Horror Quote from Joseph Schumpeter

Joseph A. Schumpeter was one of Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk’s star pupils; another one was Ludwig von Mises. A couple of years ago I wrote a piece called Stray Observations on Joseph A. Schumpeter, where I tried to sort the wheat from the chaff in his book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. I also read his The Great Economists (in a Swedish translation), a series of monographs on some economists, from Marx to Keynes. One thing that struck me was that he lavishes as much praise on Marx and Keynes as he does on Menger and Böhm-Bawerk. This should be enough to establish that I regard Schumpeter as a “mixed bag”.

But there is some real poison in the mixture. From a Mises.org article by Gary North[1]:

Felix Somary records in his autobiography a discussion he had with the economist Joseph Schumpeter and the sociologist Max Weber in 1918. Schumpeter was an Austrian economist who was not an Austrian School economist. He later wrote the most influential monograph on the history of economic thought. Weber was the most prestigious academic social scientist in the world until he died in 1920.

Schumpeter expressed happiness regarding the Russian Revolution. The USSR would be a test case for socialism. Weber warned that this would cause untold misery. Schumpeter replied, “That may well be, but it would be a good laboratory.” Weber responded, “A laboratory heaped with human corpses!” Schumpeter retorted, “Every anatomy classroom is the same thing.” [Felix Somary, The Raven of Zurich (New York: St. Martin’s, 1986), p. 121.]

Schumpeter was a moral monster. Let us not mince words. He was a highly sophisticated man, but he was at bottom a moral monster. Anyone who could dismiss the deaths of millions like this is a moral monster. Weber stormed out of the room. I don’t blame him.

I don’t blame him either.


[1]) Gary North is a new acquaintance to me, but Wikipedia informs that he tries to combine “Austrian” economics with Christian beliefs.

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9 Responses to Horror Quote from Joseph Schumpeter

  1. Pingback: More monstrosities « The House at POS Corner

  2. Gary North is a christian reconstructionist, who desires a theocracy under biblical law. Due to biblical law being what it is, I think it is fair to call Gary North a moral monster as well.

  3. I knew nothing about Gary North when I wrote this (had I known, I might have thought twice about quoting him). But Henrik Sundholm was quick to alert me about his more monstrous views.

  4. Henry Moore says:

    Could someone alert me to some of these monstrous views? I am not too familiar with Gary North apart from his excellent pieces recently on LewRockwell and Mises. I have trouble picturing him as a theocrat. I am aware of his past as a reconstructionist, but it is little more than a stereotype to think them all in the mold of Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson. Gary is a Christian, as am I, and I realize that may not go over too well with this blog, but to infer that this necessitates moral monstrousness, especially in light of the fact that he advocates limited government, sound money, and free markets, (he does so deontologically rather than just consequentially) is going slightly overboard.

    On a lighter note, I found your blog because I was looking for the piece at Mises that you quote, because I am writing something on Joseph Schumpeter myself. Thank you for blogging this.

  5. Henry Moore says:

    I do apologize for not reading more carefully and seeing mention of the piece “More Monstrosities.” Open mouth, insert foot. North, if he still advocates these things (I still have a hard time believing it) has some explaining to do. Be patient with me.

  6. Pingback: Joseph Schumpeter’s Anti-Utopian Quotation « keimh3regpeh2umeg

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