No comparative analysis is capable of reconciling their opposed viewpoints or converting partisans of the one or the other (though the latter does occasionally happen). Nor can I claim to be engaged in a dispassionate analysis. I have long considered myself a Polanyian . Yet periodically exposing one’s cherished ideas to their harshest critic helps clarify, through dramatic contrast, what is true and what is good.
Polanyi, Hayek, and my readers all wish to maximize freedom. We might agree that we want people to flourish by having the opportunity to live lengthy and meaningful lives of their own choosing, free from tyranny. But how is this worthy goal to be achieved? There’s the rub.
Freedom, however defined, depends upon finding a feasible and life-enhancing relationship among state, market and community. Why these three? Because, singly or jointly, they constitute the fundamental organizing principles of social life today. To steer a society, its citizens must rely on some combination of state direction, market choice, and community obligation.