其分的。

斯威齊對西方主流經濟學的主要理論貢獻

  在哈佛大學攻讀博士學位和任教期間,斯威齊就已顯露了很高的才華,師從當時最著名的經濟學家熊彼特(Joseph Schumpeter),全面而系統地學習西方主流經濟學。雖然兩人的政治觀點和學術觀點相異,但斯威齊仍得到了熊彼特的器重,並與熊彼特結下了很深的友誼,。兩人曾就“如何結束大蕭條”及“資本主義的未來”等問題發生爭論,熊彼特認為羅斯福新政意味著對正常發生的創造性破壞和創新過程中的企業家的壓制,而斯威齊既吸收了馬克思主義又借鑒凱恩斯的觀點,認為政府計劃和干預有其必要性,勞動人民的干預更有其必要性。目睹他們的爭論,後來的諾貝爾經濟學獎獲得者薩繆爾森(Paul Samuelson)回憶時將熊彼特比為“聰明而睿智的魔法師(the foxy Merlin),將斯威齊比作“年輕的圓桌騎士”(young Sir Galahad),認為斯威齊很早就已“將自身列入他那一代人當中最有前途的經濟學家之列了”。

  斯威齊在早期主流經濟學的學習和研究中就已取得了很高的成就,在攻讀博士學位期間,他在寡占企業定價問題上提出了一種新的解釋,稱為“折彎的需求曲線”(kinked demand curve),這種需求曲線的折彎指的是寡占企業因其定價權力而能夠在正常的平滑需求曲線所能允許的範圍之外進行高定價。這在微觀經濟學產業組織經濟學中是很重要的一個貢獻。對此貢獻還有一個小插曲,有一位主流經濟學家,很顯然對左派和斯威齊後來轉向馬克思主義茫無所知,在一次聚會中曾說過這樣的話: “還記得斯威齊這家伙嗎?他提出了折彎的需求曲線理論,多麼優秀的年青經濟學家,可惜那麼早就死了!”

對斯威齊總的評價

  簡單說來,從《資本主義發展論》開始,在長逾半個世紀的學術研究活動中,斯威齊的興趣始終集中在兩個方面:分析以壟斷、帝國主義和世界性為特征的現代資本主義經濟的運行,和探索資本主義向社會主義的過渡。斯威齊在其學術研究中,始終貼近現實,既遵循馬克思的方法和基本思路,又有自己的創新,在比較和鑒別中堅持和弘揚馬克思主義的基本原理。這使他身處壟斷資本主義大有發展的20世紀,理論聯繫實際而有相當出色的理論創新。應當說,經過他一生的努力,加之其他一些志同道合者的支持,他實現了其創立“嚴肅的和真正的北美牌馬克思主義”的願望。

  另外,應當指出的是,美國的社會環境,尤其是二戰後50年代的麥卡錫時期,對於一個堅持馬克思主義、批判資本主義的學者來說殊為艱難。但斯威齊仍以其作為和主張顯示了其理論信仰的堅定性和學者的道德勇氣。他所遭遇的案例即美國最高法院對“斯威齊訴新罕布希爾州政府”一案的判決後來也被人們用作學術自由乃至終身教職制度的司法依據:

  1951年,新罕布希爾州議會通過法案,全面管制顛覆活動。其中規定,顛覆分子不得受雇於州政府,包括不得成為公共教育機構的教師。1953年,州議會決定調查顛覆活動。1954 年,斯威齊兩次被檢察官傳喚,接受質詢。他對兩類問題避而不答,一類涉及其妻子、朋友與進步黨的關係,另一類涉及他在課堂上講述社會主義、馬克思主義的內容。他的理由是,這些問題與主旨無關,而且侵犯了憲法修正案第一條所保護的公民權利。檢察官要求斯威齊到法庭上回答這些問題。在法庭上,斯威齊因拒絕回答而被判蔑視法庭罪,遭到監禁。此後,州最高法院支持檢察官的要求,要求斯威齊必須回答這些問題。此案最後一直上訴到聯邦最高法院。1957年,聯邦最高法院推翻州最高法院的判決,支持了斯威齊。大法官沃倫的判詞不僅充分肯定了學術自由的必要性,也對其內容做了界定(即四項自由):“自由在美國大學里的重要性幾乎是不言而喻的。任何人都不應低估那些對我們的青年進行指導和訓練的人所起的關鍵作用。把任何緊身衣強加給我們大學的思想導師身上都會危害我們國家的未來。如果對任何一個教育領域不做如此理解,就不可能有任何新的發現。社會科學領域尤其如此。在懷疑和不信任的氛圍中,學術不能繁榮。教師和學生必須永遠自由地追問、自由地研究、自由地評價、自由地獲得新的成熟和理解,否則我們的文明將會停滯乃至滅亡。”另一位法官法蘭克福特在附加意見中指出:“任何政府對大學知識活動的干涉”都可能危害教師的基本職能。

