GREAT TRANSFORMATION by POLANYI
Transformation – We all experience change. The world has experienced change. We communicate, dress, worship, and shop differently from the nineteenth century due to technology.
Polanyi focused in his book on the challenges of politics and economics on society from the nineteenth-century through the twentieth century according to reviewer Anne Mayhew. Blogger Asad Zaman wrote that Polanyi “central theme was a historical description of the emergence of the market economy as a competitor to the traditional economy.” These two reviewers have similar and different viewpoints on Polanyi’s approach and his effect on how the world views the effect on the economy.
“Polanyi argues that creating a fully self-regulating market economy requires that human beings and the natural environment be turned into pure commodities, which assures the destruction of both society and the natural environment.” (Location 409, Kindle) Mayhew states Polanyi provided “’four institutions which were crucial to the economic and political order that had characterized the North Atlantic Community and its periphery in the nineteenth century: a balance of political power, the international gold standard, a self-regulating market system, and the liberal state. The SRM (self-regulating market) was ‘the fount and matrix of the system,’ the ]innovation which gave rise to a specific civilization’ (p. 3).”  “Polanyi assumed the forms to be founded on different human motives: the SRM on self-interest and rational calculation and reciprocative systems on kindness and generosity. “ Mayhew states Polanyi “created a way of thinking about economies and societies that have had a substantial impact on economic history, anthropology, and the study of the ancient Mediterranean.” She believes, “The Great Transformation remains important as a highly original contribution to the understanding of the Western past; it has been and is important in methodological debates in the social sciences. Beyond that, as the double movement continues, the book is likely to remain one of the best guides available to what brought us to where we are.”
Zaman states, “Polanyi’s book is crucial to understanding both HOW and WHY we need to re-structure economic education today. Unfortunately, the book is quite complex, a bit dry and technical at times, and consequently hard to follow. Although many leading economists have praised it, I did not see any glimmer of understanding of its central arguments anywhere in the orthodox arena. This is not a good development. The value of human life has been degraded to their earning power.”
I agree with Zaman that this book was difficult to read and understand, at least for me. I believe the market dictates the path of the country. If the economy is flourishing, the large business owner profits from this, increase their salary and benefits, while ignoring the hard work of the lower paid employees. The poor remain poor. If the economy is failing, the large business owners decrease its workforce to prevent loss in their profits which therefore creates unemployment and increasing the poor population. The market regulates the dollar value and interest rates. The scripture states that the love of money is evil. The value of money energizes the world, one’s personal life, and our society. Polanyi stated, “No one should have claimed that moving workers from low-productivity jobs to unemployment would either reduce poverty or increase national incomes.” (Location 153, Kindle) He continues, “For capitalists who thrive off of low wages, the high unemployment may even be a benefit, as it puts downward pressure on workers’ wage demands. But for economists, the unemployed workers demonstrate a malfunctioning economy, and in all too many countries we see overwhelming evidence of this and other malfunctions.” (Location 155, Kindle)
We have seen in the past years how the politics can affect the society and economics. As a country, we have experience depression, recession, and prosperity because of the economy and our politics. American banks have crashed “Wall Street, ” and the government bailed them out. American Automobile Industry was in a financial devastation and was bailed out by the government. The city of Detroit went bankrupt, no government financial bailout. What does this say about our political values in this country? Those who influence the market are valuable. Society is expendable.
Many in the world are promoting health by eating fresh vegetables. Adam and Eve lived off the land. What would the world be like if we just lived off the land where money was invaluable.
 Asad Zaman, WEA Pedagogy Blog, accessed February 1, 2017, http://tribune.com.pk/story/876240/ Polanyi-and-the-great-transformation.
 Anne Mayhew, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, accessed February 1, 2017, https://eh.net/book_reviews/the-great-transformation-the-political-and-economic-origins-of-our-time/.
 Zaman, WEA Pedagogy Blog.