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New Left Review I/205, May-June 1994


Maurice Glasman

The Great Deformation:Polanyi, Poland and the Terrors of Planned Spontaneity

Labour is only another name for a human activity that goes with life itself. . .To allow the market mechanism to be the sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment, indeed, even of the amount and use of their purchasing power, would result in the demolition of society. For the alleged commodity ‘labour power’ cannot be shoved about, used indiscriminately, or even left unused, without affecting the human individuals who happen to be the bearers of this particular commodity. In disposing of man’s labour power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral entity ‘man’ attached to that tag. Robbed of the protective cover of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime and starvation.

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