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Harvard. Final Examination for Paul Sweezy’s Economics of Socialism, 1940

During my recent archival visit to Harvard, I was able to copy a magnificent trove of final examinations in economics (up through 1949…there is much more going forward, but I had to move on). Now I begin the curatorial work of pairing some of those examinations to course materials I have posted earlier and where the exam questions were missing.

Today I am adding a transcription of Paul Sweezy’s final examination for his 1939-40, second semester course “Economics of Socialism”.




Part I
(Reading Period—One Hour)

  1. Write a critical appraisal of EITHER Pigou’s Socialism versus Capitalism OR Lange’s On the Economic Theory of Socialism.

Part II
(Answer all three—One Hour and a Half)

  1. Explain the Marxian theory of value and surplus value. What is your own opinion of its usefulness?
  2. Discuss briefly each of the following: (a) fetishism of commodities; (b) industrial reserve army; (c) law of the falling tendency of the rate of profit.
  3. “It has been shown time and again that an empire, so far from being a source of riches to the mother country, is a distinct economic liability. In view of this, it is difficult to see how any one can continue to uphold the Marx-Lenin theory of imperialism.” Do you agree? Why or why not?


Part III
(One Half Hour)

  1. Discuss EITHER (a) OR (b)

(a) The meaning and significance of costs in a socialist economy
(b) The distribution of income in a socialist economy

Final. 1940.


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. June, 1940. (HUC 7000.28) Box 5 of 284

Image Source: Harvard Class Album, 1942.

Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier

2 thoughts on “Harvard. Final Examination for Paul Sweezy’s Economics of Socialism, 1940

  1. Took a class on Volume 1 of Das Kapital with Professor Sweezy in the late 70’s when he returned to the classroom and taught at The New School. This is a fascinating and useful example of Sweezy’s contribution to radical political economy in the classroom, during a time when few economics departments provided access to faculty who could teach Marxist economics.

    1. Any chance you have exam questions, syllabus, handouts, notes from your Sweezy course to share?

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