“Life is man’s missed opportunity.” Although Karl Polanyi used these words to sum up Hamlet, they also encapsulate his sense after 1947 that capitalist society had forfeited a promising future – a liberating freedom in community. Yet perhaps the opportunity has not been forfeited but delayed. Polanyi’s insight into the connection among freedom, community and personal responsibility can still guide us. Continue reading
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Market and State Have Failed: Community to the Rescue?
Of society’s three potential steering mechanisms, market and state have each proved disastrous as the preponderant principle for allocating resources, production and power. The closer societies approximate the self-regulating market system, the steeper the costs. We see those costs today in the form of high inequality and insecure jobs, environmental destruction, economic volatility in the form of periodic booms and busts, the dilution of democracy, and the rise of right-wing populism in a context of widespread anger. The directive state, in the form of bureaucratic collectivism (communism and state socialisms), state capitalism and top-down social democracy, has also proved defective. The dominant state has, at the least, stifled civil society and market forces with its paternalistic embrace; at its worse, it has fostered a new class within a totalitarian system. Where do we look for a progressive alternative? Continue reading