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Abraham Rotstein

6 The reality of society1 Abraham Rotstein As we commemorate the fifty years since Karl Polanyi’s death, we may also recall the three people responsible for the fact that we are all here today: number one, Kari Polanyi Levitt, who invented this Institute; number two, Margie Mendell, who directed it all of this time; and finally, Ana Gomez who did all of the hard work. Today in their presence, I feel somehow that I was an also-ran. The late Frank Scott, when he was honoured on a similar occasion, said with his characteristic touch of humour, ‘I feel that this is

in Karl Polanyi and twenty-first-century capitalism

Karl Polanyi (1886–1964) returned to public discourse in the 1990s, when the Soviet Union imploded and globalization erupted. Best known for The Great Transformation, Polanyi’s wide-ranging thought anticipated twenty-first-century civilizational challenges of ecological collapse, social disintegration and international conflict, and warned that the unbridled domination of market capitalism would engender nationalist protective counter-movements. In Karl Polanyi and Twenty-First-Century Capitalism, Radhika Desai and Kari Polanyi Levitt bring together prominent and new thinkers in the field to extend the boundaries of our understanding of Polanyi's life and work. Kari Polanyi Levitt's opening essay situates Polanyi in the past century shaped by Keynes and Hayek, and explores how and why his ideas may shape the twenty-first century. Her analysis of his Bennington Lectures, which pre-dated and anticipated The Great Transformation, demonstrates how Central European his thought and chief concerns were. The next several contributions clarify, for the first time in Polanyi scholarship, the meaning of money as a fictitious commodity. Other contributions resolve difficulties in understanding the building blocks of Polanyi's thought: fictitious commodities, the double movement, the United States' exceptional development, the reality of society and socialism as freedom in a complex society. The volume culminates in explorations of how Polanyi has influenced, and can be used to develop, ideas in a number of fields, whether income inequality, world-systems theory or comparative political economy. Contributors: Fred Block, Michael Brie, Radhika Desai, Michael Hudson, Hannes Lacher, Kari Polanyi Levitt, Chikako Nakayama, Jamie Peck, Abraham Rotstein, Margaret Somers, Claus Thomasberger, Oscar Ugarteche Galarza.

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Karl Polanyi in the twenty-first century
Radhika Desai

on Polanyi’s understanding of the Reality of Society. Thomasberger reveals how Polanyi really understood the ‘double movement’. Lacher illuminates Polanyi’s understanding of the incompleteness of the great transformation in the US. Finally, Brie not only rejects the portrayal of Polanyi as a social democrat seeking only to re-embed markets but also provides a deeply insightful account of what 13 DESAI 9781526127884 PRINT.indd 13 12/06/2020 09:16 Introduction socialism meant to Polanyi and how he delinked socialism from liberal ‘freedom that kills’ and founded

in Karl Polanyi and twenty-first-century capitalism
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Karl Polanyi’s quest for an alternative to the liberal vision of freedom
Michael Brie

PRINT.indd 196 12/06/2020 09:16  This freedom kills The 1921 paper ‘Believing and unbelieving politics’ marked the end of the preparatory phase of the formation of Polanyi’s guiding question. Freedom and the reality of society, moral reflection and individual scientific knowledge, ideals and interests were still put against each other in an abstract way. This changed with Polanyi’s post-war intrusion into the contradictions of socialist politics, the ­intensive ­discussion of the various wings of socialist theorists and politicians. The formulation of the guiding

in Karl Polanyi and twenty-first-century capitalism
Polanyi’s framework in the age of neoliberalism
Claus Thomasberger

ineluctable alternative of human existence that we can choose only between different kinds of power, and different uses to which to put it, but we cannot choose not to originate power or not to influence its use once it has been created. (Polanyi, [1937] 2018b: 152) In TGT he comes back to this argument when he speaks of a necessary ‘reform of human consciousness to be reached through the recognition of the reality of society’ (Polanyi, [1944] 2001: 133). ‘No society is possible’, he stresses, ‘in which power and compulsion are absent, nor a world in which force has no

in Karl Polanyi and twenty-first-century capitalism
Gareth Dale

, the children of these times, have different beliefs. We hold that history is not made by individuals. Individual views, individual wishes and desires are of no account; reality is the creation of the collective destiny alone. The longings and laments of the isolated soul do not exist for us; we only believe in the reality of society, we only believe in impersonal facts. We believe that capital exists, and labour, war, economic crisis and class war. And we believe that they and they alone constitute the life of man. And yet, my brothers, we have come together here to

in Karl Polanyi
Marcel Stoetzle

, however, was a Garden of Eden of reason and humanity: it is still not today. Pretending to oneself and one’s peers that existing society is already reasonable and humane does not in fact help the cause of reason. Here Horkheimer for the first time uses the term ‘Critical Theory’: what we need to develop now ‘is not a mathematical science of nature which claims to be the eternal Logos, but a critical theory of the reality of society directed by a concern for reasonable conditions of life’ (198–199). This implies that society as it is now is not reasonable, but it could

in Beginning classical social theory
W. J. McCormack

life’ of course, the corporal existences of the two individuals, and the reality of society which both identifies and incorporates different name-groups, rule out any question of serious confusion. Conventionally, the inviolable personality which is me is unaffected by the existence of another person bearing the same name. In literary discourse, names are distinguishable from

in Dissolute characters
Ruth Adams

Tone lacked serious intent or that it was not sometimes overtly political, but that the ‘political objectives of Two Tone were more modest. The targets were more clearly defined: unemployment, the police, and authoritarian government.’69 Two Tone co-opted past styles of music and fashion to create an image of a racially harmonious present and future, while their lyrics often acknowledged that the realities of society were far from utopian. Dammers recalls that the band adopted the Rude Boy look after their encounters with rightwing youths on The Clash tour ‘in order

in Working for the clampdown
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Gareth Dale

argued, failed to properly appreciate the interdependence of individual and society – in his phrase, ‘the reality of society’.117 In the course of this intellectual transformation he attempted to reconcile an ‘idealist’ commitment to action with a recognition of the determining function of social structures – but with little success, either at the level of practical activity or theoretical ­reflection. He would periodically reiterate his lifelong commitment to ‘energetic intervention’ in the political process, but, unlike Ilona, he remained largely aloof from social

in Karl Polanyi