對斯威齊的主要著作

  • 《作為歷史的現在》(1953)
  • 《馬克思主義四講》(1982年)
  • 《資本主義發展論——馬克思主義政治經濟學原理》(1942)
  • 《論向社會主義過渡》(1972年)
  • 《革命後的社會》(1982年)
  • 《再談(或少談)全球化》(1993年)
  • 《在毛澤東誕生一百周年紀念會上的講話》(保羅·斯威齊、哈里·麥格道夫)(1993年12月11日)
  • 《《共產黨宣言》在當代》(1998年)

Paul Sweezy

  (1910.4.10—2004.2.27)

Paul Sweezy is best known in economics for two not-so-distinct concerns which have dominated his economics: analyzing monopolistic competition and updating Marxian thought into "Neo-Marxian" economics. His work on the former is best exemplified by his discovery of the "kinked" demand curve for oligopoly (1939) and his prize-winning study on the English coal industry (1938).

Sweezy encountered Marxian theory soon enough and in his majestic 1942 book, Theory of Capitalist Development, helped reintroduce Marxian thought to economics - in particular drawing attention to Marx's "Transformation Problem" and the theory of crisis. Sweezy subsequently translated B鰄m-Bawerk's classic 1896 critique of Marx as well as Hilferding's response. He also became involved in an infamous debate with Dobb on the issue of the transition from feudalism to capitalism (e.g. 1976).

It was hardly surprising, then, that this young Harvard economist was to became a favorite of Schumpeter's and an anathema to the American government (Sweezy was summoned and jailed for "contempt" by the McCarthyite New Hampshire legal establishment in 1953 - a conviction only overturned in 1957 by the US Supreme Court (see statement by Sweezy)).

Sweezy was also a proponent of an "underconsumption" interpretation of Marx, a new theory of imperialism rooted in "dependency" and the examination of Keynesian demand management as a life-valve for capitalism - ideas commonly associated with the Monthly Review, which Sweezy helped found in 1949 and which he edited for the rest of his career which was to be highly influential on the emerging "New Left". Sweezy saw these ideas as a way of modernising the Marxian theory of crisis and he set them forth both in his numerous writings in the Monthly Review and, perhaps most famously, in his highly influential Monopoly Capital (1966) written with Paul Baran. 

Mr. Sweezy cofounded the Marxist journal The Monthly Review in 1949. He edited and wrote about 100 articles for the journal, which currently has a monthly circulation of about 7,000. Other contributors included Albert Einstein, W.E.B. Du Bois, Jean-Paul Sartre, Che Guevara, and Joan Robinson.

Mr. Sweezy wrote more than 20 books, including a well-known collaboration with Paul Baran, "Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order" (1966). Throughout his career, he argued that government and working people had to cooperate to overcome what he saw as capitalism's limitations.

Born in New York City, the son of a J.P. Morgan banker, Mr. Sweezy attended Philips Exeter Academy and Harvard University, where he was president of the Harvard Crimson.

While working on his doctorate at Harvard, Mr. Sweezy had as a mentor famed economist Joseph Schumpeter, the preeminent defender of free enterprise who lauded the "creative destruction" of vibrant capitalism. Their friendship deepened even as their economic viewpoints diverged.

As the Great Depression lingered, Mr. Sweezy became an advocate of greater government control of the economy. "I became convinced that mainstream economics of the kind I had been taught at Harvard had little to contribute toward understanding the major events and trends of the 20th century," he later wrote.

Schumpeter and Mr. Sweezy's debates became legendary in some circles at Harvard. One, titled "The Future of Capitalism" and held at a packed hall at the Littauer Center, was retold decades later in Newsweek by Nobel laureate and MIT professor Paul Samuelson, setting the scene as one "back in the days when giants walked the earth and Harvard Yard."

