Tribute to Michael Harrington

Tribute to Michael Harrington

Where did he get the energy? Apart from his amazing productivity and range of activities, he even looked energetic, like a light bulb. Not having been among his personal friends, I have no intimate insight into this mystery. I observed him from a seat in the fifteenth row. But that was the ideal place for noticing what the energy managed to achieve.

We like to think that political principles are self-contained, that our world view stands on its own, that attractive and decent theories of political economy draw us forward and will draw others, too. Political ideas, though, if they have any merit, must show a human form. We want them to stand before us and radiate, like body heat or the light from someone’s eye. We insist on this, whether we know it or not. If the spirit won’t become flesh, it won’t even be, in the end, spirit. I don’t know how Harrington would have articulated this truth. But it was obvious from the way he behaved that he understood it perfectly.

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Wurgraft | University of California Press Lima