Joseph Schumpeter is an American economist and political scientist from the first part of the 20th C, well-known for his book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy written in 1942 during the Second World War. In this eminent work, Schumpeter has elaborated a New Theory of Democracy, much influenced by Max Weber, which appears to be an alternative to the Classical Theory of Democracy imagined principally by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in The Social Contract published in 1762 (Held: 181).
In the contrary of the latter, Schumpeter denies the existence of a common good or a will of the people (volonté générale) in democracy. He therefore is not partial with any enlarged political participation in politics neither he was with the case of deliberative democracy. He sought to create a model of democracy which would be much truer to life than any other political regime (Schumpeter in Held: 178); namely an elitist model based both on political representation and competition for leadership among leaders. Schumpeter's work has been much influential in the post-1945 years' in the Cold War context of the ideological struggle between Capitalism and Socialism. The author does make a case of this opposition in his argumentation for his New Theory of Democracy by criticizing both ideologies. As a matter of fact he argues that Capitalism system is vowed to collapse from the inside because of its economic success which will question its sociological and cultural basis.
However, even though he does recognize the triumph of Socialism; he is at odds with Karl Marx on the reasons for this triumph (Schumpeter: 62 and O'Toole: 469). Nonetheless, Schumpeter's New Theory of Democracy has raised much criticism and praises among scholars and is widely seen as a milestone in the approach and study of issues in democratic theory. Therefore, one may wonder how convincing and appealing Schumpeter's theory of democracy is.
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