Released: January 1972
Few contributions to the understanding of modern capitalism and its mode of operation and evolution have been more important than those made by Paul Sweezy. The essays in this volume continue and deepen his work of interpretation found in The Theory of Capitalist Development, Monopoly Capital, and The Present as History.
Dr. Sweezy treats capitalism as a world system, within which the so-called underdeveloped regions are a necessary part, backward precisely because they have been forced to contribute so much to the development of the advanced capitalist countries. He discusses the structure of the American ruling class in two essays dealing primarily with C. Wright Mills’s theory of a “power elite.” Sweezy also casts light on one of the least investigated aspects of the American ruling class: the division between the national corporate oligarchy and the vested local interests concentrated in regional enterprises such as construction, local banking, and, more important, real estate.
Also included are the 1971 Marshall Lectures in which Dr. Sweezy spoke on the theory of monopoly capitalism. Here and in an earlier essay, “Theories of the New Capitalism,” he sets forth a comprehensive view of the changes in the capitalist system in recent decades. Three important essays on Marx and modern capitalism cover that aspect of Marxism that is so strikingly different from every other interpretation: the fact that capitalism lives by continually revolutionizing the technical basis of production.
Paul M. Sweezy (1910–2004) was born in New York City, educated at Exeter and Harvard, and after receiving his Ph.D. in 1937 went to the London School of Economics, to Vienna, and to other places on the Continent for graduate study. He taught economics at Harvard until 1946 and was visiting professor of economics at Cornell, Stanford, and the New School. He was a founding editor of Monthly Review and author of Monopoly Capital (with Paul Baran) and The Theory of Capitalist Development, among many other books and articles.