[OPE-L:1895] subjectivity

rakesh bhandari (djones@uclink.berkeley.edu)
Tue, 23 Apr 1996 02:24:44 -0700

[ show plain text ]

Just a note for the purposes of discussion. While Schumpeter's first book
has been criticized by some Austrians (Kirzner, Rothbard) as mechanical, it
does seem that a central thrust of his later work was to introduce the
subjectivity, the psychology and the creativity of the capitalist into
economic theory.

In Social Classes he writes for example:

"The captured surplus value obviously does not invest itself but must be
invested, and this means first of all that the capitalist must not use it
in a consumptive way and furthermore that it is important how it will be
invested. But both lead us away from the objective automatism and to the
behavior of the individual capitalist, i.e. to his motives, and
consequently from the social force to the individual--the physical
individual or the family--and from the objetive to the subjective."

>From at least 1928 on, Schumpeter develops the idea that the behavior of
capitalists can only be explained in terms of a family motive which capital
as a social system is itself undermining.

Voloshinov wrote of how in the face of an upsurge in class struggle, the
bourgeoisie characteristically "retreats back into itself, to look for ways
that it might protect itself and reestablish its hegemony. The primacy of
such social characteristics as individualism, inordinate attention to
sexuality and the unconscious in, in Voloshinov's estimation, symptomatic
of the extreme alineation of the bourgeoisie." (See Greg Dawes, "A Marxist
Critique of the Poststructuralist Subject" in *Post-ality*ed. M Zavarzadeh,
Washington, DC: Maissonneuve Press, 1995. p164)

Perhaps Schumpeter's sociological concern with bourgeois family structure
and the economic motives it putatively imparts to the bourgeois economic
agent is reflective of this inward turn of the bourgeoisie in the face of

Schumpeter also so emphasized the scarcity of true entrepreneurial ability
that even the majority of businessmen, much less the herd, is only capable
of routine and adaptive action.

Yet, as Grossmann argued, what Schumpeter attributed to the
entrepreneurial or creative personality was only what Ricardo, Mill and
Marx all treated more objectively as a countertendency to the falling rate
of profit (Schumpeter himself assumed declining returns to any given level
of technique).

Perhaps Schumpeter's contribution was in his analysis of the credit system
by which innovations are financed; Riccardo has argued this of course.

Yet why Schumpeter would attribute an objective countertendency to the
personality of the few creative capitalists is an interesting question.