Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

Book - 1976
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Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy remains one of the greatest works of social theory written this century. When it first appeared the New English Weekly predicted that for the next five to ten years it will cetainly remain a work with which no one who professes any degree of information on sociology or economics can afford to be unacquainted.' Fifty years on, this prediction seems a little understated. Why has the work endured so well? Schumpeter's contention that the seeds of capitalism's decline were internal, and his equal and opposite hostility to centralist socialism have perplexed, engaged and infuriated readers since the book's publication. By refusing to become an advocate for either position Schumpeter was able both to make his own great and original contribution and to clear the way for a more balanced consideration of the most important social movements of his and our time.
Publisher: New York : Harper & Row, c1976
ISBN: 9780061330087
Branch Call Number: 335 S392c 1976
Characteristics: xiv, 431 p. ; 21 cm


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Jul 16, 2016

Schumpeter is best remembered for having coined the term "creative destruction" a process well understood today whereby entire industries and the jobs that go with them are continually rendered obsolete as new products, new technologies, new ways to make money emerge. Schumpeter speculates about the possibility of a democratic socialist utopia, but he unconvincingly discounts the reality of human acquisitiveness and the desire for upward mobility. Further, he naïvely discounted the authoritarian nature of the Russian experiment of his day, suggesting that the degree of coercion in the soviet model would be relaxed as conditions improved, which they did not. The book is colored very much by the widespread debate of his day (WW2 era) as to whether capitalism or socialism would prevail. Lost in the titanic struggle between those two competing ideologies is democracy which, as it turns out today, cannot truly survive under either regime. With the benefit of hindsight I'm perhaps being unfair in judging the book on its merits, since Schumpeter could not have foreseen the calamitous outcome of the Soviet "planned economy". Nor could he have foreseen today's dilemma in America where a few billionaires have become so powerful that they are able to subvert the democratic process (ref. "Dark Money" by Jane Meyer). It seems to me that Schumpeter was no democrat. An interesting work from an historical perspective but certainly neither prophetic nor very useful in addressing the issues of our day when democracy has failed to take root in much of the world and is at risk almost everywhere that it has been instituted.

Nov 16, 2009

its the 1947 edition, but this recent publication has a 7 font, and unfortunately that's too small a print for this complex book


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