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Karl Polanyi and twenty-first-century capitalism$
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Radhika Desai and Kari Polanyi Levitt

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781526127884

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7765/9781526127891

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The return of Karl Polanyi: from the Bennington Lectures to Our Present Age of Transformation

The return of Karl Polanyi: from the Bennington Lectures to Our Present Age of Transformation

(p.21) 2 The return of Karl Polanyi: from the Bennington Lectures to Our Present Age of Transformation
Karl Polanyi and twenty-first-century capitalism

Kari Polanyi Levitt

Manchester University Press

Continuing previous work on the power of ideas, this chapter frames developments since the publication of The Great Transformation in terms of the successive intellectual influence of John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich von Hayek, and explores the historical possibility that a, if not the, critical intellectual influence in our time will be Karl Polanyi’s. Surveying Polanyi’s Central European experience, reflections and writings from Budapest, Vienna and England, as well as brief visits to the United States, it focuses on the recently discovered Bennington Lectures on ‘The Present Age of Transformation’ delivered late in 1940. While the first three lectures anticipate The Great Transformation, the last two outline original approaches to America and Russia. The chapter concludes with hypothetical reflections of Karl Polanyi on the future of humankind. We roll back the canvas of history to the advent of the machine age 200 years ago and contemplate what Polanyi would have to say on the current state of world affairs. We tell him of the successes of his intellectual adversary Mises and ask him how he might conceive of a socialist response to the challenges facing humanity in our own age of transformation.

Keywords:   Karl Polanyi, John Maynard Keynes, Ludwig von Mises, neoliberalism, Bennington Lectures,  The Great Transformation, Geneva School

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