The Functional Theory of Society and the Problem of Socialist Accounting

From Karl Polanyi
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[51][1] Mises

[52] Felix Weil Ed. Heimann J. Marschak G.D.H. Cole Oppenheimer Max Weber Dühring Sydney und Beatrice Webb


[54] Mises

[55] Mises



Man as producer and man as consumer represent two fundamental human motivations which are determined by a single life process – the economic activity of the individual. The interest which arise from these motives thus find themselves fundamentally in equilibrium. In so far as the commune and the production association constitute, as we have assumed, separate representatives of these motivational tendencies, the functional associations counterpoise interests of fundamentally equal strength. Swings towards one interest, which thereby acquires superior influence, do remain as likely as they would be in the case of an individual within himself. But the inevitable effect of such a swing on the other, temporarily suppressed interest, which has a polar link to the first, must lead automatically to a restoration of equilibrium. Equilibrium in power relations, which implies their annulment and the foundation of relations of mutual recognition, thus follows from the functional principle itself, ruling out an immanent argument against the possibility of functional equilibrium. In any event Mises makes no attempt to provide such an argument.

Editor's Note

  1. Polanyi 2018b pagination.

Text Informations

Original Publication: ”Die funktionelle Theorie der Gesellschaft und das Problem der sozialistischen Rechnungslegung“, Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, 52/1, June 1924, s. 218-228
KPA: 02/15, 13-20 + 29-40
Recent Publication in English: in Polanyi 2018b, p. 51-58
Other Languages:

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FR « La théorie fonctionnelle de la société et le problème de la comptabilité socialiste »