Economic History

Tag: Economic History

Economics Colloquium, Thursday at 4:30

The Institutional Revolution: The Duel of Honor

Douglas W. Allen

Simon Fraser University

The duel of honor – can you think of a more romantic topic for a St. Valentine’s Day lecture? The duel would seem to be a barbaric practice from an anachronistic age. Yet, Professor Allen provides a cogent theory of dueling, arguing that it provided a screen for otherwise unobservable investments in “social capital” – social investments that allowed aristocrats to demonstrate their allegiance to the crown. He argues that his “social capital” hypothesis is consistent with many of dueling’s peculiar institutional features, the rise and fall of the practice, and the salient differences between the European and American dueling practices. One suspects that he will also address Joseph Schumpeter’s duel with a recalcitrant campus librarian.

The talk is adopted from his recent book, The Institutional Revolution: Measurement and the Economic Emergence of the Modern World.

Professor Allen is on campus to discuss his classic work on North American agriculture, The Nature of the Farm (co-authored with Dean Lueck).

 Thursday, February 14 

Steitz Hall 102 

4:30-5:30 p.m. 

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.