The Commitment of an Intellectual

The Commitment of an Intellectual: Paul M. Sweezy (1910-2004),” Monthly Review, vol. 56, no. 5 (October 2004), pp. 5-39. DOI: 10.14452/MR-056-05-2004-09_2

Original draft placed on the Monthly Review web page in March of 2004, shortly after Sweezy’s death.

The following brief intellectual biography of Paul Sweezy was drafted in September 2003 shortly before I saw Paul for the last time. It conveys many of the basic facts of his life. But as with all biographies of leading intellectuals it fails to capture the brilliance of his work, which must be experienced directly through his own writings. Nor is the warmth of Paul’s character adequately conveyed here. A short personal note is therefore needed. What was so surprising about Paul was his seemingly endless generosity and humanity. Paul gave freely of himself to all of those seeking his political and intellectual guidance. But a few, such as myself, were particularly blessed in that they experienced this on a deeper, more intense level. For decades Paul was concerned that Monthly Review not perish as had so many socialist institutions and publications in the past. He recognized early on that the continuance of the magazine and the tradition that it represented required the deliberate cultivation of new generations of socialist intellectuals. I was fortunate to be singled out while still quite young as one of those. For decades Paul wrote me letter after letter—no letter that I wrote to him ever went unanswered—sharing his knowledge, intellectual brilliance, and personal warmth. It was an immense, indescribable gift.

  • Turkish translation of early version in iktisat dergisi (August 2004), pp. 22-40.
  • Persian translation of early version in Ketaab-e-Bar-rassi-haa-ye Ejtema’i (Journal of Social Reviews), November 2004 (publisher: Baztabnegar).
  • Bengali translation included in In the Rank of the Wretched: A collection of Short Biographies of Albert Einstein, Paul M. Sweezy, and Harry Magdoff. (Dhaka, Bangladesh: Shrabon Prokashoni, 2006).
  • Chinese translation by Xi Cai in Foreign Theory Dynamics, 6 (2003).


, , , , , ,

Comments are closed.