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Karl Polanyi, The Human Factor

Karl Polanyi, The Human Factor

'The economy is important but it cannot override and colonize, if you wish, all other aspects of our social life and our society.' - Economist Kari Polanyi Levitt

Karl Polanyi's life's work was to reintegrate society and economy — with the latter serving the former.

Taking us on a journey from ancient Sumeria to the towers of Frankfurt, this episode of CAPITALISM argues that commercial transactions have always been embedded in social norms, and that a self-regulating market economy is in no way a natural state of human affairs. The thought of political economist Karl Polanyi, author of The Great Transformation, is central to this exploration.

Polanyi said that industrialization and the first wave of globalized economy had led to labor, money and nature being treated like commodities, with potentially disastrous results — the kind being played out on the streets of Athens, where unemployment is over 20%, neo-fascism is on the rise, and rioters face down police over harsh austerity measures that benefit foreign bankers.

Debt levels around the world are rising, and the webs of who owns whose debt are becoming ever more complex. Could the commodification of money ultimately be as disastrous — both for individuals and businesses — as floods, drought and earthquakes?

Featuring economist Kari Polanyi Levitt, political economist Abraham Rotstein, former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer, and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, among others.

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