Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy | Study Guide

Joseph A. Schumpeter

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Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy | Part 2, Prologue : Can Capitalism Survive? (Prologue) | Summary



Schumpeter offers the blunt statement that he does not think capitalism can survive. He considers this opinion "uninteresting" because what matters more than the opinion is the facts and arguments that lead him to that opinion. He points out that to do anything other than follow facts and arguments would be "not science but prophecy." He will point to trends, which will lead to definite ends if the trend holds. However, he cautions that he does not mean to conclude anything outside the trends he identifies. He points out that his argument rests not on the failure of capitalism but on its very success. Not only will capitalism's success destroy itself, it will anoint socialism as "the heir apparent." He notes that one may accept or reject his arguments whether one is a socialist or not.


Schumpeter's fondness for provocative statements is an expression of his confidence and intellectual honesty. He says plainly what he thinks, and in subsequent sentences, he carefully defines exactly what he means and why he feels confident in saying it. His provocative statements also shock the reader into giving him full attention. This short prologue circumscribes the terms of inquiry Schumpeter will follow later.

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