Joseph Schumpeter was an influential Austrian economist and political scientist, most famous for popularizing the phrase "creative destruction." Applied to capitalism, this describes the way periods of innovation destroy established businesses while creating new ones. He also thought that, eventually, capitalism would metamorphose into socialism. His best known work is Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.
"Capitalism, then, is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary. And this evolutionary character of the capitalist process is not merely due to the fact that economic life goes on in a social and natural environment which changes and by its change alters the data of economic action; this fact is important and these changes (wars, revolutions and so on) often condition industrial change, but they are not its prime movers. Nor is this evolutionary character due to a quasi-automatic increase in population and capital or to the vagaries of monetary systems, of which exactly the same thing holds true. The fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion comes from the new consumers, goods, the new methods of production or transportation, the new markets, the new forms of industrial organization that capitalist enterprise creates ... The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation — if I may use that biological term — that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in."
– from Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy
Be among LARB’s first 1000 sustaining members and be a part of literary history.
Or click here to subscribe to LARB’s free newsletter.
LARB is a reader-supported not-for-profit organization