Schumpeter demands your undivided attention

There are certain books which require your full commitment. You can’t read them and comprehend their message and meaning without complete concentration. Some even demand more than one reading, as they keep on revealing their secrets during those revisits. Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is one such book. It is considered a great classic of this century, especially in social sciences. IMG_20150715_111931 (2) I remember I bought it while at Harvard in 2009 and now I also own its kindle version. The demanding nature of this book has made me fail in my attempts to read it earlier, and though I started it on couple of occasions, after reading few pages I shifted to another book, making a resolve that I will read it later on. And this procrastination continued. I have taken it up again now, and this time I have surpassed my earlier achievements. Even though I am still on chapter 2 titled “Marx the Sociologist” (the book has 28 chapters in total), it is giving me a sense of achievement! Though it is almost 65 years since the last edition of the book was published (in 1950), the ideas, arguments, and propositions put forward by Schumpeter are no less relevant today. Perhaps these are even more important in today’s world with Soviet Union gone, and the emerging pattern of large number of nations with democracy and a kind of mixed economy, having features of both capitalistic and socialistic ideals in organization of economy, polity and society. My edition contains an introduction by R. Swedberg, to help readers before they embark on the book itself, and it is really helpful in conveying the background, central idea and reading tips. Schumpeter in general and this book in particular is often discussed in relation to what was prophesied in the book about the future and survival of capitalism and socialism. Schumpeter idea that capitalism would not survive and that it would fail ultimately due to factors and conditions generated by its own successes, has often been cited and contested as this is NOT what has happened. He also said that capitalism will be replaced by socialism. Instead, communism (socialism) has collapsed. Swedberg also states that Schumpeter was of the opinion that socialism is a feasible proposition. I have also been looking forward to parts of the book dealing with socialism and democracy and how Schumpeter argues about a “socialist democracy”. Ideas and concepts like “creative destruction” and “monopolistic practices” has also been analyzed by Schumpeter. I am hopeful of being successful this time!

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