Reading Group: Joseph Schumpeter, ‘Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy’ (1942) 12 May - 30 June 2013

Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy
Time
From 12 May - 30 June: every Sunday from 14:00-18:00
Where
Impakt Headquarters

A Horseless Carriage

Impakt Capitalism Catch-22 Reading Club: eight Sundays in May and June 2013 with Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.

In the framework of this year’s theme, Capitalism Catch-22, Impakt invites committed readers and debaters to join its reading club led by Joris Lindhout and Manuel Klappe. Although Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy will be the main focus, guest speakers will be invited to the later meetings and films will be screened that expand on and contextualise the subject. The first session of the reading group will take place on Sunday 12 May. There will be possibility to catch up and join until 26 May.

Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy was published in the U.S. in 1942, in the middle of World War II and with the Great Depression still fresh in people’s memories. Schumpeter attempted to understand capitalism’s system and to describe the consequences thereof for society.

Impakt seeks participants who, together with Klappe & Lindhout, would like to try to get to know capitalism, the economic system we just can’t seem to escape, using Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy.

Is an economic crisis always unique and determined by one-off conditions or is it, as Schumpeter argued, a standard element of what we refer to as capitalism? Should, subsequently an attempt be made to prevent a crisis or to ameliorate its effects, or should we keep an eye out for the changes responsible for causing the crisis or resulting from it?

If the continuous expansion and development of the capitalist process is inherent in the system, will it ever end? And what would that be like? Is it even a good idea to stop?

We don’t intend to provide a 70-year old answer to these contemporary questions, but will try to ascertain to what extent yesteryear’s analysis is still applicable. Perhaps we’ll find out that what we wonder about now was already expressed back then.

Central to this system analysis is the Schumpeter popularised term ‘Creative Destruction’. Analogous to the manner in which communist movements converted Marx’s ideas to suit their purposes, so multiple (neo-)liberal thinkers have adopted the term creative destruction to use it as their hobby horse. Owing to the huge influence they exercised on Western political policy in recent decades it would be interesting to compare their usage of the concept to that of Schumpeter.

The reading group’s objective is first and foremostly to jointly read an important book on economics and to afterwards, possibly determine its historical and/or contemporary relevance.

During the reading group’s meetings we hope that, with the help of the group, we can deal with points of interest that arise during reading in more detail, taking Schumpeter as a starting point and leading to a process which could lead anywhere.

Practical information: UPDATE

The reading group will meet on eight Sundays starting on 12 May (i.e. 12, 19 and 26 May, 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 June) from 14:00 – 18:00 and will conclude with drinks and something to eat.
The first half of every session will be dedicated to the book. In the second half and during dinner, there’s room for informal debate, and linking the topic to current contexts. In the course of the reading group, speakers – such as an entrepeneur, an economist and a historian – will be invited, with whom we’ll aim for in-depth discussion with our recently gathered knowledge and ideas.

This Sunday, the first meeting takes place, at which the theme will be explained by organisers Manuel Klappe and Joris Lindhout. You will also be able to ask them all your questions and register for the reading group.  Send us an e-mail through schumpeter[at]impakt[dot]nl to subscribe or for more information.

In the case you miss this first meeting on Sunday 12 May, there’s still plenty of time to catch up. The meeting on Sunday 19 May is still accessible if you had to miss the introduction. Send us an e-mail and register, and we’ll provide re-caps and links to get into the topic, up until the session on Sunday 26 May.

Language The book will be read in the English language. The reading group’s lingua franca will however be Dutch, with the use of English when appropriate.

To register for the reading group e-mail us at: schumpeter[at]impakt.nl. There are only 15 places available so don’t wait too long! Registering costs €30, the meals are an additional €10 per Sunday. The book can be purchased from various websites, but is of course preferably bought at your local bookstore. You can also download it from this link.

Disclaimer
This reading group is going to be very intensive. Furthermore Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy is a complex, lengthy work. This reading and discussion group will therefore demand considerable commitment.