Schumpeter: Capitalism, socialism, democracy

Abstract

The book begins with a critique of Marx. The subtitle of part 1 is 'The Marxian Doctrine'. The most interesting parts of it are chapter 2, 'Marx the Sociologist', and chapter 3 'Marx the Economist'. Schumpeter's criticisms are well-informed and sympathetic. His sociological views are like Weber's, and he is aware of the kinship between those views and the more sophisticated versions of Marxism, such as is found in the letters Engels wrote in the 1890s. 'Nevertheless, the question arises whether the economic interpretation of history is more than a convenient approximation which must be expected to work less satisfactorily in some cases than it does in others.... Social structures, types and attitudes are coins that do not readily melt. Once they are formed they persist, possibly for centuries, and since different structures and types display different degrees of this ability to survive, we almost always find that actual group and national behaviour more or less departs from what we should expect it to be if we tried to infer it from the dominant forms of the productive process... Such facts Marx did not overlook but he hardly realized all their implications.... [Feudalism] influenced conditions of production, wants and technology included But its simplest explanation is to be found in the function of military leadership previously filled by the families and individuals who (retaining that function however) became feudal landlords after the definitive conquest of the new territory. This does not fit the Marxian schema at all well and could easily be so construed as to point in a different direction. Facts of this nature can no doubt also be brought into the fold by means of auxiliary hypotheses but the necessity of inserting such hypotheses is usually the beginning of the end of a theory. Many other difficulties that arise in the course of attempts at historical interpretation by means of the Marxian schema could be met by admitting some measure of interaction between the sphere of production and other spheres of social life..

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