DescriptionAt a recent meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, it was reported that a ghost was haunting the deliberations of the assembled global elite - that of the renowned social scientist and economic historian, Karl Polanyi.
In his classic work, The Great Transformation, Polanyi documented the impact of the rise of market society on western civilization and captured better than anyone else the destructive effects of the economic, political and social crisis of the 1930s. Today, in the throes of another Great Recession, Polanyi’s work has gained a new significance. To understand the profound challenges faced by our democracies today, we need to revisit history and revisit his work.
In this new collection of unpublished texts - lectures, draft essays and reports written between 1919 and 1958 - Polanyi examines the collapse of the liberal economic order and the demise of democracies in the inter-war years. He takes up again the fundamental question that preoccupied him throughout his work - the place of the economy in society - and aims to show how we might return to an economy anchored in society and its cultural, religious and political institutions.
For anyone concerned about the danger to democracy and social life posed by the unleashing of capital from regulatory control and the dominance of the neoliberal ideologies of market fundamentalism, this important new volume by one of the great thinkers of the twentieth century is a must-read.
Introduction by Giorgio Resta
I. Economy, technology and the problem of freedom
1. For a new West
2. Economic and freedom to shape our social destiny
3. Economic history and the problem of freedom
4. New frontiers of economic thinking
II. Institutions matter
5. The contribution of institutional analysis to the social sciences
6. The nature of International understanding
7. The meaning of peace
8. The roots of pacifism
9. Culture in a democratic England of the future
III. How to make use of the social sciences
11. How to make use of the social sciences
12. On political theory
13. Public opinion and statesmanship
14. General economic history
15. Market elements and economic planning in antiquity
IV. Crisis and transformation
16. What matters now. A reply.
17. Conflicting philosophies in modern society
18. The eclipse of panic and the outlook for socialism
19. The passing of 19th century civilization
20. The trend towards an integrated society
Postface by Mariavittoria Catanzariti
This collection of Polanyi's writings addresses his significance for the world today more completely than any other. We encounter him here as an essayist, lecturer, social theorist and above all as an engaged public intellectual. The selection speaks very directly to our own concerns: on economy, history and freedom; on institutionalism as a method; on general economic history; on world crisis and transformation. This really is a Polanyi for our times.
Keith Hart, London School of Economics
I am delighted to see the publication of this collection of writings (many unpublished) of Karl Polanyi over a very long period. It is more than welcome. Karl Polanyi is one of a very rare breed - important thinkers who are always intelligent, incisive, and wide-ranging, and who ground their arguments in a deep knowledge of history. Even when one disagrees with him, one has to take his views into account, lest you miss out on a long-term perspective.
I personally was profoundly affected by his marvelous book, The Great Transformation, both for its substantive arguments and its epistemological framework. That Polanyi is having a revival today is one of the most encouraging things about the current epoch.
Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University