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Karl Polanyi In Dialogue
Michael Brie

Black Rose Books

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Karl Polanyi in Dialogue : A Socialist Thinker for our Times

Michael Brie, ed.


Featuring essays from Michael Brie (Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Berlin), Nancy Fraser (New School for Social Research, New York) and Kari Polanyi-Levitt (McGill University, Montreal)

The contemporary Left fights its political battles on various fronts: protesting the crippling structural inequalities that sustain neoliberal economic policy; developing sustainable, community-based alternatives to the consumerism and short-termism that exacerbate the environmental crisis; and advocating for the cultural recognition, emancipation and celebration of the diversity and pluralism of human identity. But despite this versatility the Left appears to be in worldwide retreat whilst an aggressive new ‘Alt-Right’ is taking to the internet and the streets, regurgitating a regressive and patriarchal vision of society that has already won startling political victories in the US and Europe.

Amidst the vertiginous tension of such a crisis, Michael Brie argues for an urgent theoretical and practical reorganisation of the Left. Developing the work of philosopher and social theorist Karl Polanyi, Brie advocates an alliance of socialist liberals and libertarian ‘commonists’ that unites contemporary campaigns for recognition, difference and human dignity with more traditional struggles for social welfare and economic democracy. Starting with Nancy Fraser’s critical reappraisal of Polanyi in her article “A Triple Movement? Parsing the Politics of Crisis after Polanyi” (included), Brie powerfully reinterprets Polanyi’s thought for present times, developing concrete proposals for a Polanyian political response to neoliberalism, an ascendent authoritarian right and the ongoing threat of global ecological disaster. Also included are two articles by Polanyi translated into English for the first time and Kari Polanyi-Levitt’s lecture at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation “From the Great Transformation to the Great Financialisation”.

Michael Brie is a philosopher and political scientist and senior fellow of the Institute for Critical Social Analysis at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Berlin. His research interests include the history and theory of socialism and state socialism, perspectives on ‘solidarity’ in community and society, and the socio-ecological transformation of society under capitalism. He is chief editor of the series Contributions to Critical Transformation Research and co-editor with Claus Thomasberger of Karl Polanyi’s Vision of a Socialist Transformation (Black Rose Books, 2017).

Nancy Fraser is the Henry and Louise A. Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics at the New School for Social Research in New York. Her research interests include social and political theory, feminist theory and contemporary French and German thought. Her most recent publications are Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (Verso, 2013) and Scales of Justice: Reimagining Political Space in a Globalizing World (Polity, 2008).

"The great prophet of how market forces taken to an extreme destroy both democracy and a functioning economy was not Karl Marx but Karl Polanyi... [His] historical analysis... has been vindicated ... and now again by the restoration of primal economic liberalism and neo-fascist reaction to it. This should be the right sort of Polanyi moment; instead it is the wrong sort. ... The pessimistic Polanyi would say that capitalism has won and democracy has lost. The optimist in him would look to resurgent popular politics."
  -- Robert Kuttner, in the December 21st 2017 issue of The New York Review of Books

136 pages; 2017

Table of Contents:

  • 1. For an alliance of liberal Socialists and libertarian commonists: Nancy Fraser and Karl Polanyi—a Possible Dialogue  by Michael Brie
  • 2. A Triple Movement? Parsing the Politics of crisis after Polanyi  by Nancy Fraser
  • 3. The Common Man’s Masterplan by Karl Polanyi, 1943
  • 4. Hamlet by Karl Polanyi, 1954
  • 5. From Great Transformation to Great Financialization by Kari Polanyi-Levitt
  • Bibliography

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