viernes, 31 de agosto de 2012

J.A. Schumpeter (desde su biografía - 16)


“Turning from the simplicity and purported certainty of Marx’s economic utopia, Schumpeter poses his own deceptively guileless question and answer: “Can capitalism survive? No. I do not think that it can.”

The argument that follows this memorable beginning to the second part of Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is complex, closely reasoned, and filled with historical detail. The assertion itself is very carefully hedged, in numerous passages. Schumpeter’s real purpose is not to prophesy capitalism’s downfall but to explain how it works. He is at pains to demonstrate why capitalism has been a very good thing –and then to underscore its fragility.


He begins his argument by demonstrating that modern industrial capitalism has produced the greatest per capita output of goods ever recorded. And, in direct contravention of the Marxian forecast that worker’s share of income will steadily fall, Schumpeter repeats that “relative shares have substantially changed in favor of the lower income groups.” Regardless of subjective assessments by popular writers and literary intellectuals, statistics show that the average worker, under “an avalanche of consumer’s goods,” has a better material existence that ever before. In other words, “the capitalist process, not by coincidence but by virtue of its mechanism, progressively raises the standard of life of the masses.”


And one major way in which Schumpeter upended Marx was in his treatment of the controversial question of monopoly. Writing in the 1930S and early 1940S –a time of mounting public anger over industrial concentration –Schumpeter emphasized that enormous improvements in the lives of common people had “evolved during the period of relatively unfettered ‘big business.’” Far from diminishing the benefits consumers derived from the workings of the capitalist engine, business of gran size had increased them.

In explaining how this happened, Schumpeter introduces his famous term “creative destruction”: “The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation –if I may use that biological term- that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in.””

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