(OPE-L) Report on Paul M. Sweezy Memorial Meeting

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sat Apr 17 2004 - 19:32:47 EDT

A memorial meeting for Paul Sweezy was held today
at Landmark on the Park (Unitarian Church) on 76th 
Street and Central Park West in Manhattan. Between 
250 and 300 people attended the meeting.  

A  large contingent of comrades, friends, and neighbors 
from Paul's generation were in attendance.  At the other 
end of the age spectrum, there were a cluster of small
(well behaved) children including a few babies.  I wondered
when observing this diverse group whether most of the 
people attending the memorial had ever met each other.
It occurred to me again that a memorial meeting or funeral
is often the only time when the groups of people that we
as individuals know from different parts of and times in our
lives have an opportunity to come together and meet.  
If this meeting was any indication, Paul Sweezy was known 
and loved by many diverse groups of people.  

Paul died on February 28th so the shock of his death had an
opportunity to recede. In any event,  the atmosphere was
celebratory.  I guess the tears had already been shed so this
was an opportunity to remember Paul, discuss his impact on 
our lives, and note his intellectual legacy.  He was fondly --
and lovingly -- remembered by the speakers, which included
(the actor-activist) Ossie Davis, John Bellamy Foster, Selwyn
Freed (a long-time friend and neighbor from Larchmont), 
Frances Fox Piven, and Cornel West.  Robert W. McChesney 
had the honor of chairing the meeting and he also remembered
Paul in a brief talk.  McChesney read a statement from an ill
Harry Magdoff which began: "If I belong anywhere today, it is
with you.  But to my regret, I can not be physically present."
I found that to be the saddest moment of the memorial.  
Most of the speakers recounted humorous stories about Paul, 
often mentioning his 'wicked' sense of humor.  Consequently,
there was frequent laughter and the meeting really _felt_ like
a celebration.  

I can't say that I learned much new about Paul's life today (although
I hadn't known previously that he was an avid Boston Red Sox fan), 
but I  guess that's because there's been a lot written about his life 
recently.  But, it didn't really matter.  Those who attended the meeting
didn't need to hear long lectures about a man who had influenced so
many of their lives so profoundly.

Postcards with a picture of Paul in Cuba  in 1960 were on
a table outside the main hall.  On the same table was a  free
27-page booklet that had pictures on the cover of Paul in 1952, 
1960,  and 1985.  The booklet included messages from the 
following family and friends:

*  Salvador Aguilar, Spain
* (OPE-L member) Samir Amin, Senegal
* Kenneth J. Arrow
* Nicholas Baran (a son of the late Paul Baran)
* Grace Lee Boggs
* Rajani Desai of Research Unit for Political Economy, India
* Doug Dowd
* Jeff Dowd
* Jenny Dowd
* David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler
* Ruth Hubbard
* Lawrence Lifschultz
* Harry Magdoff (as noted above, this was read at the meeting)
* Istvan Metzaros, England
* Ken Miller
* Lily Miller
* Phil Morrisson
* Leo Panitch, Canada
* Bob Pollin
* Bob Postel
* Albert Ruben
* Annette Rubenstein
* Jeanne Singer, France
* Frank Stillwell, on behalf of the political economy faculty University
     of Sidney, Australia
* Lynn Sweezy
* Kate Sweezy-Brooks
* Alice Thorner, France
* Immanuel Wallerstein
* Howard Zinn

Hopefully, MR will make this booklet available online so that many
others can read these moving tributes.

It was noted from the 'stage' that there were also memorial meetings 
happening in a number of other countries.  

The meeting was scheduled to last from 3 PM to 6 PM but, 
uncharacteristically (especially for meetings of leftists in New 
York City!), it ended early -- at 5 PM.  This gave people an 
opportunity to informally chat with each other and to re-meet 
old comrades and friends and/or make new ones.  

The atmosphere at the memorial meeting seemed to me to mirror
the sunny, beautiful atmosphere outside today in New York City.  
It is Spring again and those attending seemed -- to me at least --
to be hopeful and optimistic about the prospects for socialism.
There was no sense at all that Paul was a Marxist 'dinosaur'.  
Rather, those attending seemed by their reactions to the speakers 
to share Paul's optimism about the future.  Clearly the messages from 
the memorial were:

 ~~~   Paul M. Sweezy -- gone but *not* forgotten.   ~~~

         ~~~   La Lutta Continua!  Venceremos!  ~~~

In solidarity, Jerry

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