"Unfairly, the gods had given Paul Sweezy, along with a brilliant mind, a beautiful face and wit. With what William Buckley would desperately wish to see in the mirror, Sweezy laced the world," Samuelson wrote.Samuelson called them "foxy Merlin" (Schumpeter) against Mr. Sweezy's "young Sir Galahad.""The neat parrying and thrust . . . all made more pleasurable by the obvious affection that the two men had for each other despite the polar opposition of their views."

During World War II, Mr. Sweezy worked in the research department of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency.He later returned to Harvard as an instructor, but failed to secure a tenured position and left the university in 1946.

In the 1950s, during the height of McCarthyism, the New Hampshire attorney general accused Mr. Sweezy of subversive activities after he refused to turn over some lecture notes. The case ended up in the Supreme Court, which ruled in Mr. Sweezy's favor.

A Saint and A Sage:Paul Marlor Sweezy (1910 - 2004)

Prabhat Patnaik   Paul M. Sweezy who died on February 28 was an outstanding intellectual, a part of a galaxy of Marxist economists which included, among others, Maurice Dobb, Michael Kalecki, Oskar Lange, Paul Baran and Josef Steindl. All of them worked, at least for long stretches of time, in the advanced capitalist world, where they not only enriched the Marxist tradition and influenced thousands of young scholars, but also made profound and original contributions to the discipline, making it more socially sensitive and relevant, and setting its intellectual agenda for nearly six decades.

Sweezy came from a prosperous East Coast American family: his father was the Vice-President of the First National Bank of New York. He was rich, brilliant, and extraordinarily handsome. (Alice Thorner, the well-known scholar on contemporary India who was a friend of Sweezy, was a part of the Monthly Review family, and belonged, with her late husband Daniel, to the same circle of East Coast radicals as Sweezy, before being forced to emigrate during the McCarthy years, describes him as having the stunning looks of a "Greek God"). He went to Harvard as a matter of course, where he and the renowned "mainstream" economist Paul Samuelson, were among the favourite students of Joseph Schumpeter. His doctoral dissertation on Monopoly and Competition in the English Coal Trade 1550-1850 (which was published in the same Harvard series as Samuelson's Foundations of Economic Analysis) was much more than an excursus into economic history; it was a critical and brilliant examination of Alfred Marshall's "biological" theory explaining the rise and decline of firms, which was so influential at the time.

It was common for the children of the East Coast establishment to have a stint in England, preferably at the London School of Economics, before settling down to their chosen careers, and accordingly Sweezy went for a while from Harvard to LSE. (John F. Kennedy for instance was to do the same some years later). At LSE he duly enrolled to attend the lectures of Friedrich Von Hayek, whom Lionel Robbins had brought from the continent to counter the influence of Keynes in English intellectual life. Hayek's strong and persistent attacks on Marx in the course of his lectures persuaded Sweezy to make a proper study of Marxism. At the end of that study he was a Marxist! And the result of that study was his magnum opus, The Theory of Capitalist Development (1942), its title inspired by his old teacher Joseph Schumpeter's book, The Theory of Economic Development. (The English edition of Sweezy's book with a foreword by Maurice Dobb was published in 1946.)

Meanwhile Sweezy had joined the economics faculty at Harvard; but when the time came for Harvard to take the "up or out" decision in the case of Sweezy, the clear pointer was towards an "out" decision, his Marxist predilections having become apparent meanwhile. Sweezy did not wait for the decision; he resigned from the Harvard faculty. It is ironical that both Sweezy and Samuelson, representing very different ideological positions, had to suffer victimization at Harvard, though each for a different reason: Sweezy for his Marxism, and Samuelson allegedly for his Jewishness. But while Samuelson migrated only a few hundred meters to join and build up the economics faculty at MIT, Sweezy gave up his academic career altogether, and set up, along with his friend Leo Huberman (well-known for his excellent introduction to Marxism, Man's Worldly Goods), a journal Monthly Review, which, it would be no exaggeration to say, became the most significant socialist journal anywhere in the world in the English language. (Among its first set of contributors was Albert Einstein with his essay "Why Socialism"?)

