Interview with Paul Sweezy


  • Christopher Phelps
  • Paul M. Sweezy



History, Marxism


A founding editor of Monthly Review, Paul Sweezy has made widely recognized contributions to economics, history, and political analysis. Born in 1910 in New York City, son of a Wall Street bank executive, Sweezy attended Philips Exeter Academy and Harvard University, where he was president of the Harvard Crimson, graduating in 1931. He spent the 1932-1933 academic year at the London School of Economics, where he was exposed to Marxism, and returned to Harvard as a graduate student. He received his Ph.D. in 1937, and his dissertation, Monopoly and Competition in the English Coal Trade, 1550-1800, was published by Harvard University Press the following year. Sweezy taught economics at Harvard for five years until, in the year of publication of his work The Theory of Capitalist Development (Oxford University Press, 1942), he joined the research and analysis division of the Office of Strategic Services, wartime forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, for which he edited the classified European Political Report. Returning to the United States in fall 1945, Sweezy decided that, faced with the certitude of being denied tenure, he should resign from Harvard. In 1946, he received a grant from the Social Sciences Research Council and took up residence in New Hampshire, where he wrote Socialism (McGraw-Hill, 1949).

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