Schumpeter a Marxist? “Not so fast,” says Galambos

Nathan Rosenberg explicates Schumpeter’s Marxist proclivities in the most recent issue of Industrial and Corporate Change.

Was Schumpeter a Marxist?

Abstract: This article explores the degree to which Joseph Schumpeter may be regarded as a follower of Karl Marx. It argues that Schumpeter and Marx shared a common vision, including agreement on the growth in the size of the firm and in industrial concentration, the inherent instability of capitalism and the inevitability of “crises”, and the eventual destruction of capitalist institutions and the arrival of a socialist form of economic organization as a result of the working out of the internal logic of capitalist evolution. Schumpeter’s main qualification is his insistence upon the importance of temporal lags, i.e., social forms that persist after they have lost their economic rationale, and he suggests that the essence of capitalism lies in the inevitable tendency of that system to depart from equilibrium. The article emphasizes the continuing importance of economic history for economics.

In one of the two responses to Rosenberg’s piece, Louis Galambos doesn’t think the shoe fits:

Was Schumpeter a Marxist? My own answer is “No.” Why? Because I have a simple standard for judging who is in and who is out when Marx is the subject. To be a Marxist, I think you need to use the labor theory of value; you need to use social classes as a central element in your theory; and you need to believe that the end point of capitalist development is the inevitable economic collapse of a system that cannot sustain itself even with desperate political and military measures.

Since Schumpeter did not use the labor theory of value, did not employ social classes as a central element in his grand theory, and certainly did not see economic collapse as the end point of capitalism, he cannot be a Marxist.

Each of these is available through The Mudd via the campus IP address.  Those of you who slogged through Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy should find these very illuminating reads, indeed.