The popularity of Monthly Review arose from its simplicity, its concreteness, and its concern with the third world. It did not have any of the narcissism, the Euro-centrism, and the penchant for "smartness", for "high-browism", and for coquetry with words that one often finds in many European Left journals. The reason for this contrast lay partly in its American-ness (which in "highbrow" European Left circles is often referred to as American "moralism" but one of whose constituents is a very large dose of honesty); it lay partly in the predominance of economics in MR, a subject, which though technical, does not easily lend itself to highbrowism (and MR's economics got a solid anchorage in empirical research once Harry Magdoff, a reputed applied economist of the Left and a former member of the Roosevelt administration joined Sweezy as a co-editor); it lay partly in Sweezy's own extraordinary clarity of mind; but it lay above all in the centrality of imperialism in MR's overall theoretical perspective. No other Marxist journal in the English language (and that naturally excludes Jean-Paul Sartre's Les Temps Moderne) kept imperialism so firmly in the centre of the picture as MR (and Harry Magdoff was to write an extremely influential book on the subject The Age of Imperialism), which is hardly surprising, since it was a journal coming out of the leading metropolis of the leading imperialist power of the post-war period.

Of particular interest to MR readers were the "Notes of the Month" which the editors used to write in every issue of MR, which gave a remarkable insight inter alia into the functioning of American capitalism. (These have been collected in several volumes under the co-authorship of Sweezy and Magdoff and published by Monthly Review Press).

Sweezy did not keep himself confined to editing MR and writing outstanding books. He was an activist who threw himself into all the major political issues that came up during his eventful life, from the defence of the Soviet Union , to the fight against fascism, to the defence of the Cuban Revolution (Che Guevara was a personal friend of Baran and Sweezy), to the struggle against US aggression on Vietnam, to solidarity with the student upsurge of the late sixties.

In 1954, at the height of the McCarthyite witch-hunt, Sweezy was summoned on two occasions to appear before the Attorney General of New Hampshire who had been conferred wide-ranging powers to investigate "subversive activities". Upon his refusal to answer questions he was declared to have been in contempt of court and sent to the county jail (though he was released on bail). His appeal against the contempt verdict was turned down by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, but upheld eventually by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1957.

The revival of interest in Marxism on the campuses in the late sixties led to Sweezy's visiting several universities to lecture on Marxism, until he discovered that University administrations were using his visits as an excuse for denying tenure to young Marxist scholars. Their argument was that a tenured faculty of Marxist scholars was unnecessary in view of the availability of distinguished Marxists from outside. Upon learning this, Sweezy discontinued these visits. During the war, when the Left supported the war effort against fascism, Sweezy was associated with the Office of Strategic Security (OSS) which was to become the precursor of the CIA.

Someone once remarked that while Sweezy's The Theory of Capitalist Development was the most significant work on the Left produced in America in the decade of the forties, Paul Baran's The Political Economy of Growth was the most significant work on the Left produced in America in the decade of the fifties, and Baran and Sweezy's Monopoly Capital was the most significant work on the Left produced in America in the decade of the sixties. Monopoly Capital, dedicated to Che, took ten years to write, and Baran passed away before it was published. Sweezy not only brought out the joint work but lectured widely to spread the central message of the book. When he was invited to deliver the prestigious Marshall lectures at Cambridge University, U.K., the theme he chose was: "The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism".

After the programme of two lectures was over at Cambridge, there was the official reception, at which Joan Robinson happened to be discussing the lectures with a group of people that included myself. She ended the discussion by saying: "I disagree with Paul on several issues, but he is a real saint." The term may appear odd being applied to a Marxist, but what stood out about Paul Sweezy, in addition to his brilliance, his intellectual calibre and his profound commitment to the cause of socialism, was a nobility of character that is indeed extremely rare to find.

Sweezy's enduring contribution to "mainstream" economics is the so-called "kinked demand curve" which oligopolists are supposed to face. The idea that in oligopoly markets a reduction in price by any seller leads to retaliatory reductions by others while an increase in price does not lead to any corresponding increase, thus giving rise to a "kink" in the perceived demand curve of each seller at the prevailing price, was originally advanced to explain the stability in oligopoly price. But the idea is a powerful one which can be incorporated into a variety of theories about oligopoly pricing; it constitutes the primary explanation of why price competition is eschewed under oligopoly.

