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Despite its centrality to current debates about globalization and neoliberalism, aspects of Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation remain poorly understood. This article places Polanyi in conversation with Weber, Nietzsche, and Foucault in order to explicate his genealogy of utopian liberalism. This mode of thought emerged in the late 18th century as a response to the mass pauperism of the Industrial Revolution in England. It substituted a mechanistic naturalism for the political and ethical concerns of earlier economists. Polanyi shows that the allure of utopian liberalism is sustained because it functions as the public theodicy of a market society.