Markets & Machines

by Caleb Roberts

The step which makes isolated markets into a market economy, regulated markets into a self-regulating market, is indeed crucial.  The nineteenth century — whether hailing the fact as the apex of civilization or deploring it as a cancerous growth — naively imagined that such a development was the natural outcome of the spreading of markets.  It was not realized that the gearing of markets into a self-regulating system of tremendous power was not the result of any inherent tendency of markets towards excrescence, but rather the effect of highly artificial stimulants, administered to the body social in order to meet a situation which was created by the no less artificial phenomenon of the machine. (60)

Karl Polanyi | The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time