Karl Polanyi on Socialism

Every form of socialism is based on the hope of mankind to attain to a form of social being in which people could normally in their every day existence actualize their responsibilities to their fellows because they would know how their commissions and omissions affect them, and they would be able to act accordingly. Life in society is not free. We influence, burden, harm, and disturb the lives of our fellows whether we will it or not. We must bide by the truth that we humans are condemned to live upon the freedom of our fellows, that we are condemned to live upon the work and toil, upon the health and life, of others.

-Letter to a friend, 1929


One Response to “Karl Polanyi on Socialism”

  1. December 12th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Mark says:

    woh. nice. yep, that’s pretty much the idea. The beginning of Das Kapital (and I haven’t gotten to the end) is more or less about this same concept. Marx articulates how the beginning of an economy and the first use of money as a universal commodity shows us that all human labour and activity is fundamentally commensurable. Marx’s project, as you probably know, was to make it clear how history is the story of us waking up to the fact that we have always been in relation which each other. That’s how he get’s sweet quotes like this:
    “It will then become evident that the world has long dreamed of possessing something of which it has only to be conscious in order to possess it in reality. It will become evident that it is not a question of drawing a great mental dividing line between past and future, but of realising the thoughts of the past. Lastly, it will become evident that mankind is not beginning a new work, but is consciously carrying into effect its old work”

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