In Memoriam Paul Sweezy, 1910-2004

News just in of the death last night of the great American socialist Paul Sweezy, longtime editor of the Monthly Review and author of The Theory of Capitalist Development (1942).

I’ll update this post to include links to online obits, as and when these appear.

UPDATE [1/3/2004]: Marc Mulholland has reproduced Sweezy’s entry from Robert Gorman’s Biographical Dictionary of Marxism.

UPDATE [2/3/2004]: The New York Times obit has appeared.

UPDATE [3/3/2004]: Big piece in yesterday’s Il Manifesto (in Italian, obviously; for the comedy babelfish — or whatever it calls itself these days — translation click here). Notice also the links on the left-hand side under Pag.12 to more Sweezy-themed material.

UPDATE [4/3/2004]: The Guardian’s obit is here.

UPDATE [7/3/2004]: Robert Pollin reminisces in Counterpunch. And there’s a piece in the LA Times, reproduced here.

The Virus Spreads

Uninformed Jason has been sparring with Paul “The Thinker” Richards over here. In reply to Jason’s first comment, Paul “The Thinker” Richards writes:

“The class that created the Labour Party [i.e. “the traditional working class”] no longer exists in any sizable number in Britain. This was identified twenty-plus years ago by Hobsbawm, et al.” [emphasis added]

I’m assuming that the book being referred to here is Eric Hobsbawm, The Forward March of Labour Halted? (Verso, 1981), and I’ll give a small prize to the first person who gives me a reference to a page on which something even vaguely approximating this claim can be found.

Study Question

Read this brand new article by Paul “The Thinker” Richards, which appears in the current issue of Progress magazine. Then ask yourself who is trying to promote “extremism, division and internecine strife” (see final para.) within the Labour Party?

Is it (a), those MPs who cast their votes in accordance with explicit manifesto promises, or (b) those Blairista commentators who denounce them as a “party within a party” for so doing, and who write specifically in order to promote the interests of the most right-leaning faction within the Labour Party?

Answers in the comments box, please.

P.S. Paul “The Thinker” Richards’ personal / business homepage is also well worth a visit.

Blogging a Dead Horse

Paul “The Thinker” Richards generalises about political blogging:

The disadvantages are that there is no quality control, and some of the political debates descend quickly into trivia, nit-picking, or simply insults flying back and forth across cyberspace. Blogs allow people to insult others, call them names, and question their intelligence in ways they would never dare to face to face or in a political meeting. There are plenty of egotists and attention-seekers out there…

It’s not at all clear why the standards of “a political meeting” are relevant to an assessment of the uses and disadvantages of political blogging, nor why the fact that blogs allow some people to insult other people is necessarily a disadvantage. It surely depends on who is insulting whom, and for what reason.There are some other disadvantages, however, that we might like to note: when used unThinkingly, political blogs can facilitate hypocrisy, immodesty and the dissemination of untruths masquerading as well-known facts, for example. Nor should we forget that they can be used as a platform for spreading exceptionally nasty lies about leading politicians, an offence for which the perpetrator has, we might further observe, consistently refused to apologise to his readers.

Perhaps most tragically of all, political blogs sometimes induce people to take on inappropriate online personae, for example, by assigning names to their weblogs which will tend to render them figures of fun in the wider community of those who read and write on blogs. (There are probably other disadvantages, too, but I’ll get on with some work now instead of trying to catalogue them all.)

Does anyone take this self-important piece of political flotsam seriously?

Do It Yourself

Yes, it’s the DIY Country & Western Song Generator

I met her at a truck stop all hunched over;
I can still recall that creepy smile she wore;
She was smellin’ kind of funny in the twilight,
and I knew that she was rotten to the core;
She asked me if I’d swear off booze forever;
She said to me she loved my one blue eye;
But who’d have thought she’d run off with her dentist;
I now can kiss my credit cards goodbye.

All songs can be sung to the tune of “Give My Love To Rose” (and, no doubt, others). This is one of the less deranged ones you can write for yourself over there. Excellent stuff. [Via Sarah].

Public Service Announcement

Chris Lightfoot, of the excellent WWWitter, writes:

Apologies for the mass mail. I just wanted to see if I could get you to plug a service I’ve had a part (fairly small — most of the technical work was done by Francis Irving of Public Whip fame) in building:Downing Street Says…

— the idea is to present the briefings made by the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman as a web log, and see if we can get an interesting dialogue going among web users. If we’re really lucky, the lobby journalists and maybe No. 10 may start reading the comments too, which might be interesting.

Consider it plugged.