IT WAS in 1942 that Joseph Schumpeter published his only bestseller, “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy”. The book was popular for good reason. It was a tour de force of economics, history and sociology. It coined memorable phrases such as “creative destruction”. But it was a notably dark book. At a time when people were looking for hope during the life-and-death struggle with Nazism, Schumpeter offered only gloom. “Can capitalism survive?” he asked. “No, I do not think it can.”
This column was inspired by the young Schumpeter’s vision of the businessperson as hero—the Übermensch who dreams up a new world and brings it into being through force of intellect and will. On its debut in September 2009, we argued that Schumpeter was a perfect icon for a business column because, unlike other economists, he focused on business leaders rather than abstract forces and factors. But as Schumpeter grew older, his vision darkened. He became increasingly preoccupied not with heroism but with bureaucratisation, and not with change but with decay. The same is true of the outgoing author of this column.
It would be…Continue reading