Karl Polanyi was one of the most influential political economists of the twentieth century and is widely regarded as the most gifted of social democratic theorists. In Reconstructing Karl Polanyi, Gareth Dale, one of the foremost scholars of Polanyi, provides a sweeping survey of his contributions to the social sciences.
Polanyi’s intellectual and political outlook can best be summarised through paradoxical formulations such as ‘liberal socialist’ and ‘cosmopolitan patriot’. In exploring these paradoxes, Dale draws upon a wide array of primary sources to reconstruct Polanyi’s views on a range of topics that have been neglected in the critical literature, including the history of antiquity, the evolution and dynamics of Stalin’s Russia, McCarthyism and his critical dialogue with Marxism.
Dale also analyses Polanyi’s relevance to current issues, notably the ‘clash’ between democracy and capitalism, and the nature and trajectory of European unification. This is an essential and original study for anyone interested in the formation and application of social democracy.