William Booth's 'On the Idea of the Moral Economy' (1994) is a scathing critique of the economic historians labelled as 'moral economists', chief among them Karl Polanyi, whose The Great Transformation is the groundwork for much of the later theorizing on the subject. The most
devastating of Booth's criticisms is the allegation that Polanyi's normative prescriptions have anti-democratic, Aristotelian and aristocratic undertones for being guided by a preconceived notion of 'the good'. This article presents an attempt to rescue Polanyi from this charge by reinterpreting
his view of the relationship between the economic and the political, while elucidating the practical meaning of a moral economy.
Theoria is an engaged, multidisciplinary and peer-reviewed journal of social and political theory. Its purpose is to address, through scholarly debate, the many challenges posed to intellectual life by the major social, political and economic forces that shape the contemporary world. Thus it is principally concerned with questions such as how modern systems of power, processes of globalization and capitalist economic organization bear on matters such as justice, democracy and truth.