Kari Polanyi Levitt

Emerita Professor of Economics, McGill University, Montreal – Canada

The Legacy of Karl Polanyi

The Power of Ideas: Keynes, Hayek and Polanyi

This is the title of a lecture to be given at the National University of Mexico Faculty of Economics on February 4th, 2013 at 12pm. It is also the title of the introduction to volume 41, no. 4 (Winter 2012-2013) of the International Journal of Political Economy. The full text can be downloaded below.

The Power of Ideas: Keynes, Hayek and Polanyi


Four articles by Karl Polanyi in English translation, Vienna 1922 to 1932


The Mechanism of the World Economic Crisis

From “Der Osterreichische Volkswirt”, 1933

Mechanism of the World Crisis

The Functionalist Theory of Society and the Problem of Socialist Economic Calculability, 1922

(A Rejoinder to Professor L. von Mises and Dr. Feliz Weil)

Translated from German by Kari Polanyi Levitt

This article originally appeared in Archiv fur Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, Vol. LII, 1924, pp. 21 8-227.

3_KP Functionalist Theory of Societ


Some Reflections Concerning our Theory and Practice, 1925

A translation of “Neue Erwagungen zu unserer Theorie von Praxis” by Kari Polanyi Levitt. 1986.

Originally published in Der Kampf, (1925). Reprinted in Gerald Mozetic, ed., Austro-Marxistische Positionen, Wien: Bohlan-Verlag, 1983.

4_KP Reflections concerning our theory and practice


Economy and Democracy, 1932

Translated from German by Kari Polanyi Levitt

This article originally appeared in the “Osterreichische Volkwirt”, December 1932.

5_KP Economy and Democracy


New Translations of Karl Polanyi

Karl Polanyi’s most well-known book,  The Great Transformation, has recently been translated for the first time into Norwegian under the title Den liberale utopi. The edition also includes an original preface by Professor Lars Mjøset of the University of Oslo.
JapaneseA collection of work by Karl Polanyi was recently published in Japanese as Market Society vs. Human Freedom: Essays of Karl Polanyi. The book includes a new preface by Kari Polanyi Levitt.

Books on Karl Polanyi

The Life and Work of Karl Polanyi

Edited by Kari Levitt


Karl Polanyi believed that the greatest threat to freedom was a poorly administered economy. His search for economic and political institutions which reconciled society’s need for freedom to develop a moral sense, with the requirements of our complex technological civilization, led him to believe a possibility and necessity of an economics that was more existential and human-centered. He did not underestimate the significance of livelihood to lives; he recognised that an inadequate quantity of the former was detrimental to the quality of the latter. He emphasized nonetheless that beyond sufficent livelihood, preoccupation with the pursuit of even more economic wealth greatly erodes the quality of human existence.

Although the principal concern of this book is in developing that thinking for its significance to the practice of economies and everyday life in democratic societies, it also treats the life of Polanyi from a perspective that conveys an impression of the man, his times, and his place in the evolution of social and economic thought.

“Economics has to return to some very basic questions of use value and exchange value. We have to take into account the real value of human effort and work, and that is very different from its market value. We have to protect nature and our social and cultural heritage. People do not like to be valued and respected only for the income which they can earn, and to be totally disrespected if they are not able to earn income for whatever reason.” From Development and Regionalism Karl Polanyi’s Ideas and the Contemporary World System by Professor Kari Levitt.

1990*264 pages*photographs
ISBN: 0-921689-80-2
Hardcover ISBN: 0-21689-81-0

Karl Polanyi in Vienna: The Contemporary Significance of the Great Transformation


Edited by Kari Levitt and Kenneth McRobbie


Karl Polanyi’s belief that the greatest threat to freedom was a poorly administered economy led him to an economics that was more existential and human-centered. Part I of this book develops Polanyi’s thinking for its significance today through a selection of papers on re-reading his major work entitled The Great Transformation. Part II looks at the life and work of Ilona Duczynska (Polanyi’s wife), political activist, writer and translator and important influence over Karl and his work.


“It is because basic human needs of security, affection, respect and protection have no place in formal economics that the transformation of the capitalist order requires a new calculus of the value of work, the value of human needs, and the value of nature. When economic decisions have to be made, the underlying value system must be one that accords with the realities of real people living in real socieites, one that acknowledges our very real dependence on the natural environment and its very real limitations.” From Development and Regionalism, Karl Polanyi’s Ideas and the Contemporary World by Professor Kari Polanyi Levitt.

  • Sandor Nagy (fellow Hungarian) says:


    December 7, 2013 at 7:03 pm
  • Belinda Greaves says:


    I have two questions I should be grateful if professor Levitt could respond to.

    Firstly, I have just read on the first page of the Introduction to “Reclaiming Development” where professor Levitt said:

    “However, it is my considered opinion – expressed on several occasions through the region – that Caribbean intellectuals were too quick to embrace globalisation and too ready to concede the end of national sovereignty.”

    I seem to remember reading some months earlier that professor Levitt had recommended that Michael Manley accept the Structural Adjustment Programme (with their conditions). Is this correct?

    Secondly, I aso understand that professor Levitt was involved in investigating the Davison Budhoo accusation of fraud committed by the IMF in his lengthy and well-documented letter of resignation from the IMF. He claimed that reports produced by his team and presented to his bosses at the IMF had been amended over a number of years to make Trinidad and Tobago’s financial situation appear worse than than it actually was. His accusation had been confirmed by professor Compton Bourne of the University of the West Indies (“there have been serious statistical irregularities and technical deficiencies in the IMF’s economic analysis and reporting on Trinidad and Tobago” which “are susceptible to one of two interpretations: deliberate manipulation as Mr. Budhoo claims or astonishing incompetence and shoddy professional work.” (Weissman, 1990: 5-6)

    Is there any way of asking professor Levitt
    1. whether she had recommended that Manley accept SAP; and
    2. what was the basis of her arguments for her conclusion regarding Davison Budhoo’s claim against the IMF.

    I look forward to receiving her response.

    With regards,


    Weissman, R. (1990) Playing With Numbers – The IMF’s Fraud in Trinidad and Tobago. The Multinational Monitor, June 1990. Vol. 11. No. 6.

    January 29, 2014 at 1:24 pm
  • Willy says:

    Hi site owner i see you put a lot of work in your website, i
    know how to make your blogging easier, do you know that you can copy any post from any
    page, make it 100% unique and pass copyscape test? For more info ,
    just search in google – rewriter creates an unique article
    in a minute

    November 23, 2014 at 7:25 pm
  • business sms says:

    You could definitely ssee your expertise within the article you write.
    The world hopes ffor even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe.
    At alll times go after your heart.

    February 11, 2015 at 3:39 pm
  • Everette says:

    Getting real estate immediately leads to earniings (or deficits) through two ways: revenue from book
    and gratitude of the true property’s benefit.

    February 27, 2015 at 4:13 am
  • bitcoin to dogecoin converter says:

    It is becoming commercial, and already a corporation like Lockheed
    Martin bought a commercial quantum computer from
    a pioneering company D-WAVE to use in their commercial activities.

    This investment is the biggest to date into a bitcoin company.
    Bitcoin San Diego meet up was held this past Thursday evening
    at Downtown Johnny Brown’s sports bar in San Diego.

    December 22, 2015 at 4:20 am

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *