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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to apply some core general principles of political economy to central issues of policy and governance. After a short section explaining the nature of the science of political economy, we start with Polanyi’s principle of the disembedded economy, and how this relates to cycles and waves of policy-making concerning the double movement and the relationship between markets, reciprocity and redistribution. Then we go on to scrutinise the principle of contradiction, paying special attention to the importance of capital-labor relations, the finance-industry dichotomy, monopoly versus competition, profit and the environment, plus individual versus society. Thereafter the principle of circular and cumulative causation is linked to social and production aspects of complex systems of political economy. And lastly we examine the principle of uneven development and how crucial this is to policy-making institutions as the world undergoes asymmetries of financial instability, climate change and cycle dynamics. Core principles thus provide a good grounding for general policy purposes when activist governance measures are required to improve human and environmental provisioning.

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