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POLANYI AND MODERN ECONOMIC VIEWS

The author states: "Transformation doesnt require an alternative 'social economy'


because the economy we have is already social. We just need to recognize and act on
that fact." Polanyi, basing his analysis on the findings of early economic anthropology,
argued however that the theory of capitalism up to modern times was based on 'the
conception of the economy as an interlocking system of markets that automatically
adjust supply and demand through the price mechanism'. Polanyi showed what a radical
break this conceptionalisation - which only became dominant in core capitalist countries
in the 19th Century - represented from all known pre-existing societies where the
economy was embedded in society.
The term embeddedness for Polanyi and anthropologists expresses the idea that the
economy is not autonomous as it *must* be in bourgeois economic theory, but is instead
subordinated to politics, religion, arid social relations. In capitalist society on the other
hand the system of self-regulating markets requires that society becomes subordinated
to the logic of the market, and inexorably has to extend the barriers of market
commodification in order to sustain the process of capital accumulation.
In my view therefore it is not sufficient to merely assert that the capitalist economy is
'already social and we merely need to act on that fact' - we first need to recognise and
then act on the fact that capitalism inevitably subordinates society to the market. As
Polanyi said: "... the control of the economic system by the market is of overwhelming
consequence to the whole organization of society: it means no less than the running of
society as an adjunct to the market. Instead of
economy being embedded in social relations, social relations are embedded in the
economic system.
So, the question I would suggest is - is that the kind of social relations that we want to
have, or would we prefer to live in a society where the market economy is subordinated
to the social? I know what I would like to see. Does the author?