The chapter takes the marketization of land and agricultural products as a starting point and focuses on movements and countermovements around the expansion of soy production in three countries of South America. The authors use Polanyi’s concept of the double movement in combination with critical state theory adapted for (semi-)peripheral contexts. They investigate both the drivers of marketization in the agro-food sector as well as state agency and rural social movements as protective countermovements. Case studies include Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia during the administration of left-wing governments. From a historical and comparative perspective, the chapter shows the scope and limits for protective countermovements and analyses how rural social movements became disarticulated (Brazil), demobilized (Argentina) and fractured (Bolivia). The results call for a realistic assessment of countermovements, taking into account both their room for manoeuvre and their limits.
Karin Fischer and Ernst Langthaler
Roland Atzmüller, Brigitte Aulenbacher, Ulrich Brand, Fabienne Décieux, Karin Fischer and Birgit Sauer
The chapter reflects on the transformation of capitalism we have witnessed since the 1970s, discusses the growing interest in Karl Polanyi’s masterpiece The Great Transformation and presents how the book refers to it. In particular, the economic liberalization through the post-1989 phase of globalization which resulted in the 2008/9 crisis of finance and subsequent austerity schemes has been accompanied by growing interest in Polanyian perspectives. In the first part of the chapter important strands of the discussion are recapitulated in regard to the strength of Karl Polanyi’s thought without neglecting the fact that it cannot be rediscovered and reread today without critical reflections and high attentiveness for its contextualization in time and space. The second part describes the composition of the book which combines historical and theoretical perspectives on Karl Polanyi’s work and capitalism in transformation, analyses contemporary developments in Europe and beyond and refers to the idea of “fictitious commodities” to understand the economic, ecological, social, cultural and political transformations of capitalism of “our time”.