The Great Perverting Transformation
The process of the great transformation had started in the late middle ages, gathered force during the industrial era, and is thus far the greatest change of the ways of life in human history. The first great analyst of this process was Karl Marx who in 1848 characterised some features of it, not altogether without ambivalent irony, as follows:
A century later the political, economic and social background as well as some important implications and consequences of the process were studied carefully by Polanyi in his 1944 major work The Great Transformation: The Political and
Economic Origins of Our Time (2001). One aim of his was to explain how and why the political self-defensive actions of states and international agreements had begun to try to prevent the ruthless market mills from crushing societies, communities and individual human beings. The current financial crisis that began in 2007 is only a further stage of this process, and the consequent ongoing national and international policies have followed in many ways similar patterns than the policies from the nineteenth century to the early twentieth century of the Western states described by Polanyi in 1944.