But Sweezy himself was rather dismissive about this paper even as he was writing it. And in any case, this contribution pales into insignificance in comparison with his awesome achievement, The Theory of Capitalist Development (TCD). TCD was remarkable for a number of reasons: first, it was an extraordinarily lucid presentation of Marx's ideas on economics, one which has remained unsurpassed in the more than six decades that have elapsed since it first appeared. Secondly, it was a convincing demonstration of the proposition that the essentials of Keynes' ideas which were then shaking the world were already embedded in Marx's writings, a proposition that was remarkably bold and original in a situation where orthodox Marxists were treating Keynesian theory with barely concealed animosity. Thirdly, it introduced to the English-speaking readers for the first time a whole range of Marxist economic ideas that had developed in the continent by thinkers from Kautsky, to Hilferding, to Grossman, to Rosa Luxemburg, to Tugan-Baranovsky, to Louis Boudin, to Otto Bauer, to Nikolai Bukharin. The fact that there was an extraordinarily rich literature in the Marxist economic tradition was brought home to the Anglo-Saxon world with a vengeance. Fourthly, it provided a cogent explanation of contemporary phenomena, such as inter-imperialist rivalry, and fascism, starting from the basics of Marxist economic theory, not as accidental or conjunctural occurrences, but as phenomena rooted in the political economy of capitalism. And finally, and most significantly, it advanced a theory of "underconsumption" which was to dominate the Marxist economic discourse thenceforth. Indeed both Baran's The Political Economy of Growth, and Baran and Sweezy's Monopoly Capital were basically re-iterations and refinements of the "under-consumptionist" theory first advanced in TCD.

"Underconsumptionism", which refers to the view that a shift in the distribution of social income away from the workers to the capitalists, produces, through shrinking demand, a tendency towards stagnation under capitalism, was of course an old idea. It had been advanced by a host of writers from Sismondi to Hobson, to Luxemburg, to Otto Bauer. Sweezy's, and Baran's, contribution was to argue that "underconsumptionism" was an ex ante tendency (which I shall explain shortly), and to eliminate thereby a whole range of confusions surrounding the theory. The theory for the first time acquired a rigorous totality.

The standard objections to "underconsumptionism" were two-fold: first, there was no perceived tendency towards secular stagnation in the capitalist world. True, the inter-war years had witnessed the "Great Depression" which had persisted until the start of re-armament (in fascist countries earlier, and in liberal capitalist countries under the fascist threat), but this did not amount to a secular tendency, since post-war capitalism had experienced remarkable growth rates. Secondly, there was not even any statistical evidence to show that the share of profits in output was rising in the advanced capitalist countries as predicted by the underconsumptionist argument. (Nicholas Kaldor had made this point in a review of Paul Baran's book).

Baran and Sweezy's ingenious answer to these objections can be explained with a simple arithmetical example. Suppose the total output is 100, of which wages constitute 50 and profits 50; workers' consumption is 50, capitalists' consumption is 25 and investment is 25. Now suppose that the distribution changes to 40:60 between wages and profits, and that capitalists' consumption and investment remain unchanged. Since workers cannot consume beyond their wages, total demand in the economy would be only 90 compared to 100 earlier. But if the State chips in with an expenditure of 10 which it raises through a tax on profits, then we shall once again have an output of 100, and (post-tax) profits of 50 (though the wage bill would be 40).Neither the total output nor the share of post-tax profits in it would have changed compared to the initial situation, even though clearly there has been an ex-ante tendency towards underconsumption. In other words, the ex ante tendency towards underconsumption, which underlies the new situation, is not (and indeed is scarcely ever) directly visible: it has called forth and is therefore camouflaged by State intervention. This, Baran and Sweezy argued, is exactly what was happening in post-war capitalism, where State intervention, taking the form of larger military expenditure, had prevented the realization of the ex ante tendency towards underconsumption.

This argument whose empirical merit we need not go into here, had however the following implications: first, since advanced capitalism had succeeded to a large extent in manipulating its internal contradictions, the main resistance to it could come only from the "outlying regions" of the third world where its military might was being put to use for imposing a new imperial order (in which, as Magdoff was to argue, the need for raw materials played a crucial role); secondly, it is its oppressiveness and irrationality, as opposed to any internal politico-economic crisis arising from its unworkability on account of the playing out of its immanent laws, that constituted the real flaw of contemporary capitalism. The system in other words was not one that got bogged down in crises and stagnation, but one that worked by wasting huge amounts of resources on maintaining a military machine for terrorizing the world, especially the third world.

