To Michael (25 October 1943)

From Karl Polanyi
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Dear Misi - The very feel of life is {riffrend} with your letters widening the scene of thought and keeping it warn with the touch of friendship.

My visiting {toby}, I am afraid, is {linring lommlepemerate arlia} sensible. It always happens when my heart is causing trouble. But it is ___ ___ I have got quite ___ to it. When your birthday letter arrived this morning – we had both forgotten the occasion – it was like a brotherly hug.

I saw Cole yesterday. He had arranged for a long {muristurbed} chat, and his sensitive poetic personality filed the atmosphere with a peculiar quiet which we (Ilona) enjoyed intensively. Of course we agree very much in __ general outlook, and the reasons which make me feel hopeful about the {wved} (although he delights in the liberal glown of the M.G. or N.S. type}

It ____ not be easy to sum up what I believe to be his impression of my work. (For this also to come up, in the last hour of our stay.) Maybe a number of points seemed [4] both interesting … …economy as an episode; the comparative novelty of individual fear of hunger or an organizing {jailor} in industry; the Speenhamland origins of classical economics; some more interesting than plausible (the identity of the “initial” and the “final” problems of model economy; in others words: that the misvalued problems of the 1820's explain the crisis of the 1920’s); many more, I suppose merely plausible, without being specially interesting. He appeared completely at home in the details of 1780-1830 industrial history. Only at one point did I feel did he bring up facts {moved} cause me to qualify my statements, – fortunately, not on an essential point. He seemed, I felt, enthusiastic about my return to institutionalism and keenly looking toward to any thing that {anew} make academic scholarship sit up. Ye he might be dissatisfied with the awful sweep of my statements made sometimes on evidence if a most general nature, and even extremely dissatisfied with some of my lines of argument, for all I know. [...]

[5] You are of course quite right that in your instances the term society is useless and should be substituted by the “individuals in question”. Confe Bentham and Spencer, Fr. Wieser on foreign trade, similarly Haberler and Mises, all round. There is here no society, – questions as to its continued existence are meaningless. But then you showed not have proceeded to speak of “countries”, not have referred to “tariffs” (which simply involve removal from country to country.

[…]

[7] Th Schumpeter! His book is of little interest. He is an apologia for a life twne of crypto-Marxism, with the silliest reasons imaginable given for his expectancies that capitalism is now gwing to dissolve, and that is H V M ! However, his explanation of the justification of monopolies is excellent, & entirely on my views.

I am engage in clearing up one small corner of the field: how to relativise again the economic concern, and subordinate it to those greater concerns that are looming ahead. We have absolutized the economy and are helpless when called upon to handle it as a mere tool, a secondary concern.

Letter Informations

Reference:
KPA: 57/08, 3-7