Origins of Our Time: The Great Transformation.

Karl Polanyi's landmark work Origins of Our Time: The Great Transformation; Inscribed by Him to Peter and Doris Drucker

Origins of Our Time: The Great Transformation.

POLANYI, Karl [Peter Drucker].


Item Number: 118455

London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1946.

First edition, early printing of Polanyi’s landmark work, which many consider to be one of the twentieth century’s most incisive and prophetic works of scholarship. Octavo, original cloth. Association copy, inscribed by the author on the title page, “To Peter and Doris With Love Karl.” The recipients were Peter Drucker and his wife Doris. Polanyi and Drucker were close friends and colleagues. Born in Budapest, Polanyi moved to Vienna, where he met Drucker while he worked as senior editor of The Austrian Economist. In July 1940, the President of Bennington College, Robert Leigh, wrote to the publisher W.W. Norton, asking him to forward the names of refugee scholars who had been forced to leave Europe as result of the war, and who might benefit from spending a year at Bennington as “honorary fellows of the college.” Later that week, Drucker, himself a refugee, contacted Leigh with a request to bring Polanyi from Vienna to the college. “Drucker devoted an entire passage of his memoirs, Adventures of a Bystander, to the Polanyi family. Elsewhere, he noted that “perhaps I learned the most from Polanyi, although not formally because we were friends.” Among other things, Drucker described in Polanyi a talent for the practice of social ecology: “He analyzed, with an uncanny knack for seeing the importance of inconspicuous developments-at an early stage.” (Drucker’s Lost Art of Management, by Joseph A. Maciariello and Karen E. Linkletter). Both Polanyi and Drucker acknowledged each other in their major wartime works, and continued to exchange letters until Polanyi’s death in 1964. Drucker even had a hand in preparing The Great Transformation for publication after Polanyi returned to England, leaving behind an unfinished manuscript. Near fine in the rare original dust jacket with light rubbing, small name to the front free endpaper. An exceptional association. This is the first signed example we have seen.

One of the great works of twentieth century economics and surely one of greatest critiques of market liberalism. As an émigré fleeing Nazism, Polanyi witnessed a world falling apart as global depression, fascist regimes, and resurgent racism metastasized into worldwide terror. Finding intellectual sanctuary at Bennington College, Polanyi worked out a bold diagnosis of what had gone wrong in The Great Transformation, and of how modern society might be rebuilt upon a more equitable foundation. A study of the origins of the Industrial Revolution and the enormity of its economic consequences, " argues a triple thesis: (i) that in Great Britain and Western Europe, the coming of machine technology to mercantilistic national economies that contained governmentally regulated markets induced enormous growth in all input and output markets and the removal of governmental controls from some of them; (ii) that nationally integrated market systems in which labour, land, and money as well as produced goods were transacted as market commodities were historically unique; (iii) although machine technology producing within a market system was enormously productive its destructive consequences culminating in the Great Depression of the 1930s, forced governments from the early 19th century onwards to initiate market controls, monetary and fiscal policy to mitigate its destructive consequences, what we now call 'managed' and 'welfare state capitalism'" (New Palgrave). Polanyi's approach to understanding the relationship between politics and the economy has proven influential in the development of numerous fields of study, including economic history, economic sociology, economic anthropology, and historical sociology.

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