A similar view was held at the time by many; it was explicitly articulated by Herbert Marcuse, among others. Not surprisingly however it brought forth accusations against Baran and Sweezy in traditional Left circles in the advanced capitalist countries, which were disturbed at the absence of any explicit role of significance for the metropolitan proletariat in the latter's scheme of things, that they were being "moralists" and "third worldists". The reference to "moralism" as a trait of the American Left complemented this; even Joan Robinson's reference to Sweezy as a "saint" had a faint echo of this perception (its laudatoriness reflecting her own ideological position which was Left Keynesian). The other side of the same coin however was Baran and Sweezy's recognition of the pre-eminent role of imperialism, which, as already mentioned, scarcely gets the attention it deserves in traditional Marxist writings in the advanced capitalist countries. Baran and Sweezy's alleged "third worldism" in other words was but the obverse of the centrality of imperialism in their perception. There is a tension here which I shall take up later.

Of course advanced capitalism has developed a whole range of new contradictions, arising from the emergence of a new form of international finance capital and the globalization of finance that it promotes, which have undermined the scope for State intervention of the Keynesian kind that Baran and Sweezy had taken for granted in Monopoly Capital. Nonetheless the tendency towards underconsumption highlighted by them has to be reckoned with as a basic element in any analysis of contemporary capitalism. (This tendency however need not be analyzed only within the confines of the advanced capitalist world in isolation: a relative shift of income from the poor of the world to the rich can also contribute to this tendency).

The emphasis on underconsumptionism in Sweezy was not an isolated intellectual act; it was an integral part of Sweezy's Marxism. After the publication of Maurice Dobb's Studies in the Development of Capitalism, Sweezy had been involved in a famous debate with Dobb (a debate in which Rodney Hilton, Takahashi and Christopher Hill had joined later) on the transition from feudalism to capitalism (because of which the debate is sometimes referred to as the "Transition Debate"). That debate need not be reviewed here but the essential point of Sweezy's intervention, on the basis of Henri Pirenne's work, was that the opening up of Mediterranean trade had played a crucial role in the undermining of feudalism and the ushering in of capitalism. (Dobb's reply to this was that the impact of trade depended on the internal state of the mode of production under consideration, and that trade had even given rise to a "second serfdom" in Eastern Europe).

The real point about Sweezy's intervention to my mind however had been to underscore the role of demand-side factors; and even his underconsumptionism was concerned with demand-side factors. In other words there is a continuity of thought in Sweezy between his underconsumptionism and his stance in the transition debate. But since the question of demand is supposed to belong to the realm of circulation as distinct from the realm of production to which Marxism accords primacy, those Marxists who have been concerned with the demand-side have often been attacked for diluting Marxism, the classic example of which was Bukharin's attack on Rosa Luxemburg. At the same time however if one does not consider the demand-side and hence the sphere of circulation, and remains confined to the realm of production alone, then one necessarily remains focussed on an isolated capitalist economy, where the workers and the capitalists face one another in the production process, and there is no necessary role for imperialism, in the inclusive sense covering both the colonial and what Lenin called the imperial phases, in the process of capital accumulation. One can introduce imperialism into the analysis in such a case only as an empirical factor (e.g. the fact that capitalism cannot do without tropical raw materials), but it has no role in the Law of Motion of capitalism. It is not accidental that even a scholar like Maurice Dobb who was committed to the traditional Marxist emphasis on the production side could not incorporate the role of primitive accumulation of capital in the form of colonial loot into his analysis of the transition to capitalism.

Putting the matter differently there has been, as mentioned earlier, a tension within Marxist analysis between those who have given primacy to the production side to the exclusion of the demand side and hence willy-nilly missed the significance of imperialism, and those who have paid greater attention to the demand side, and therefore been more sensitive to the role of imperialism, but in the process willy-nilly deviated from many of the traditional Marxist emphases. It is not surprising then that the alleged weaknesses of Sweezy's Marxism can also be considered to be the real strength of his analysis, and have been so considered.

No doubt with further development of Marxist theory the tension just alluded to would get resolved in due course (through the emergence of a richer Marxist understanding); but to that further work, and indeed to the recognition of the need for that further work, Paul Sweezy would be celebrated as having made a seminal contribution. He would be celebrated not only as a saint but also as a sage.

March 16, 2004.

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