Schumpeter Predicted This 70 Years Ago

As a former student of Peter Drucker long before I came to study psychology, I would like to contribute the wisdom and prescience of probably Drucker’s greatest influencer, Joseph Schumpeter, from his Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. (3rd ed., 1950)

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“…the typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field. He argues and analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests. He becomes a primitive again. His thinking becomes associative and affective. And this entails two further consequences of ominous significance.

“First, even if there were no political groups trying to influence him, the typical citizen would in political matters tend to yield to extra- rational or irrational prejudice and impulse….

“….Second, however, the weaker the logical element in the processes of the public mind and the more complete the absence of rational criticism and of the rationalizing influence of personal experience and responsibility, the greater are the opportunities for groups with an ax to grind. These groups may consist of professional politicians or of exponents of an economic interest or of idealists of one kind or another or of people simply interested in staging and managing political shows. The sociology of such groups is immaterial to the argument in hand. The only point that matters here is that, Human Nature in Politics being what it is, they are able to fashion and, within very wide limits, even to create the will of the people.”  (pp. 264-265)

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This comes from part 3 of the book, the section on democracy, wherein he dissects the construct of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” and “the common good.” He points out the fundamental flaws of these ideas and it is amazing to me that 70 years later his writing sounds like it was done yesterday.

I would suggest that a more heterodox, less inflamed consideration of current events is called for.

About mediainmind

Education: BFA in Painting & Sculpture from California College of the Arts (Oakland); Executive MBA in Executive Management from the Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at the Claremont Graduate University (Claremont); MA and PhD in Media Psychology from the Fielding Graduate University (Santa Barbara). Experience: Over 40 years experience in marketing, advertising, and public relations on the client and agency sides of the business; for-profit and nonprofit, as well as government. Special Expertise: The interface between human behavior and the media. It's all about "media in mind." View all posts by mediainmind

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