Editor's Notes on the Baran-Sweezy Letters by Nicholas Baran

2014-05-15
May 15, 2014 *Please note that as corrections and clarifications become known, they will be added as an ongoing addendum to these notes at the end of this document. Dear Reader, Thank you for your interest in the Paul A. Baran (PAB)–Paul M. Sweezy (PMS) correspondence. To read my article on the letters project in the March 2014 issue of MR, click here. The letters are divided into 30 reasonably-sized files (20-40 pages) and are in chronological order, starting in 1949, ending in late March, 1964, when my father, PAB, died of a heart attack. As noted in the text, most of the letters before 1952 were from PMS to PAB. Unfortunately, PAB's letters from those early years seem to be lost or were never saved. Each letter is preceded by the writer-recipient initials, (e.g.. PAB-PMS is a letter written by PAB to PMS). Obviously, it is easy to get confused since both writers are named Paul! Most content of a personal nature has been omitted and is so noted in the text. Virtually all items in square brackets [..] are comments or annotations by the editor. Those comments followed by my initials (nmb) are a personal comment or recollection of mine. The Pauls used many abbreviations. Except for the obvious ones, I have tried to spell them out in the text, but in case I have missed some, here are the recurring ones, in no particular order:
  • MR: Monthly Review
  • MRP: Monthly Review Press
  • RoM (sometimes ROM): MR's Review of the Month (RoM)
  • Huby, Hubie or Hoob: Leo Huberman, co-editor of Monthly Review until his death in 1968
  • PEoG: PAB's book Political Economy of Growth
  • TCD: PMS's book Theory of Capitalist Development
  • Cap.: capitalism
  • Soc.: socialism
  • Mono.: monopoly
  • Mono cap or monocap: monopoly capitalism
  • u/d: underdevelopment
  • Udc or u/d/c: underveloped country
  • Dvpt.: development
  • Eco or Econ: economic
  • Bourg.: bourgeois
  • Corp.: corporation or corporate
  • Mx: Marx
  • M&E: Marx and Engels
  • QoS: Quality of Society (chapter in their book Monopoly Capital)
  • IS: Irrational System (chapter in their book Monopoly Capital)
  • IAA: PAB's notation for "1-double-A" importance or priority
  • Spec'y or spessy: special delivery letter
  • MS. or ms.: manuscript
  • spl: surplus
  • JKG: John Kenneth Galbraith
While spelled out in the text, the notation for their discussions of the economic surplus, constant and variable capital, income, and so forth, can be found in Paul Sweezy's Theory of Capitalist Development p. 59-71 (highly recommended reading as well as PEoG for putting their theoretical discussions in context). The two Pauls were fond of German, French, Italian, and Latin phrases and these are generally translated in the text, but some of the more frequently appearing foreign-language flourishes are listed below:
  • Stimmung: German word for "mood" or "state of mind"
  • et tutti quanti: "and all the rest"
  • mutatis mutandis: "with necessary changes" or "accounting for present circumstances"
  • Gleichschaltung: indoctrination or getting into line
  • Aktualitaet (adjective is Aktuell): imminence, immediacy, current relevance
  • Hic Rhodus, hic salta! [Here is Rhodes; Jump Here! (meaning "prove your talk by deeds!")]
  • Auseinandersetzen: to confront or come to terms with
  • Beziehungsweise (abbreviated Bez.): as the case may be
  • m.a.w.: mit anderen Worten or "in other words."
  • sub specie aeternitatis: literally "belonging to the species of eternal truths."
  • Habeat sibi!: "so be it!" or in modern lingo, "whatever!"
  • Dreck: garbage
Inside terminology:
  • The "opus," also called in earlier letters the "Buchlein," was the name for what eventually became their book Monopoly Capital.
  • The two Pauls enjoyed referring to their children's terms for things, in particular, my words for the following:
    • typewriter: tripewriter (hence typing is triping)
    • immediately: mammediately
Also, I am often referred to as Nickpick or Picknick, or some derivation thereof. Good reading! -- Nicholas Baran Addendum: September 21, 2014: The person nicknamed "Shlomoh" or "Shlomo" is the economist Sol Adler. To view the complete archive, click ARCHIVES in the menu bar.