miércoles, 6 de junio de 2012

J.A. Schumpeter (muy a propósito de estos convulsionados tiempos)

Tomado del Preface to the Second Edition en Capitalism Socialism and Democracy; los subrayados son míos.

"I thought I had taken every care to make it quite clear that this is not a political book and that I did not wish to advocate anything. Nevertheless, to my amusement, the intention has been imputed to me -and more than once though not, so far as I know, in print- of "advocating foreign collectivism". I mention this fact not for this own sake but in order to notice another objection that lurks behind this one. If I was not advocating collectivism, foreign or domestic, or indeed anything else, why then did I write at all? It is not entirely futile to elaborate inferences from observed facts without arriving at practical recommendations? I was greatly interested whenever I met with this objection -it is much a nice symptom of an attitude that accounts for much in modern life. We always plan too much and always think too little. We resent a call to thinking and hate unfamiliar argument that does not tally with what we already believe or would like to believe. We walk into our future as we walked into the war, blindfolded. Now this is precisely where I wanted to serve the reader. I did want to make him think. And in order to do so it was essential not to divert his attention by discussions about what from any given standpoint "should be done about it" which would have monopolized his interest. Analysis has a distinct task and to this task I wished to keep though I was fully aware of the fact that this resolve would cost me a great deal of the response a few pages of practical conclusions would have evoked.

This, finally, leads to the charge of “defeatism.” I deny entirely that this term is applicable to a piece of analysis. Defeatism denotes a certain psychic state that has meaning only in reference to action. Facts in themselves and inferences from them can never be defeatist or the opposite whatever that might be. The report that a given ship is sinking is not defeatist. Only the spirit in which this report is received can be defeatist: The crew can sit down and drink. But it can also rush to the pumps. If the men merely deny the report though it be carefully substantiated, then they are escapists. Morever, even if my statements of tendencies amounted more definitely to prediction than they were intended to do, they would still not carry defeatist suggestions. What normal man will refuse to defend his life merely because he is quite convinced that sooner or later he will have to die anyhow? This applies to both the groups from which the charge has come: sponsors of private-enterprise society and sponsors of democratic socialism. Both of them stand to gain if they see more clearly that they usually do the nature of the social situation in which it is their fate to act.

Frank presentation of ominous facts was never more necessary than it is today because we seem to have developed escapism into a system of thought. This is my motive as it is my apology for writing the new chapter. The facts and inferences there presented are certainly not pleasant or comfortable. But they are not defeatist. Defeatist is he who, while giving lip service to Christianity and all the other values of our civilization, yet refuses to rise in their defense –no matter whether he accepts their defeat as a foregone conclusion or deludes himself with futile hopes against hope. For this is one of those situations in which optimism is nothing but a form of defection."

Joseph A. Schumpeter
Taconic, Connecticut
July 1946

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