Or great-granparents, as the case may be.
I want to spend some time with Polanyi in part because he has a fundamentally conservative temperament and POV. I'd argue that he's more of a Burkean conservative than most to the conservative intellectuals who are obsessed with the tyrannic threats posed by big government. I like reading The American Conservative, as contrasted with other conservative partisan rags like The National Review or The Weekly Standard, because TAC for the most part gets that while the Big State creates significant problems, the market as a disruptive force is far more destructive of human liberties and well-being than the state is. TAC is opposed to Liberalism as a mindset, and in that I largely agree with them, but I also believe that the Liberal State is a necessity for living in a country with 310 million people and on a planet with over 7 billion.
Large scale governmental bodies are with us in the long run; it's silly to think otherwise. The challenge is to organize them in such a way that they allow for as much freedom as possible where people live on the ground while at the same time making sure that power and wealth don't aggregate into the hands of too few. That is job #1, and that requires creating a mindset in which the basics tenets of social democracy are broadly accepted in such a way as to push every other ideology to the fringes. This was the hard-fought accomplishment our grandparents, the folks in Polanyi's generation in the thirties and forties, after having learned the hard way that nothing else works.
It's a lesson we've forgotten, and so we are having arguments on the ethos level when we should be having arguments on the logos level. We need consensus about basic political values, so that we can argue about the most practical way to solve pressing practical problems. The current domination of Neoliberal ideology among our elites has been a regression to the mindset of late 19th-century Liberalism. Our grandparents learned that that mindset leads to disaster, and now it looks as if we'll have to learn it again. But it is a lesson we will learn for good sooner or later because nothing else but social democracy in a subsidiarist key will work. And social democracy cannot work unless there is broad acceptance that it is the best way to organize things in the political sphere. It will be hard enough to make it work when there is consensus about it, but it's impossible for it to function in any practical sense without it.