The much respected progressive economist, and my long-time friend and intellectual soulmate, Kari Polanyi-Levitt, having just turned 90, has published a book of no less than 16 scholarly articles, all written in the past 25 years and mostly much more recently. Its title, From the Great Transformation to the Great Financialization: On Karl Polanyi and Other Essays (published by Fernwood and Zed Books), accurately describes its content. Half are on Kari’s understanding of her father’s great book and his other writings, half on the frenzy of financialization, the crisis of 2008 and the lead up thereto. And, to top off this intellectual feast, an afterword by Samir Amin, “Globalization, Financialization and Emergence of the Global South.”
Karl Polanyi’s insistence that the alleged “self-regulating market” must be made subordinate to democracy or society itself is put at risk is as true today as when he wrote in the aftermath of the Great Depression of the 1930s. His writings bear our constant attention as the neo-conservatism of our time, whether of Harper in this country or of the Tea Party in the U.S., willfully destroys democracy.
Kari’s own essays, by being collected in one place, give here the attention she deserves as an early critic of globalization. She foresaw financialization and its consequences well ahead of the actual fiscal crisis of 2008, and she was particularly prescient in foreseeing the declining hegemony of the United States and the West relative to Asia.
The writing of both Kari and her father are highly relevant both to debates between the left and the right and within the left itself. Do get this book and read it. There will be an exam later.
Image: Fernwood Publishing