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Activist #MMT - podcast

Mar 6, 2022

Welcome to episode 111 of Activist #MMT. Today I talk with Asad Zaman about the 2001 edition of Karl Polanyi's 1944 book, The Great Transformation. Professor Zaman is a PhD economist based in Pakistan, with many lectures, papers, and posts on the topic. This is part one of a two-part episode, but it's also part three in a larger four-part series on Polanyi's book. Parts one and two are with Jackson Winter. Jackson and I are two smart layperson MMTers trying to come to terms with the depth of what we just read, and connecting it to our lives and MMT.

(A link to all four parts in the series can be found near the top of this post: A summary of Polanyi's Great Transformation (with many sources to learn more). A list of the audio chapters in this episode can be found at the bottom of this post.)

For a detailed summary of this book, you can go to this post: A summary of Polanyi's Great Transformation (with many sources to learn more). There you will find the summary, along with links to all the episodes in this series, plus many sources by Professor Zaman to learn more.

As a final note, you'll hear some of Professor Zaman's thoughts on the potential form a sustainable future society might take. These are not ideas from the book but his own, in an attempt to start a discussion on one of the greatest questions of our time: how do we resist and annihilate the self-regulating market, and what can and will society be like when we do? Perhaps you have some ideas of your own. Let's start that discussion.

If you like what you hear, then I hope you might consider becoming a monthly patron of Activist #MMT. Patrons have exclusive access to several full-length episodes, right now. A full list is here, each with a brief highlight. Patrons also get the opportunity to ask my academic guests questions, such as my recent patron-question episode with Warren Mosler. (A Patron question was also asked of Professor Zaman.) They also support the development of my large and growing collection of learn MMT resources, and the course with Professor Zaman. To become a patron, you can start by going to Every little bit helps a little bit, and it all adds up to a lot. Thanks.

And now, onto my conversation with Asad Zaman. Enjoy


Bill Mitchell's 2022 blog post, To reclaim the state, we have to start with ourselves, which contains a substantial comment from Professor Zaman.

For a good, short and basic introduction to the flaws of capitalism and its economics, Professor Zaman recommends this 17-minute 2020 TED talk by Nick Hanauer.

Here are the seven lectures by Professor Zaman that will be used in the course :

  1. Adv Micro L13: Entanglement of History with Social Theories
  2. Adv Micro L14: Emergence of Economics Theories in Economic Context
  3. Adv Micro L15: 19th Century European Economic Ideas In Historical Context.
  4. Adv Micro L16: Economics from Hunter/Gatherer to World War 2
  5. Adv Micro L17: Polanyi Great Transformation Part 2
  6. Adv Micro L18: Polanyi TGT cont - part 3
  7. Adv Micro L19: Polanyi TGT- Concluding Lecture

Here's the overall curriculum from which these lectures come: 21st Century Economics: An Islamic Approach

More from Professor Zaman on Polanyi:

Not directly related to Polanyi, but as important context (and s were briefly discussed), below are sources from the Professor on the topic of redefining "the poor" to mean the poorest among the aristocracy, such as in Jane Austen novels. I’ve provided the Professor’s full comments for context:

These just came up on a search, there is a lot of stuff on it which I haven't read


This might be the best: …/jane-austen-family-slavery-essay-devoney-looser/

Search term "Jane Austen and Colonial Politics" -- but "imperialism" would have worked too

There is chapter in Edward Said "Culture and Imperialism" called: Jane Austen and Empire. This is bound to be good. I have not read the book, but it is on my reading list.

Audio chapters

  • 3:20 - Hellos
  • 4:29 - The commodification of labor - what it really means
  • 8:35 - The fantasy of power, to vent the frustration of being powerless
  • 10:55 - The self-regulating market is a fiction and a stark Utopia. The double movement
  • 13:35 - Movies- Don't Look Up and Encanto
  • 16:38 - How do you resist the self-regulating market and beat it, instead of perpetuate it?
  • 20:23 - Whatever the answer, it starts with you
  • 23:26 - Peace is a balance of power, but only in a belligerent world
  • 32:13 - Peace is controlled violence - violence by, not against, the powerful
  • 34:13 - Individual imbalance of power, fiction of nation states
  • 38:32 - Corporations are more powerful than nation states
  • 40:49 - The gold standard was the glue that held the world together but for a terrible reason (and mercantilism)
  • 48:41 - Fascism is not something in and of itself, rather it's something to fill in the vacuum left by the wreckage of the self-regulating market
  • 53:14 - Duplicate of introduction, but with no background music