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Ferdynand Zweig

Ferdynand Zweig (1896–1988) was a Polish economist and sociologist of Jewish descent. He studied law and economics in Vienna and Cracow, and later was a long-time lecturer at the Jagiellonian University. During the interwar period, he published numerous columns on the economy, contributing to a number of press titles. He ran the economics section in the high-circulation daily Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny [Illustrated Daily Courier]. He was the disciple and close aide of Adam Krzyżanowski. After the outbreak of WW II, he moved to Great Britain. Later, he held the position of lecturer at Israeli universities. When living abroad, he abandoned interest in economics for the field of sociology. Interestingly, his works quickly gained recognition in this field. He never returned to Poland.

As an economist, Zweig advocated economic liberalism. He put emphasis on solutions that allow individuals to act freely; however, the freedom of action is placed within a strictly defined legal framework and is not void of a certain social component. In the work entitled On the economic programme for Poland, he called for a rapid development of industry and free trade as the road to the country’s growth.

His major work Four Systems of Economics. Universalism – Nationalism – Liberalism – Socialism was an attempt to produce a synthesis of social and economic thought, in which the Cracow-born thinker emphasized the importance of political and ideological elements, and their inseparable combination with strictly economic issues.

Seeing the demise of liberal concepts and, in parallel, the growing importance of nationalist and socialist movements in the 1930s, Zweig still believed that the trend would reverse; however, as the spectre of war was looming, he ultimately became disillusioned. Later, he himself revised his position by accepting the existence of a planned economy as an indispensable prerequisite for preserving democracy and freedom.

Other important works by Zweig should be mentioned here: The Economics of Consumers’ Credit, Economics and Technology [Ekonomia i technika], The Twilight or a Rebirth of Liberalism [Zmierzch czy odrodzenie liberalizmu], The Planning of Free Societies and Poland Between Two Wars.

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