“Let us return to what we have called the double movement. It can be personified as the action of two organizing principles in society, each of them setting itself specific institutional aims, having the support of definite social forces and using its own distinctive methods. The one was the principle of economic liberalism, aiming at the establishment of a self-regulating market, relying on the support of the trading classes, and using largely laissez-faire and free trade as its methods; the other was the principle of social protection aiming at the conservation of man and nature as well as productive organization, relying on the varying support of those most immediately affected by the deleterious action of the market - primarily, but not exclusively, the working and the landed classes - and using protective legislation, restrictive associations, and other instruments of intervention as its methods.” – Karl Polanyi
I have just finished Gregory Clark’s much lauded A Farewell to Alms, which weirdly weds the New Growth apercu – that knowledge, unlike other resources, gives us increasing returns, which is why there is no upward bound to growth – to Malthus – who is, if anything, known for having the very fierce view that the upward bound to growth is determined by the iron relationship between population and subsistence. Imagine, if you will, the bride of Frankenstein marrying Dracula. I won’t go into all the ins and outs of Clark’s view – I’m saving that for my Austin Statesman review – but I did find the attack on the institutionalists a little weird. Clark goes after the founders of the school for setting the beginning point of the industrial revolution at 1688. For the institutionalists, the pre-conditions for capitalism were institutions that preserved property rights, secured social stability, and produced, however modestly, a political feedback system between the rulers and the ruled.
Polanyi’s name is never mentioned in Clark’s text, partly because orthodox economist despise Karl Polanyi. But it should have been. Polanyi unpacks that notion of a feedback much more aggressively than it was later to be unpacked by Douglass North.
My ultimate goal, in tracing the rise of a particular happiness ethos and the ruin of all previous systems of emotional custom and charactermaking, is to embed this process in the Great Transformation. This is why the early nineteenth century – when the lineaments of heaven and hell on earth become, suddenly, much clearer – is so important to my thesis. And this is why it opens the thesis up to show the ‘esoteric’ contribution to psychology made by animal magnetism in creating the polar affect model, since this, too, is clearly marked by the double movement – at once aligning itself with the need for an administrative psychology and registering a deep discontent with the system that requires that psychology. We fight the enemy within, who fights his own enemy within, who is – us. It is a war of mental telepaths, I’m telling you! Or, to put it in other terms – it exactly outlines the epistemological problem of the realistic novel.
My next move is to take one of the men of 1789, Carl Gustav Carus – actually born in 1789 – and show how he used polarity, by way of Schelling, to produce a psychology now known, if at all, for the fact that it foreshadowed Freud’s notion of the unconscious – but known to use connoisseurs of PAM for the straightforward introduction of magnetic terms. Carus was not just a psychologist, he was a painter, a friend of Caspar David Friedrich. Which is, of course, almost too perfect, like discovering that your fieldwork is set in a minefield.