≡ Menu

Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 262 of the 1975 HarperPerennial printing of the third (1950) edition of Joseph Schumpeter’s profound 1942 volume, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (footnote deleted):

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. The weakness of the rational processes he applies to politics and the absence of effective logical control over the results he arrives at would in themselves suffice to account for that. Moreover, simply because he is not “all there,” he will relax his usual moral standards as well and occasionally give in to dark urges which the conditions of private life help him to repress. But as to the wisdom or rationality of his inferences and conclusions, it may be just as bad if he gives in to a burst of generous indignation. This will make it still more difficult for him to see things in their correct proportions or even to see more than one aspect of one thing at a time. Hence, if for once he does emerge from his usual vagueness and does display the definite will postulated by the classical doctrine of democracy, he is as likely as not to become still more unintelligent and irresponsible than he usually is. At certain junctures, this may prove fatal to his nation.

DBx: This important insight has been elaborated on, and applied beautifully, by others – especially by Geoff Brennan and Loren Lomasky in their 1993 volume, Democracy & Decision, and by my colleague Bryan Caplan in his 2007 book, The Myth of the Rational Voter.

I summarized the point as politics bringing out the kid in all of us.


Next post:

Previous post: