Karl Polanyi and Ideas on Social Reform Re-examined : Controversial Basis of the Market Society(<Special Issue>Social Reform Ideology and the Present Age: Questioning the Intellectual Foundations of Social Policies)


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  • カール・ポランニーと社会政策の思想的次元(<特集>社会改革思想と現代-社会政策の思想的基盤を問う)


In The Great Transformation, of which the first edition was published in 1944, Polanyi shows his interpretation of the political and economic cataclysm in early twentieth century Europe, when there occurred great crises and upheaval of the nineteenth century market society: the Great Depression, severe unemploymerit problems, financial instability, crisis of democracy, economic nationalism, fascism, and great wars. Polanyi has important insights to understand the very context of the rise and fall of the Welfare State. He suggests that we can see the very essential debates upon the Welfare States in inter-war Vienna. And according to him, the debates between Mises and Hayek vs. Neurath and Polanyi were brought into English speaking-world in the 1930s, and have been repeated after the Second World War. Certainly the obvious consequences of neoliberal policies since the 1970s - when Ronald Regan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the UK launched a systematic attack on the legacy of Keynes=Beveridge Welfare State - are increasing market instabilities reminiscent of the 1930s, as well as a growing loss of democratic control. One of his theses is that during economic crises, economic liberalism requires "social reform" for the market. Free-market liberalism promotes various projects of "planning for a competitive market system" for creating an environment in which private interests can flourish. In case of "emergency", it can become openly anti-democratic in defense of the market and can encourage a strong state authority that has the capacity to resist "spontaneous" social protection movements in the product, labor, and financial markets. According to Polanyi, completely unfettered markets lacking social control were destructive of the livelihood of common people with narrowing freedoms for social reactions that sought to intervene in the market system to achieve the general interests of the community.


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