Harvard. Final Examination for Economics of Socialism, Mason and Sweezy, 1937 and 1939
The Harvard undergraduate course, The Economics of Socialism, evolved from Thomas Nixon Carver’s course, Methods of Social Reform, (exam questions from 1920) that had been introduced into the curriculum in 1902-03. The Economics of Socialism course was taught from 1935-36 through 1938-39 by Edward S. Mason and Paul Sweezy. The 1937-38 course outline and reading assignments along with final exam questions have been posted earlier. In this posting I have transcribed the final examination questions from the second terms of 1936-37 and 1938-39. I have not been able to locate a copy of the 1935-36 exam questions yet.
In subsequent years this course was taught by Sweezy, Schumpeter, and Taylor.
Write about one hour
- If you were setting out to write a book on the Soviet economic system on what questions would you concentrate your attention? To what extent do the Webb’s provide adequate answers to these questions and in what respects do you regard their treatment as deficient?
Answer four questions
- Discuss briefly Utopian Socialism and Chartism and indicate what, if any, relation they bear to each other and to the modern socialist movement.
- For what types of economic problems would you consider the Marxian method of analysis superior to the orthodox (equilibrium) method?
- To what extent, if at all, does Marx’s analysis of the decline of capitalism depend upon the growth of large scale enterprise?
- What is Lenin’s theory of imperialism? How is it related to Marx’s analysis of capitalism?
- “The proper goal for socialist economic planners is that disposition and use of resources which is supposed to be achieved by the perfectly competitive market.” Discuss.
Source: Harvard University Archives. Harvard University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Papers Printed for Final Examinations, History, History of Religions, … ,Economics, … , Military Science, Naval Science. Jan—June, 1937. (HUC 7000.28, vol. 79 of 284).
(Reading Period — one hour)
- From your reading in the Webbs and your general knowledge of American conditions, what do you take to be the fundamental differences between the economic systems of the Soviet Union and the United States? Support your answer by justifying the criteria which you have selected for the purpose of judging what are the fundamentally significant characteristics of an economic system.
(Answer TWO — one hour)
- What is the relation, if any, of Marx’s “Tendency toward concentration and centralization of capital,” to monopoly problems as now understood?
- What elements of Marx’s thought impress you as having been influenced by the writing of his Utopian predecessors?
- On the basis of Marxian analysis how would you judge the political future of a farmer-labor affiliation in the United States?
(Answer TWO — one hour)
- “Take away the labor theory of value and the whole of Marx’s gigantic structure crashes to the ground.” Discuss.
- In your judgment does the rise of fascism in post-war Europe tend to confirm or refute Lenin’s theory of imperialism?
- “Mises is wrong; Lange and Taylor are right. But the whole dispute is very much a tempest in a teacup. It has very little to do with either the desirability or the workability of a socialist society.” What dispute? Do you agree that “Mises is wrong; Lange and Taylor are right”? What is your own judgment as to the importance of the dispute?
Source: Harvard University Archives. Harvard University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Papers Printed for Final Examinations, History, History of Religions, … ,Economics, … , Military Science, Naval Science. Jan—June, 1939. (HUC 7000.28, in Box 4 of 284)