To Thomas A. Bledsoe (3 January 1959)

From Karl Polanyi
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[…] [11] I enclose draft 5 of Chapter One of “Freedom and Technology”.

Chapters Two and Three are still to be written. They are about (Chp. 2) the young Hegel and the young Marx (Chp. 3) G.B.S. Research for both is completed. However, there ought to be a Chapter Four: On post-existentialist thought. But research proved lengthy and difficult on account of the tortuous French. However, the paradox of Pasternak might offer a key to that of Sartre - both are noble representatives of a counter-revolutionary era, reactions to a barebones rationalism of the Fascist and Bolshevik holocaust. My wife remarked that Pasternak's gripping lyricism is a direct descendant of Jens Peter Jacobsen, the Danish poet (1885    ), and added: - but so is Sartre of Kierkegaard (1855    ), of course. In this light French existentialism (like Pasternak) provokes a next step. In practical terms this means that my positive thoughts on freedom may be easier to present in the face of Sartre: Pasternak than of Sartre alone. Excuse the digression.

I am determined to push on with the booklet, but unfortunately cannot give it priority over all other plans. Please let know whether you would consider a 3-4 chapter book of ca. 32,000 words.

The thesis of the book is that in our Complex technological civilization there is inherent a basic loss of freedom, not of a legal or political but of an operational nature, which goes to the roots of the metaphysics of everyday life. Here lie the roots of our moral disorientation which leaves us helpless in the face of the portent of science, technology of the reality of society we gain is real. This is the meaning of maturity. (The last paragraphs of the "Great Transformation” spoke of three revelations, but the thought was the same).

[12] In fairness to my young friend and pupil Abraham Rotstein, I wish to stress that the Owen chapter reflects his magic ease of writing. Our analysis of Owen's “second plans” (p. 22) and their interpretation (pp. 24-5) is new: hitherto these plans were ignored since they were as impraticable as the first. Actually they are of the very greatest interest for the understanding of Robert Owen's genius.

I am sorry to leave this letter inconclusive, however I just now better leave it at that.


Letter Informations

KPA: 50/04, 11